A lot of information on the subject of Biblical Covenant has been presented in the previous six articles. I want to begin this article with a reminder of the twofold purpose of these covenant reports. First, to provide new Biblical insight to those who have not studied the nature and ramifications of blood covenant. The second reason is what lies behind everything put forth on The More Sure Word. That purpose is to show that the Holy Spirit is impartial in revealing the truths locked within the pages of the Bible. I know this to be true because He has revealed this information on covenant to me, and if He would show me this type information, in the depth and detail he has, he will show it to anyone who seeks answers to the mysteries that are bound up in His Word. Every believer can, and should, study the Bible as an inquisitive student, and all who do will receive revelations of truth from the Holy Spirit. Your revelations will be distinct from mine, and ours will be on subjects different from those of other believers. Each of us will be blessed by the revelations we receive. However, when we share our revelations with a body of believers, many are edified. This is the way the body of Christ is to be built up to a mature man, to the fullness of Christ.
In this article, we are going to look at the way kings and their kingdoms are established through covenant. We’re going to compare and contrast the way Saul and then David became kings of all Israel. This is an important study because it points directly to the establishment of Jesus as King of a kingdom that has no end (see Luke 1:33).
Saul was selected by God. That’s a good thing. David was also selected by God, and that is also a good thing. However, these selections were based on different criteria. Keep in mind that it was the people’s idea to have a king, not God’s. They wanted a king like all the other nations.
4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah;
5 and they said to him, “Behold, you have grown old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint a king for us to judge us like all the nations.” (1 Samuel 8:4-5)
Saul Becomes King
It was not God’s idea that Israel have a king other than Him, but the people insisted, and God did not resist their will.
6 But the thing was displeasing in the sight of Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the LORD.
7 The LORD said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them. (1 Samuel 8:6-7)
Saul was selected by God on the basis of physical attributes the way the people would have chosen a king. Saul was, in effect, the people’s choice. He would be a king like the kings of other nations.
1 Now there was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish the son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Becorath, the son of Aphiah, the son of a Benjamite, a mighty man of valor.
2 He had a son whose name was Saul, a choice and handsome man, and there was not a more handsome person than he among the sons of Israel; from his shoulders and up he was taller than any of the people. (1 Samuel 9:1-2)
Saul’s most important characteristics were that he was handsome and the tallest man around. In other words, Saul was selected for physical attributes rather than spiritual ones. God’s choice was based on the same preferences the people of Israel would have used. Following the selection, God sends Samuel to anoint Saul as the king.
Then Samuel took the flask of oil, poured it on his [Saul’s] head, kissed him and said, “Has not the LORD anointed you a ruler over His inheritance? (1 Samuel 10:1)
The account of how Saul is installed onto the throne of Israel, what would be his coronation, is of interest to our study. Take note that in the following passage there is no agreement, no covenant, between Saul and the people. God selected Saul, and God’s prophet, Samuel, anointed His selection. In the following verses we see that Saul is presented to the people as God’s selected one and the people chime in with a shout of “Long live the king!”
17 Thereafter Samuel called the people together to the LORD at Mizpah;
18 and he said to the sons of Israel, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘I brought Israel up from Egypt, and I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the power of all the kingdoms that were oppressing you.’
19 “But you have today rejected your God, who delivers you from all your calamities and your distresses; yet you have said, ‘No, but set a king over us!’ Now therefore, present yourselves before the LORD by your tribes and by your clans.”
[The people’s demand for a king was in fact a rejection of God as the Lord of all Israel. Thus, there was tension between the people and God in this entire undertaking.]
20 Thus Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel near, and the tribe of Benjamin was taken by lot.
21 Then he brought the tribe of Benjamin near by its families, and the Matrite family was taken. And Saul the son of Kish was taken; but when they looked for him, he could not be found.
22 Therefore they inquired further of the LORD, “Has the man come here yet?” So the LORD said, “Behold, he is hiding himself by the baggage.”
23 So they ran and took him from there, and when he stood among the people, he was taller than any of the people from his shoulders upward.
24 Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see him whom the LORD has chosen? Surely there is no one like him among all the people.” So all the people shouted and said, “Long live the king!”
25 Then Samuel told the people the ordinances of the kingdom, and wrote them in the book and placed it before the LORD. And Samuel sent all the people away, each one to his house.
26 Saul also went to his house at Gibeah; and the valiant men whose hearts God had touched went with him.
27 But certain worthless men said, “How can this one deliver us?” And they despised him and did not bring him any present. But he kept silent. (1 Samuel 10:17-27)
Saul is now king of Israel, but he is God’s choice on the basis of physical attributes. There is not full agreement with all the people … that is, there is no covenant between Saul and the people. In other words, there is no unity of hearts.
David’s Becomes King
Before long, Saul is disobedient. As a result, God rejects him from being king, and He instructs Samuel to anoint another from among the sons of Jesse. Prior to David slaying Goliath, the Philistine giant, Samuel had, at God’s command, anointed David, the youngest son of Jesse, to be the next king of Israel.
1 Now the LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and go; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have selected a king for Myself among his sons.”
2 But Samuel said, “How can I go? When Saul hears of it, he will kill me.” And the LORD said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.’
3 “You shall invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for Me the one whom I designate to you.”
4 So Samuel did what the LORD said, and came to Bethlehem. And the elders of the city came trembling to meet him and said, “Do you come in peace?” (1 Samuel 16:1-4)
Samuel does anoint David, the youngest son of Jesse, to be the next king of Israel. After Goliath is killed at the hand of David and the Philistines are routed, king Saul brings David into his service. David becomes the champion of Israel, and as his fame grows so does Saul’s distrust of David. This, combined with Saul’s awareness of David having been anointed the next king, as well as his knowledge of Jonathan’s covenant with David, causes Saul to become very jealous of David, and he also comes to fear and despise him. But before Saul can kill David and thereby eliminate the threat to his family’s royal position, both Saul and Jonathan are killed in battle. At this time, the people of Judah make David their king.
1 Then it came about afterwards [after the death of Saul and Jonathan] that David inquired of the LORD, saying, “Shall I go up to one of the cities of Judah?” And the LORD said to him, “Go up.” So David said, “Where shall I go up?” And He said, “To Hebron.”
2 So David went up there, and his two wives also, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess and Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite.
3 And David brought up his men who were with him, each with his household; and they lived in the cities of Hebron.
4 Then the men of Judah came and there anointed David king over the house of Judah. And they told David, saying, “It was the men of Jabesh-gilead who buried Saul.” (2 Samuel 2:1-4)
However, another of Saul’s sons is made king over the remaining tribes of Israel.
8 But Abner the son of Ner, commander of Saul’s army, had taken Ish-bosheth the son of Saul and brought him over to Mahanaim.
9 He made him king over Gilead, over the Ashurites, over Jezreel, over Ephraim, and over Benjamin, even over all Israel. (2 Samuel 2:8-9)
Following this, there was a period of wars between Judah and Israel. During this time, the house of David grew continually stronger while the house of Saul became steadily weaker. Then there was a game-changing type of incident that took place between Ish-bosheth and Abner.
6 It came about while there was war between the house of Saul and the house of David that Abner was making himself strong in the house of Saul.
7 Now Saul had a concubine whose name was Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah; and Ish-bosheth said to Abner, “Why have you gone in to my father’s concubine?”
8 Then Abner was very angry over the words of Ish-bosheth and said, “Am I a dog’s head that belongs to Judah? Today I show kindness to the house of Saul your father, to his brothers and to his friends, and have not delivered you into the hands of David; and yet today you charge me with a guilt concerning the woman.
9 “May God do so to Abner, and more also, if as the LORD has sworn to David, I do not accomplish this for him,
10 to transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul and to establish the throne of David over Israel and over Judah, from Dan even to Beersheba.” (2 Samuel 6-10)
Because of the accusation against him, Abner has vowed to remove Israel from being under the throne of Ish-bosheth and establish all the tribes of Israel under the throne of David. Watch how Abner goes about making the transfer a reality.
12 Then Abner sent messengers to David in his place, saying, “Whose is the land? Make your covenant with me, and behold, my hand shall be with you to bring all Israel over to you.”
13 He [David] said, “Good! I will make a covenant with you, but I demand one thing of you, namely, you shall not see my face unless you first bring Michal [David’s first wife], Saul’s daughter, when you come to see me.” (2 Sam 3:12-13)
Please take note that in 2 Samuel 2:4 quoted above that even though David was God’s anointed, the people joined together with God and they anointed him as their king, and they were in agreement among themselves. The Biblical account reveals no voice of dissent as was present with Saul’s coronation. The story continues: David’s wife (the daughter of Saul) is returned and the stage is set for a covenant to be made between David and Abner.
17 Now Abner had consultation with the elders of Israel, saying, “In times past you were seeking for David to be king over you.
18 “Now then, do it! For the LORD has spoken of David, saying, ‘By the hand of My servant David I will save My people Israel from the hand of the Philistines and from the hand of all their enemies.’ “
19 Abner also spoke in the hearing of Benjamin; and in addition Abner went to speak in the hearing of David in Hebron all that seemed good to Israel and to the whole house of Benjamin.
20 Then Abner and twenty men with him came to David at Hebron. And David made a feast [a covenant-making meal] for Abner and the men who were with him.
21 Abner said to David, “Let me arise and go and gather all Israel to my lord the king, that they may make a covenant with you, and that you may be king over all that your soul desires.” So David sent Abner away, and he went in peace [blood covenant is a covenant of peace]. (2 Sam 3:17-21)
The covenant between David and Abner is established, and with it Abner’s vow to deliver all Israel to David. Following this, Joab, the commander of David’s army, kills Abner because he had killed Joab’s brother. David laments Abner’s death, and shows all the people that he is in no way responsible for his death. Had David been responsible for Abner’s death, or even if it would have been perceived that way by the people, he would have been a covenant breaker and he would have lost the people’s trust. Following this, Ish-bosheth is murdered. The way is now clear for David to become the king of all Israel as God had ordained.
1 Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, “Behold, we are your bone and your flesh. [In other words, we are all God’s children … we are all one … we are united.]
2 “Previously, when Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel out and in. And the LORD said to you, ‘You will shepherd My people Israel, and you will be a ruler over Israel.’ “
3 So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a covenant with them before the LORD at Hebron; then they anointed David king over Israel.
4 David was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned forty years.
5 At Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty-three years over all Israel and Judah. (2 Sam 5:1-5)
Both Saul and David were selected by God, but there the similarity ends. There are major differences in the basis for God’s choices. Saul’s selection was based on physical attributes. He was chosen in a way people make choices. David, on the other hand, was singled out because of spiritual attributes. He was selected the way God evaluates a person, as indicated in the passage below.
When Samuel goes to anoint one of Jesse’s sons as king of Israel, he asks for each one to be brought before him, beginning with the oldest, Eliab.
6 When they entered, he [Samuel] looked at Eliab and thought, “Surely the LORD’S anointed is before Him.”
7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
8 Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, “The LORD has not chosen this one either.”
9 Next Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “The LORD has not chosen this one either.”
10 Thus Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. But Samuel said to Jesse, “The LORD has not chosen these.”
11 And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are these all the children ?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, and behold, he is tending the sheep.” Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.”
12 So he sent and brought him [David] in. Now he was ruddy, with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance. And the LORD said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is he.” (1 Samuel 16:6-12)
As it turns out, David was physically attractive, but his appearance was not the reason for God’s selection. David’s heart was united to God’s heart. He was a man after God’s own heart. (1 Samuel 13:14) This singular characteristic separated David from his older brothers and all others. When Goliath was taunting the army of Israel, David’s brothers were there among the ranks. Yet it was David, sent by his father with food for his brothers, who stepped up to face the giant. Not even Saul, the king, who was taller than all his countrymen, and not even Abner, the commander of the army, would accept the giant’s challenge. And it wasn’t that David counted on his own ability, but he trusted God to Whom his heart was knit. Listen to the words of David’s heart.
32 David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail on account of him [Goliath]; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.”
33 Then Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are but a youth while he has been a warrior from his youth.”
34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant was tending his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock,
35 I went out after him and attacked him, and rescued it from his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him and killed him.
36 “Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God.“
37 And David said, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and may the LORD be with you.” (1 Samuel 17:32-37)
David goes to meet Goliath with a staff, a slingshot and five stones. The following exchange takes place between David and Goliath. Listen again to the words of David’s heart.
41 Then the Philistine came on and approached David, with the shield-bearer in front of him.
42 When the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him; for he was but a youth, and ruddy, with a handsome appearance.
43 The Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.
44 The Philistine also said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the sky and the beasts of the field.”
45 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. [God is David’s weapon.]
46 “This day the LORD will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel,
47 and that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the LORD’S and He will give you into our hands.” (1 Samuel 17:41-47)
David’s heart felt the same thing as God’s heart at the taunting of the giant. David knew God would not let this one man stand in defiance to God. He knew it was God who was being taunted, and it was God who would achieve victory.
David’s kingship was superior to Saul’s because his selection was made on the basis of things in the spiritual realm. David had a heart that was like God’s own heart. Here was a man the people could make covenant with, someone they could trust with their own heart. From this we learn that the covenant between a king and his people is a spiritual bond of unity and peace.
David is established as king of all the tribes of Israel based on two criteria: first, he was selected by God because of his spiritual attributes, i.e., his heart, and second, he becomes the king of the people when a covenant is made before God between David and all the people. These are the necessary ingredients for kings and kingdoms in God’s realm. This is also a Biblical picture of how kings and kingdoms are established, not just here on earth, but in heaven. In the next article, we’ll look at how this compares with how Jesus Christ became King of kings and Lord of lords.