Who was צר, and why did having חירם build a house mean הכינו ה׳ למלך?
צידן was a Canaanite nation:
And צר was one of its cities; it was assigned to אשר in the north:
But was never conquered:
It is mentioned often in נביאים אחרונים as a naval power that, if not an actual enemy of Israel, was no friend:
And one other mention, that implies that it was relatively weak on land:
The צידונים are called Phoenicians in English. Their empire was the Mediterranean Ocean, and they dominated the sea trade until צר was conquered by Alexander the Great, and even then their power continued, based in Carthage (Phoenician for “New City”, קרת חדשה) until it was destroyed by Rome in the Punic Wars, in 146 BCE.
So this means that the United Kingdom of Israel is real. Tyre is the first foreign country to recognize it. David now has a foreign policy. And they would continue to be allies of Israel through Solomon’s reign:
We don’t hear much about the Phoencians in תנ״ך, largely because they push east, not west or south. They don’t get involved with Israel except to trade. But Tyre was a major city, that was seen in many ways as a parallel to Jerusalem:
And in the gemara, it was a symbol of the secular world and its riches:
We’ve seen before that David had six wives in Chevron, and those were considered his “real” wives:
So we have to say that the wives listed here were after the story of Bat Sheva.
So why mention them here?
And in fact, we never hear from any of these wives or children except for Solomon.
Rambam says that פלגש was a specific right of kings:
So takng a harem was basically a statement, “I am in charge; I am the king”. We’ve seen that when we looked at Ish Boshet accusing Avner of taking his father’s concubine, and when Reuven takes Bilhah.
So the Philistines look at their loyal servant David, who has been fighting their battles for more than seven years, and realize that something is wrong. He has united the tribes of Israel, amassed a huge army, established his capital in a heretofore impregnable fortress, and is being recognized by other countries as independent.
So they send a fact-finding mission.
And David is in a quandary. He can back down now, accept Philistine sovereignty and go on being a local governor. He would still be able to build his בית המקדש; the Philistines never interfered with Jewish religion. So he asks ה׳ two separate questions: האעלה אל פלשתים? Should I fight? And only then, התתנם בידי? Will I win? Is this only the beginning of an extended rebellion, or can I establish my kingdom once and for all?
The corresponding paragraph in דברי הימים makesit clear that David also destroys their gods:
Then the Philistines come for a real war and ה׳ allows him to utterly defeat them, but only if they obey His word.
At this point, David’s kingdom is settled. Moab, Amon and Edom were pacified by Saul; he has established relations with the nations to the north, and the Philistines are no longer an existential threat. ספר שמואל should end here:
But it goes on…
There’s a pair of chapters of תהילים that are relevant here, תהילים א and ב. They are really just one long chapter:
And Radak says they were written in this period of David’s life:
I will interpret תהילים פרק א according to Rav Dessler, מכתב מאליהו כרך א׳, עמ׳ 81.
אשרי is plural, meaning that the צדיק described here will have every possible happiness. Rashi (and Artscroll) translates אשרי as “praised” but Rav Dessler in context prefers “happy”. The צדיק has to deal with three types of bad people: רשעים, חטאים and לצים. רשעים are מזידים, intentional sinners (as opposed to חטאים who are negligent). You should not associate with such people at all, even to travel with them. חטאים may benefit from your presence; they are presumably teachable but עמידה, staying with them, is dangerous. You are more likely to be influenced by them than they are to be influenced. לצים, cynics, are not so bad but the problem is ישיבה, sitting with them, because by definition it means not being involved with תורה ומצוות.
Such a person, who spends his time learning and not mocking, will be like a tree planted by a reservoir (this is how we translated פלג in תהילים סה; the pools that fill with water from the rain). He will be fruitful despite the vagaries of life. That is what is meant by אשרי.
All the רשעים, however, will simply dry up and blow away in the wind. In the final judgment, they cannot even stand with the צדיקים.
פרק ב moves from the individual to the national level.
David looks at the nations conspiring against him, יהגו ריק, ”thinking empty thoughts“, and נוסדו, from סוד, ”secret“.
Rashi translates רגשו as “gather”, but the midrash derives it from רֶגֶּש, strong feelings or rage; “why are the nations so angry, that they conspire against us”? It seems a little willfully obtuse if we are interpreting this as referring to the Philistines, since it’s obvious why they are angry: David is rebelling against them. But this gives an insight into David’s mindset. Israel should be independent; the Philistines had no right to conquer them in the first place.
But David’s faith in ה׳ is complete. There is nothing to worry about; ה׳ will just laugh at all those puny nations.
ה׳ says that He has annointed David, on His ציון, the signpost that everyone is supposed to be looking toward, not attacking.
Then David switches the first person to himself; he has to admit (אספרה אל חק) that G-d Himself has chosen him to lead the world (what we now call מלך המשיח).
Now, if the nations opposed to him have any sense, they will take מוסר (הוסרו) and serve ה׳, but with awe; even in joy they should tremble.
Radak and Ibn Ezra translate נשקו בר as “kiss the son” (בר from the Aramaic); David was just referred to as בני אתה and the other nations should be subservient to him. I don’t know of any other use of בר to mean “son” in Hebrew, andI prefer Metzudot’s understanding, “we shall yearn for purity”:
Which brings us back to the beginning of this double perek and אשרי כל חוסי בו.