At the beginning of 2 Samuel 8, we find Israel back at war again in two separate campaigns.
2Sa 8:1 And after this it came to pass, that David smote the Philistines, and subdued them: and David took Methegammah out of the hand of the Philistines.
2Sa 8:3 David smote also Hadadezer, the son of Rehob, king of Zobah, as he went to recover his border at the river Euphrates.
You have to wonder why Israel was fighting wars on two fronts. After all, isn’t one war enough?
In my mind, there are two separate reasons why Israel went to war here.
Gen 15:18 In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:
Gen 15:19 The Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites,
Gen 15:20 And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims,
Gen 15:21 And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.
Way back in Genesis, the Israelites were supposed inherit the land of the Canaanites. According to everything I have seen, the Philistine civilization was in Canaan. This is all part of the land that God had promised to Abraham far before any of this had happened. As a result, by David finally driving out another group of Canaanites, we can see how the promise to Abraham was fulfilled.
The second one is quite obvious. The parallel between verse three and verse 18 is clear.
Here is my question for you then. Why do we even care about this?
I think that this says something about the character of God. Abraham and David were separated by hundreds of years. At the time, I wonder if Abraham ever wondered when God would follow through on that promise of land.
2Pe 3:8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
God exists outside of time. Although it is hard for any of us to conceptualize what this really means, I think that we can nevertheless conclude that it does not especially matter when God fulfills a promise with a few exceptions.
The reason I mention a few exceptions is because Jesus himself prophesied that He would rise in three days. Obviously, time was of the essence. However, if there is no time specified like there is in this example, then I believe that time does not matter.
The more significant part of any of the promises in the Bible is that they were fulfilled. Not only does it demonstrate the faithfulness of God, but it also adds additional proof that God is alive and real. He doesn’t just make up things that sound good at the time. He follows through.
The tribe of Judah was specifically chosen by God to lead the charge against the Canaanites in Judges chapter 1.
Jdg 1:1 Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass, that the children of Israel asked the LORD, saying, Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first, to fight against them?
Jdg 1:2 And the LORD said, Judah shall go up: behold, I have delivered the land into his hand.
I like the use of language in the second verse. The land has been delivered. That makes me think of the Postal Service. As the end customer, we do not need to do any of the work behind the scenes. The company coordinates everything to deliver that package or envelope right into our hands.
I think that is what God is trying to tell the Israelites and modern readers through these verses. There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes that we cannot coordinate, but we cannot just say that all of that activity does not happen.
Jer 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
God has already orchestrated all of history, and because of that, we need to accept his deliveries. Although I don’t think most of us have been handed military conquest like the tribe of Judah was, we have been given a wide variety of different blessings and gifts.
It is not at all by our own merit that we have been blessed, but just like He chose the tribe of Judah, God still gives us certain talents and abilities to equip us for whatever He needs.
The obvious application from this passage is that we need to accept our deliveries from God and then use them in the way that He would want us to.
Again, something interesting happens again in Joshua chapter 16. Just like yesterday, the Israelites failed to drive out another people group.
Jos 16:10 And they drave not out the Canaanites that dwelt in Gezer: but the Canaanites dwell among the Ephraimites unto this day, and serve under tribute.
Just to provide a recap, the people of Israel were not supposed to make any agreements with the people that lived in Canaan. In fact, that was God’s plan to drive out all the people who lived there.
Jos 3:10 And Joshua said, Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you, and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Hivites, and the Perizzites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Jebusites.
So, despite this assurance that God would help the people of Israel conquer all of the land, there apparently with some reason that they did not try to drive out these candidates.
A possible explanation for this could come from the fact that they were receiving a tribute. After all, if the Canaanites were not causing any problems and were paying money, why not keep them around?
I think that there would have been a very good reason for driving them out.
Pro 14:12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
I assume that it made a lot of sense to want to take a tribute from the people. I assume that it could even be justified by saying that God put us in this land so that we could collect tribute.
That was incredibly wrong if it truly was the justification for keeping the Canaanites around. When God said that He would help the people of Israel drive out the people of Canaan, it was not the position of the people of Israel to decide that they didn’t want to drive certain ones out. God wanted them to have that land and not enter into any type of agreement or treaty.
The obvious take away from this passage is that obedience to God is necessary. If we are commanded to do something, it is definitely in our best interest to follow God. Even if things make sense for us, the ways of God are better than ours.