Is the Devil in Charge of Earth?

2 Samuel 8

One of the biggest problems that Christians face today is that they don’t now where they are. If you don’t know where you are, it becomes impossible to operate. Here you are packing for the Caribbean, only to find out that your hiking in the Grand Tetons. Your journey is not going to be a comfortable one. And, more importantly, you’re not going to make it to the top of the Tetons.

Situational awareness is critical in battle, in sport, and in the Christian life.

But many saints assume that their environment is ruled by the devil. They view life on earth like life at a train station. They have their ticket to heaven. They know they need to be moral at this train station. They know they need to pray to the God who awaits them at their final destination. But they have no sense that the glory of the heaven to which they are going is coming upon the train station. Thus, they have no hope for the train station and thus no strategy for having dominion at the train station.

This problem is a modern evangelical one. And the bible paints a very different picture. 2 Samuel 8 helps us know where we are.

The Text – A Summary

Verse 1 tells us that David’s victories occurred “after this.” That is, after the covenant that God made with David. You can see in verse 16 of the previous chapter that God had just promised David that his house and kingdom would be made sure. The “after this” reminds us that God fulfills His promises. He promised David a kingdom and here God is already fulfilling that promise. 

The structure of David’s victories is important. There are four groups and four directions to his victory. Verse 1 says that he defeats the Philistines, and they dwelt toward the West of Jerusalem. Verse 2 says he also defeated Moab, and they dwelt to the East of Jerusalem. Verse 3 through 10 tells of David’s defeat of Hadadezer and his army who dwelt to the North. Then, verse 13 and 14 speak of David’s conquest of Edom, who dwelt to the South. So David is victorious North, East, South, and West, and thus he fulfills what God promised to Abraham all the way back in Genesis 15:18. There God said to Abraham, “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates.” You see reference to the river Euphrates in verse 3 of our passage as David went north to restore his power there. The Promised Land was being filled and thus God’s land-promise was being fulfilled through David’s victories.

The language throughout David’s victories is also important. The word for “defeat” or “strike” occurs seven times in this chapter. The term carries the sense of being on the offense. The KJV translates it with the gold old word smote. David smote God’s enemies—he was not back on his heels. He struck West, East, North, and South.

As he did, kings were subdued, some through conquest and others like Toi (v. 9) through wise gifts. David evidences great wisdom in two particular ways. First, he dedicates the spoils of his victory to the Lord (v. 11). And second, he secures his territory with garrisons (v. 6, 14). David’s wise rule is further displayed in that he administered justice and equity to all the people (v. 15). The list of his officials illustrates a well-ordered kingdom (v. 16-18).

David was victorious. And from where did these victories come? Twice we hear the vital answer to that question: Verse 6 and 14: “the LORD gave victory to David.”

Put simply, the devil is not in charge around here any more. Christ is. At one point in time, the devil tempted Christ with the kingdoms of this world. Now the devil had no right to tempt the Son of God. But in some sense he did have a right to offer the kingdoms of this world. He had a measure of authority around here. But when Jesus went to the cross, he announced, “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out” (John 12:31).

In another place, the Pharisees charged Jesus with driving out devils by the prince of devils. And this is charge of course reminds us that Jesus did drive out devils. And he responded to this charge with the line, 

But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. 29 Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house. 30 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad” (Matthew 12:28-30).

Notice that Jesus is the man who binds up the strong man. And he does so with the purpose of spoiling his goods. Christ explicitly says that the kingdom of God is come. And he states plainly that his arrival and mission demands one of two options for us all. We gather with him, or we scatter. Christ is gathering. He, like David, strikes north, east, south, and west. And seeing he is the authority around here, you must join him in the conquest.