2 Samuel 5:17-25 Strategy & Timing Is the Essence To Success

2 Samuel 5:17-25

17 When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king of Israel, they mobilized all their forces to capture him. But David was told they were coming, so he went into the stronghold. 18 The Philistines arrived and spread out across the valley of Rephaim. 19 So David asked the Lord, “Should I go out to fight the Philistines? Will you hand them over to me?” The Lord replied to David, “Yes, go ahead. I will certainly hand them over to you.

20 So David went to Baal-perazim and defeated the Philistines there. “The Lord did it!” David exclaimed. “He burst through my enemies like a raging flood!” So he named that place Baal- perazim (which means “the Lord who bursts through”). 21 The Philistines had abandoned their idols there, so David and his men confiscated them.

22 But after a while the Philistines returned and again spread out across the valley of Rephaim. 23 And again David asked the Lord what to do. “Do not attack them straight on,” the Lord replied. “Instead, circle around behind and attack them near the poplar trees. 24 When you hear a sound like marching feet in the tops of the poplar trees, be on the alert! That will be the signal that the Lord is moving ahead of you to strike down the Philistine army.” 25 So David did what the Lord commanded, and he struck down the Philistines all the way from Gibeon to Gezer.


After David becomes king of a united Israel, the Philistines could not leave David’s new status uncontested, plan an attack against him. The Philistines attack Israel on two separate engagements and find themselves reeling from the intervention of the LORD’s Heaven’s Armies. Today’s passage shows us the importance of acquiring God’s strategy and acting on His timing, and to be bold in leading the fight against the agents of darkness.


Yes, go ahead. I will certainly hand them over to you – The Philistines are alerted of David’s succession by the capture of the Jebusite city. Perceiving David as once their vassal, they are set to contest David’s newfound status. The stronghold that David goes into more likely refers to one in the vicinity of the valley to the south of Jerusalem. Having obtained divine mandate to go out on an offensive against the Philistines, David defeats the Philistines and accords total credit to the Lord for his victory: The Lord did it! The place of victory is remembered as “the Lord who bursts through which depicts an actual burst of heavenly forces like a flooding action upon the Philistines.

The Philistines had abandoned their idols there – In this battle, the gods of the Philistines have been powerless in aiding their devotees. This can be contrasted with a similar fate suffered during Eli’s tenure as high priest when the Ark of the covenant was forcibly taken away from the Israelites (see 1 Samuel 4:11). With this Philistine defeat, the glory of God is restored to Israel when they confiscate the idols of the Philistines and burn them (see 1 Chronicles 14:12).

Do not attack them straight on – Unconvinced of Israelite superiority, the Philistines return and again spread out across the valley of Rephaim. This time, the divine instruction is not for David to attack them straight on but to circle around behind and attack them near the poplar trees. The signal for the attack will be a sound like marching feet in the tops of the poplar trees. This sound is evidence of the Lord’s heavenly armies going ahead of David to strike the enemy. At the sound of marching feet, David’s men launch forward and struck down the Philistines all the way from Gibeon to Gezer.


  1. Humility is not being presumptuous and assuming that God would move the same way at every turn. Many believers assume that God would tell them the same things day after day. Hence, they become presumptuous and arrogant supposing they know what God is about to tell them; they stop consulting God concerning the tasks of the day thinking they know better. David humbly consults God each time he goes into battle, because he knew that God’s ways are consistently beyond and higher than his. God proves Himself creative by utilizing a different strategy and tactic in each of David’s battles. In the second battle, David could have made a serious error by going head on as he did in the first Philistine confrontation.
  2. In God’s economy of things, the son of God must lead battles and claim victory in person while the heavenly armies work in tandem under God’s supreme authority. Therefore, the sons of God must be of sober spirit, be on the alert (see 1 Peter 5:8) in prayer and in waging warfare against the agents of darkness. Unless the sons of God realize their divine ordination and rise up to lead the charge, the restoration of the earth remains distant. Paul says,

The creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. Romans 8:21

The glory of God’s children is manifested in the process of setting creation free from corruption. In other words, creation remains in bondage unless God’s children lead the charge to set it free. However, some believers remain as spiritual babies supposing the purpose of their salvation is to grant them the privilege to live off the land with no part in bringing the gospel to the lost or to establish His kingdom on the earth. Even though they are legitimate children of God, they could not experience the abundance of God’s kingdom and remain bound in poverty and darkness.

  1. In the sovereign move of God, timing is the essence. God gives specific instructions to David to be on the alert and watch out for His signal before launching out against the enemy. David’s success hinges on his total dependence on God through strict adherence to God’s stratagem and timing. For many, waiting remain the most agonizing and daunting of activities, their hearts palpitate, and their bodies reeling from anxieties. The Psalmist writes about the peace that surrounds one who trust in the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

Be still, and know that I am God!… The LORD of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress. Psalm 46:10-11

We can imagine David lying in stillness and serenity awaiting God’s perfect timing to launch out expecting everything to turn out perfect. When we decide to take the high road and wait on Him, things that distract begin to disappear, anxieties dissipate into peace, and our thoughts become crystal clear.


  1. Do you start the day on “auto-mode” supposing that things would work out according to God’s plans. And you end the day trying to figure out what you have achieved and what went wrong. It takes more effort to still the heart, to listen to God’s calming voice than to be up and about. However, the discipline of listening has far-reaching and wide-ranging benefits; it constraints our mouth from careless words, our heart from straying, and our minds focused on the purposes of the day.
  2. Are you accustomed to looking relentlessly for God’s direction? Or do you wait for God to invite you into His plans? When it is neither God’s plans nor His timing yet, He would just give you a simple “No”. And that would seem like a sound of silence; as if God has yet spoken.

Dear Lord, constrain my heart and unite my soul to listen to your voice every morning. My heart is not arrogant but humble and receptive to your plans and timing. Remove my anxieties and fears for my blessings are safe with you. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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