GOD’S WORD FOR YOU
1 CHRONICLES 11:4-6
4 David and all Israel marched to Jerusalem (that is, Jebus). The Jebusites lived there in that land. 5 Those who lived in Jebus said to David, “You will not get in here.” Nevertheless, David captured the fortress of Zion. It became the City of David. 6 David had said, “Whoever strikes the Jebusites first will become chief and prince.” Joab son of Zeruiah went up first, and so he received the command.
Our author does not go into the same details as does the account in Samuel, but neither account is complete without the other:
- In the spring of 1002 BC, seven years and six months after David began his reign in Hebron, he marched on the city of Jebus on the southern spur of Mount Moriah (also called Mount Zion).
- The Jebusite taunt, “You will not get in here,” also included the mockery: “Even the blind and the lame can ward you off” (2 Samuel 5:6).
- Later on, it was said that “‘The blind and lame’ will not enter the palace,” and this was a reference to this incident (2 Samuel 5:8).
- It was David’s plan to use the existing water shaft (tsninnor, “channel” or “waterfall” in Psalm 42:7), to gain access to the city.
- An unknown number of men (one, three, five, or more?) entered into the water system of the city at the Gihon Spring and climbed up the channel, probably the 42-foot vertical rock channel known today as Warren’s Shaft.
- The warrior who entered the city first, not named in Samuel, was Joab, David’s nephew (verse 6; see 1 Chronicles 2:15-16).
- The Jebusite stronghold, known then as Jebus, became known as Jerusalem. Salem was the old name of the place when Melchizedek was king in the days of Abraham (Genesis 14:18). The new name, Jerusalem, seems to be a combination of the old name Salem and the Jebusite name “Jebus,” changed a little so that it could mean “City of Peace.”
When we ponder this verse, we should see how God is glorified (as always). At the same time, we should not make any rash judgments about the text because we have lost track of our common sense. I am startled by the number of commentaries that bemoan the lack of detail in this passage and in the parallel text in 2 Samuel 5:6-8. “What does the word tsinnor really mean?” they groan, and then they say, “We don’t have enough information to judge the text!” Judge the text? Who are we to judge any part of the Word of God, when we should fall to our knees and shut out the world around us and listen to what the word says?
What I mean is this: We should not expect that David would permit the complete secret of his capture of Jerusalem to be recorded in the Scriptures. If he did, what would stop a man like David’s enemy Doeg the murderous Edomite (Psalm 52:1; 1 Samuel 22:18) from taking the secret to a neighboring monarch to overthrow David? It’s not much different from keeping our banking information private today.
But more than secrecy, the point is that victory was given to David by God. God is glorified when he takes care of his people even in war, and God is glorified because David conquered the Jebusites, just as God had commanded. The Jebusites were not to be spared (Deuteronomy 20:17), although one or two like Araunah somehow survived. It is possible that in mercy some of the people who became believers were permitted to live and to remain in Canaan. This would not be in defiance of God’s command, such as when Achan stole some valuables from the destruction of Jericho to line his pockets (Joshua 7:1), but an act of mercy, since a foreigner was permitted to join with Israel if he would submit to the covenant (Genesis 17:10-14).
Here in the capture of Jerusalem, God’s promise once again comes more sharply into focus. God had promised Abraham that on this very mountain, “it would be provided”– meaning the substitute sacrifice for the sins of mankind (Genesis 22:14). Here then was the city where Jesus would be put on trial, judged to be innocent (John 19:6), prophesied by the high priest to be the one who would die for the people (John 11:50). He was the one Isaiah spoke about: “He was pierced for our transgression, he was crushed for our iniquities, and the punishment that brought us peace was upon him. And by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). Just as surely as you and I are breathing air, this forgiveness through Jesus is ours, now, today, and forever.
Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, New Ulm, Minnesota
God’s Word for You – 1 Chronicles 11:4-6 City of David