2 Samuel 8:1-18 The Priestly Leader

2 Samuel 8:1-18

1 After this, David defeated and subdued the Philistines by conquering Gath, their largest town. 2 David also conquered the land of Moab. He made the people lie down on the ground in a row, and he measured them off in groups with a length of rope. He measured off two groups to be executed for every one group to be spared. The Moabites who were spared became David’s subjects and paid him tribute money.

3 David also destroyed the forces of Hadadezer son of Rehob, king of Zobah, when Hadadezer marched out to strengthen his control along the Euphrates River. 4 David captured 1,700 charioteers and 20,000 foot soldiers. He crippled all the chariot horses except enough for 100 chariots. 5 When Arameans from Damascus arrived to help King Hadadezer, David killed 22,000 of them. 6 Then he placed several army garrisons in Damascus, the Aramean capital, and the Arameans became David’s subjects and paid him tribute money. So the LORD made David victorious wherever he went7 David brought the gold shields of Hadadezer’s officers to Jerusalem, 8 along with a large amount of bronze from Hadadezer’s towns of Tebah and Berothai.

9 When King Toi of Hamath heard that David had destroyed the entire army of Hadadezer, 10 he sent his son Joram to congratulate King David for his successful campaign. Hadadezer and Toi had been enemies and were often at war. Joram presented David with many gifts of silver, gold, and bronze.

11 King David dedicated all these gifts to the LORD, as he did with the silver and gold from the other nations he had defeated- 12 from Edom, Moab, Ammon, Philistia, and Amalek- and from Hadadezer son of Rehob, king of Zobah.

13 So David became very famous. After his return he destroyed 18,000 Edomites in the Valley of Salt. 14 He placed army garrisons throughout Edom, and all the Edomites became David’s subjects. In fact, the LORD made David victorious wherever he went.

15 So David reigned over all Israel and did what was just and right for all his people. 16 Joab son of Zeruiah was commander of the army. Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was the royal historian. 17 Zadok son of Ahitub and Ahimelech son of Abiathar were the priests. Seraiah was the court secretary. 18 Benaiah son of Jehoiada was captain of the king’s bodyguard. And David’s sons served as priestly leaders.


David conquered many tribes and nations and made them his vassal states. David’s success is primarily attributed to God’s favor and anointing in his life. In today’s passage, we observe the goal of David’s military exploits to subjugate other nations is not to increase the wealth of Israel, but to inculcate the worship of Yahweh into the vassal states. However, the manner in which the gospel is propagated changes with time and dispensation. The incarnation of Jesus has forever changed the way the gospel is being propagated. We also learn from the way David set up his government by amalgamating the priesthood into the administration. A priestly leader who is sharp in the Spirit is both efficient and effective in managing his organization.


After this, David defeated and subdued the Philistines by conquering Gath, their largest town – The Philistines are enemies of Israel for 125 years. The capture of the largest town of the Philistines becomes a major milestone in David’s commission to establish Israel as a major power in the region. According to God’s promise, the nations will capitulate themselves and become vassal states under Israel (see 2 Samuel 7:11). In one of David’s military campaign, Moab falls and becomes a vassal state of Israel.

David also destroyed the forces of Hadadezer son of Rehob, king of Zobah – Here, David turns his interest towards the Arameans. When Hadadezer goes out to recover some territories along River Euphrates, David takes occasion to strike gaining him 1000 chariots, 700 charioteers and 20,000 foot soldiers. When the Aramean alliance from Damascus arrives to help Hadadezer, David defeats them. Subsequently, Damascus, the capital city of the Arameans becomes a vassal state of Israel.

So the LORD made David victorious wherever he went – When the King of Toi of Hamath heard about David’s overwhelming conquest of Hadadezer and Damascus, he too capitulates to David. He sends his son Joram with an offering of peace and subordination consisting of silver, gold and bronze. David dedicated all the gifts he received from the nations to God as a symbol of God’s rule over the nations. In addition, the Edomites also become Israel’s vassal. David’s overwhelming success is attributed to the fact that the Lord is with him wherever he goes. The author makes exceptional and repeated mentions of God’s favor over David, which is the cornerstone of his success (see 2 Samuel 8:6,14).

So David reigned over all Israel and did what was just and right for all his people – A righteous rule must be undergirded with an efficient and effective administration. The fact that priestly leaders are made part of David’s government attests to the role of God in the governance of the country. It is through David, that Israel advances in God’s governmental design, where God rules through a human king who is fully devoted to Him. God holds the sovereign path of Israel, while David rules at His right hand with justice and righteousness: He did what was just and right for all his people. Psalm 110:1 foreshadows Jesus, the descendent of David who will rule all creation at God’s right hand.


  1. The strategy and manner in which God expands His kingdom changes with time and dispensation. David’s military exploits over the nations attest to a very different era where the worship of Yahweh must necessarily be propagated through conquests. By subjugating the nations under Israel’s rule, these vassal states can be culturalized towards the worship of Yahweh. Those are tumultuous times where the nations’ foreign policies are less sophisticated and power is wholly invested in the royal family. Hence, it is not difficult to see that Israel is in constant danger of being annihilated and the worship of Yahweh wiped out.

The incarnation of Jesus and the manner in which He deals with His enemies signals a change in the way the worship of God is propagated. The gospel is no longer propagated through threats and subjugation but by appealing to man’s need for love and reconciliation with God. Faith, since the days of Abraham is a relationship between two willing parties. In today’s societies, the gospel is no longer propagated through military exploits but through globalization, active inculcation of human rights (freedom of worship) and the social media.

  1. Our focus is not to climb the “ecclesiastical ladder” but to be faithful to the tasks that God has entrusted. David’s meteoric rise is attributed to God’s sovereign involvement in his life. The Spirit’s anointing endows him with courage, leadership instinct, ingenious military stratagems and prowess. Much of David’s success comes from God’s unilateral involvement, which has nothing to do with David’s natural abilities. From the time God took him from tending sheep and anointed him as leader over the people, God also destroyed David’s enemies and exalted his name over the nations (see 2 Samuel 7:8-9). As God’s purview of our ministry is purely sovereign and unilateral, ministry achievements must then be the least of our concerns. Jesus says, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” 1 Corinthians 3:6. Our primary concern is to accomplish the tasks that God has entrusted us to do and not to climb “the ecclesiastical ladder”. Even as God is willing to invest 100% of His energy to see us rise up to greatness, His work will come to nought unless we put 100% of our attitude behind it.
  2. Every organization must contain an element of divinity and priesthood within its leadership. Many organizations including churches manage their organizations largely by management principles and by expert opinions. They import programmes and blindly copy processes and strategies of those who succeeded without enquiring the mind of God. Hence, many of these organizations become copycats, religiously running programmes hoping to replicate the success of others. The priesthood is the conduit of the Spirit’s revelation, which provided David with divine insights and stratagem in every vital decision. David understood the importance of amalgamating the priesthood with human administration; he designates his sons as priestly leaders skilled at receiving divine revelations from God. One can say that human administration contributes to the efficiency while the priesthood contributes to the effectiveness of the organization. Leaders of family, church and organization must invest time to enquire the mind of God and allow Him to speak freely into our daily endeavors.


  1. Do you see promotion as the end of your endeavors? Perhaps, it is time for a change of heart, to defocus from fleshly ambition and to focus on acquiring the virtues of Christ. God does not judge a person by his achievements, but more importantly by the motives and posture of his heart.
  2. Do you spent time seeking God’s face and allowing Him to speak freely without trying to control the conversation. Man has a tendency to set the agenda for our meeting with God. The practice of priesthood is the discipline of meditating on the word and conversing with Him in the Spirit.

Dear Lord, I defocus from the lure of fleshly ambition to seek your vision for my life. As I direct my heart to you, cause me to understand your will in clarity. I lay down my anxieties and desires that seek immediate gratification. I surrender myself fully to your sovereign plans. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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