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The United Kingdom (2 Samuel 5:1-5; 1 Chronicles 11:1-3; 12:23-40) November 20

After years of civil unrest, all of Israel is finally ready to accept David as king. As all of the tribes agree: "We are your bone and your flesh." This basically means, "We are your relatives." Centuries earlier, Laban said the same thing to his nephew Jacob (Genesis 29:14) and Gideon's son Abimelech said it to his mother's family (Judges 9:1-2). But, if people would really think about it, that goes beyond our immediate next of kin—or, at least, it should.

No matter what color or nationality, we are all human beings, created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). No matter what race we belong to today, our roots all trace back to Noah, and back to our ancestral parents, Adam and Eve ("the mother of all living," 3:20). Indeed, God "has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth" (Acts 17:26). Thus, we are all blood relatives. We are all one family. But men have always found reasons to fight each other, whether geographically, economically or racially motivated. From the beginning, man has always found reasons, however unjustified, to kill his brother (compare Genesis 4:1-15).

Back to the story of David's kingdom, the Israelites are now ready for unity and peace among each other after years of killing.

From the account in 1 Chronicles 12, we can see the numbers of troops from each tribe who come to Hebron to declare loyalty to David. Commentaries disagree on whether the actual troops assembled or only their commanders. If the troops actually presented themselves, their numbers approached 350,000! Regardless of whether the full battle-hardened army amassed before David, their unanimous support for David's kingship is dramatically conveyed. After years of strife, troops that were fighting and killing each other are now celebrating this momentous event with food and drink being brought in by the neighboring tribes. For a time, there is truly joy in Israel! David reigned for 7 1/2 years from Hebron as king over Judah. It is now time to reign for the next 33 years from the city of peace, Jerusalem.

Interestingly, it should be remembered that Israel was actually divided into two kingdoms—Israel and Judah—when Ishbosheth was proclaimed king over Israel and David was made king of Judah. But a distinction between Israel and Judah existed even in Saul's day (compare 1 Samuel 11:8; 17:52; 18:16). Perhaps it goes all the way back to the initial conquest of the land under Joshua, when the south went to Judah and the lands of the northern conquest went to the other tribes. Following Ishbosheth, even when David replaces him as king of Israel, there are still two distinct kingdoms—albeit with both under the same king. David is now king of Israel and king of Judah, a distinction maintained during his reign. Indeed, much later in David's reign, we find a military census reporting, "Then Joab gave the sum of the number of the people to the king. There were in Israel eight hundred thousand men who drew the sword, and the men of Judah were five hundred thousand men" (2 Samuel 24:9). The creation of this United Monarchy is very similar to what happened in Britain. When King James VI of Scotland became King James I of England, he was still king of Scotland. Indeed, he became King James I of the United Kingdom of Great Britain. Israel's two kingdoms under one ruler will continue through Solomon's reign, with Judah and Israel still being mentioned under him as distinct nations (1 Kings 4:20, 25).

The Divided Monarchy will reemerge when Israel proclaims a non-Davidic ruler after Solomon's death. Judah will continue to be ruled by the line of David. Ironically, though, the tribe of Benjamin, instead of leading the Kingdom of Israel as in the days of Ishbosheth, will, in the later split, become part of the Kingdom of Judah. (We will explore this in more detail when we come to it in our reading.)

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