1 After the death of Saul, David returned from defeating the Amalekites and stayed at Ziklag two days. 2 On the third day a man with torn clothes and dust on his head came from Saul’s camp. When he came to David, he fell to the ground and paid homage. 3 David asked him, “Where have you come from?”He replied to him, “I’ve escaped from the Israelite camp.”4 “What was the outcome? Tell me,” David asked him.“The troops fled from the battle,” he answered. “Many of the troops have fallen and are dead. Also, Saul and his son Jonathan are dead.”5 David asked the young man who had brought him the report, “How do you know Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?”6 “I happened to be on Mount Gilboa,” he replied, “and there was Saul, leaning on his spear. At that very moment the chariots and the cavalry were closing in on him. 7 When he turned around and saw me, he called out to me, so I answered: I’m at your service. 8 He asked me, ‘Who are you?’ I told him: I’m an Amalekite. 9 Then he begged me, ‘Stand over me and kill me, for I’m mortally wounded,[a] but my life still lingers.’ 10 So I stood over him and killed him because I knew that after he had fallen he couldn’t survive. I took the crown that was on his head and the armband that was on his arm, and I’ve brought them here to my lord.”11 Then David took hold of his clothes and tore them, and all the men with him did the same. 12 They mourned, wept, and fasted until the evening for those who died by the sword—for Saul, his son Jonathan, the Lord’s people, and the house of Israel.13 David inquired of the young man who had brought him the report, “Where are you from?”“I’m the son of a resident alien,” he said. “I’m an Amalekite.”14 David questioned him, “How is it that you were not afraid to lift your hand to destroy the Lord’s anointed?” 15 Then David summoned one of his servants and said, “Come here and kill him!” The servant struck him, and he died. 16 For David had said to the Amalekite, “Your blood is on your own head because your own mouth testified against you by saying, ‘I killed the Lord’s anointed.’”17 David sang the following lament for Saul and his son Jonathan, 18 and he ordered that the Judahites be taught The Song of the Bow. It is written in the Book of Jashar:[b]19 The splendor of Israel lies slain on your heights.
How the mighty have fallen!
20 Do not tell it in Gath,
don’t announce it in the marketplaces of Ashkelon,
or the daughters of the Philistines will rejoice,
and the daughters of the uncircumcised will celebrate.
21 Mountains of Gilboa,
let no dew or rain be on you,
or fields of offerings,[c]
for there the shield of the mighty was defiled—
the shield of Saul, no longer anointed with oil.
22 Jonathan’s bow never retreated,
Saul’s sword never returned unstained,[d]
from the blood of the slain,
from the flesh[e] of the mighty.
23 Saul and Jonathan,
loved and delightful,
they were not parted in life or in death.
They were swifter than eagles, stronger than lions.
24 Daughters of Israel, weep for Saul,
who clothed you in scarlet, with luxurious things,
who decked your garments with gold ornaments.
25 How the mighty have fallen in the thick of battle!
Jonathan lies slain on your heights.
26 I grieve for you, Jonathan, my brother.
You were such a friend to me.
Your love for me was more wondrous
than the love of women.
27 How the mighty have fallen
and the weapons of war have perished!
David, King of Judah
2 Some time later, David inquired of the Lord: “Should I go to one of the towns of Judah?”The Lord answered him, “Go.”Then David asked, “Where should I go?”“To Hebron,” the Lord replied.2 So David went there with his two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelite and Abigail, the widow of Nabal the Carmelite. 3 In addition, David brought the men who were with him, each one with his family, and they settled in the towns near Hebron. 4 Then the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah. They told David, “It was the men of Jabesh-gilead who buried Saul.”5 David sent messengers to the men of Jabesh-gilead and said to them, “The Lord bless you because you have shown this kindness to Saul your lord when you buried him. 6 Now, may the Lord show kindness and faithfulness to you, and I will also show the same goodness to you because you have done this deed. 7 Therefore, be strong[f] and valiant, for though Saul your lord is dead, the house of Judah has anointed me king over them.”8 Abner son of Ner, commander of Saul’s army, took Saul’s son Ish-bosheth[g][h] and moved him to Mahanaim. 9 He made him king over Gilead, Asher, Jezreel, Ephraim, Benjamin—over all Israel. 10 Saul’s son Ish-bosheth was forty years old when he became king over Israel; he reigned for two years. The house of Judah, however, followed David. 11 The length of time that David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months.12 Abner son of Ner and soldiers of Ish-bosheth son of Saul marched out from Mahanaim to Gibeon. 13 So Joab son of Zeruiah and David’s soldiers marched out and met them by the pool of Gibeon. The two groups took up positions on opposite sides of the pool.14 Then Abner said to Joab, “Let’s have the young men get up and compete in front of us.”“Let them get up,” Joab replied.15 So they got up and were counted off—twelve for Benjamin and Ish-bosheth son of Saul, and twelve from David’s soldiers. 16 Then each man grabbed his opponent by the head and thrust his sword into his opponent’s side so that they all died together. So this place, which is in Gibeon, is named Field of Blades.[i]17 The battle that day was extremely fierce, and Abner and the men of Israel were defeated by David’s soldiers. 18 The three sons of Zeruiah were there: Joab, Abishai, and Asahel. Asahel was a fast runner, like one of the wild gazelles. 19 He chased Abner and did not turn to the right or the left in his pursuit of him. 20 Abner glanced back and said, “Is that you, Asahel?”“Yes it is,” Asahel replied.21 Abner said to him, “Turn to your right or left, seize one of the young soldiers, and take whatever you can get from him.” But Asahel would not stop chasing him. 22 Once again, Abner warned Asahel, “Stop chasing me. Why should I strike you to the ground? How could I ever look your brother Joab in the face?”23 But Asahel refused to turn away, so Abner hit him in the stomach with the butt of his spear. The spear went through his body, and he fell and died right there. As they all came to the place where Asahel had fallen and died, they stopped, 24 but Joab and Abishai pursued Abner. By sunset, they had gone as far as the hill of Ammah, which is opposite Giah on the way to the wilderness of Gibeon.25 The Benjaminites rallied to Abner; they formed a unit and took their stand on top of a hill. 26 Then Abner called out to Joab, “Must the sword devour forever? Don’t you realize this will only end in bitterness? How long before you tell the troops to stop pursuing their brothers?”27 “As God lives,” Joab replied, “if you had not spoken up, the troops wouldn’t have stopped pursuing their brothers until morning.” 28 Then Joab blew the ram’s horn, and all the troops stopped; they no longer pursued Israel or continued to fight. 29 So Abner and his men marched through the Arabah all that night. They crossed the Jordan, marched all morning,[j] and arrived at Mahanaim.30 When Joab had turned back from pursuing Abner, he gathered all the troops. In addition to Asahel, nineteen of David’s soldiers were missing, 31 but they had killed 360 of the Benjaminites and Abner’s men. 32 Afterward, they carried Asahel to his father’s tomb in Bethlehem and buried him. Then Joab and his men marched all night and reached Hebron at dawn.
3 During the long war between the house of Saul and the house of David, David was growing stronger and the house of Saul was becoming weaker.2 Sons were born to David in Hebron:His firstborn was Amnon,by Ahinoam the Jezreelite;3 his second was Chileab,by Abigail, the widow of Nabal the Carmelite;the third was Absalom,son of Maacah the daughter of King Talmai of Geshur;4 the fourth was Adonijah,son of Haggith;the fifth was Shephatiah,son of Abital;5 the sixth was Ithream,by David’s wife Eglah.These were born to David in Hebron.6 During the war between the house of Saul and the house of David, Abner kept acquiring more power in the house of Saul. 7 Now Saul had a concubine whose name was Rizpah daughter of Aiah, and Ish-bosheth questioned Abner, “Why did you sleep with my father’s concubine?”8 Abner was very angry about Ish-bosheth’s accusation. “Am I a dog’s head[k] who belongs to Judah?” he asked. “All this time I’ve been loyal to the family of your father Saul, to his brothers, and to his friends and haven’t betrayed you to David, but now you accuse me of wrongdoing with this woman! 9 May God punish Abner and do so severely if I don’t do for David what the Lord swore to him: 10 to transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul and establish the throne of David over Israel and Judah from Dan to Beer-sheba.” 11 Ish-bosheth did not dare respond to Abner because he was afraid of him.12 Abner sent messengers as his representatives to say to David, “Whose land is it? Make your covenant with me, and you can be certain I am on your side to turn all Israel over to you.”13 David replied, “Good, I will make a covenant with you. However, there’s one thing I require of you: You will not see my face unless you first bring Saul’s daughter Michal when you come to see me.”14 Then David sent messengers to say to Ish-bosheth son of Saul, “Give me back my wife Michal. I was engaged to her for the price of a hundred Philistine foreskins.”15 So Ish-bosheth sent someone to take her away from her husband, Paltiel son of Laish. 16 Her husband followed her, weeping all the way to Bahurim. Abner said to him, “Go back.” So he went back.
The Assassination of Abner
17 Abner conferred with the elders of Israel: “In the past you wanted David to be king over you. 18 Now take action, because the Lord has spoken concerning David: ‘Through my servant David I will save my people Israel from the power of the Philistines and the power of all Israel’s enemies.’”19 Abner also informed the Benjaminites and went to Hebron to inform David about all that was agreed on by Israel and the whole house of Benjamin. 20 When Abner and twenty men came to David at Hebron, David held a banquet for him and his men.21 Abner said to David, “Let me now go and I will gather all Israel to my lord the king. They will make a covenant with you, and you will reign over all you desire.” So David dismissed Abner, and he went in peace.22 Just then David’s soldiers and Joab returned from a raid and brought a large amount of plundered goods with them. Abner was not with David in Hebron because David had dismissed him, and he had gone in peace. 23 When Joab and his whole army arrived, Joab was informed, “Abner son of Ner came to see the king, the king dismissed him, and he went in peace.”24 Joab went to the king and said, “What have you done? Look here, Abner came to you. Why did you dismiss him? Now he’s getting away. 25 You know that Abner son of Ner came to deceive you and to find out about your military activities[l] and everything you’re doing.” 26 Then Joab left David and sent messengers after Abner. They brought him back from the well[m] of Sirah, but David was unaware of it. 27 When Abner returned to Hebron, Joab pulled him aside to the middle of the city gate, as if to speak to him privately, and there Joab stabbed him in the stomach. So Abner died in revenge for the death of Asahel,[n] Joab’s brother.28 David heard about it later and said, “I and my kingdom are forever innocent before the Lord concerning the blood of Abner son of Ner. 29 May it hang over Joab’s head and his father’s whole family, and may the house of Joab never be without someone who has a discharge or a skin disease, or a man who can only work a spindle,[o] or someone who falls by the sword or starves.” 30 Joab and his brother Abishai killed Abner because he had put their brother Asahel to death in the battle at Gibeon.31 David then ordered Joab and all the people who were with him, “Tear your clothes, put on sackcloth, and mourn over Abner.” And King David walked behind the coffin.[p]32 When they buried Abner in Hebron, the king wept aloud at Abner’s tomb. All the people wept, 33 and the king sang a lament for Abner:Should Abner die as a fool dies?
34 Your hands were not bound,
your feet not placed in bronze shackles.
You fell like one who falls victim to criminals.And all the people wept over him even more.35 Then they came to urge David to eat food while it was still day, but David took an oath: “May God punish me and do so severely if I taste bread or anything else before sunset!” 36 All the people took note of this, and it pleased them. In fact, everything the king did pleased them. 37 On that day all the troops and all Israel were convinced that the king had no part in the killing of Abner son of Ner.38 Then the king said to his soldiers, “You must know that a great leader has fallen in Israel today. 39 As for me, even though I am the anointed king, I have little power today. These men, the sons of Zeruiah, are too fierce for me. May the Lord repay the evildoer according to his evil!”
The Assassination of Ish-bosheth
4 When Saul’s son Ish-bosheth heard that Abner had died in Hebron, he gave up,[q] and all Israel was dismayed. 2 Saul’s son had two men who were leaders of raiding parties: one named Baanah and the other Rechab, sons of Rimmon the Beerothite of the Benjaminites. Beeroth is also considered part of Benjamin, 3 and the Beerothites fled to Gittaim and still reside there as aliens today.4 Saul’s son Jonathan had a son whose feet were crippled. He was five years old when the report about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel. His nanny picked him up and fled, but as she was hurrying to flee, he fell and became lame. His name was Mephibosheth.5 Rechab and Baanah, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, set out and arrived at Ish-bosheth’s house during the heat of the day while the king was taking his midday nap. 6 They entered the interior of the house as if to get wheat and stabbed him in the stomach. Then Rechab and his brother Baanah escaped. 7 They had entered the house while Ish-bosheth was lying on his bed in his bedroom and stabbed and killed him. They removed his head, took it, and traveled by way of the Arabah all night. 8 They brought Ish-bosheth’s head to David at Hebron and said to the king, “Here’s the head of Ish-bosheth son of Saul, your enemy who intended to take your life. Today the Lord has granted vengeance to my lord the king against Saul and his offspring.”9 But David answered Rechab and his brother Baanah, sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, “As the Lord lives, the one who has redeemed my life from every distress, 10 when the person told me, ‘Look, Saul is dead,’ he thought he was a bearer of good news, but I seized him and put him to death at Ziklag. That was my reward to him for his news! 11 How much more when wicked men kill a righteous man in his own house on his own bed! So now, should I not require his blood from you and purge you from the earth?”12 So David gave orders to the young men, and they killed Rechab and Baanah. They cut off their hands and feet and hung their bodies by the pool in Hebron, but they took Ish-bosheth’s head and buried it in Abner’s tomb in Hebron.
David is finally being crowned king over Israel. Several people die as David receives the kingship promised to him all those years ago. It’s important to note that David never commanded those people die or celebrated their death. David wasn’t looking to take the crown himself. He was always waiting on God to crown him king. David wanted to follow God’s will more than being king over Israel. He trusted God to hold His promise in His time.I pray we can uphold God’s promises the same way. That God is faithful and we could seek His will above our own.