David: greatest of Israel's kings

In becoming Israel's second king at age 30, David achieved in ways never equaled in Israel.

The kingdom stretched, according to tradition, as far north as the Euphrates River (2 Sam. 8:3) to the borders of Egypt in the south (2 Sam. 8:14).According to the Bible Dictionary maps, this was from Edom, at the Gulf of Aquaba in the Red Sea north well into what is now Syria, and west into what is now Jordan, a kingdom more than 100 miles wide and nearly 400 miles long.

David's expertise as a leader is shown throughout his reign. Examples of this include:

-He maneuvered skillfully through troubled waters of civil insurrections. (2 Sam. 3:36-39; chapters 17,18.) He punished murderers for their crimes, whether they killed allies or enemies. (2 Sam. 1:15-16, 4:9-12.) This led to his being accepted as king by dissident tribes. He also formed alliances with neighboring tribes. Among these were the Phoenicians of Tyre, who would later help construct the temple of Solomon. (2 Sam. 5:11.)

-Instead of selecting a site for the empire's capital that favored either the northern or southern factions, he chose and conquered a central location owned by neither side: Jerusalem. At that time, it was called Jebus and was occupied by the Canaanite Jebusites, a small city with a reputation of being impregnable by its strategic location and fortifications. (1 Chron. 11:4-8.)

-He immediately brought the hallowed ark of the covenant to Jerusalem, displaying his interest in being a righteous king and establishing the city as a spiritual center to all Israel, as well as political and military headquarters. (1 Chron. 13.)

-The ever-threatening Philistines were soundly defeated by David, (1 Chron. 14:8-17) and he fought successful foreign wars against the Moabites, Zobah, Aramaeans, Edomites and Ammonites. (1 Chron. 18-20.) He also quelled two major domestic rebellions. (2 Samuel, chapters 15-18, 20.)

-He displayed genius in organizational matters. After conquering a territory, he established garrison outposts. Government officers were placed over such duties as recording, receiving tributes, supervising conquered peoples. (1 Chron. 18.)

The king, his two priests Zadok and Abiathar, and the prophets "held an interesting balance of power. In theory, no one had the sovereign power. They worked interdependently, affording checks and balances in the government," wrote Ann N. Madsen in Studies in Scripture, The Old Testament.

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