2 Samuel 2
1] It happened after this that David inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I go up to any of the cities of Judah?” And the Lord said to him, “Go up.” David said, “Where shall I go up?” And He said, “To Hebron.”
David inquired of the Lord–By Urim (1Sa 23:6, 9; 30:7, 8). He knew his destination, but he knew also that the providence of God would pave the way. Therefore he would take no step in such a crisis of his own and the nation’s history, without asking and obtaining the divine direction. He was told to go into Judah, and fix his headquarters in Hebron, whither he accordingly repaired with his now considerable force. There his interests were very powerful; for he was not only within his own tribe, and near chiefs with whom he had been long in friendly relations (see on 1Sa 30:26), but Hebron was the capital and center of Judah, and one of the Levitical cities; the inhabitants of which were strongly attached to him, both from sympathy with his cause ever since the massacre at Nob, and from the prospect of realizing in his person their promised pre-eminence among the tribes. The princes of Judah, therefore, offered him the crown over their tribe, and it was accepted. More could not, with prudence, be done in the circumstances of the country (1Ch 11:3). (JFB) 1-4.
4] Then the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah. And they told David, saying, “The men of Jabesh Gilead were the ones who buried Saul.”
anointed David king. David had previously been anointed privately by Samuel in the presence of his own family (see 1 Sa 16:13). Here the anointing ceremony is repeated as a public recognition by his own tribe of his divine calling to be king. (CaseSB) 2:4
Chs. 2–4 describe David becoming king over Judah and his civil war with Ish-Bosheth, Saul’s son, who continued for a time to rule over the remaining tribes of Israel (vv. 8-11). Seven and a half years later David became king over the entire nation (5:1-5). Ps 18 is a possible description of David’s celebration of victory over his enemies at this time (cf. 1Sa 30:1-31, which describe another victory just before Saul’s death and David’s rise to the throne). David did not rush to take control of the entire nation. He prayed (v. 1) and was willing to be king over one tribe until God opened the door for him to be king over all Israel. (FireSB)
7] Now therefore, let your hands be strengthened, and be valiant; for your master Saul is dead, and also the house of Judah has anointed me king over them.”
Word eventually reaches David that the men of Jabesh Gilead had given Saul a decent burial. Since Jabesh is an Israelite (not Judahite) town and therefore presumably still loyal to Saul’s house, David realizes that he must try to win them over to his side. He therefore sends messengers to them with overtures of peace and friendship, an approach that stands in sharp contrast to the tactics used by David’s men in the rest of the chapter.
The Jabeshites are commended for “showing kindness” (in the sense of demonstrating loyalty) to Saul. “Kindness” of this sort ultimately derives from God, as David himself recognizes (cf. 9:1, 3, 7). Indeed, he invokes the Lord’s “kindness and faithfulness ” on the Jabeshites. Both of these are part of all genuine covenant relationships, and David stresses his eagerness to transfer the Jabeshites’ covenant loyalty from Saul to himself. He offers to show them the same favor that Saul had shown them. He reminds them that Saul their master is now dead and that the house of Judah has anointed him as king. He concludes his offer by encouraging them to “be strong and brave.” But there is more than one fly in the ointment, as the rest of the chapter clearly suggests. (ExpBibCommAbr) 4b-7
8] But Abner the son of Ner, commander of Saul’s army, took Ishbosheth the son of Saul and brought him over to Mahanaim;
Next David began to deal with the problem of succession to Saul. Abner … commander of Israel’s army now became the effective power behind the throne. He placed Ish-Bosheth (known otherwise and certainly originally as Esh-Baal; 1 Chron. 8:33; 9:39), apparently Saul’s youngest and least effective son, in authority. The name Esh-Baal means “fire of Baal,” so to avoid the pagan overtones the name was changed to Ish-Bosheth (“man of shame”). His age of 40 years (2 Sam. 2:10) when his father died is an important chronological fact. Since he is not listed as one of the sons of Saul at the beginning of Saul’s reign (1 Sam. 14:49) but is included in the total list of sons (1 Chron. 8:33), he must have been born after Saul became king, thus indicating at least a 40-year reign for Saul (see Acts 13:21; also see comments on 1 Sam. 13:1.) (The Bible Knowledge Commentary)
2 Samuel 3
2] Sons were born to David in Hebron: His firstborn was Amnon by Ahinoam the Jezreelitess;
3] his second, Chileab, by Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite; the third, Absalom the son of Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur;
4] the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital;
5] and the sixth, Ithream, by David’s wife Eglah. These were born to David in Hebron.
These verses reveal that David had a problem, an uncontrollable desire for women. He could not be satisfied with one wife. His carnal desires dominated his life and ended up causing great problems for him and his family. He ruled over Israel, but could not rule himself. God’s pattern in Genesis chapter one was one woman for one man.
Proverbs 5:18—Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.
Proverbs 18:22—Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favor of the Lord.
Based on Chronicles, the total size of David’s family was twenty sons, one daughter, not counting concubines and other children born to them. David was either ignorant of God’s Word or ignored God’s Word and commands about marriage.
Deuteronomy 17:15-17—Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the Lord thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother. 16 But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the Lord hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way. 17 Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: (David “didn’t buy that” / agree with this) neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.
Anytime you violate Biblical principles and commands, you are going to create a problem for yourself. Some disobey the Bible willfully and some do it ignorantly. They did not know they were disobeying the Bible. For this reason, it is important to read and study the Word of God. Many times I’ve been told, “I wish I was taught this when I was younger. I wish I had known this truth!” Since the Bible is to be our blueprint for living in marriage, family life, work, finances, salvation, health, and serving the Lord, we better read the blueprint and be sure we are preaching it if we are preachers. As preachers, we are not in the entertainment business, but the exhorting business. Are your sermons filled with Bible teaching or are they filled with stories and little Bible truth? Study the Word of God and preach it if you have been called to preach. (Mattoon’s Treasures – Treasures from 2 Samuel)
7] And Saul had a concubine, whose name was Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah. So Ishbosheth said to Abner, “Why have you gone in to my father’s concubine?”
This is a political power play by Abner.
Concubines in Ancient Israel
Concubinage was a common practice throughout the ancient Near East and is attested in Sumerian, Babylonian, Egyptian, Hittite, Mesopotamian, and Ugaritic texts (Davidson, Flame of Yahweh, 178–80). Israelite concubinage practices were similar to those of other ancient Near Eastern societies. Concubinage was more common in early Israel than in later times and was especially prevalent during the periods of the patriarchs and judges (Bird, Missing Persons, 20). Biblical characters that are recorded as having had concubines include Abraham, Jacob, and David.
Distinction between Wife and Concubine
The distinction between a wife and a concubine in the ancient world is somewhat ambiguous. The Hebrew language has no special term “wife”; rather, a woman is designated as a wife in a genitive construction—”woman of (name of man).” The Hebrew texts often use the same vocabulary to describe taking a wife or a concubine.
Although modern readers often view a concubine as a sexual mistress, in ancient Israel a concubine was very much like a second wife. However, legally, a concubine was always subordinate to her master and mistress, and it seems at times that the Israelites held concubines in low esteem. If Exodus 21:10–11 refers to a concubine, we can deduce that the rights of the primary wife were protected, whereas the concubine had no legal rights, demonstrating her low position in the family hierarchy. In some circumstances, concubines were treated as wives (see Judg 19), but they certainly did not experience the full rights of free persons (Bird, Missing Persons, 23). There is even some evidence that the king passed his concubines on to his successor in the early monarchy (see 2 Sam 3:7–8; 16:21–22; 1 Kgs 2:13–22).
Motive for Concubinage
There were likely multiple motives for taking a concubine. One motivator for the practice of concubinage may have been the desire for multiple sexual partners (see Bird, Missing Persons, 25). However, the biblical narratives demonstrate that another major motivating factor was the securing of offspring. This is the case in Gen 15, where Sarai offers her servant Hagar to Abraham so that she can have offspring through her. Selman argues that Sarai’s actions were not uncommon in the ancient Near East: “If the marriage proved to be infertile, the husband normally took matters into his own hands, but on certain occasions, the wife was able to present one of her slave girls, sometimes specially purchased, to her husband to produce children for their marriage” (Selman, “Comparative Customs,” 137). The majority of texts referring to concubines do so in the context of genealogies, which supports the notion that the central purpose of concubinage was to provide progeny. A concubine’s offspring were considered the rightful children of her master and the primary wife.
Biblical Stance toward Concubinage
The Old Testament contains no explicit criticism of concubinage. The only explicit criticism of polygyny appears in Deut 17:17, which condemns the amassing of wealth and may refer to the wealth-amassing practices of Solomon. Nevertheless, monogamy had become the ideal household model for common people by at least the eighth century BC, if not earlier. The practice likely continued later for the royal household (Bird, Missing Persons, 39).
A notable narrative involving concubinage in the Old Testament is the story of the Levite’s concubine in Judg 19. The primary function of this text is to illustrate Israel’s depraved state prior to the establishment of the monarchy (Szpek, “The Levite’s Concubine,” 1). The narrative states that the Levite “took for himself a concubine” (וַיִּֽקַּֽח־לוֹ֙ אִשָּׁ֣ה פִילֶ֔גֶשׁ, wayyiqqach-lo ishshah philegesh)—the same language that is used of taking a wife. Ackerman suggests the woman in Judg 19 was likely a second wife rather than a concubine (Linzie M. Treadway, “Concubine,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).
11] And he could not answer Abner another word, because he feared him.
Ishbosheth was not wrong to confront Abner about taking Saul’s concubine. It was a clear violation of Ishbosheth’s authority as king. Abner does not deny that he did wrong, but his anger turns to hatred and this brings division within the house of Saul.
16] Then her husband went along with her to Bahurim, weeping behind her. So Abner said to him, “Go, return!” And he returned.
Did Michal and Paltiel have children? Did they love one another? Uncertain. This is one of those “It’s Complicated” relationships. Bottom line, Paltiel should not have married another man’s wife.
Did David want Michal back because he loved her? There is little evidence that David and Michal were in love with each other at this point in their life. Of all his wives and women, he never had any children with Michal. Perhaps more important to David was the legality of having Michal as his wife. As Saul’s daughter, Michal played an important role in giving David a legal claim to the House of Saul.
The fact that David would tear Michal away from a husband who clearly loved her gives us some insight into the relationship between David and Michal. Not only does he take Michal away from her home and her husband, but he brings her into his haram as just one among many wives. We will see the bitterness in Michal boil over in 2 Samuel 6, which will lead to an argument that causes David to keep Michal has his wife, but forever emotionally and physically abandon her.
19] And Abner also spoke in the hearing of Benjamin. Then Abner also went to speak in the hearing of David in Hebron all that seemed good to Israel and the whole house of Benjamin.
Remember, Saul (and Ish-Bosheth) were from the tribe of Benjamin. If any of the tribes if Israel were going to resist to David becoming king, it would be Benjamin. Abner makes special care to communicate with the Benjamites.
27] Now when Abner had returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside in the gate to speak with him privately, and there stabbed him in the stomach, so that he died for the blood of Asahel his brother.
Abner was killed by deception. He never saw the knife coming for him. He was a warrior and a strong man, but he let his guard down.
Proverbs 22:3—A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.
This, in fact, is how Satan takes many godly men…by deception. They are warriors for Christ and strong in the Lord, but they let their guard down, typically in a time of peace. When everything seems to be moving in the right direction and one has finally acknowledged God’s will for their life and is doing it, Satan strikes. It’s not a full frontal attack that one can see coming from a distance, it is deception that brings us to a city of refuge during a time of peace, and he sticks a knife in our side, so that we die.
1 Peter 5:8, 9—Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.
Without David’s knowledge, he arranges a meeting between the two gates of Hebron where dark shadows can conceal the activities of an assassination plot. Joab takes revenge upon Abner for the death of his brother Asahel. Not only was this murder, but Joab shed blood in a city of refuge and safety (Numbers 35). This action will reap devastating consequences in his own personal life. His emotions will create commotion in his life. (Mattoon’s Treasures – Treasures from 2 Samuel)
28] Afterward, when David heard it, he said, “My kingdom and I are guiltless before the Lord forever of the blood of Abner the son of Ner.
Is this a true statement? Was David really innocent of Abner’s blood because he personally didn’t stab Abner with the knife? Joab was under his charge, and David acknowledges on his death bed (see below) that he beard some of the guilt.
30] So Joab and Abishai his brother killed Abner, because he had killed their brother Asahel at Gibeon in the battle.
What should have David done? He should have brought justice to Joab. Upon hearing the news David makes it very clear he had no part in the plot against Abner. David curses Joab’s family with disease, weakness, tragedy, and poverty, yet, Joab remains unpunished. Though Joab continues to serve David, David never forgets what he did.
NOTE: Hebron was also one of six Cities of Refuge.
33 years later…
1 Kings 2:5, 6—Moreover thou knowest also what Joab the son of Zeruiah did to me, and what he did to the two captains of the hosts of Israel, unto Abner the son of Ner, and unto Amasa the son of Jether, whom he slew, and shed the blood of war in peace, and put the blood of war upon his girdle that was about his loins, and in his shoes that were on his feet. Do therefore according to thy wisdom, and let not his hoar head go down to the grave in peace.
David is on his death bed and gives Solomon these final instructions.
Why was David so upset with Abner’s death?
- He has lost a very competent military commander.
- He is on the verge of being king of the whole nation. Abner would have been a great unifier of all the tribes.
- Abner’s death could revive a civil war.
- Joab violated an agreement that David had with Abner. It was an agreement of peace and protection.
Why did David not punish Joab?
- Punishing him might cause rebellion in his own troops.
- He was David’s nephew and could cause family problems.
- Joab was from Judah; David did not want a rebellion from his own tribe.
- Joab was also a competent warrior.
The rest of the story for Joab:
1 Kings 2:28–35 (NKJV)
28 Then news came to Joab, for Joab had defected to Adonijah, though he had not defected to Absalom. So Joab fled to the tabernacle of the Lord, and took hold of the horns of the altar. 29 And King Solomon was told, “Joab has fled to the tabernacle of the Lord; there he is, by the altar.” Then Solomon sent Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, saying, “Go, strike him down.” 30 So Benaiah went to the tabernacle of the Lord, and said to him, “Thus says the king, ‘Come out’ ”
And he said, “No, but I will die here.” And Benaiah brought back word to the king, saying, “Thus said Joab, and thus he answered me.”
31 Then the king said to him, “Do as he has said, and strike him down and bury him, that you may take away from me and from the house of my father the innocent blood which Joab shed.
32 So the Lord will return his blood on his head, because he struck down two men more righteous and better than he, and killed them with the sword—Abner the son of Ner, the commander of the army of Israel, and Amasa the son of Jether, the commander of the army of Judah—though my father David did not know it. 33 Their blood shall therefore return upon the head of Joab and upon the head of his descendants forever. But upon David and his descendants, upon his house and his throne, there shall be peace forever from the Lord.”
34 So Benaiah the son of Jehoiada went up and struck and killed him; and he was buried in his own house in the wilderness. 35 The king put Benaiah the son of Jehoiada in his place over the army, and the king put Zadok the priest in the place of Abiathar.
Biblical Principal: When innocent blood is shed, it must be punished with the blood of the guilty. If this is not done so, then the guilt of the innocent blood will be upon the land. Think about this in the context of abortion. How can God bless America when innocent blood is being shed and the guilty go unpunished by the government and those in authority to hold criminals to justice. (This should give us pause if we are in a position of authority to legally hold criminals to justice.) This innocent blood calls out for justice, and God will hold America accountable. God cannot bless America when God has cursed America because of the innocent blood. See Deut 19:1-3
This is also a demonstration of situational ethics, which is the cornerstone of relativism, the dominating ethic of our times. Situational ethics says that the situation trumps the ethical consideration. In other words, man is able to do what is right in his own eyes regardless of what the word of God instructs.
In the case of Joab, David found great value in having Joab serve as his military commander. Even though David recognized the wrong that had been committed, he opted to push justice back for a time (in this case, 33 years) because he found value in Joab.
What David did was wrong, and he knew it was wrong, and at the end of his life he gave instructions to his son Solomon to make sure justice was served.
Where do we bargain with the Word of God today? Are there clear instructions that God gives, but we reason that the instructions do not apply to us at this time because of situational considerations?
1 Samuel 13:1-15 – Saul’s Unlawful Sacrifice. Saul’s first test was a miserable failure. Instead of continuing to wait for Samuel to come with instructions from God, he saw the people scattering and took matters into his own hands. He usurped the priestly role and offered a burnt offering to unite the people and prepare for war. It was a classic example of situational ethics. Saul believed the situation warranted ignoring God’s explicit instructions. But if we will simply walk in trusting obedience, we can trust the outcome to God. Wayne A. Barber, Eddie Rasnake, and Richard L. Shepherd, Learning Life Principles from the Kings of the Old Testament, Following God Series (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1998), 5.
Valid aspects of relativism include culturally based considerations such as which side of the road to drive on, how to rear children, and how to conduct burials and weddings. They are not universally right or wrong but are what that society determines. Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort, The School of Biblical Evangelism: 101 Lessons: How to Share Your Faith Simply, Effectively, Biblically—the Way Jesus Did (Gainesville, FL: Bridge-Logos Publishers, 2004).
2 Samuel 4
1] When Saul’s son heard that Abner had died in Hebron, he lost heart, and all Israel was troubled.
The weak king. After several introductory remarks the narrative first tells of Ish-bosheth’s death, and then of David’s reaction to it, which is similar to his reaction to Saul’s and Abner’s death. Because Ish-bosheth’s assassination made the way free for David to become king over all Israel, the narrative aims to clear him of all suspicion of complicity. This continues the theme of the initial chapters of 2 Samuel. David had no hand in the death of Saul and his family. (The Jewish Study Bible Notes)
4] Jonathan, Saul’s son, had a son who was lame in his feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel; and his nurse took him up and fled. And it happened, as she made haste to flee, that he fell and became lame. His name was Mephibosheth.
Jonathan son of Saul had a son who was lame in both feet. The writer emphasizes that with the death of Ish-Bosheth (see v. 6) there was no other viable claimant to the throne from the house of Saul. news about Saul and Jonathan. See 1:4; 1 Sa 31:2–6. Mephibosheth. See 9:1–13; 16:1–4; 19:24–30; 21:7. The name was originally Merib-Baal (apparently meaning “opponent of Baal”; see 1 Ch 8:34), perhaps to be spelled “Meri-Baal” (meaning “loved by Baal”), but was changed by the author of Samuel to Mephibosheth (meaning “from the mouth of the shameful thing”). (CaseSB)
8] And they brought the head of Ishbosheth to David at Hebron, and said to the king, “Here is the head of Ishbosheth, the son of Saul your enemy, who sought your life; and the Lord has avenged my lord the king this day of Saul and his descendants.”
Why cut off Ish-Bosheth’s head? (4:7–8) The assassins likely would not have escaped the house undetected with Ish-Bosheth’s entire corpse. His head was a sufficient proof of their deed—though it elicited quite a different response from David than what the assassins had hoped for.
10] when someone told me, saying, ‘Look, Saul is dead,’ thinking to have brought good news, I arrested him and had him executed in Ziklag—the one who thought I would give him a reward for his news.
Rechab and Baanah brought the head of Ishbosheth to David, perhaps in hopes of receiving a reward. They used the spiritual language the Lord has avenged to describe their despicable actions. Yet their lofty words did not fool David. The oath as the Lord lives implies that David was under God’s protection. There was no need to kill Ishbosheth to defend David’s life. Someone was the Amalekite who claimed to have killed Saul (1:2–16). (NKJV Study Bible – Notes)
11] How much more, when wicked men have killed a righteous person in his own house on his bed? Therefore, shall I not now require his blood at your hand and remove you from the earth?”
The slain Israelite king was termed righteous (or innocent) by David. He had done no crime by allowing himself to be placed on his father’s throne. Because he was Saul’s son, his murderer could expect no better fate than the lying Amalekite (cf. 1:14–16). David’s severe justice (v. 12) is paralleled elsewhere in the ancient Near East. For public hanging as a punishment in a case involving a capital offense, see Deuteronomy 21:22, 23. (KJV-SB)
One cannot accomplish good through evil means. God’s ways are always righteous, and He will not reward those who seek to honor Him through immoral actions. (Blackaby Study Bible)
12] So David commanded his young men, and they executed them, cut off their hands and feet, and hanged them by the pool in Hebron. But they took the head of Ishbosheth and buried it in the tomb of Abner in Hebron.
Once again David was faced with the question: Who was going to establish his kingdom? In David’s mind the answer could only be “God.” David wanted to meet his adversary honestly on the field of battle or over a flag of truce, but he would have nothing to do with murder. There was another compelling reason for David to conduct himself honorably. David was closely associated with Ishbosheth as the brother of his wife and of his best friend, and he did not find it easy to be at war with him. (Know the Word Study Bible Notes)
cut off their hands and feet, and hanged them by the pool. See note on 1 Sam. 31:4; cf. 1 Sam. 5:3-4. Though mutilation of this sort was not uncommon in the ancient Near East, there may be a special significance here, namely, removal of the offending members—hands that committed the murder and feet that brought the news. (NKJV CBSB)
DAVID: The Heart of a Great King
by John Maxwell
As a young teen anointed by the prophet Samuel to one day become king, David patiently awaited his ascent to the throne. Both his influence and his skills continued to grow as he faced many challenges, reflecting the process all leaders must undergo in the leadership journey.
David’s honorable actions reveal his integrity and commitment to the legitimate holder of the throne, King Saul, “the LORD’s anointed.” David refused to usurp power and grew angry when overzealous partisans murdered Ish-Bosheth in a wicked effort to speed up God’s timetable.
By conducting himself in such an honorable way, David modeled the Law of Solid Ground. He recognized that by manipulating his way to power he would only break trust. David clearly understood the Law of Timing; as the chosen leader, he refused to sacrifice his mission and calling on the altar of inappropriate timing.
David’s greatness and influence vastly increased as those around him recognized he had committed himself to higher principles. He would not tolerate subordinates who felt free to take matters into their own hands. David sacrificed personal gain for those who sought to destroy him—a classic servant leader. He kept his heart close to God, and consequently his behavior reflected strong inner character and the utmost respect for God’s timing.