Therefore now let your hands be strengthened, and be ye valiant: for your master Saul is dead, and also the house of Judah have anointed me king over them. (2 Samuel 2:7)
I highlighted this passage from my One-Year reading this morning. I noted David’s grace and gratitude-filled and fueled toward the men of Jabesh Gilead, the same men who rescued the bodies of Saul and his sons to bury and grieve for them properly. At the same time, David does not allow these men to stay mired in sadness, but to be energized and continue in their valiant behavior. Saul may be dead — but there is a king in Judah. David is not using his new authority (an authority he had already earned but had yet to receive) to boast, but to give these men, and eventually all Israel, hope.
As I was reading this and the rest of the first two chapters of 2 Samuel, picturing the image of David waiting for the Lord before being commanded to go up to Hebron. I kept seeing one particular image, from the beginning of the Lion King’s third act, of all things. There is a moment in that film, where Simba has been convinced that it is time for him to return and claim his throne. His old friends are thrilled beyond words, while his new friends are simply dumbfounded by Simba’s apparent dissapearance.
Of course, he hasn’t disappeared at all:
“Oh-ho! You won’t find him here — the king has returned.” (Yes that is an actual line from the Lion King, which is a Disney movie about talking lions — it’s in there. That’s not an angel saying that, it’s a monkey — that’s amazing.)
The next shot is an explosion of choral voices singing in Zulu over Simba charging through the desert, returning to claim what has always been his. (I strongly recommend looking up the translated lyrics of this short song, called “Busa”, or “Rule”, it gives the scene way more power and weight.)
David does the same; with what I’m certain is more fanfare from his army of mistreated and abandoned souls than any scribe could ever record, David goes up to Hebron, and he is made king. Whereas Ish-Bosheth’s (Saul’s living son) coronation is a cold crown slapped on his head by a general, like any other no-name king in history, David enters into his authority quietly, but with a profound sense of “Finally!” filling the passage.
I was moved by this account even more after considering how much joy there was in Heaven when David fulfilled his destiny, even though it was only in part (seven years in Hebron). It was multiplied by the strange tenderness I have felt toward Israel, ancient and modern, all week. I was moved even more when I considered that this earthly king’s return and all the joy it brought will pale when we can finally say:
“The King has returned.”
I can’t wait.