Friday, January 11, 2013

CIV - II Samuel - Chapter 2 - David's Reign In Judah Begins

In the first chapter of this book of II Samuel the Scripture tells of David having learned of the deaths of Saul and his sons (including the beloved Jonathan), and David's deep sorrow at their passing.  David, through his eulogy, successfully focused Israel on the greatness of Saul and Jonathan, rather than the sad latter years of Saul, when mental illness had dominated Saul's thoughts, words, and deeds.

Chapter 2 opens up with "in the course of time".  This refers to a reasonable time to mourn.  Often times our studies have shown that God calls time on mourning, and says it's now time to go forward.  David, on the other hand, has decided himself that he must go forward.  He inquired of God as to where he must take his men and their families.  God told him to go to Hebron in the tribal land of Judah.  {Remember that David was in Ziklag at this time, which is in the land of the Philistines. 
David inquired of the Lord as to where he was to go because he knew that he was currently misplaced if he was going to serve as king of Israel.  He also realized that with Saul's death, the political situation has completely changed.  Israel at this time has no organized army because it was defeated at the hands of the Philistines.  So Israel was left to flounder with no political or military leadership, and enemies still surrounded them.  This is a critical time for Israel and the world.  David's being directed to specifically Judah will have centuries-lasting impact on the world, as we'll see throughout our studies in the next 10 or 12 months.}

Verses 4-7 tells of the men of Judah anointing David as the king of Judah.  {Judah always showed a sense of independance from the other eleven tribes.  I have no immediate explanation for this, but it is clearly satisfactory to God.}  This next section, the remainder of chapter 2, tells of a bad situation, but nonetheless one that had to happen.  Remember Abner, Saul's captain of his army?  Abner somehow survived the defeat of the entire Israelite army at the hands of the Philistines.  Few escaped with their lives, and evidently Abner was one of them.  {I'm surprized the Philistines did not hunt down Abner
due to his lofty position in Israel's military.}  Upon Saul's death, Abner took it upon himself to establish a successor to Saul's throne.  This would of course be one of Saul's sons.  Abner chose Ishbosheth (probably oldest surviving son of Saul).  {I don't want to be too hard on Abner at this point.  Abner was not a "man of God", therefore he did as he thought was right according to his finite understanding.  From a purely secular standpoint, immediately establishing a successor made perfect
sense.  Also, Abner wanted to honor and continue a royal line.  If Abner would have been a purely selfish and evil-minded man, he would have set himself up as military-type dictator over all of Israel.}  The Scripture interjects in verse 11 that David reigned in Judah for seven an a half years.  I submit that he took this much time to establish and organize his kingship and rebuild a loyal army.  The events described in the next few chapters take place within this seven and a half year period.

Back to Abner: This took some time.  Abner, spreading the word that Ishbosheth was now king of Israel, built a military following, concentrating his efforts in the tribal territories of Benjamin, Ephraim, Ashur, and probably Mannaseh.  Verse 12 begins the telling of the first battle between the forces of David and the forces of Abner and Ishbosheth.  Bear in mind that David was not present during this first skirmish.  Joab, son of Zeruiah, served as the military leader of this particular platoon-size group of David's men at his time and location.  He served along with Zeruiah's two other sons, Abishai and Asahel.  But Joab seems to have been the self-appointed leader of this relatively small battalion of soldiers.  He led his men out to where Abner was camped.  {Seems to
me that Joab wanted a fight.  I also feel that David was not aware of Joab doing this, although the Scripture doesn't say.}  Joab and Abner (enemies) divised a plan to have 12 men from each side fight to the finish, establishing the winner with a minimum of bloodshed.  {These "deals" in battle were common.  Remember the "deal" the Philistines offered through Goliath?}  David's men prevailed.  Interesting that Joab's brother Asahel (whom the Scripture describes as "fleet of foot") chased Abner with intent to kill him, thus ending the serious threat to David's military rule.  But Abner warned Asahel to stop chasing him and ended up killing Asahel.  Although Asahel was young and fleet of foot, Abner was an experienced warrior.  Asahel was no match for him.  So Asahel's brothers Joab and Abishai chased after Abner in revenge for their slain brother.  They finaly caught up with him in Gibeah and found that the Benjamites had rallied around Abner and took a stand against Joab and Abishai.  Jaob and Abishai were terribly outnumbered by Abner's loyal followers.  But Abner did what seems to me to be a smart thing.  He told Joab there was no sense in further bloodshed and offered to part in peace.  And so they did.

The chapter wraps up by telling that only twenty of David's men died during the earlier battle, but three hundred and sixty Benjamites fell.

We've covered only one chapter in this post, as well as just one in the last one, but I don't know how to speed it up and still do justice to this very important part of the world's History.

Next post we'll study how David continues to grow in strength.

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