Now Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and timber of cedars, with masons and carpenters, to build him an house.
Verse 1. - The Kethiv abandons here the invariable analogy of Chronicles, and reads Hiram for "Huram," which latter form, however, is replaced in the Keri. Beside this Hiram or Huram, the king, there was another Hiram or Huram, the same king's chief artificer, and whom he sent to the help of Solomon (1 Kings 7:13, 40; 2 Chronicles 2:13; 2 Chronicles 4:11, 16). The willing aid which this king lent to David on this occasion, in supplying cedar timber and workmen, was "the commencement of that amity between the Tyriaus and the Hebrews, so mutually advantageous to the two nations, the one agricultural and the other commercial" (Milman's 'History of the Jews,' 1:239). The meaning of the name Hiram is probably "noble," or "highborn." This disposition, at all events, he seems to have illustrated in his generous friendship to David, Solomon, and their people. Very little to be relied upon is known of him outside Scripture, but his reign is said to have extended from B.C. 1023-990.
And David perceived that the LORD had confirmed him king over Israel, for his kingdom was lifted up on high, because of his people Israel.
Verse 2. - Was lifted up. The passage in Samuel reads נִשֵּׂא, the Piel conjugation. The present form is obscure, נִשֵׂאת. It may be considered either an irregular Niphal third pers. fem.; or Niphal infin, absolute (2 Samuel 19:43); or possibly even an irregular Piel form, in which case the pronoun "he" will need to be supplied as the subject. Supposing that any special connection subsists between this and the previous verse, it is not necessary to consider it remote. Then, as now, the building of a house for one's self, much more the building of a noble palace on the part of a king, is an indication of feeling settled and "confirmed." It was a partial indication of the "lifted-up kingdom" that the king should have a palace of unwonted magnificence. This must have weighed all the more in the case of a nation which, not for its sacred things, nor for its king, nor for its people, had ever had as yet any adequate and worthy housing,
And David took more wives at Jerusalem: and David begat more sons and daughters.
Verse 3. - David took more wives. As matter of course, we do not look in this connection for any remarks to be made by the writer condemnatory of David's enlargement of the harem, or of his having an harem at all. Yet it is open to us to note how, at a time when polygamy was "winked at," and no sin was necessarily to lie on this account at the door of David, yet by this very thing he was undermining the peace and unity of his own family, the comfort of his declining years once and again, and the very stability of his house in the days of Solomon his son. The less necessitated we are to regard David's polygamy in the light of individual sin, the more emphatic in the light of history does the tendency of the practice proclaim itself as thoroughly and irredeemably bad.
Now these are the names of his children which he had in Jerusalem; Shammua, and Shobab, Nathan, and Solomon,
Verses 4-7. - The names of his children which he had in Jerusalem. The names of the children born to David in Hebron are given in 1 Chronicles 3:1-4. For a comparison of this list with that of 1 Chronicles 3:5-9, see that place. It will be observed that the present list agrees with that of Samuel in respect of eleven names, and with 1 Chronicles 3:5-8, so far as number goes, with all thirteen.
And Ibhar, and Elishua, and Elpalet,
And Nogah, and Nepheg, and Japhia,
And Elishama, and Beeliada, and Eliphalet.
And when the Philistines heard that David was anointed king over all Israel, all the Philistines went up to seek David. And David heard of it, and went out against them.
Verses 8-12. - An important victory over the Philistines. Verse 8. - David... went out against them. From a careful comparison of this passage with the parallel and with 2 Samuel 23:12-14, it appears likely that the meaning is that "David went out against them" after having "gone down" first to the "hold," probably at the "cave of Adullam" (1 Chronicles 11:15-17). When it is said that the Philistines went up to seek David, the sequel makes it evident that they did not seek him as friends. And it is to be remembered that the Philistines held territory near Jerusalem at this time, and to the north of it (1 Samuel 31:7-9).
And the Philistines came and spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim.
Verse 9. - Spread themselves. The root, פָשַׁט appears here for the נָטַש of the parallel place. So also again in ver. 13 of this chapter. In the valley of Rephaim; i.e. of giants, though some translate "healers," and yet others "chiefs." Though not Canaanites, they once held portions of Canaan. Their origin is very uncertain. Kalisch ('Commentary on Old Testament,' p. 351) thinks they were descendants of Japheth (Genesis 14:5; Genesis 15:20; Deuteronomy 2:9-11; Deuteronomy 3:11). The "valley" was south of Jerusalem, but whether more south-east or south-west is not certain; probably the former (Joshua 15:8; Joshua 18:16; Isaiah 17:5).
And David inquired of God, saying, Shall I go up against the Philistines? and wilt thou deliver them into mine hand? And the LORD said unto him, Go up; for I will deliver them into thine hand.
Verse 10. - David inquired of God. The "inquiring" was made, as matter of course, through the high priest, and not merely, as we should say, in private prayer (Judges 1:1, 3; Judges 20:23, 27; 1 Samuel 23:2, 4; 1 Samuel 30:8; 2 Samuel 2:1). The directness of the Divine answer was some echo of the old reply when Judah was authorized to go up against the Canaanites (Judges 1:2).
So they came up to Baalperazim; and David smote them there. Then David said, God hath broken in upon mine enemies by mine hand like the breaking forth of waters: therefore they called the name of that place Baalperazim.
Verse 11. - Baal-perazim; literally, master of breaches. Gesenius traces this meaning, through the intermediate idea of "possessor," to that (in this case, that place), which "possesses," i.e. is the subject of such a signal overwhelming as is here described, the scene of overwhelming defeats, like the irresistible rush of waters (Isaiah 28:21).
And when they had left their gods there, David gave a commandment, and they were burned with fire.
Verse 12. - And when they had left their gods there. The parallel translates more literally, "And there they left," as we might also do here; and goes on to read" their images," in place of "their gods" (2 Samuel 5:21). These they burned with fire, according to the command of Deuteronomy 7:5, 25.
And the Philistines yet again spread themselves abroad in the valley.
Verses 13-17. - Another victory over the Philistines. Verse 13. - In the valley; i.e. the valley of Rephaim, as is expressly stated in the parallel place, though left in no obscurity here.
Therefore David inquired again of God; and God said unto him, Go not up after them; turn away from them, and come upon them over against the mulberry trees.
Verse 14. - Go not up after them; turn away from them, and come upon them over against the mulberry trees. The meaning of the directions as here given is sufficiently evident, yet it is somewhat more forcibly expressed in the parallel place, "Thou shalt not go up," i.e. "against the Philistines" (see our tenth verse, and note the form of David's inquiry); "but fetch a compass behind them." The mulberry trees were evidently behind the Philistines. The Hebrew word for the trees here spoken of is הַבְּכָאִים, and the correct rendering of it is probably neither "mulberry" nor, as the Septuagint and Vulgate translate, "pear" trees. But judging from the probable derivation (בָּכָה, to weep), they were trees of the balsam species, and it seems that this is as far as we can safely conjecture. One of the latest authorities (see Condor's 'Handbook to the Bible,' p. 398, 2nd edit.) pronounces it an "unknown species." The tree, strange to say, is only mentioned here and in the parallel place. A summary of opinions as to the tree intended may be found in Smith's 'Bible Dictionary,' 2:439, and this is just sufficient to show that it is not as yet identified with any semblance of certainty. However, it is easy to understand hew the balsam species, from which the exuding gum resembles "tears," might come by the name set forth in the present Hebrew root.
And it shall be, when thou shalt hear a sound of going in the tops of the mulberry trees, that then thou shalt go out to battle: for God is gone forth before thee to smite the host of the Philistines.
Verse 15. - A sound of going. This is net a mere generic or longer form of expression to signify a sound itself. There is significance in the word "going." The sense of the Hebrew word would be thrown out more emphatically by such a rendering as, the sound of steps (literally, stepping). When the motion of the agitated leaves simulated the sound of steps, the stepping of men, then David and his army were to step forth to battle. Though the root of the "stepping" spoken of as heard in the trees is not identical with that of the "going" repeated twice in the remainder of the verse - Then thou shalt go out... for God is gone forth - yet it does alliterate to some extent with it, and rather creates the impression that it was intended to do so. However, the parallel place does not sustain this impression, inasmuch as a different word, "Thou shalt bestir thyself," is there employed, in place of the first occurrence of our supposed alliteration, in the clause, "Thou shalt go out." There is something stirring to the imagination, and probably it was felt so by David and his men, in the signal unseen yet not unheard, and in a sense not of earth, but midway between earth and heaven. The very various voices of the various trees, according to the character of their foliage, may well set poetry going, and startle or fascinate imagination, as the case may be. The music of one tree or grove is as different from that of another as can be - listen to the difference between the melancholy plaint so unceasing of some plantation of firs, and the multitudinous, silvery, rippling of but one white poplar of good size. Presumably the sound in the present ease more resembled that of the steady tramp of them that march.
David therefore did as God commanded him: and they smote the host of the Philistines from Gibeon even to Gazer.
Verse 16. - Gibeon. The parallel reads Geba. As Geba and Gibeon were both situate very near to Jerusalem (on the north), as well as near to one another, both texts may be correct, and each mean what it says. But Isaiah 28:21 confirms the reading Gibeon. It is evident that Gibeon was no appropriate resting-place for the ark (1 Chronicles 13:3, 4; 2 Chronicles 1:3). The nearness of the Philistines' approach to the city of Jerusalem marks their daring on the one hand, and the loud call now for the merciful interposition of Jehovah on behalf of his people. Gazer. Hebrew גָּזְרָה, both here and in the parallel because of the accent. Else the name is Gezer (גֶּזר). It was about two hours distant from Gibeon, and to the north of it (Joshua 10:33; Joshua 12:12; Joshua 21:21; Judges 1:29; 1 Chronicles 20:4), or "four Roman miles northward from Nicopolis ('Onomasticon'); now the large ruin of Tell Jezar" (Conder's' Handbook to the Bible,' p. 412).
And the fame of David went out into all lands; and the LORD brought the fear of him upon all nations.