2 Samuel 5:1
(1) All the tribes.--Not only as represented by their elders (2Samuel 5:3), but by the large bodies of their warriors enumerated in 1Chronicles 12:23-40. It is to be noticed, then, that the "children of Judah" (1Chronicles 12:24), over whom David was already king, joined in the assembly, and that there were 4,600 Levites with Jehoiada as the leader of the priestly family of Aaron, while Zadok appears only as a conspicuous member of that family (1Chronicles 12:27-28).

Thy bone and thy flesh.--The Israelites, oppressed by the Philistines and their other enemies, and having seen the utter failure of the house of Saul and the death of their head, Abner, felt the necessity of union under a competent leader, and it is probable that this gathering to David, already prepared for by the negotiations of Abner, took place immediately after the death of Ish-bosheth. They assign three reasons for their action: (1) that they were of the same flesh and bone with David (comp. Genesis 29:14; Judges 9:2; 2Samuel 19:12)--i.e., were of such common descent that it was unfitting for them to constitute separate nations; (2) that David, even in Saul's reign, had been their military leader, and hence they knew him and had confidence in his prowess and sagacity; (3) that the Lord had chosen him for their king. The exact language of the Divine promise quoted is not found in the record, but is either (as in the case of Abner's words, 2Samuel 3:18) a summary of the communications made to David, or else some unrecorded language of one of the prophets.

Verse 1. - Then came all the tribes of Israel. As Ishbosheth reigned only two years, and David's reign at Hebron lasted for seven years and a half, there is an interval of more than five years to be accounted for; and we have given reason for believing (see note on 2 Samuel 2:10) that it must be placed after the death of Ishbosheth. The treacherous murder of Abner, and the tragic fate of Ishbosheth following upon it so rapidly, must have filled all Israel with horror, and made them look upon David as "a bloody man" (2 Samuel 16:8). But gradually his innocence became clear to all except inveterate partisans, and as the prejudice against him passed away, the evident advantage of union under so able a ruler would force itself upon their attention, and their decision would be hastened by the advantage which the Philistines would be sure to take of their anarchy. How much they had profited by it we gather from the haste with which they endeavoured to crush David's kingdom. The enormous gathering at Hebron to anoint David king proves not merely the unanimity of the tribes, but that his election was the result of long preparation and arrangement. We have fuller details of it in 1 Chronicles 12:23-40, where we learn that the people assembled in large numbers, the total being computed in the 'Speaker's Commentary' at 348,222; and it is remarkable that of this vast array only sixteen thousand nine hundred came from the tribes of Judah, Simeon, and Benjamin, which were situated in the neighbourhood of Hebron. On the other hand, the two and a half trans-Jordanic tribes sent no less than a hundred and twenty thousand men, and the three unimportant tribes of Zebulun, Asher, and Naphtali mustered a hundred and eighteen thousand; while Issachar was content to send only two hundred, who were all, however, "men that had understanding... and their brethren were at their commandment." These words suggest the probable explanation of the disparity in the numbers, which to many seems so strange that they think they must be corrupt. Each tribe settled for itself in what way it would be represented, and the more distant sent a large proportion of their men of military age on what would be an enjoyable holiday. As they spent three days at Hebron, the expedition would occupy, even for those most remote, little more than a week; and it was well worth the while of the tribes thus to come together. It made them feel the value of unity, and gave them a knowledge of their strength. Their tribal independence during the time of the judges had made them too weak even to maintain their liberty; but now, welded by the kingly power into a nation, they soon, not only won freedom for themselves, but placed their yoke upon the shoulders of their neighbours. As for the difficulty of supplying them with food, all would bring victuals from home; and the neighbouring tribes showed great hospitality. Especially we read that those who were nigh unto Hebron, "even as far as Issachar and Zebulun and Naphtali, brought bread on asses, and on camels, and on mules, and on oxen, victual of meal, cakes of figs, and clusters of raisins, and wine, and oil, and oxen, and sheep in abundance: for there was joy in Israel" (1 Chronicles 12:40). It was a grand national festival, joyously kept because the people saw in the election of David an end to all their troubles; and so vast a gathering overbore all opposition, and gave both to them and their king the consciousness of their might. But while we find in the Book of Chronicles the account of this mighty multitude, it is here (ver. 3) expressly said that it was the elders who made a league with David, and anointed him king. The people by their presence testified their joyful assent to what was done; but David's election was made legitimate by the decision of the constituted authorities in each tribe. It would be most interesting to know the various steps taken, and how the agitation grew and spread from tribe to tribe, until all hesitation and resistance were overcome. But the object of this book is to show us the great qualities, the sin, the repentance, and the punishment of the man who added to the old routine of sacrifice bright services of song, and who was the author of that book of devotion which to this day best expresses the feelings of the heart, as well in the joys as in the sorrows of life. The manner of his election throws no light upon his character, and is passed over. Enough to know that in those five years after Ishbosheth's murder David won the approval of all Israel, and that his appointment to the kingdom was by the free choice of the tribes, acting in a legitimate manner, and sending each their elders to Hebron to notify to David their consent; and that their decision was ratified by this joyful gathering of a mighty multitude from all parts of the land. Three reasons are given by the elders for David's election, and we may be sure that they represent the arguments used in their popular assemblies. The first, that they were David's bone and flesh. In other words, the tribes were all of one race, and united by the closest ties of relationship. For the descendants of a common ancestor to be at war with one another was both morally and politically wrong. The second, that David had been their actual leader in war even in Saul's time. His personal qualities, therefore, justified their choice of him to be their deliverer from the evils which had overwhelmed the land after the disastrous defeat at Gilboa, when Saul had no longer the aid of David's presence. The third, that Jehovah had by the mouth of his prophet given the throne to David. It is remarkable that the elders place this last. Their view probably was that the Divine command must be proved by outward circumstances, that so reason might confirm faith. So Saul's public appointment by Samuel was ratified by the people only after he had shown himself worthy to be a king by the defeat of the Ammonites.

5:1-5 David was anointed king a third time. His advances were gradual, that his faith might be tried, and that he might gain experience. Thus his kingdom typified that of the Messiah, which was to come to its height by degrees. Thus Jesus became our Brother, took upon him our nature, dwelt in it that he might become our Prince and Saviour: thus the humbled sinner takes encouragement from the endearing relation, applies for his salvation, submits to his authority, and craves his protection.Then came all the tribes of Israel to David unto Hebron,.... All the rest of the tribes, save the tribe of Judah, who had made him king over them in Hebron seven years ago. These were ambassadors sent in the name of the several tribes to him, quickly after the deaths of Abner and Ishbosheth; from having any hand in which David had sufficiently cleared himself, and which had tended to reconcile the minds of the people of Israel to him:

and spake, saying, we are thy bone and thy flesh; for though he was of the tribe of Judah, yet as all the tribes sprung from one man, they were all one bone, flesh, and blood; all nearly related to each other, all of the same general family of which David was; and so, according to their law, a fit person to be their king, Deuteronomy 16:18; and from whom they might expect clemency and tenderness, being so near akin to them.

2 Samuel 4:12
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