How did David rise to greatness?
There was much war, of course, but the strategy behind his conquest brought peace beyond his generation.
First, he defeated the Philistines, one of the greatest enemies at that time (as can be seen from the story of David vs. Goliath). Then he took Metheg-ammah out of their hand, arguably the chief city of the Philistines. This was the first of a series of victories.
He defeated Moab next, sparing a third of them, causing them to become his servants. Then he defeated the king of Zobah who was seeking a key victory at the river Euphrates. This not only gave David peace to the north, but it also gained an ally in Toi.
Unlike Moab, David put garrisons in Aram of Damascus (Zobah) to gain a steady tribute, which was multiplied from the gifts from Toi. He also took tribute from Edom, the Ammonites and Amalek which surrounded Israel at that time.
Finally, David made a name for himself by defeating the Edomites in the Valley of Salt and all the Edomites became his servants through the garrisons he put there. The scripture says the LORD gave victory to David wherever he went.
David started his conquests out with a great victory, paralyzing his (arguably) greatest enemy by stealing their key city. Then he showed mercy to a near neighbor who was not as strong, gaining servants. Next he defeated another neighbor to the north to gain a distant ally who wouldn't be a threat in the future (in that time, near neighbors were always the biggest threats).
Last, David made a name for himself with a strong victory. David still had to fight after this, but the hardest victories were over. He went from being surrounded with enemies to having a steady stream of tribute from neighboring servants. And the same can be true of us today.
You may be surrounded by enemies on all sides, but like David, you can prevail with a similar strategy, but don't miss David's key component. "And the LORD gave victory to David wherever he went." When you are walking in the will of God, it is the Lord who gives you the victory, not your clever strategy or mighty strength.
Here are my own thoughts on how we can apply David's strategy in our own lives:
The Philistines represent that long nagging sin which never seems to go away. You gain victories over it at times, but it also defeats you at times. You cannot gain victory over fighting harder, but you must uproot the problem by crucifying your flesh and resting in the Lord.
Moab represents that problem which can be redeemed to your benefit. It is like a demotion at work that allows you to seek a new opportunity. The end is greater than the beginning!
Zobah represents that problem which is a key obstacle toward a greater break-through. It is like graduating from that difficult program with a new certificate that positions you for promotion.
Edom represents that problem which increases your spiritual maturity. After you gain victory over character deficiencies through the revelation of your identity in Christ, you make a name for yourself amongst the enemy.
Praise God for his great wisdom which he lavishes upon us! Praise God that he gives us the victory and that ultimate victory was won at the cross of calvary. Hallelujah!