A variety of materials has been gathered together to summarize David’s wars, to describe the extent of his kingdom, and to make the theological point that “the LORD gave victory to David wherever he went.”
This summary of David’s victories shows him at the zenith of his royal power. Previously, we have seen David’s defensive wars (5:17-25); in contrast, these wars depict Second king of Israel, David united the northern and southern kingdoms. More on the offensive, with no seeking of divine guidance (5:19a, 23a), no communication from God (5:19b, 23b), and no credit given to God as in 5:20b. Here, David receives credit for the victories: “David won a name for himself” (8:13a, emphasis added).
His kingdom extends from the Euphrates River in the northeast to the Egyptian border in the southwest as the geographical arrangement of the defeated peoples shows: the southwestern enemies defeated in verse 1; eastern enemies defeated in verse 2; northeastern enemies defeated in verses 3-8; northern enemies defeated in verses 9-10; and southern enemies defeated in verses 13-14.
A different structure superimposed over this geographical backbone of David’s victories, however, highlights the theological identification of the real “conqueror,” the Lord, who “gave victory to David wherever he went” by placing this statement at the climactic end of the two panels (vv. 6, 14):
A David’s victories result in tribute (vv. 1-5)
B Garrisons among the Arameans (v. 6a)
C Arameans become David’s servants (v. 6b)
D “The LORD gave victory to David wherever he went” (v. 6c)
A′ David’s victories result in tribute (vv. 7-13)
B′ Garrisons among the Edomites (v. 14a)
C′ Edomites become David’s servants (v. 14b)
D′ “The LORD gave victory to David wherever he went” (v. 14c)
That David recognized the source of his success is seen in his consecration of the spoils of his campaigns to God (v. 11). The silver and gold were later deposited in the temple (1 Kings 7:51). Thus, David is shown to be an ideal ruler, victorious in war, faithful to God, and, as seen in verses 15-18, an able administrator who executed “justice and equity to all his people.”
The list of officials in verses 15-18 serves to mark the end of this section of 2 Samuel. Three other lists serve the same purpose: David’s sons born in Hebron (3:2-5); sons and daughters born to David in Jerusalem (5:13-16); and David’s officials (20:23-26).