Good morning! Though it’s a different book, 2 Samuel 1-2 picks up today where we left off yesterday at the end of 1 Samuel. David is in Ziklag after defeating the marauding Amalekites, while Saul and his three sons have just been killed by the Philistines.
Three days later, David finds out about the deaths of Saul and his sons. The news comes via an Amalekite messenger who claims that he finished Saul off at the end, as a way of obeying Saul’s wish to die in battle. The Amalekite gives the king’s crown and armlet to David as proof, yet only mentions Jonathan among the dead. David and those who are with him begin grieving immediately, then David has the messenger killed for daring to strike the king, even in an act of mercy. (Remember that David himself has “held his fire” against Saul time and again out of regard for Saul being God’s anointed leader of Israel.) The poetic song of lament which finishes the chapter is the first we see of David’s talent for writing (many of the psalms are attributed to him as well). David’s grief for Jonathan is especially touching, addressing the fallen man directly with words of love “passing the love of women”.
In chapter 2, David receives divine encouragement to ascend to the throne. The people of Judah anoint him as king in Hebron and he ruled that part of Israel for more than seven years. His competition with Saul’s heir Ishbaal continues over the rest of Israel. The hostility between them leads to a 24-man duel with a dozen warriors from each side. After this bloodshed, civil war threatens to break out. David’s forces chase those of Ishbaal from the fight, and the seasoned leader Abner (supporting Saul’s heir) kills one of the sons of Zeruiah pursuing him. It was a kill-or-be-killed situation, but Joab the brother of the slain man will not forget this. Though eventually the pursuit of Abner and the Benjaminites who support Saul’s lineage is called off, Joab will keep trying to avenge his brother’s death. Abner’s forces continue to beat a hasty retreat overnight. When the bodies are counted, David’s servants have killed a great many more than they have lost. The stage is set for greater conflict to come between these kinsmen and tribes. Happy reading (at least the lament of David)!
Please join discussion of this passage at the Daily Bible Facebook group, or comment below. The passage for tomorrow is 2 Samuel 3-5. Thanks for reading!