Why would David be so brutal? (2 Samuel 8:2)
2 Samuel 8:2
ESV - 2 And he defeated Moab and he measured them with a line, making them lie down on the ground. Two lines he measured to be put to death, and one full line to be spared. And the Moabites became servants to David and brought tribute.
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As recently as 1 Samuel 22:3-4, David had thought highly enough of the king of the Moabites to entrust the care of his own father and mother to him. In addition, a Moabite woman (Ruth) had been David's own great-grandmother (Ruth 4:13-17). Nevertheless, the Moabites were still apparently fighting against David, as indicated by 2 Samuel 8:2, which states that David defeated them. This may account for the drastic change of heart indicated by David's action in 2 Samuel 8:2. (Even so, some commentators have also suggested that those killed by David were Moabite soldiers, rather than civilians.) Non-Biblical Jewish commentators have also suggested that the Moabites (for reasons unknown) betrayed David's trust by putting his father and mother (and also perhaps his brothers) to death. In addition, there may also have been an element of fulfillment by David of earlier prophecy involved, in which Balaam, who had been summoned by Balak (an earlier king of Moab) following Israel's exodus from Egypt, for the purpose of cursing the Israelites, instead blessed them, and specifically indicated that a king of Israel would someday crush the forehead of Moab (Numbers 24:17).
This takes us back to Genesis 49:9,10. Look at Jacob's last words to Judah. The Lion of Judah will carry the scepter. The scepter will not depart from Judah or the staff between his feet. In Numbers 22, Balak sent for Balaam. Read in Numbers chapters 23 and 24, Balak wanted Balaam to curse Israel. The moabites dreaded the Israelites. Balaam did not want to go and hesitated. But, he changed His mind, because of the reward he would receive. God was very angry with Balaam! Balaam took his donkey to go to Balak. The Angel of the Lord blocked the path to Balak. God opened the donkey's mouth to speak to Balaam. Balaam saw Jesus and then knew that he could only say what God would allow. Numbers 24:7: "Water will flow from his buckets, and seed will be by abundant water. His king will be greater than Agag and his kingdom will be exalted." 1 Samuel 15:8: King Saul took King Agag of the Amalkites alive. Balaam referred to Israel as a kingdom years before it ever occurred. Numbers 24:17-20: Balaam prophecies Israel's Messiah, the Lord Jesus, the future rising star from Jacob, a scepter from Israel. "I see Him,but not now. I beheld Him but not near. A star shall come out of Jacob. A scepter rise out of Israel and batter the brow of Moab." Balaam foresaw Israel's victories over Moab, and the people of Balak, the Edomites and the Amalikites. Cursing Israel was Balak's wish. In Numbers 25:1-3 we read that Israel had been in the acacia grove. The Moabite women went to distract the men. Numbers 31:16: "Yet they are the ones who at Balaam's advice incited the Israelites to faithfulness against the Lord in the Lord incident, so that the plague came against the Lord's community." Deuteronomy 23:3: "An Ammonite or a Moabite shall not enter the assembly of the Lord even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the Lord forever, Because they did not meet you with bread and water on the road when you came out of Egypt, and because you hired Balaam..." The Lord had turned the curse of Balaam into a blessing for Israel. David declared in Psalm 108:9: "Moab is my washpot.." Matthew 2:2: "...Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East..." In Revelation 2:14, the doctrine of Balaam is mentioned as a similar seduction taking place in the church at Pergamos. Especially in regards to idols and sexual immorality. Revelation 22:16: "I, Jesus have sent My Angel to attest these things to you for the churches. I am the Root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star." 2 Peter 2:15: "They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of righteousness; but he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man's voice restrained the madness of the prophet." David was doing God's will.
Why would David be so brutal? But we very well could ask why David was so lenient in allowing 1/3 to live! Yes, his leniency could be, as Mr. Maas said, because the Moabites were David's blood relatives through the lineage of Ruth. And/or it--his leniency again--could be because of an argument from silence, that God doesn't list the Moabites among the 7 nations that He had commanded the Jews to exterminate when they came into Canaan (Deuteronomy 7:1-2). In other words, we do not know for sure why David killed only some of them. --QSB
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