Useful Bible Studies > 2 Samuel Commentary > chapter 5
Only three kings have ever ruled the whole of Israel: Saul, David and Solomon. Each of them ruled for 40 years.
The period of 40 years appears often in the Bible. It is the length of a generation: the difference in age between parents and their children. In other words, in 40 years, the responsibilities of parents pass almost completely to their children. 40 years is a long time in the life of any person. Few people live long enough to see how more than one or two generations of leaders rule their country. Only rarely does a person remain active as a ruler for more than 40 years.
These long rules of Saul, David and Solomon were completely different in their character. During Saul’s rule the nation was always at war. Solomon’s rule was mostly peaceful, and the people became wealthy during it. It was David who brought that opportunity for peace in Israel. He achieved it by the many wars that he fought during his first few years as king. It was necessary to defeat the many nations that were constantly attacking Israel. Peace could only come to Israel when that task was complete.
David did not rule the whole of Israel for those 40 years. During the first 7 years and 6 months, he was king only of Judah, the southern part. His capital city then was Hebron, in the centre of Judah, as God had directed him (2:1). When he then became king of all Israel, he needed to find a new capital city. It had to be closer to the centre of Israel, to bring the whole nation together. That capital city was Jerusalem. He ruled there for 33 years.
Next part: Jerusalem, David's capital (2 Samuel 5:6)
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