David was a warrior, a general and unafraid to battle the armies before him. This chapter is a tough one to read as David is going to war against the Edomies, Moabites, Ammonites, Philistines, Amalekites and the peoples of the land. Wherever he went God gave him victory.
But why is David doing this? Is he just trying to prove his prowess as a new king? Is he just blood-thirsty? And why was God helping him?
This takes history and context. For 400 years the people of this region were sacrificing children to the gods, they were involved in grotesque sexual immorality and more. Just imagine a season of Nazi Germany going unchecked for hundreds of years. Finally God had enough. He was bringing judgment to these peoples and was going to do so through the hand of Israel.
When Israel first came into the land, the Lord told them to destroy or drive out the people as an act of his judgment. He did warn them plainly and said it wasn’t because Israel was so righteous, but rather that the peopls of the land had become so evil.
The generation of Israelites that first came into the land under Joshua and later judges did drive most of them out, but not all. But the Lord said not to give up until they were completely gone, either by war or by moving out.
So what David was doing here was fulfilling the command of the Lord and finishing what was previously left undone. God’s judgment had come against these peoples and it was through Israel that God was bringing justice.
This wasn’t for all peoples in all places. No. It was for the people in the land of Canaan and the area that had practiced such detestable wickedness. Especially sacrificing children to the gods. God’s fury is aroused when a people bring harm to babies.
So yes, it was bloody. It was ugly. And unfortunately, after hundreds of years of wickedness, such justice was necessary to stop the evil.