TEACHING THE TEACHER
David and Solomon: Psalms and Wisdom
The Second Book of Samuel; I Kings, Chapters 1 to 11;
I Chronicles, Chapter 10 to II Chronicles, Chapter 9
One of Saul's sons, Ish-bosheth, for a short time after the death of his father and brothers in battle, attempted to maintain his right to succeed Saul on the throne. But when Abner, his kinsman and the head of the army, turned to David, son of Jesse, who was already reigning at Hebron as king over Judah, all the tribes followed him. Both Ish-bosheth and Abner soon perished.
With his new dignity David promptly acquired a new capital, better suited than Hebron in location and strength to be the nation's center. He captured the fortress of Jebus, five miles north of Bethlehem, his old home, from its Canaanitish defenders, and enlarged, strengthened, and beautified it. Under its ancient name of Jerusalem he made it both the political and the religious capital of Israel.
The Ark of the Covenant, which in Eli's time had been captured by the Philistines, had been returned by them, and for many years had rested in a private house, was regarded as the very heart and symbol of the national religion. David therefore brought it first to Jerusalem, and instead of uniting with it its former housing, the old Mosaic tabernacle, he gave it a temporary home in a tent, intending to build a splendid temple when he should have peace. But war continued through the days of David, and at God's direction the erection of a temple, save for certain preparations, was left to Solomon, David's successor.
David was victorious in war. His success showed itself in the enlargement of Israel's boundaries, the complete subjection — for the time — of all alien elements in the land, and the alliance with Hiram, king of Tyre, with the great building operations which this alliance made possible. A royal palace formed the center of a court such as other sovereigns maintained, and David's court and even his family were exposed to the same corrupting influences as power, wealth, jealousy, and faction have everywhere introduced. Absalom, his favorite son, ill requited his father's love and trust by organizing a revolt against him. It failed, but not until it had driven the king, now an old man, into temporary exile and had let loose civil war upon the land.