By Joshua Cooley
Ruling ancient Israel was certainly not for the claustrophobic.
After King Saul’s demise, Israel controlled the promised land of Canaan—barely. The mighty Syrians lay to the north. The ever-problematic Philistines—and their gruesome gaggle of giants—sat on Israel’s western doorstep, ready to pounce. To the east were Ammon and Moab, accursed nations whose people were forbidden from entering the temple (Deuteronomy 23:3, Nehemiah 13:1). To the south were Amalek and Edom, belligerent distant cousins of the Israelite people through Esau’s lineage. Each of these hostile nations wanted to sink their teeth into God’s people.
So what did David do about this when he became king? Well, to use a very technical Old Testament phrase, he went Rambo on them.
First Chronicles 18–20 provides a staggering snapshot of David’s military achievements. If you think David’s slingshot years earlier was impressive, you need to check out these chapters!
When the Philistines threatened (again), David conquered Gath, the former haunt of Goliath, and “subdued them” (1Chronicles 18:1). When Moab got feisty, David forced them into tribute-bearing servitude (1Chronicles 18:2). When Zobah, Aram, Edom and Ammon attacked, David and his men cut down tens of thousands.
Then, in a nod to David’s old playbook, some of his men even bumped off several Philistine giants, including at least one of Goliath’s kinfolk and another “man of extraordinary stature” from Gath (1Chronicles 20:6). This notorious giant human had twelve fingers and twelve toes. The extra digits, however, didn’t do him any good. “When he taunted Israel, Jonathan son of David’s brother Shimei killed him” (v.7). Like uncle, like nephew.
What was the key to David’s resounding military success? The Chronicler makes it very clear, twice proclaiming in chapter eighteen, “The LORD made David victorious wherever he went” (vv.6,13).
Undoubtedly, David was a great warrior. But Scripture attributes his success to the Lord God Almighty.
David’s impressive triumphs presaged far greater victories to come. In Psalm 110, God gave David a prophetic peek into the future: “This is the declaration of the LORD to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.’ The LORD will extend your mighty scepter from Zion. Rule over your surrounding enemies” (Psalm 110:1–2).
David’s Lord is none other than Jesus Christ! Jesus vanquished our three greatest enemies—sin, Satan, and death. Although we still feel their effects in this fallen world, they no longer hold dominion over us. One day, the King will return to consummate His victory over our enemies. No enemy-induced claustrophobia there! Only never-ending love, joy, and peace under Christ’s perfect reign.
Not even twelve fingers and twelve toes can begin to count the heavenly blessings awaiting us at the return of the King. Praise the Lord for our eternal victory in Christ!
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