Jerusalem—The Eternal Capital of Israel
David was the new king of Israel. His anointing in Hebron was actually David’s third. Like the anointing of the elders of Judah seven and a half years earlier, the people of Israel as a unified nation finally confirmed Samuel’s anointing of David as God’s choice to be their king.
David’s first official act as king was significant.
“And David and all Israel went to Jerusalem, which is Jebus, where the Jebusites were, the inhabitants of the land. But the inhabitants of Jebus said to David, ‘You shall not come in here!’ Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion (that is, the City of David).” (1 Chr. 11:4-5).
Although the newly crowned king already ruled Judah from Hebron, the isolated city was not a suitable capital for united Israel. David moved quickly to secure a more appropriate site—Jerusalem, the Jebusite stronghold known as Jebus.
To David, it was more than a pragmatic response to the need for a new capital. The Jebusites were specifically named by God as one of the Canaanite groups to be driven from the land (Deut. 20:17). In the 400 years since Israel’s conquest, however, the Jebusites had doggedly held this fortress in a pocket of land between the tribes of Benjamin and Judah (Josh. 15:63; Jud. 1:21).
David understood the implications of a Jebusite bastion in the land of Israel and took action to rectify the situation. It was an opportune moment. The three-day coronation celebration had barely ended and the army of Israel was still assembled in Hebron. Without waiting, the army under David’s leadership made the 20-mile trek to Jebus.
When he arrived at the base of the citadel, the Jebusites taunted from the battlements. Their arrogant defiance reflected that of Goliath who also defied the army of Israel. They mocked:
“‘You shall not come in here; but the blind and the lame will repel you,’ thinking, David cannot come in here.” (2 Sam. 5:6).
Because the city sat atop a finger-shaped formation protected on three sides by precipitous slopes, the Jebusites were convinced the city was impregnable. They were telling David the city is so secure, even the blind and lame could defend it. David later used their sarcastic taunt, “the blind and lame,” as a reference to the arrogance of the Jebusites.
David devised a strategy for taking the city. His orders were clear, “Whoever climbs up by way of the water shaft and defeats the Jebusites (the lame and the blind, who are hated by David’s soul), he shall be chief and captain” (5:8).
Just to be clear, there is no suggestion that David despised people with disabilities. His kindness to Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth proves otherwise (2 Sam. 9:11). Rather, David scorned those who defied the living God of Israel.
David undoubtedly refers to a narrow 49-foot vertical shaft—known today as Warren’s Shaft—that allowed the residents of Jebus access to water from the Gihon Spring, even when the city was under siege. It proved to be the “chink in the armor” of an otherwise secure city.
Jerusalem (The City of David)
The stronghold became the new capital of Israel and the location of David’s royal residence. (2 Sam. 24:18). Jebusites were banned from entry to the fortress.
Perched on a rock formation called the Ophel at 150 to 200 feet above the valley floor, Israel’s new capital provided a strategic view of the surrounding valleys. It was highly defensible and had critical access to fresh water. Because of the location in the Judean highlands, the moderate climate was ideal. Since none of the tribes had been able to claim Jebus as their permanent possession, it also provided an element of neutrality necessary for the center of Israel’s government.
“Then David dwelt in the stronghold; therefore they called it the City of David. And he built the city around it, from the Millo to the surrounding area. . . So David went on and became great, and the Lord of hosts was with him” (v. 7-9).
At just the right time in Israel’s history, God providentially delivered the city to David who made Jerusalem the capital of united Israel. David’s courageous action immediately after he assumed the throne not only engendered unity among the tribes of Israel, his establishment of Jerusalem as the capital was later confirmed at Solomon’s dedication of the Temple (2 Chr. 7:1-3).
“Since the day I brought my people out of Egypt, I chose no city from any of the tribes of Isra’el to build a house, so that my name might be there; nor did I choose anyone to be the leader of my people Isra’el. But now I have chosen Yerushalayim, so that my name can be there; and I have chosen David to be over my people Isra’el” (2 Chr. 6:5-6, CJB).
Jerusalem (Eternal Capital of Israel)
Miraculously, we are firsthand observers of the fulfillment of a prophecy predicting that Jerusalem would endure as the focal point of Jewish life,
“But Judah shall abide forever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation” (Joel 4:20).
For any who would doubt God’s intent, there is another prophecy yet to be fulfilled that we can eagerly anticipate.
“Thus says the Lord: ‘I will return to Zion, and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth, The Mountain of the Lord of hosts, The Holy Mountain’” (Zech. 8:3).
Looking at David’s achievements, we can’t help but see that every opportunity—every action—every victory were outcomes of wise decisions that flowed from his heart for God. The choices David made had a profound effect on history that will endure into eternity because God has declared that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel.
1) City of David sign, Jerusalem, Israel. Copyright © Charles E. McCracken archives
2) Looking north from King David’s palace, Jerusalem, Israel. Copyright © 2013 Charles E. McCracken archives
3) View from the interior of King David’s palace, City of David, Jerusalem, Israel. By Ovedc [CC BY-SA 3.0]/Wikimedia/Enhancement/MKM Portfolios
4) Detail: Proto-Aeolic capitol. With special thanks courtesy, Lin Applegate.
5) View of the Mount of Olives from King David’s Palace Copyright © 2013 Charles E. McCracken
6) Canaanite Tunnel sign, Jerusalem, Israel. Copyright © 2010 Charles E. McCracken
7) Charles E. McCracken enters the Canaanite Tunnel Walkway. Copyright © 2010 Charles E. McCracken
8) The Millo, City of David, Jerusalem, Israel. Copyright © 2010 Charles E. McCracken
Copyright © 2016 Charles E. McCracken, commentary only. Repost/Reprint with permission. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.