David wants to build God a house, but God says He has never asked for one and he’ll establish David’s house forever; David goes on to win some important military victories: 2 Samuel 7–8; 1 Chronicles 17–18; Psalm 60 (with passages sorted into chronological order – see Note)
An immediate threat to David’s throne, and Israel, was the existential threats to Israel of four nations (see 1 Samuel 14:47) as aggressors, oppressors and plunderers. The Philistines were an old enemy and would-be oppressor that had already attacked Israel twice during David’s reign; the king of Zobah triggered his battles with David by conducting what we would now call ‘military exercises’ along Israel’s border; as well as their aggression in Saul’s time, Moab had previously tried to destroy the Israelites. The Edomites were another of the enemies from Saul’s time. In no sense were they victims of David’s unprovoked aggression.
Defeating determined enemies like this suggests that David was a gifted military commander, with good generals, but the success is attributed to God:
1 Chronicles 18:13; 2 Samuel 8:14
In fact, the Lord made David victorious wherever he went.
But it might not have all been as easy as the list of victories first suggests. The list just gives us the outcomes: amongst other victories, David’s forces defeated Zobah and the Arameans who turned up in support; he then defeated the Edomites. But Psalm 60, which was written around the time of those two battles, isn’t a prayer of confidence; it reads more like a prayer that might have come from an unexpected complication in a battle plan.
It starts with:
Psalm 60:1 You have rejected us, O God, and broken our defenses.
You have been angry with us; now restore us to your favor.
And finishes with:
Who will bring me into the fortified city?
Who will bring me victory over Edom?
Have you rejected us, O God?
Will you no longer march with our armies?
Oh, please help us against our enemies,
for all human help is useless.
With God’s help we will do mighty things,
for he will trample down our foes.
There’s no record of what went wrong, but there must have been some complication to upset David’s plans: otherwise, why a prayer like that? Some have speculated that Edom tried an attack from the south while David was engaged further north, but the Bible is silent. Without that Psalm, we would have had no indication that there was anything other than a string of glorious and easy victories.
Here’s the scriptures covered in this section, broken up and recast into chronological order:
2 Samuel 7:1–17; 1 Chronicles 17:1–15; 2 Samuel 7:18–29; 1 Chronicles 17:16–27; 2 Samuel 8:1–14; 1 Chronicles 18:1–13; Psalm 60