The story is dramatic!
David conquered Jerusalem, the impregnable fortress. He is now king over a united Israel. He was respected enough in the international community that the king to the north, Hiram, sent him a peace offering and gesture of friendship:
11 -12 "It was at this time that Hiram, king of Tyre, sent messengers to David, along with timbers of cedar. He also sent carpenters and masons to build a house for David. David took this as a sign that God had confirmed him as king of Israel, giving his kingship world prominence for the sake of Israel, his people." (2 Samuel 5)
Not all the neighbors were so friendly. The Philistines were a coastal people, but they dominated a large area, and David's upcoming kingdom was a clear threat to their power and wealth. So they gathered to wipe David out.
17 -18 When the Philistines got word that David had been made king over all Israel, they came on the hunt for him. David heard of it and went down to the stronghold. When the Philistines arrived, they deployed their forces in Raphaim Valley." (2 Samuel 5)
When you read this story, that does not seem like such a big deal. If you take the time to look it up on a map, IT IS A BIG DEAL! They didn't gather way out on the coast, or half way between the coast and Jerusalem. No way! They brought all their forces the the Valley of Raphaim, which is really really close to Jerusalem. These dudes owed the territory!
I took the effort to put a map in here. Can you find Jerusalem? Pretty close to the red balloon!
So the next thing David does is pray:
19 "Then David prayed to God: "Shall I go up and fight the Philistines? Will you help me beat them?" 20 -21 "Go up," God replied. "Count on me. I'll help you beat them."
"David then went straight to Baal Perazim, and smashed them to pieces. Afterward David said, "God exploded on my enemies like a gush of water." That's why David named the place Baal Perazim (The-Master-Who-Explodes). The retreating Philistines dumped their idols, and David and his soldiers took them away." It's the age old combination of God's direction, God's favor, and man's action. We have to GET this in our walk with God. We pray to God. He says "Yes", then we deploy our energy, our talent, our effort, our diligent work, to accomplish His will.
Is it all done by God? No, not usually. Can man do it by himself? The pagan man does - all the time. Sometimes very successfully. The Christian does not. The Christian seeks guidance. Waits for guidance. Gets guidance. Along with the guidance is the promise of God's favor.
So what is the difference between king Saul and king David? They both attempted to obtain God's direction and God's favor, because their very lives, their prosperity, their power - depended on it.
But David sought God with all his heart, and pretty much always obeyed God. Saul liked the goodies of God's favor, but didn't want to put up with the annoyance of obeying God. Especially when it cramped his style a little bit.
The result here? David attacked with fury. No hesitation. No self doubt. He smashed them to pieces, and in giving God glory for the victory, he says, "God exploded on my enemies like a gush of water."
Rather be a David than a Saul...