|<< 1 Sam 31|
II Samuel 1-4 Listen
1 Now it came to pass after the death of Saul, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Amalekites, and David had abode two days in Ziklag;
2 It came even to pass on the third day, that, behold, a man came out of the camp from Saul with his clothes rent, and earth upon his head: and so it was, when he came to David, that he fell to the earth, and did obeisance.
3 And David said unto him, From whence comest thou? And he said unto him, Out of the camp of Israel am I escaped.
4 And David said unto him, How went the matter? I pray thee, tell me. And he answered, That the people are fled from the battle, and many of the people also are fallen and dead; and Saul and Jonathan his son are dead also.
5 And David said unto the young man that told him, How knowest thou that Saul and Jonathan his son be dead?
6 And the young man that told him said, As I happened by chance upon mount Gilboa, behold, Saul leaned upon his spear; and, lo, the chariots and horsemen followed hard after him.
7 And when he looked behind him, he saw me, and called unto me. And I answered, Here am I.
8 And he said unto me, Who art thou? And I answered him, I am an Amalekite.
9 He said unto me again, Stand, I pray thee, upon me, and slay me: for anguish is come upon me, because my life is yet whole in me.
10 So I stood upon him, and slew him, because I was sure that he could not live after that he was fallen: and I took the crown that was upon his head, and the bracelet that was on his arm, and have brought them hither unto my lord.
11 Then David took hold on his clothes, and rent them; and likewise all the men that were with him:
12 And they mourned, and wept, and fasted until even, for Saul, and for Jonathan his son, and for the people of the LORD, and for the house of Israel; because they were fallen by the sword.
13 And David said unto the young man that told him, Whence art thou? And he answered, I am the son of a stranger, an Amalekite.
14 And David said unto him, How wast thou not afraid to stretch forth thine hand to destroy the LORD’S anointed?
15 And David called one of the young men, and said, Go near, and fall upon him. And he smote him that he died.
16 And David said unto him, Thy blood be upon thy head; for thy mouth hath testified against thee, saying, I have slain the LORD’S anointed.
This Amalekite shows up at David's camp to report the deaths of Saul and Jonathan with proof in hand (crown and bracelet)...and spins a tall tale about Saul's death. Hadn't David just about had his fill of Amalekites anyway (I Samuel 30, see notes)? He tells a story of Saul's death which we know to be...well...a lie. You may want to refresh your memory of Saul's suicide from I Samuel 31:4-6 (see notes). In reality, Saul asked his armor bearer to kill him after being mortally wounded. When the armor bearer refused, Saul killed himself; the armor bearer subsequently killed himself. What was that Amalekite thinking by taking credit for Saul's death, a reward? David thought he was probably looking for a reward - alludes to such in II Samuel 4:10 (see below). He got a reward all right - a quick trip to the after life of his choice! Second thought, his after-life experience was probably a big ol' surprise to him.
Apparently the Amalekite was not familiar with Hebrew custom regarding the special status of he who has been anointed by God. Saul's armor bearer understood that status and had refused to assist Saul in the task. David himself passed on all the opportunities he had to kill Saul. Sometimes being unfamiliar with the customs of those around you can be embarrassing or even fatal. The really ironic aspect of this story is that the Amalekite wasn't really responsible at all for Saul's death according to the account of I Samuel 31:4-6 (see notes).
David publishes his first big hit (II Samuel 1:17-27)
17 And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son:
18 (Also he bade them teach the children of Judah the use of the bow: behold, it is written in the book of Jasher.)
19 The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places: how are the mighty fallen!
20 Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.
21 Ye mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew, neither let there be rain, upon you, nor fields of offerings: for there the shield of the mighty is vilely cast away, the shield of Saul, as though he had not been anointed with oil.
22 From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan turned not back, and the sword of Saul returned not empty.
23 Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided: they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions.
24 Ye daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you in scarlet, with other delights, who put on ornaments of gold upon your apparel.
25 How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! O Jonathan, thou wast slain in thine high places.
26 I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.
27 How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished!
David writes a song about Saul and Jonathan. Since he requires it to be taught to all the people of Judah, it becomes a hit. He went on to write over 100 other hits that still remain favorites today - all found in the Book of Psalms. Notice the affection - the genuine love - David expresses toward his close friend, Jonathan, in this song. Incidentally, the Book of Jasher in verse 18 is believed to be a national song book for Israel. It is also mentioned in Joshua 10:13 (see notes).
It is noteworthy that Saul's death was a necessity; David had been anointed king (I Samuel 16, see notes), and Saul's death was a prerequisite to that reality. Yet, the fact that Saul had been chosen and anointed by God (I Samuel 10, see notes) was very sacred to David. When he had opportunities to slay Saul himself, he passed on them. Though he clearly identified Saul as his enemy, it was David's feeling that since God had anointed Saul in the first place, it would need to be God to take him out. Since God had anointed David to be the next king, Israel really wasn't big enough for David and Jonathan, even though they were very close friends; many in Israel would have insisted that Jonathan be Saul's successor. It is with those facts in mind that David's lament makes sense.
1 And it came to pass after this, that David enquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah? And the LORD said unto him, Go up. And David said, Whither shall I go up? And he said, Unto Hebron.
2 So David went up thither, and his two wives also, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail Nabal’s wife the Carmelite.
3 And his men that were with him did David bring up, every man with his household: and they dwelt in the cities of Hebron.
4 And the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah. And they told David, saying, That the men of Jabeshgilead were they that buried Saul.
5 And David sent messengers unto the men of Jabeshgilead, and said unto them, Blessed be ye of the LORD, that ye have shewed this kindness unto your lord, even unto Saul, and have buried him.
6 And now the LORD shew kindness and truth unto you: and I also will requite you this kindness, because ye have done this thing.
7 Therefore now let your hands be strengthened, and be ye valiant: for your master Saul is dead, and also the house of Judah have anointed me king over them.
8 But Abner the son of Ner, captain of Saul’s host, took Ishbosheth the son of Saul, and brought him over to Mahanaim;
9 And made him king over Gilead, and over the Ashurites, and over Jezreel, and over Ephraim, and over Benjamin, and over all Israel.
10 Ishbosheth Saul’s son was forty years old when he began to reign over Israel, and reigned two years. But the house of Judah followed David.
11 And the time that David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months.
Judah pronounces David the King of Judah. David's reign is based in Hebron, a city of quite some significance in Jewish history. That's the location Abraham purchased for the burial of Sarah back in Genesis 23 (see notes). Subsequently, Abraham was buried there, along with Rebekah, Leah, and Jacob (Genesis 50:13, see notes).
Abner, the commander of Saul's army, makes Saul's son, Ishbosheth, king...well over the rest of Israel anyway. Now...two kings! II Samuel 2:10 says, "Ishbosheth Saul's son was forty years old when he began to reign over Israel, and reigned two years. But the house of Judah followed David." So Ishbosheth had a two-year reign. Hmmmmm...I wonder how much authority over his own throne Ishbosheth really has here? It's also interesting that Ishbosheth reigned from the east side of the Jordan River in Mahanaim. What's up with that? Hey! If you're scared, say your scared! Incidentally, Abner was Saul's first cousin. Well, here's the deal; Abner was really running the country; Ishbosheth was just a figure head. Abner just picked a safe place to store this weak king while he commanded the military in his effort to gain control over all of Israel...including Judah. Well...at least he thought it was safe.
It is stated without explanation in verse 10 that the reign of Ishbosheth was two years and in verse 11 that David's reign over Judah was seven years and six months. Apparently it took awhile for Abner to secure a kingdom for Ishbosheth to rule - about 5 years and six months. That would explain why Ishbosheth stayed on the east side of the Jordan River - no safe place to reign outside of Judah on the west side of the Jordan. So, it would appear that Ishbosheth's reign coincided with the last two years of David reign over Judah.
Let's settle this king thing once and for all (II Samuel 2:12-32)
12 And Abner the son of Ner, and the servants of Ishbosheth the son of Saul, went out from Mahanaim to Gibeon.
13 And Joab the son of Zeruiah, and the servants of David, went out, and met together by the pool of Gibeon: and they sat down, the one on the one side of the pool, and the other on the other side of the pool.
14 And Abner said to Joab, Let the young men now arise, and play before us. And Joab said, Let them arise.
15 Then there arose and went over by number twelve of Benjamin, which pertained to Ishbosheth the son of Saul, and twelve of the servants of David.
16 And they caught every one his fellow by the head, and thrust his sword in his fellow’s side; so they fell down together: wherefore that place was called Helkathhazzurim, which is in Gibeon.
17 And there was a very sore battle that day; and Abner was beaten, and the men of Israel, before the servants of David.
18 And there were three sons of Zeruiah there, Joab, and Abishai, and Asahel: and Asahel was as light of foot as a wild roe.
19 And Asahel pursued after Abner; and in going he turned not to the right hand nor to the left from following Abner.
20 Then Abner looked behind him, and said, Art thou Asahel? And he answered, I am.
21 And Abner said to him, Turn thee aside to thy right hand or to thy left, and lay thee hold on one of the young men, and take thee his armour. But Asahel would not turn aside from following of him.
22 And Abner said again to Asahel, Turn thee aside from following me: wherefore should I smite thee to the ground? how then should I hold up my face to Joab thy brother?
23 Howbeit he refused to turn aside: wherefore Abner with the hinder end of the spear smote him under the fifth rib, that the spear came out behind him; and he fell down there, and died in the same place: and it came to pass, that as many as came to the place where Asahel fell down and died stood still.
24 Joab also and Abishai pursued after Abner: and the sun went down when they were come to the hill of Ammah, that lieth before Giah by the way of the wilderness of Gibeon.
25 And the children of Benjamin gathered themselves together after Abner, and became one troop, and stood on the top of an hill.
26 Then Abner called to Joab, and said, Shall the sword devour for ever? knowest thou not that it will be bitterness in the latter end? how long shall it be then, ere thou bid the people return from following their brethren?
27 And Joab said, As God liveth, unless thou hadst spoken, surely then in the morning the people had gone up every one from following his brother.
28 So Joab blew a trumpet, and all the people stood still, and pursued after Israel no more, neither fought they any more.
29 And Abner and his men walked all that night through the plain, and passed over Jordan, and went through all Bithron, and they came to Mahanaim.
30 And Joab returned from following Abner: and when he had gathered all the people together, there lacked of David’s servants nineteen men and Asahel.
31 But the servants of David had smitten of Benjamin, and of Abner’s men, so that three hundred and threescore men died.
32 And they took up Asahel, and buried him in the sepulchre of his father, which was in Bethlehem. And Joab and his men went all night, and they came to Hebron at break of day.
David's people, headed up by Joab, and Ishbosheth's people, headed up by Abner meet at Gibeon to settle this king issue. They have an interesting civil battle, pitting their men against each other while they sit by the pool as spectators - a gladiator-type sporting event. It turns ugly though with David's team chasing Ishbosheth's team back across the Jordan River. At the end of the day, here are the scores: David-360 to Ishbosheth-19; we're talking confirmed kills here. Abner flees the scene also. Joab's brother, Asahel (who "was as light of foot as a wild roe" aka gazelle), is in pursuit of Abner. He perceives that if Abner falls, the whole Ishbosheth-as-king thing will collapse. Abner sees him in pursuit and begs him to give it up and go back, but Asahel just won't listen; he catches up with him when Abner strikes Asahel with the blunt end of his spear, but it catches him between his ribs and goes clean through to his back...and he dies. Joab and Abishai (Asahel's brothers) continue the pursuit. Abner finally convinces Joab to postpone the battle, but Asahel is dead. I have a suspicion that somebody's gonna pay for that. Watch your step, Abner!
David's Sons and Wives in II Samuel 3
|David ruled over Judah for 7 1/2 years from Hebron. These sons were born to him while he reigned in Hebron.|
1 Now there was long war between the house of Saul and the house of David: but David waxed stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul waxed weaker and weaker.
2 And unto David were sons born in Hebron: and his firstborn was Amnon, of Ahinoam the Jezreelitess;
3 And his second, Chileab, of Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite; and the third, Absalom the son of Maacah the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur;
4 And the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; and the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital;
5 And the sixth, Ithream, by Eglah David’s wife. These were born to David in Hebron.
6 And it came to pass, while there was war between the house of Saul and the house of David, that Abner made himself strong for the house of Saul.
7 And Saul had a concubine, whose name was Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah: and Ishbosheth said to Abner, Wherefore hast thou gone in unto my father’s concubine?
8 Then was Abner very wroth for the words of Ishbosheth, and said, Am I a dog’s head, which against Judah do shew kindness this day unto the house of Saul thy father, to his brethren, and to his friends, and have not delivered thee into the hand of David, that thou chargest me to day with a fault concerning this woman?
9 So do God to Abner, and more also, except, as the LORD hath sworn to David, even so I do to him;
10 To translate the kingdom from the house of Saul, and to set up the throne of David over Israel and over Judah, from Dan even to Beersheba.
11 And he could not answer Abner a word again, because he feared him.
12 And Abner sent messengers to David on his behalf, saying, Whose is the land? saying also, Make thy league with me, and, behold, my hand shall be with thee, to bring about all Israel unto thee.
13 And he said, Well; I will make a league with thee: but one thing I require of thee, that is, Thou shalt not see my face, except thou first bring Michal Saul’s daughter, when thou comest to see my face.
14 And David sent messengers to Ishbosheth Saul’s son, saying, Deliver me my wife Michal, which I espoused to me for an hundred foreskins of the Philistines.
15 And Ishbosheth sent, and took her from her husband, even from Phaltiel the son of Laish.
16 And her husband went with her along weeping behind her to Bahurim. Then said Abner unto him, Go, return. And he returned.
17 And Abner had communication with the elders of Israel, saying, Ye sought for David in times past to be king over you:
18 Now then do it: for the LORD hath spoken of David, saying, By the hand of my servant David I will save my people Israel out of the hand of the Philistines, and out of the hand of all their enemies.
19 And Abner also spake in the ears of Benjamin: and Abner went also to speak in the ears of David in Hebron all that seemed good to Israel, and that seemed good to the whole house of Benjamin.
20 So Abner came to David to Hebron, and twenty men with him. And David made Abner and the men that were with him a feast.
21 And Abner said unto David, I will arise and go, and will gather all Israel unto my lord the king, that they may make a league with thee, and that thou mayest reign over all that thine heart desireth. And David sent Abner away; and he went in peace.
22 And, behold, the servants of David and Joab came from pursuing a troop, and brought in a great spoil with them: but Abner was not with David in Hebron; for he had sent him away, and he was gone in peace.
23 When Joab and all the host that was with him were come, they told Joab, saying, Abner the son of Ner came to the king, and he hath sent him away, and he is gone in peace.
24 Then Joab came to the king, and said, What hast thou done? behold, Abner came unto thee; why is it that thou hast sent him away, and he is quite gone?
25 Thou knowest Abner the son of Ner, that he came to deceive thee, and to know thy going out and thy coming in, and to know all that thou doest.
26 And when Joab was come out from David, he sent messengers after Abner, which brought him again from the well of Sirah: but David knew it not.
27 And when Abner was returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside in the gate to speak with him quietly, and smote him there under the fifth rib, that he died, for the blood of Asahel his brother.
28 And afterward when David heard it, he said, I and my kingdom are guiltless before the LORD for ever from the blood of Abner the son of Ner:
29 Let it rest on the head of Joab, and on all his father’s house; and let there not fail from the house of Joab one that hath an issue, or that is a leper, or that leaneth on a staff, or that falleth on the sword, or that lacketh bread.
30 So Joab and Abishai his brother slew Abner, because he had slain their brother Asahel at Gibeon in the battle.
31 And David said to Joab, and to all the people that were with him, Rend your clothes, and gird you with sackcloth, and mourn before Abner. And king David himself followed the bier.
32 And they buried Abner in Hebron: and the king lifted up his voice, and wept at the grave of Abner; and all the people wept.
33 And the king lamented over Abner, and said, Died Abner as a fool dieth?
34 Thy hands were not bound, nor thy feet put into fetters: as a man falleth before wicked men, so fellest thou. And all the people wept again over him.
35 And when all the people came to cause David to eat meat while it was yet day, David sware, saying, So do God to me, and more also, if I taste bread, or ought else, till the sun be down.
36 And all the people took notice of it, and it pleased them: as whatsoever the king did pleased all the people.
37 For all the people and all Israel understood that day that it was not of the king to slay Abner the son of Ner.
38 And the king said unto his servants, Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel?
39 And I am this day weak, though anointed king; and these men the sons of Zeruiah be too hard for me: the LORD shall reward the doer of evil according to his wickedness.
Abner was Ishbosheth's big supporter and right-hand man. Actually, Abner was the man behind the throne. When Ishbosheth verbally flexes his muscles a bit after Abner helped himself to one of Saul's concubines, Abner takes great offense from Ishbosheth's rebuke. To have taken liberties with the previous king's concubine could have been interpreted as more than simply personal sexual gratification. It may have been a move toward Saul's throne itself by Abner. However, after the rebuke from Ishbosheth, Abner goes to pay David a visit. Is this a traitor's visit or a spy mission? According to verses 9-10, Abner intends to sell Ishbosheth out; he even indicates that the throne rightfully (by God's command) belongs to David anyway in verse 18. David's very happy to get the Abner visit; Joab thinks it's a bad thing. After all, Abner had killed Joab's brother.
Oh, incidentally...David wants his first wife, Michal (Saul's daughter) back. Remember how Saul had taken her from him and given her to another man (I Samuel 25:44, see notes)? One might presume that David's intentions here are to strengthen his right to the throne of Israel as son-in-law to the previous king. Michal's current husband is understandably distraught over losing his wife back to David and follows her, but Abner sends him home...wifeless.
When Joab returns from battle to find that David and Abner have already met, he's not happy at all; he pursues after Abner and kills him to avenge his brother's death. David concludes this chapter quite disappointed at what Joab has done, but quite powerless to take any action at this point. He treats Abner like a hero and makes it clear to the people that he had nothing to do with Abner's death. David doesn't forget what Joab did that day, however. Years later (many years later) it would come up again when Joab is executed under Solomon per David's suggestion in I Kings 2 (see notes). Well, this battle for the kingship isn't over.
1 And when Saul’s son heard that Abner was dead in Hebron, his hands were feeble, and all the Israelites were troubled.
2 And Saul’s son had two men that were captains of bands: the name of the one was Baanah, and the name of the other Rechab, the sons of Rimmon a Beerothite, of the children of Benjamin: (for Beeroth also was reckoned to Benjamin:
3 And the Beerothites fled to Gittaim, and were sojourners there until this day.)
4 And Jonathan, Saul’s son, had a son that was lame of his feet. He was five years old when the tidings came of Saul and Jonathan out of Jezreel, and his nurse took him up, and fled: and it came to pass, as she made haste to flee, that he fell, and became lame. And his name was Mephibosheth.
5 And the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, Rechab and Baanah, went, and came about the heat of the day to the house of Ishbosheth, who lay on a bed at noon.
6 And they came thither into the midst of the house, as though they would have fetched wheat; and they smote him under the fifth rib: and Rechab and Baanah his brother escaped.
7 For when they came into the house, he lay on his bed in his bedchamber, and they smote him, and slew him, and beheaded him, and took his head, and gat them away through the plain all night.
8 And they brought the head of Ishbosheth unto David to Hebron, and said to the king, Behold the head of Ishbosheth the son of Saul thine enemy, which sought thy life; and the LORD hath avenged my lord the king this day of Saul, and of his seed.
9 And David answered Rechab and Baanah his brother, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, and said unto them, As the LORD liveth, who hath redeemed my soul out of all adversity,
10 When one told me, saying, Behold, Saul is dead, thinking to have brought good tidings, I took hold of him, and slew him in Ziklag, who thought that I would have given him a reward for his tidings:
11 How much more, when wicked men have slain a righteous person in his own house upon his bed? shall I not therefore now require his blood of your hand, and take you away from the earth?
12 And David commanded his young men, and they slew them, and cut off their hands and their feet, and hanged them up over the pool in Hebron. But they took the head of Ishbosheth, and buried it in the sepulchre of Abner in Hebron.
A couple of Saul's soldiers thought it a good idea to slay Ishbosheth (Saul's son ruling over Israel) on David's behalf. They killed him while he was sleeping. Well, so much for loyalty. Rechab and Baanah really didn't know David very well, did they? Somehow bringing Saul's son's head (Ishbosheth) to David seemed like a nice gesture to them; David felt differently - killed them and cut off their hands and feet. Then as an example, he has them hung by the pool in Hebron. It's just a little difficult to assess David's reaction to news like that. Could it be that David's reaction to Joab's slaying of Abner made them think they would receive treatment as heroes for the death of Abner's boss? Whatever their thinking, it backfired! David cites his treatment of the Amalekite who took credit for Saul's death (II Samuel 1, see above) as the precedent to which they should have given heed.
We have a passing comment in verse 4 about Jonathan's son, Mephibosheth. He was crippled on the day the news arrived that Saul and Jonathan were dead as he and his nurse fled. Later David assumes the personal responsibility for this crippled would-be heir to Saul's throne in II Samuel 9 (see notes).
So...now the stage is set. Saul's sons are all dead, and David is ready to assume the role as the king over all of Israel. That reality unfolds in II Samuel 5 (see notes).