Some historical notes about today’s reading:
Jerusalem was a stronghold of the Canaanites in Saul’s day. When the Cushites were driven out of Egypt, even before Joseph was governor of all Egypt, the remnant of them came to Canaan, and took Jerusalem and fortified it. In Saul’s day the branch of Canaanites who dwelt in Jerusalem were the Jebusites.
Jerusalem is situated on top of a mountainous area, so it was a common belief that it could not be taken, because the cliffs and mountains have to first be overcome, then how could the walls be breached from up there? No one could bring seige works against it, because the walls join with the mountain faces. But there was a water shaft, or some system of bringing water into the city. And it was by this way that David and his men took Jerusalem. David further built and fortified Jerusalem.
Tyre was a Phoenician city. Phoenician is the name the Greeks gave to the inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon. It means “purple men” in Greek, for the men of Tyre extracted a purple dye from a certain sea shell that was found on their shores, and they manufactured and traded purple cloth, which was very expensive in the ancient world. Since only kings could afford the beautiful deep purple cloth, the color became known as royal purple.
The Bible calls the men of Tyre and Sidon Sidonians (actually Sidon was the first city of the Phoenicians, and they established the city of Tyre as a colony of Sidon, which is why you often hear these two cities spoken of together). Sidon was the first born son of Canaan. From the Scriptures we learn that the inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon were Canaanites. Excavations in Tyre and Sidon confirm that the people called themselves the Kenaani, or Canaanites. Yes, the Phoenicians were a branch of Canaanites!
The Phoenicians were master builders, and the king of Tyre sent his best materials and craftsmen to build a palace for David in Jerusalem. So David knew that the LORD’s favor was on him, because the powerful in the nations around him were quick to make allies with him.
We don’t forget that the LORD had commanded all the Canaanites to be destroyed. Israel destroyed a large portion of them, through the course of their history. But the Phoenicians were one branch that escaped. They were sea faring merchants who established colonies all around the Mediterranean Sea. The greatest city of Phoenician might in ancient days was Carthage on the coast of North Africa – it became so great that it eventually eclipsed Tyre and Sidon for power and wealth. Yes, the Carthaginians were Canaanites too! Rome got a bee in its bonnet to destroy Carthage, which it eventually succeeded in doing. Today I believe most historians affirm that the Phoenicians have died out as a people.
Now when Saul had died, the Philistines drove the Israelites out of their cities and dwelt in them instead. This was still the state of affairs in Israel when the elders came to make David king over Israel. So David began warring against the Philistines, and God blessed him. Thus began David’s reconquest of Israel and the driving back of the Philistines.
David’s life and kingship is a prophecy of the Messiah. I think from now until Messiah’s return, the Palestinians may partly succeed in making inroads in Israel and driving Israelis from their cities and their land. Not that it is right – we should resist that action with everything we have. Nevertheless, under man’s government, which Saul represents, Israel is defeated before her enemies. But under God’s government, which David represents as a prophecy of Messiah Yeshua, the Philistines, er Palestinians, will be defeated before Israel and Israel’s land restored to her. That is my opinion only!