David’s life was truly one of hardship. For forty years he ran for his life by running from Saul. Now with Saul dead, the kingdom is his and he gladly received it. Although he fled from Israel’s king, he never fled from being the king of Israel. But securing the crown did not secure his safety. In fact, the trials he experienced as king (2 Samuel) far-and-away exceeded all of those he had while hiding in caves (1 Samuel).
It was foreboding that the news of Saul’s death came to David from the lips of a liar. He ascended the throne based on a lie, and things went down hill from there. His generals lied to him, his sons lied to him, and by the end of 2 Samuel even the Devil had lied to him.
Becoming the king did not give David the rest that God promised those in his kingdom (cf. Psalm 95:11).
In this sense David’s life instructs us on the true nature of God’s kingdom. David did not sign up for trouble, but God chose him (1 Samuel 16). David did not try to kill Saul and claim the throne, but sought to honor Yahweh in everything.
For his reward he received a tattered and broken kingdom, factious generals, and a nation ripe for civil war. David united the tribes, consolidated power, and sought the face of Yahweh. He, as much as any Old Testament king ever did, ushered in God’s kingdom on earth—and he received a life of opposition for it.
This is the drama that plays out in 2 Samuel 1-14. David finally gains the kingdom and expels his enemies. The kings go off to battle and they are victorious, and God’s man is on the throne.
But while he may be God’s man, the man is not God. David sins, and God cannot overlook sin. So while rebels are corralled (and quartered), God is exalted, but David stumbles and sheds innocent blood. It falls to the woman from Tekoa to end this section of scripture by proclaiming:
We will all surely die. We are like water spilled on the ground which cannot be gathered up again. Yet God does not take away life, but plans ways so that the banished one will not be cast out from him. (2 Sam 14:14).
These words are the truth that holds 2 Samuel together. While the kingdom is on the rise and the king is on the fall, God makes a covenant that a new and better king will come (2 Samuel 7). A king who will not ascend to the throne by shedding innocent blood. A king whose kingdom will not come to an end. A king who will be what David is not: the God-man.
And this king will be the fulfillment of the Tekoan prophecy—God will use this future king to bring the outcast back home, back to worship him.
David was a sinful king after God’s own heart. He gained the kingdom on earth, but that kingdom only gave him tears and opportunity to sin. It will fall to David’s Son to wipe away those tears and forgive David’s sin.
Only then can the kingdom ever truly be gained.