The Story of Patriarchs and Prophets
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 70: The Reign of David
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As soon as David was established on the throne of Israel he
began to seek a more appropriate location for the capital
of his realm. Twenty miles from Hebron a place was selected as
the future metropolis of the kingdom. Before Joshua had led the
armies of Israel over Jordan it had been called Salem. Near this
place Abraham had proved his loyalty to God. Eight hundred
years before the coronation of David it had been the home of
Melchizedek, the priest of the most high God. It held a central
and elevated position in the country and was protected by an
environment of hills. Being on the border between Benjamin
and Judah, it was in close proximity to Ephraim and was easy of
access to the other tribes.
In order to secure this location the Hebrews must dispossess
a remnant of the Canaanites, who held a fortified position on the
mountains of Zion and Moriah. This stronghold was called
Jebus, and its inhabitants were known as Jebusites. For centuries
Jebus had been looked upon as impregnable; but it was besieged
and taken by the Hebrews under the command of Joab, who, as
the reward of his valor, was made commander-in-chief of the
armies of Israel. Jebus now became the national capital, and its
heathen name was changed to Jerusalem.
Hiram, king of the wealthy city of Tyre, on the Mediterranean
Sea, now sought an alliance with the king of Israel, and lent his
aid to David in the work of erecting a palace at Jerusalem.
Ambassadors were sent from Tyre, accompanied by architects and
workmen and long trains laden with costly wood, cedar trees, and
other valuable material.
The increasing strength of Israel in its union under David,
the acquisition of the stronghold of Jebus, and the alliance with
Hiram, king of Tyre, excited the hostility of the Philistines, and
they again invaded the country with a strong force, taking up [p. 704] their position in the valley of Rephaim, but a short distance from
Jerusalem. David with his men of war retired to the stronghold
of Zion, to await divine direction. "And David inquired of the
Lord, saying, Shall I go up to the Philistines? wilt thou deliver
them into mine hand? And the Lord said unto David, Go up:
for I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into thine hand."
David advanced upon the enemy at once, defeated and
destroyed them, and took from them the gods which they had
brought with them to ensure their victory. Exasperated by the
humiliation of their defeat, the Philistines gathered a still larger
force, and returned to the conflict. And again they "spread themselves
in the valley of Rephaim." Again David sought the Lord
and the great I Am took the direction of the armies of Israel.
God instructed David, saying, "Thou shalt not go up; but
fetch a compass behind them, and come upon them over against
the mulberry trees. And let it be, when thou hearest the sound of
a going in the tops of the mulberry trees, that then thou shalt
bestir thyself: for then shall the Lord go out before thee, to smite
the host of the Philistines." If David, like Saul, had chosen his
own way, success would not have attended him. But he did as
the Lord had commanded, and he "smote the host of the Philistines
from Gibeon even to Gazer. And the fame of David went
out into all lands; and the Lord brought the fear of him upon all
nations." 1 Chronicles 14:16, 17.
Now that David was firmly established upon the throne and
free from the invasions of foreign foes, he turned to the
accomplishment of a cherished purpose—to bring up the ark of God to
Jerusalem. For many years the ark had remained at Kirjath-jearim,
nine miles distant; but it was fitting that the capital of the
nation should be honored with the token of the divine Presence.
David summoned thirty thousand of the leading men of
Israel, for it was his purpose to make the occasion a scene of
great rejoicing and imposing display. The people responded
gladly to the call. The high priest, with his brethren in sacred
office and the princes and leading men of the tribes, assembled
at Kirjath-jearim. David was aglow with holy zeal. The ark was
brought out from the house of Abinadab and placed upon a
new cart drawn by oxen, while two of the sons of Abinadab
The men of Israel followed with exultant shouts and songs of [p. 705] rejoicing, a multitude of voices joining in melody with the sound
of musical instruments; "David and all the house of Israel played
before the Lord . . . on harps, and on psalteries, and on timbrels,
and on cornets, and on cymbals." It had been long since Israel
had witnessed such a scene of triumph. With solemn gladness
the vast procession wound its way along the hills and valleys
toward the Holy City.
But "when they came to Nachon's threshing floor, Uzzah put
forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the
oxen shook it. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against
Uzzah, and God smote him there for his rashness; [* marginal reading]
and there he died by the ark of God." A sudden terror fell upon the
rejoicing throng. David was astonished and greatly alarmed, and in his
heart he questioned the justice of God. He had been seeking to
honor the ark as the symbol of the divine presence. Why, then,
had that fearful judgment been sent to turn the season of gladness
into an occasion of grief and mourning? Feeling that it would
be unsafe to have the ark near him, David determined to let it
remain where it was. A place was found for it nearby, at the
house of Obed-edom the Gittite.
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