2 Samuel 8:1-18
8 In the course of time, David defeated the Philistines and subdued them, and he took Metheg Ammah from the control of the Philistines. 2 David also defeated the Moabites. He made them lie down on the ground and measured them off with a length of cord. Every two lengths of them were put to death, and the third length was allowed to live. So the Moabites became subject to David and brought him tribute. 3 Moreover, David defeated Hadadezer son of Rehob, king of Zobah, when he went to restore his monument at the Euphrates River. 4 David captured a thousand of his chariots, seven thousand charioteers and twenty thousand foot soldiers. He hamstrung all but a hundred of the chariot horses. 5 When the Arameans of Damascus came to help Hadadezer king of Zobah, David struck down twenty-two thousand of them. 6 He put garrisons in the Aramean kingdom of Damascus, and the Arameans became subject to him and brought tribute. The Lord gave David victory wherever he went. 7 David took the gold shields that belonged to the officers of Hadadezer and brought them to Jerusalem. 8 From Tebah and Berothai, towns that belonged to Hadadezer, King David took a great quantity of bronze. 9 When Tou king of Hamath heard that David had defeated the entire army of Hadadezer, 10 he sent his son Joram to King David to greet him and congratulate him on his victory in battle over Hadadezer, who had been at war with Tou. Joram brought with him articles of silver, of gold and of bronze. 11 King David dedicated these articles to the Lord, as he had done with the silver and gold from all the nations he had subdued: 12 Edom and Moab, the Ammonites and the Philistines, and Amalek. He also dedicated the plunder taken from Hadadezer son of Rehob, king of Zobah. 13 And David became famous after he returned from striking down eighteen thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt. 14 He put garrisons throughout Edom, and all the Edomites became subject to David. The Lord gave David victory wherever he went. 15 David reigned over all Israel, doing what was just and right for all his people. 16 Joab son of Zeruiah was over the army; Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was recorder; 17 Zadok son of Ahitub and Ahimelek son of Abiathar were priests; Seraiah was secretary; 18 Benaiah son of Jehoiada was over the Kerethites and Pelethites; and David’s sons were priests.
It’s hard to read the Old Testament sometimes. How do I reconcile these events? How can killing people and hamstringing horses be justified?
I’m sure scholars have delved deep into this passage, and others like it, and can come up with insightful solutions. Maybe things like “Ruth (David’s great grandmother) was a Moabite and that’s why David kept a third of them alive – it was actually an act of mercy to spare them”. Or maybe they might say “An enemy can’t pursue and attack your nation if they don’t have any horses”. I don’t know.
Here’s what I do know… verse 15 in the Amplified Bible says that David, as King, administered JUSTICE and RIGHTEOUSNESS for all his people – and that is a prelude to what Jesus would do for you and me.
This world is not fair. Bad things happen because the world is broken because of sin and separation from God. We can’t do anything about it so God stepped in and sent Jesus. All those times we cry out to God and say “why is this happening to me – how is this fair?”, God says “I know – it isn’t fair! So let Jesus pay for it!” Jesus died on the cross to bring justice and rose from the dead, destroying sin and death forever, to make everything that is broken right again. (See Revelation 21:4)
For all those times we have strived to be right with God saying “I just can’t seem to measure up – no matter how hard I try”, God says “I know – so let Jesus do it for you. I accept you as my son, my daughter – based on HIS righteousness, not yours. You can’t earn it – it’s a gift. Do you want it?”
Dear God, yes I want it – your gift of righteousness and justice through Jesus. Justice – because I believe you’ll make all things right one day because Jesus paid for it on the cross. And righteousness – because I know I’ll never make it to heaven without Jesus’ help. Thank you, my answer is yes. Amen
Written by Boudy van Noppen