David is crowned king… sort of!

From our daily Bible reading: 2 Samuel 1-3
April 5, 2019

 

We left off yesterday with Saul’s death, and as 2 Samuel picks up, David receives news of that death and begins to move forward to assume the throne. But as he has throughout our readings, David is patient, and makes a point of inquiring of God to see what to do next. He does not immediately try to force his rule on the entire nation, rather cementing his current relationships and preparing for what he undoubtedly hoped would be a peaceful transfer of power. Of course that ends up not being the case.

David, who is about 30 years old at this time, goes to Hebron in Judah at the direction of the Lord, where his fellow tribesmen anoint him king over Judah. And David rules here for seven and a half years.

Joab’s feud with Abner ends in murder

During that time Abner, the general of Saul’s army, takes Saul’s remaining son Ish-bosheth and names him king, which is what you would expect a good general to do. And as the conflict between David and Ish-bosheth begins, we start to see a rivalry between Abner and David’s general Joab. It seems to start in a civil way, and the two men seem to know each other and have some mutual respect, but after Abner kills one of Joab’s brothers in battle, all of that changes.

As a result, when Abner finally decides to accept David’s reign, Joab responds by murdering him. This is the first in a number of instances where we will see Joab’s ruthlessness, which at times is made to serve David well, but at other times is a hindrance. David, for all his strengths, seems to display a willingness at times to allow certain bad behaviors among those closest to him, and ultimately that’s going to be one of the things that brings strife and turmoil to his kingdom in its latter years.

David endears himself to the people

But David’s response to the death of Abner helps to ease some of the tensions, as his mourning convinces the people of Israel that David had not ordered Abner’s death, and that he had not wanted more bloodshed. The passage in chapter 3 tells us “all the people took notice of it, and it pleased them as everything the king did pleased all the people.” We see David’s compassion and his desire to end the war between the two sides as one of the factors that ultimately brings the nation back together into a united kingdom under its new king.

Next reading: 2 Samuel 4-7

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