TODAY’S READING: II SAMUEL 1-4
The death of Saul; David mourns the death of Saul and Jonathan; David’s song of sorrow; David is crowned king of Judah; Ishbosheth is made king of Israel; Abner deserts Ishbosheth to align with David; Joab murders Abner; Ishbosheth’s murder; David’s execution of Ishbosheth’s murderers.
HIGHLIGHTS & INSIGHTS:
As we saw in yesterday’s reading, I Samuel ends with the death of Saul. II Samuel is, as the name of the Book implies, a continuation of the narrative of I Samuel, so it likewise begins as I Samuel ends, with the death of Saul.
Saul’s death gives us an incredible glimpse into the heart of the only one Scripture ever specifically identifies as a “man after God’s own heart” (I Sam. 13:14; Acts 13:22). With all that Saul had done to David and had attempted to do, one would think that David would be elated at the news of his death. That’s precisely what Saul’s killer thought! Uh, not so much! Amazingly, David genuinely grieved and lamented Saul’s death (1:11-12, 17), even composing a song as a beautiful and continuous memorial to Israel’s first king (1:19-27). David slayed Saul’s slayer for the audacity of thinking it was within his right to put to death the one whom God had anointed. Be careful who you slay, realizing more people are slain with the four ounce slab of mucous membrane that rests behind our teeth, than all of the world’s swords and knives combined!
But with Israel’s king now dead, the question was, who would be his successor? Back in I Samuel 16:13, David had been anointed by God by the prophet Samuel as Israel’s next king. But that was a long time ago, and Abner, Saul’s cousin and the powerful commander of Saul’s army was determined to keep the kingship within the family, and perhaps better stated, within his own authority. He moves to persuade the elders of Israel to put Saul’s son, Ishbosheth, on the throne.
Once again, it is incredible to watch the “man after God’s own heart” operate. With the anointing David had received of Samuel, he most certainly could have justified himself in facing Abner in battle for his “right” as God’s chosen successor. Rather, David inquired of the Lord (2:1,4), placing his life and the entire situation completely in God’s hands. It is a great lesson for those of us to whom the Scripture identifies as “lovers of their own selves” (II Tim. 3:1-2), and those who are interested in their “rights” (Rev. 3:14 – “Laodicean” = “the rights of the people”), who are so prone toward self-promotion and personal advancement, rather than waiting upon God, seeking God, and trusting God.
What situation are you presently facing, that from a human perspective, you would have the “right” to vaunt yourself, and “make happen” what you know God has determined as His will? David teaches us how unnecessary it is to fight for our “rights,” and how God proves His faithfulness when “self” is off of the throne, and we patiently and confidently submit ourselves to Christ’s Lordship, allowing Him to carry out His will in our lives, in His way, and in His time. David realized that if Jehovah had indeed anointed him as king, then Jehovah would deal with his enemies, and bring him into the possession of the kingdom.
God led David to Hebron where He was anointed king of Judah, yet Judah was only a small representation of Israel’s tribes. The other tribes of Israel refused to recognize David’s kingship. But in due time, Abner and Ishbosheth had a major falling out, causing Abner to pledge his loyalty to David. When Joab, the captain of David’s army returned from battle and heard that David had met with Abner, it sent Joab over the top! He immediately planned to kill Abner, and did so by stabbing him under the fifth rib (the perfect location to assure death). In response, David publicly condemned Abner’s murder in two ways: first, by cursing Joab and his house; and second, by proclaiming a time of mourning for Abner, while openly mourning for Abner himself.
With Abner out of the way, Ishbosheth’s position became weaker and weaker, while David’s grew stronger, and stronger. Baanah and Rechab realized that David’s rule over Israel was inevitable, and decided to impress David by killing Ishbosheth. David, however, was not impressed! David realized that God would never lead men to violate His Word in order to enthrone His king (i.e. It’s never right to do wrong, in order to do something right!) David knew that God was more than able to fulfill His promises to him without the assistance of murderers! David called for Baanah’s and Rechab’s execution, exposing their bodies to the humiliation of public display, while the head of Ishobosheth was respectfully and honorably buried in the tomb of Abner.
CHRIST IS REVEALED:
In DAVID’S SONG OF SORROW – II Sam. 1:19-27 (Even though Saul had made David his enemy, David continuously loved Saul. Christ loved us, even though we had made ourselves His enemies – Rom. 5:8, 10a; Eph. 2:1, 4-5a)
In DAVID’S PARTIAL REIGN – II Sam. 2:4 (Though David had been anointed as Israel’s king, he actually reigned over a very small percentage of those to whom he was entitled to rule. He patiently waited for God’s timing. In similar fashion, the Lord Jesus Christ has been anointed King over all the earth, yet awaits the Father’s timing to actually possess His kingdom. There are only a small percentage of the world’s population who recognize Christ as their Lord and King, but one day soon, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father – Phil. 2:10-11)