Send this sermon
to a friend
11th June, 2000

From Outlaw to King
2 Samuel 5:1-10

In Fiji a terrorist is holding parliamentarians at gunpoint. The democratically elected Prime Minister is a prisoner. The terrorist wants to be Prime Minister. In a sermon in 1989, I asked: "Could an outlaw ever become king, or President or Prime Minister?" We have seen hundreds of leaders who have been thrown into jail, but few examples of prisoners becoming president or prime ministers. Back in 1989, I said: "In South Africa, Mr F.W. de Klerk is President of the Republic, the most powerful man in the nation. The armed forces, the police, the power to hold and imprison political agitators are all his at the stroke of a pen under the State of Emergency provisions. He has the power of the state behind him to control 16 million disenfranchised blacks. President de Klerk has the force with him. But who believes that? A skinny, sick old man, who has spent the last twenty-seven years in prison as martyr, leader and icon, Nelson Mandela, has more power affecting the future of South Africa. I am sure President de Klerk knows that. White supremacists in South Africa are more imprisoned than Mandela! The President and the Prisoner...which man is the real captive? Perhaps the day will come when Mandela and de Klerk change offices!"

On May 10, 1994, five years later, Nelson Mandela, was inducted as President of the Republic of South Africa. The prisoner had become President. This amazing transformation of power and position was also seen in the life of David, 3000 years ago. His was a rise to power like that of Nelson Mandela.

1. The Fleeing Outlaw
From age 20, David the Shepherd who slew the giant Goliath was a hero, but he was made an outlaw by the insanely jealous King Saul. Envy ate at Saul's heart and paranoid thoughts filled his head. He tried to get rid of David, including twice throwing a spear at him in an attempt to pin David to the wall. Each time David escaped by the skin of his teeth! When Saul's son and daughter both supported and loved David, Saul was even more enraged. He ordered his army to kill David.

David fled the country. He stayed in the territory of the enemies of Saul. Other times he stayed in caves in the wilderness of Judea. Whenever Saul heard of his location, he set off with soldiers to capture him. David was often alone. Mostly he was accompanied by a group of outlaws who were similarly hated by the king. More of these people joined David. Soon his outlaw band grew to a formidable fighting force of 800 men. Twice David secretly had the opportunity to kill Saul, but he refused. Although the King was trying to kill David in his madness, David respected King Saul's position and authority. For ten years, David was a hunted man living as an outlaw, wanted by the King with a death sentence hanging over his head. But the people of Israel never forgot his heroic deeds against Goliath and his success as commander of Saul's army before being hunted by Saul. But then King Saul, surrounded by the Philistines, committed suicide. The people now looked to David to lead them.

2. The Shepherd King
2 Samuel 5:1 - 3
"All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, "We are your own flesh and blood. In the past, while Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel on their military campaigns. And the LORD said to you, `You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will become their ruler.' " When all the elders of Israel had come to King David at Hebron, the king made a compact with them at Hebron before the LORD, and they anointed David king over Israel. David was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned forty years."

King David planned a united monarchy of both Judah and Israel. The elders representing the twelve tribes came to David at Hebron with the purpose of submitting to his rule. The elders were eager to make David the king over all Israel because of kinship. They referred to themselves as "your own flesh and blood". The elders' second reason is that during Saul's reign David was Israel's best army officer, a fact recognized even by the Philistines. In the days of the prophet Samuel, the elders of Israel had demanded "a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles". 1 Sam 8:20 Saul was such a king, but David would be supremely so. He became an outstanding general as events would soon show. His battles with the Philistines, resulted in Israel becoming strong. The elders' third reason for wanting him on Israel's throne, was that they knew the Lord has invested David with the titles of "shepherd" and "ruler" v2 as well as "king". v3

David is the first example of a specific leader being called a "shepherd" of the nation. Shepherds were familiar to the people who looked to David for gentleness, watchfulness, and concern. The shepherd's task was to lead, feed, and heed his flock. The shepherd metaphor was a happy choice for good rulers and grateful people. Jere 3:15; 23:4 David became the paradigm of the shepherd-king. It is not surprising that "great David's greater son," Jesus Christ, should be called the "good shepherd" John 10:11, 14, the "great Shepherd" Heb 13:20 and the "Chief Shepherd" 1 Peter 5:4 He provides for His sheep all things needed for abundant life. David had been anointed king over Judah. Now he is anointed king over Israel, "as the LORD promised through Samuel". The news of his anointing as King put fear the hearts of the Philistines.

3. The Warrior King
The role of the King was to defend his people and to extend their territory. The King, as even in the lifetime of adults here, was to be defender of the empire and protector of the faith. V6 - 8 The Philistine wars 5:17-25 preceded the conquest of Jerusalem and continued for years after. The Philistines had captured the Ark of the Covenant, that mysterious gold box covered which contained the stone tablets with the ten commandments, some manna from the wilderness and Joshua's rod. David wanted that box for two reasons: its presence in his city would unify the people; and because the people believed that whoever owned the box would be invincible in war.

4. The City Of David
Until now Jerusalem had been on the border between Judah and Israel. But the Jebusite city was tied to no tribe. It was neutral and central. Its virtual impregnability made it an ideal capital for David's newly established, united kingdom. David was determined to make Jerusalem his capital. 5-7 "In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and in Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years. The king and his men marched to Jerusalem to attack the Jebusites, who lived there. The Jebusites said to David, "You will not get in here; even the blind and the lame can ward you off." The Jebusites claimed even disabled people could defend them. v 8 David retaliated calling all Jebusites "lame and blind". "They thought, "David cannot get in here." Nevertheless, David captured the fortress of Zion, the City of David."

"On that day, David said, "Anyone who conquers the Jebusites will have to use the water shaft to reach those `lame and blind' who are David's enemies.""v6-9 What does it mean "Anyone who conquers the Jebusites will have to use the water shaft."? Exactly how the fortress was captured remains unclear because the meaning of "watershaft," also means "waterfall". Perhaps David's soldier Joab could have climbed up a tunnel that led from a water source outside the city to a location within the city. But that theory has remained unproven. Until 1994! Then Geologist Dan Gill reported his long study beneath the earth.

He studied the small underground tunnels and caves beneath the city of Jerusalem. He was able to determine that they were carved by natural water seepage from the spring Gihon. Underground water beneath Jerusalem follows a natural karst system: an irregular series of watercourses, sinks, caverns and channels in the limestone.

Jerusalem is built on top of several mountains including Mt Zion. It is surrounded on three sides by steep valleys. At the bottom of the Kidron Valley water flows into the Pool of Siloam. King David offered any soldier the reward of being made commander of the army, if they found a way into the strongly walled city. Joab started in the Pool of Siloam, and crawled and wriggled up the watercourse that fed the pool. In pitch black, he reached some shafts where water cascaded down upon him as a waterfall. One of these shafts is 37' high. He managed to climb up the shaft and along other fissures in the limestone until after climbing other shafts, he emerged in a well dug at the spring. At night, Joab opened the gates of the city to allow David's men in. Part of that journey was followed by British archaeologist Captain Charles Warren and Sergeant Birtles in 1867. The shaft is today called Warren's shaft. About 300 years after David, King Hezekiah, wanting to have access to water before his enemy the Assyrian Sennacherib besieged the city in 701BC, followed the flow by enlarging it to a tunnel. With a good water supply and strong walls, Jerusalem survived that siege.

Thanks to geologist Dan Gill, we now know how Joab penetrated the city walls. Many a city wall has been penetrated through its sewers and drains, but Joab was the first so recorded. Once the city was taken, David renamed it the "city of David" v7, 9 and started building. That work took years. As the city expanded, terraces were built and the land leveled. In addition to David's building activities, Joab, now David's commander-in-chief, "restored the rest of the city". V9-10 "David then took up residence in the fortress and called it the City of David. He built up the area around it, from the supporting terraces inward. And he became more and more powerful, because the LORD God Almighty was with him." It was God who was the source of David's strength.

The City of David, Jerusalem, became the most important city in the Bible. Geographically and theologically it is located "in the center of the nations" Ezek 5:5 Jerusalem is of great importance not only to David and the Jews who followed him, but for Zionists today who see it as the capital of modern Israel. It is important to all Muslims, as the third most important city to all Arabs. The outlaw became King and the city became the city of David. It is central to all Christians as the city of Jesus, and of the place where Jesus was crucified and where God raised Him from the dead. Jesus was "great David's greater Son". Jesus is the good shepherd who laid down His life for our sins. Jesus is the King of Kings.

Send this sermon to a friend CLICK HERE

  The Bible and Recent Archaeology, Kathleen M. Kenyon (rev. ed) John Knox, 1987.
Biblical Archaeological Review. July Aug 1994.

Rev Dr Gordon Moyes

Send an e-mail to Gordon Moyes -

Return to sermons home page