David Anointed King of Judah
2 After this David inquired of the LORD, “Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah?” And the LORD said to him, “Go up.” David said, “To which shall I go up?” And he said, “To Hebron.” So David went up there, and his two wives also, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel. And David brought up his men who were with him, everyone with his household, and they lived in the towns of Hebron. And the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah.
When they told David, “It was the men of Jabesh-gilead who buried Saul,” David sent messengers to the men of Jabesh-gilead and said to them, “May you be blessed by the LORD, because you showed this loyalty to Saul your lord and buried him. Now may the LORD show steadfast love and faithfulness to you. And I will do good to you because you have done this thing. Now therefore let your hands be strong, and be valiant, for Saul your lord is dead, and the house of Judah has anointed me king over them.”
Ish-bosheth Made King of Israel
But Abner the son of Ner, commander of Saul’s army, took Ish-bosheth the son of Saul and brought him over to Mahanaim, and he made him king over Gilead and the Ashurites and Jezreel and Ephraim and Benjamin and all Israel. Ish-bosheth, Saul’s son, was forty years old when he began to reign over Israel, and he reigned two years. But the house of Judah followed David. And the time that David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months.
The Battle of Gibeon
Abner the son of Ner, and the servants of Ish-bosheth the son of Saul, went out from Mahanaim to Gibeon. And Joab the son of Zeruiah and the servants of David went out and met them at 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. And Abner said to Joab, “Let the young men arise and compete before us.” And Joab said, “Let them arise.” Then they arose and passed over by number, twelve for Benjamin and Ish-bosheth the son of Saul, and twelve of the servants of David. And each caught his opponent by the head and thrust his sword in his opponent’s side, so they fell down together. Therefore that place was called Helkath-hazzurim, which is at Gibeon. And the battle was very fierce that day. And Abner and the men of Israel were beaten before the servants of David.
And the three sons of Zeruiah were there, Joab, Abishai, and Asahel. Now Asahel was as swift of foot as a wild gazelle. And Asahel pursued Abner, and as he went, he turned neither to the right hand nor to the left from following Abner. Then Abner looked behind him and said, “Is it you, Asahel?” And he answered, “It is I.” Abner said to him, “Turn aside to your right hand or to your left, and seize one of the young men and take his spoil.” But Asahel would not turn aside from following him. And Abner said again to Asahel, “Turn aside from following me. Why should I strike you to the ground? How then could I lift up my face to your brother Joab?” But he refused to turn aside. Therefore Abner struck him in the stomach with the butt of his spear, so that the spear came out at his back. And he fell there and died where he was. And all who came to the place where Asahel had fallen and died, stood still.
But Joab and Abishai pursued Abner. And as the sun was going down they came to the hill of Ammah, which lies before Giah on the way to the wilderness of Gibeon. And the people of Benjamin gathered themselves together behind Abner and became one group and took their stand on the top of a hill. Then Abner called to Joab, “Shall the sword devour forever? Do you not know that the end will be bitter? How long will it be before you tell your people to turn from the pursuit of their brothers?” And Joab said, “As God lives, if you had not spoken, surely the men would not have given up the pursuit of their brothers until the morning.” So Joab blew the trumpet, and all the men stopped and pursued Israel no more, nor did they fight anymore.
And Abner and his men went all that night through the Arabah. They crossed the Jordan, and marching the whole morning, they came to Mahanaim. Joab returned from the pursuit of Abner. And when he had gathered all the people together, there were missing from David’s servants nineteen men besides Asahel. But the servants of David had struck down of Benjamin 360 of Abner’s men. And they took up Asahel and buried him in the tomb of his father, which was at Bethlehem. And Joab and his men marched all night, and the day broke upon them at Hebron.
2 Samuel 2 Commentary
by Hank Workman
As reality settles in of Saul’s death, David is crowned King over Judah. The remaining 11 tribes do not acknowledge this crown and instead make one of Saul’s sons Ish-Bosheth their king. A civil war will ensue for 7 years. The tension between the north and south was not from the king but driven by Abner, Saul’s commander of the army. In a face-off, 12 of Saul’s army and 12 of David’s are gathered in a fight to the death. All 24 were killed and it solved nothing. The tribes were still divided.
Israel had lost sight of God’s vision and purpose and fought one another.
Conflict tends to bring out the same thing. Often when we are headstrong about a specific thought or determined to see something our heart has been set on, an unnecessary battle follows. When we are driven by winning our point of view, the advancement of God’s plan is put on hold. Others can be slaughtered in the process as we cling so tightly to what we want.
“What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
5 Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? 6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”7 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.”James 4:1-10
2 Samuel 2 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
There is an interesting backstory on the relationships that take place in this chapter.
Abner crowns Saul’s son Ishbosheth to be king over all Israel, Gilead, the Ashurites, Jezreel, Ephraim, and Benjamin. Ishbosheth was never mentioned previously as a son of Saul, so it’s possible he was an illegitimate son, or possibly a son of one of Saul’s concubines. Abner was Saul’s cousin, the commander of his armies and, ironically, the man that David challenged and somewhat insulted when he had the opportunity to kill Saul but didn’t do it. Here is the encounter…
David answered, “Abner, aren’t you the greatest man in Israel? So why aren’t you protecting your master, the king? Just now someone entered the camp to kill your master. 16 You failed in your duty, Abner! I swear by the living LORD that all of you deserve to die, because you have not protected your master, whom the LORD made king. Look! Where is the king’s spear? Where is the water jar that was right by his head?”1 Samuel 26:15-16 GNB
David essentially said that Abner couldn’t protect his king.
Even though David knows he is supposed to be king (being anointed by Samuel long before), he allows Ishbosheth to reign for 2 years. This is similar to the patient David we see when Saul was trying to kill him. He will only act on God’s command. I also believe that we see David as a very respectful man. He shows honor even to his enemies at times. So these 2 years may have been simply out of respect for Saul’s family. Regardless, it’s an amazing attribute of David.
What eventually follows is a very obscure battle between Abner’s forces and David’s commander, Joab. The bloodshed that would follow, although strange, would see David’s forces prevailing. This would set the tone for a long history of battles between the house of Saul and the house of David.