Chapters 5-6. contain the account of the first half of David’s reign over the whole nation. All the events mentioned in them occurred within this period, but are not arranged with a strict regard to chronology within themselves, it being the object of the historian to describe first the internal improvement of the kingdom, and then afterwards the external development of its power.
Thy bone and thy flesh.—The Israelites, oppressed by the Philistines and their other enemies, and having seen the utter failure of the house of Saul and the death of their head, Abner, felt the necessity of union under a competent leader, and it is probable that this gathering to David, already prepared for by the negotiations of Abner, took place immediately after the death of Ish-bosheth. They assign three reasons for their action: (1) that they were of the same flesh and bone with David (comp. Genesis 29:14; Judges 9:2; 2 Samuel 19:12)—i.e., were of such common descent that it was unfitting for them to constitute separate nations; (2) that David, even in Saul’s reign, had been their military leader, and hence they knew him and had confidence in his prowess and sagacity; (3) that the Lord had chosen him for their king. The exact language of the Divine promise quoted is not found in the record, but is either (as in the case of Abner’s words, 2 Samuel 3:18) a summary of the communications made to David, or else some unrecorded language of one of the prophets.
Except thou take away.—A better translation is, Thou shalt not come hither; but the blind and the lame shall keep thee off. The Jebusites, confident in the natural strength of their fortress, boast that even the lame and the blind could defend it. Their citadel was upon Mount Zion, the highest of the hills of Jerusalem, south-west of the temple hill of Moriah, and surrounded on three sides by deep valleys.
Wherefore they said.—Rather, they say. This became a proverbial expression: no intercourse is to be had with such people as the Jebusites, here again called “the blind and the lame.”
Millo.—A word always used in Hebrew with the definite article (except in Judges 9:6; Judges 9:20), the Millo. It is probably an old Canaanitish name for the fortification on the northern end of Mount Zion, “inward” from which the palace was situated. Subsequent kings, as Solomon (1 Kings 11:27) and Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 32:5), saw its importance and added to its strength. On all other sides Zion was protected by precipitous ravines. There is, however, some difference of opinion about the topography of ancient Jerusalem.
The Israelites evidently had little skill in architecture, since they relied on the Phœnicians for workmen both for this palace and for Solomon’s, as well as for the Temple.
Went down to the hold.—As David went “down” to this place, and then “up” (2 Samuel 5:19) from it to the attack on the Philistines, it is not likely that “the hold” means the citadel of Zion. It must have been some stronghold near the Philistine army. It could not have been, as some have thought, the cave of Adullam. According to the monastic tradition, this was seven or eight miles S.E. of Bethlehem; according to the more ancient view, it was in the plain of Judah, west of the mountains; thus, in either case, quite remote from the scene of the battle.