Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible
Now after this it came to pass, that David smote the Philistines, and subdued them, and took Gath and her towns out of the hand of the Philistines.
David’s piety and his prayer we had an account of in the foregoing chapter; here follows immediately that which one might reasonably expect, an account of his prosperity; for those that seek first the kingdom of God and the righteousness thereof, as David did, shall have other things added to them as far as God sees good for them. Here is, I. His prosperity abroad. He conquered the Philistines (v. 1), the Moabites (v. 2), the king of Zobah (v. 3, 4), the Syrians (v. 5-8), made the king of Hamath his tributary (v. 9–11), and the Edomites (v. 12, 13). II. His prosperity at home. His court and kingdom flourished (v. 14–17). All this we had an account of before, 2 Sa. 8.
After this, it is said (v. 1), David did those great exploits. After the sweet communion he had had with God by the word and prayer, as mentioned in the foregoing chapter, he went on his work with extraordinary vigour and courage, conquering and to conquer. Thus Jacob, after his vision, lifted up his feet, Gen. 29:1.
We have taken a view of these victories before, and shall now only observe, 1. Those that have been long enemies to the Israel of God will be brought down at last. The Philistines had, for several generations, been vexatious to Israel, but now David subdued them, v. 1. Thus shall all opposing rule, principality, and power, be, at the end of time, put down by the Son of David, and the most inveterate enemies shall fall before him. 2. Such is the uncertainty of this world that frequently men lose their wealth and power when they think to confirm it. Hadarezer was smitten as he went to establish his dominion, v. 3. 3. A horse is a vain thing for safety, so David said (Ps. 33:17), and it seems he believed what he said, for he houghed the chariot-horses, v. 4. Being resolved not to trust to them (Ps. 20:7), he would not use them. 4. The enemies of God’s church are often made to ruin themselves by helping one another, v. 5. The Syrians of Damascus were smitten when they came to help Hadarezer. When hand thus joins in hand they shall not only not go unpunished, but thereby they shall be gathered as the sheaves into the floor, Mic. 4:11, 12. 5. The wealth of the sinner sometimes proves to have been laid up for the just. The Syrians brought gifts, v. 6. Their shields of gold and their brass were brought to Jerusalem, v. 7, 8. As the tabernacle was built of the spoils of the Egyptians, so the temple of the spoils of other Gentile nations, a happy presage of the interest the Gentiles should have in the gospel church.
Now when Tou king of Hamath heard how David had smitten all the host of Hadarezer king of Zobah;
Here let us learn, 1. That it is our interest to make those our friends who have the presence of God with them. The king of Hamath, hearing of David’s great success, sent to congratulate him and to court his favour with a noble present, v. 9, 10. It is in vain to contend with the Son of David. Kiss the Son, therefore, lest he be angry; let the kings and judges of the earth, and all inferior people too, be thus wise, thus instructed. The presents we are to bring him are not vessels of gold and silver, as here (those shall be welcomed to him who have no such presents to bring), but our hearts and sincere affections, our whole selves, we must present to him as living sacrifices. 2. That what God blesses us with we must honour him with. The presents of his friends, as well as the spoils of his enemies, David dedicated unto the Lord (v. 11), that is, he laid them up towards the building and enriching of the temple. That is most truly and most comfortably our own which we have consecrated unto the Lord, and which we use for his glory. Let our merchandise and our hire be holiness to the Lord, Isa. 23:18. 3. That those who take God along with them whithersoever they go may expect to prosper, and be preserved, whithersoever they go. It was said before (v. 6) and here it is repeated (v. 13) that the Lord preserved David whithersoever he went. Those are always under the eye of God that have God always in their eye. 4. God gives men power, not that they may look great with it, but that they may do good with it. When David reigned over all Israel he executed judgment and justice among all his people, and so answered the end of his elevation. He was not so intent on his conquests abroad as to neglect the administration of justice at home. Herein he served the purposes of the kingdom of providence, and of that God who sits in the throne judging right; and he was an eminent type of the Messiah, the sceptre of whose kingdom is a right sceptre.