2 Samuel 1-4

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Chapter 1—David’s character in our reading today comes through loud and clear once again.  We can see David’s growth from a shepherd boy to King each day we read more about him.  We see him as a warrior and a diplomat who sincerely wanted to unite the nation.  We see him looking at all aspects of each person, challenge, situation in these chapters to try an access what God desires as best for Israel.

2 Samuel tells us about David’s faith in God and his struggles as he waited to become the official King of Israel.  Imagine his patience as he endured so many challenges KNOWING as the young shepherd boy that he had ALREADY been anointed by the High Priest, Samuel, as King of Israel….but he could say nothing.  He certainly waited on the Lord’s timing!!  OK… I’m looking in my mirror right this very moment …. Ummmmmm…. nope…. Not there yet… still striving to be more like David in so many ways!!

Here is a chart to help you keep up with the main characters in this story <<<smile>>>

Joab Son of Zerulah, David’s half sister One of David’s military leader,s and later, commander in chief David’s Disrespected God’s laws by killing Abner in Hebron, a City Of Refuge.  Joab’s revenge will come at a price in 1 Kings 2:31-34
Abner Saul’s cousin Saul’s commander in chief Saul and Ish-Bosheth’s, but made overtures to David Joab killed Abner to avenge his brother’s (Asahel) death. 2 Sam 2:27
Abishai Joab’s brother High officer in David’s army — chief of “the Three” Joab and David’s
Asahel Joab’ and Abishai’s brother High officer — one of David’s 30 select warriors (“mighty men”) Joab and David’s Abner killed Asahel in self defense after warning him several times to turn away from him 2Sam 2: 21-23
Ish-Bosheth Saul’s son Saul and Abner’s selection as king Saul’s Stabbed by Recab and Baanah  2Sam 4:5 – David had them killed for murdering Ish-Bosheth in his own home and in his own bed. He saw them as cowards 4:12
Information adapted from a chart of the same title in The Life Application Bible

Now God will reward David’s patience and consistent faith to HIM and make him King publicly!!

David learns of Saul and Jonathan’s deaths from a stranger who runs into David’s camp with torn and dirty clothing.  This stranger falls before David to tell him the news of the deaths.

I could feel David’s hair stand up on the back of his neck as he listened to the stranger; as well as feel the deep hole that opened in his heart as he heard especially about Jonathan.   David questioned the stranger.  HOW do you know this?  WHO are you?  HOW did it happen?  The stranger tells David he is an Amalekite who escaped the Israelite camp.  He told David that Saul ASKED the stranger to kill him because he was so near death.  He adds that he brought Saul’s crown and arm band to prove to him what he had done.

The first thing that struck me was that David and his men were not afraid to show their emotions and grieve publicly for the loss of their king and for Jonathan.  David remained respectful of Saul’s position.  We are also reminded of the deep friendship and covenant between David and Jonathan.  I believe it took courage for these men and for people in general to open up and be vulnerable in showing their emotions around others.  They fasted, they wept, and they tore their clothing which was a sign of deep grief and pain.

Apparently, during David’s grieving he had time to think about the stranger.  David KNEW he was LYING to him.  Scholars say that this stranger was most likely a battlefield scavenger who came upon the dead bodies before the Philistines arrived giving him the opportunity to take the crown and arm band.  We, the readers KNOW he was LYING because we were told in 1 Samuel 31:3-4 that Saul killed himself after his armor bearer refused to kill him.

Can you feel the wheels turning in David’s head??  He asked the stranger in verse 14:  “WHY were you not afraid to lift your hand to destroy the Lord’s anointed?” David had REFUSED to kill Saul twice when he could have.  He REFUSED to kill this king who wanted to destroy him!! He REFUSED because of his character of integrity.  He STILL respected Saul’s position as king and KNEW that GOD appointed him into that position.  As a man David KNEW he could not disrespect God by killing HIS anointed.  David killed the stranger, for killing Saul!!  The stranger was hoping for a great reward for appearing as something he was not.  The stranger felt he was doing David a favor!!  Unfortunately his LIE led to his OWN destruction.  Lying is NEVER a good idea.  There is NO such thing as “a little white lie.”  Lying is lying.  And the irony of ironies is that the strangers LIE is what got him killed!!  BAM!!

As much trouble as Saul had caused David, even in Saul’s death he treated him with great respect.  He even wrote him a song and had the people sing it about Saul as they lamented him.  This is a great reminder for us to respect our leaders for the positions they hold.  God does not expect us to do illegal things or things which go against HIS laws.  However, he DOES tell us to “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s.”  He also tells us to PRAY for our leaders.

Chapter 2 – We begin with David ASKING God IF he should go to one of the towns in Judah and if so which one.  God answered both of David’s inquiries.  David was to go to Hebron.  Hebron was the center of all trade in Judah so supplies would be easy to maintain.  Hebron was also one of the Cities of Refuge.

Samuel had secretly anointed David King of Israel many years prior to this moment.  NOW the people of Judah came to Hebron to anoint David King over the house of Judah.  Notice the care David takes in pointing out that the people of Jabesh Gilead had taken Saul and Jonathan’s bodies off the walls where the Philistines placed them and brought their bodies back, burned them, and buried the remains.  The Jabesh Gileadites showed Saul and his family great respect and David was grateful.

NOW….come the “testosterone fights!!”  Abner commander of Saul’s army took Ish-Bosheth (I will begin referring to him as “Ish”), another son of Saul, to Mahanain.  Ish was made king over Gilead, Ashuri, Jezrell, Ephraim, Benjamin, and all of Israel (the “Northern Kingdom.”)  Ish lacked backbone and ONLY reigned 2 years… he waited 5 years before he became the areas king.  The house of Judah followed David as King.  David ruled for 7 years over a portion of Israel (Judah…the “Southern Kingdom.”)

Compare Ish and David.  David took the lead immediately.  Ish waited 5 years and only ruled 2 years.  The Kingdom of Israel was beginning to split (this is not the last time we will see this happen!!)  David KNEW he was anointed to be King over ALL Israel and diplomacy was critical for him to accomplish this ultimate goal….. UNITY of Israel!!  The Kingdom was currently divided between Saul’s people/supporters and David’s.

Abner was the commander in chief for Ish and Joab was the commander in chief for David.  The two men thought it would be a “great idea” to let 12 of each of their best men to fight it out to see which side was the best!!  They all killed each other… well that went well!!!  Ish was NOT David’s true rival in the North — ABNER was!!  This sword fight happened in Gibeon (in Saul’s home territory) suggesting that Joab and his men were advancing North, capturing more territory for David.  Abner suggested the sword fight in hopes of stopping Joab from advancing…but God had other plans!!!

Asahel was determined to kill Abner. Abner repeatedly warned him to turn back or risk losing his life.  Asahel’s stubbornness cost him his life!!  Abner killed him in verse 23.

Joab and Abishar pursued Abner to avenge their brother’s death. Joab stopped in his pursuit of Abner that day but he and his men killed 360 Benjamites who were with Abner.  The victory was Joab’s on that day.  But war in the divided nation continued until David was finally crowned King over all of Israel.

Chapter 3 — Civil war between these two houses lasted a long time and was costly in many ways to each side.  The reason for the war was plain and simple — BOTH sides had lost sight of God’s vision and purpose which was to settle the land (Gen 12:7), to drive out the people worshipping other gods (Deut 7:14), and to obey God’s laws (Deut 8:1.)  They each were blinded by their desires to be the leaders, have power, have money, etc., RATHER than UNITE as God had directed them to do.  Amazing how this sounds so similar to things happening in our world today!!!

Can you BELIEVE how many wives David had???  And then he wanted Michal back!!!  He had paid a high price for her (remember Saul asked him to bring him 100 foreskins of the Philistines and he brought him 200!!)  Maybe David still loved her.  However, it is a sure thing that having Michal would politically be a feather in his cap.  This could potentially help the unity of Israel. It definitely would send a POWERFUL message to ALL of Israel if he was married to Saul’s daughter!!   The sad part is that Michal’s current husband was truly an innocent bystander in all this and had his entire life changed in an instant when David reclaimed his wife.

OK I had to count how many wives David had at this point…. He had 7 counting Michal!!  AND, he had 6 sons!!!  Polygamy was legal and accepted in that day.  However, in that day or now… legal and culturally accepted does not make “it” right in the eyes of God.  Polygamy was NEVER God’s plan for man and woman… just look at Adam and Eve!!  I know just with my brothers and sisters .. we had our own sibling rivalries.  I can’t imagine the rivalries that went on in David’s home!!  However, I do know that his sons will get into GREAT trouble and make many bad decisions which possibly reflected on David’s inability to teach all of his children what they needed to know because of his role as a leader and because as a parent and a husband he was stretched really thin.

Something that stood out to me this year as I read about David’s wives and children that I didn’t see last year was that we are witnessing a challenging area in David’s life.  When he saw a woman he desired… he went after them and married them!!  We are witnessing a “toe hold beginning in his life” that will become a strong hold by the time he meets Bathsheba!!!

When Abner approached David (after sleeping with a concubine of Saul’s which could have been seen by Ish as a play to remove him as king so Abner could become ruler of the land) we see David making another strategic decision!!!  If David had Abner on his side…UNITY would come quicker!!!  He and Abner made an agreement.

This agreement between David and Abner did NOT go over well with Joab (go figure!!)  I am sure Joab felt betrayed, resentful, and his need to avenge his brother’s death led Joab to kill Abner.

Although it appeared as if Joab got by with murder we will see in 1 Kings 2:31-34 that his act of murder to have revenge will backfire on him!!  God will allow the consequences of Joab’s choices to unfold!!  OUCH!!!

Keep in mind Joab showed great disrespect for God’s laws by killing Abner.  Do you remember the Cities of Refuge that God established in Joshua 20:7?  Hebron was a city of refuge!!  People who committed sins accidentally or in self-defense could go to a city of refuge and be safe from “the avenger.” Abner was IN HEBRON!!!!  He was to be protected.  However Joab showed total disregard for God and HIS laws.  Joab made up his own mind, made a plan, and carried it out.  RUT ROW!!!

David said harsh things to Joab because he was upset that he killed Abner.  WHY was David so upset?

  1. He grieved the loss of a highly skilled military officer who had “joined his team.”
  2. He made sure Abner’s murder rested on Joab so others would KNOW he had NOTHING to do with it.
  3. For David to unite Israel and Judah he knew Abner would be the KEY to conquering the northern kingdom.  However NOW—civil war could be re-ignited.
  4. David made an agreement with Abner to protect him. Joab’s decision to kill Abner made David angry because it also disrespected him.  A leader is responsible for the behavior of the people that serve with him/her.
  5. Did you notice that David ORDERED Joab to mourn for Abner?  David wanted ALL of Israel to KNOW he had NOTHING to do with Abner’s death.  He was paving the way once again for diplomacy and UNITY.

Chapter 4 – When Ish heard of Abner’s death he “lost courage.”  Does this show you WHO Ish got his courage from???  He looked to man for his source of courage NOT God!!!  Ish was paralyzed with fear.  2 Tim 1:6-8 and Hebrews 13:6 remind us that faith and trust in God can overcome fear!!

Mephibosheth … a son of Jonathan.  He was crippled when his nurse heard of Jonathan and Saul’s deaths.  She did not know what would happen to Jonathan’s son, tried to protect him, he fell and ended up crippled for life. REMEMBER THIS NAME….we will see it again.  Do you remember the covenant between Jonathan and David.. Jonathan asked that David look after his family?  Will David keep his word???

Recab and Baanah kill Ish.  GEEZE these people are hungry to kill people aren’t they???  BUT.. I am an outsider looking in.  They go to Ish’s home INTO his bedroom and kill him.  David was appalled.  He told them they were cowards.  He reminds them what he did to the stranger who lied to him about killing Saul and he has them killed since they REALLY killed Ish.  Once again his main focus is on the plan God has set before him… to UNIFY Israel.  HOW can he UNIFY Israel if his people keep killing the “other side”???  David made sure Ish had a proper burial to show he had nothing to do with his death.  Israel began to recognize in David the strong leader they needed!!

God had a plan that we are watching unfold day by day as we read HIS Word chronologically.  HE had a plan then and HE has a plan today.. it really is ALL the same plan… that we will each love him with all our hearts, souls, and minds; and love others as we love ourselves.  He desires that we are each made more into HIS image.  HE desires that through our TRANSFORMATION from HIS WORD that we each have a heart after God’s.  Along with the transformation HE has a PLAN for each of us.  A special gift within each of us so we may each further HIS kingdom on earth.  He has a purpose for each of HIS children that is far beyond ourselves and all it requires is surrender to HIM.

I realize David was not perfect… except he was a perfect sinner…just like me.  It is through his imperfection that I can relate to him so well.  It is through his faith, his songs, his psalms, his character, his consistently reaching out to God, and repenting when he knew he sinned that I can honestly say… God give me a heart after yours…just like David.

Sharing HIS love,

And HAPPY MOTHERS DAY to each of you who are Mothers to the two legged children and/or the 4 legged ones!!


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