2 Samuel 2


‘In the course of time, David inquired of the LORD. ‘Shall I go up to one of the towns of Judah?’ he asked. The LORD said, ‘Go up.’ David asked, ‘Where shall I go?’ ‘To Hebron,’ the LORD answered. So David went up there with his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. David also took the men who were with him, each with his family, and they settled in Hebron and its towns. Then the men of Judah came to Hebron, and there they anointed David king over the tribe of Judah. When David was told that it was the men from Jabesh Gilead who had buried Saul, he sent messengers to them to say to them, ‘The LORD bless you for showing this kindness to Saul your master by burying him. May the LORD now show you kindness and faithfulness, and I too will show you the same favour because you have done this. Now then, be strong and brave, for Saul your master is dead, and the people of Judah have anointed me king over them.’ 2 Samuel 2:1-7

David Anointed King Over Judah

Sometime after ordering the Amalekite to be put to death for killing Saul, David inquires of the Lord as to where to go, God tells him to go to Hebron, a town of Judah. David, his two wives and his men then go to Hebron and settled there. It’s here that David is anointed as king of Israel.

David’s days of being a shepherd boy and a giant killer are far behind him now, he’s come such a long way and his relationship with God has become stronger as he learned to trust him more with each step he makes.

David had been anointed as king three times now, his first anointing was by Samuel, 1 Samuel 10:1, which indicated God’s will and intention. Here in this passage, we find the second time, when the men of Judah exalted him over the house of Judah and finally when he was made king over all of Israel, 1 Chronicles 14:8.

As God’s anointed king, the first thing David does is show kindness to those who respected Saul, God’s first anointed king. The people of Jabesh Gilead had shown a lot of respect for Saul, this is shown in the way they cared for his body after it had been desecrated by the Philistines, 1 Samuel 31:11-13.

War Between The Houses Of David And Saul

‘Meanwhile, Abner son of Ner, the commander of Saul’s army, had taken Ish-Bosheth son of Saul and brought him over to Mahanaim. He made him king over Gilead, Ashuri and Jezreel, and also over Ephraim, Benjamin and all Israel. Ish-Bosheth son of Saul was forty years old when he became king over Israel, and he reigned two years. The tribe of Judah, however, remained loyal to David. The length of time David was king in Hebron over Judah was seven years and six months.’ 2 Samuel 2:8-11

Because Israel demanded a king many years ago, 1 Samuel 8:6, it appears that their appetite to have another king to replace Saul was so great that the men in Israel began anointing their own kings. Once again they totally ignored the fact that God was their King and He would be the one who would select their next king.

Abner goes ahead and totally ignores God’s will by personally anointing Ish-Bosheth as a king, 1 Chronicles 8:33 / 1 Chronicles 9:39. It appears that Abner was the only person in Northern Israel with any real power. He was possibly an uncle of Saul, 1 Chronicles 8:33, and was in full command of Saul’s army following Saul’s death.

Abner’s motives are very questionable here, it appears that proclaiming Ish-Bosheth as king was a tactical move on his part because as we shall see later, he wants to become king himself, 2 Samuel 3:7-11.

It’s pretty clear that Abner took full control of Israel after Ish-Bosheth reigned for two years. Ish-Bosheth was more like a figurehead king over all of Israel because he was never anointed as king by God. And so, his strength was only from those around him and not from God.

After the death of Ish-Bosheth, David stayed in Hebron, afterwards, he goes to Jerusalem and integrated his government and the faith of Israel in the city of Jerusalem. The length of David’s reign in Hebron was seven years and six months, 2 Samuel 5:5.

‘Abner son of Ner, together with the men of Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, left Mahanaim and went to Gibeon. Joab son of Zeruiah and David’s men went out and met them at the pool of Gibeon. One group sat down on one side of the pool and one group on the other side. Then Abner said to Joab, ‘Let’s have some of the young men get up and fight hand to hand in front of us.’ ‘All right let them do it,’ Joab said. So they stood up and were counted off—twelve men for Benjamin and Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, and twelve for David. Then each man grabbed his opponent by the head and thrust his dagger into his opponent’s side, and they fell down together. So that place in Gibeon was called Helkath Hazzurim. The battle that day was very fierce, and Abner and the Israelites were defeated by David’s men. The three sons of Zeruiah were there: Joab, Abishai and Asahel. Now Asahel was as fleet-footed as a wild gazelle. He chased Abner, turning neither to the right nor to the left as he pursued him. Abner looked behind him and asked, ‘Is that you, Asahel?’ ‘It is,’ he answered. Then Abner said to him, ‘Turn aside to the right or to the left; take on one of the young men and strip him of his weapons.’ But Asahel would not stop chasing him. Again Abner warned Asahel, ‘Stop chasing me! Why should I strike you down? How could I look your brother Joab in the face?’ But Asahel refused to give up the pursuit; so Abner thrust the butt of his spear into Asahel’s stomach, and the spear came out through his back. He fell there and died on the spot. And every man stopped when he came to the place where Asahel had fallen and died.’ 2 Samuel 2:12-23

After making Ish-Bosheth king, Abner, who was Saul’s former commander of his army, 1 Samuel 14:50, makes an aggressive move on Joab, who was the commander of David’s army. the captain of David’s army. He suggest that they choose twelve men from both armies and have a fight, the idea behind this was to see which army would be considered victorious.

Sadly, the outcome wasn’t good, no one won, it was a draw because they ended up killing each other. Because of this aggressive move by Abner, a fierce battle took place between both armies. This battle then set the stage for Joab, David’s nephew, 1 Chronicles 2:15-16, to develop a quarrel with Abner.

The three sons of Zeruiah were Joab, Abishai and Asahel, Zeruiah was a sister of King David, and her three sons, David’s nephews, all held important positions of trust in David’s army.

Joab commanded his army, Abishai was with David when they found Saul asleep and pleaded with David to allow him to kill Saul, 1 Samuel 26:6-12, both he and Asahel were counted among David’s thirty mighty men, 2 Samuel 23:8-38 / 1 Chronicles 11:20 / 1 Chronicles 11:26.

Abner had warned Asahel repeatedly to turn away but Asahel ignored his pleas and continued to run after Abner and so because Abner was more experienced, he killed Asahel.

This ended this bloody battle immediately. The result of Abner killing Asahel, who was Joab’s brother, would later come back to haunt him, as Joab would take revenge and kill him for killing his brother, 2 Samuel 3:27.

‘But Joab and Abishai pursued Abner, and as the sun was setting, they came to the hill of Ammah, near Giah on the way to the wasteland of Gibeon. Then the men of Benjamin rallied behind Abner. They formed themselves into a group and took their stand on top of a hill. Abner called out to Joab, ‘Must the sword devour forever? Don’t you realize that this will end in bitterness? How long before you order your men to stop pursuing their fellow Israelites?’ Joab answered, ‘As surely as God lives, if you had not spoken, the men would have continued pursuing them until morning.’ So Joab blew the trumpet, and all the troops came to a halt; they no longer pursued Israel, nor did they fight anymore. All that night Abner and his men marched through the Arabah. They crossed the Jordan, continued through the morning hours and came to Mahanaim. Then Joab stopped pursuing Abner and assembled the whole army. Besides Asahel, nineteen of David’s men were found missing. But David’s men had killed three hundred and sixty Benjamites who were with Abner. They took Asahel and buried him in his father’s tomb at Bethlehem. Then Joab and his men marched all night and arrived at Hebron by daybreak.’ 2 Samuel 2:24-32

After the killing of Asahel, Joab and Abishai continued to pursue Abner, Joab’s men gathered together again to get ready for another battle with Abner’s men. However, Abner asks for a truce, and Joab agrees because he understood there would be no point in having many more men dying.

When Joab tells Abner ‘if you had not spoken’, he possibly meant if Abner hadn’t spoken earlier, then the battle would have never had happened in the first place and many men wouldn’t have needlessly died.

This war which began in the pool of Gibeon was over, for now, sadly, as we shall see at the beginning of the next chapter, this wasn’t going to last, 2 Samuel 3:1. Joab then takes Asahel and buries him in his father’s tomb. It appears that Joab is being very patient because as we shall also see in the next chapter, he will get his revenge, 2 Samuel 3:27.

This was the turning point for Israel as a nation as they now begin to fight with each other, instead of fighting and removing the Canaanites from the land. This was now all about a power struggle between men, which God said would happen if they were given their own earthly king, 1 Samuel 8:11-18.

Go To 2 Samuel 3