Finally, things are starting to come up in favor of David.
David hears of Saul’s death. It takes a minute to take in the news before:
Then David took hold of his clothes and tore them, and so did all the men who were with him. And they mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and for Jonathon his son and for the people of the Lord and for the house of Israel, because they had all fallen by the sword.
They really make it sound like everyone who was part of Israel died that day, but clearly David was around. Not all men in the land were of the appropriate fighting age. The fact remains that it’s still a pretty huge loss for Israel.
He has the guy who told him killed because he was also the guy who did Saul in. I don’t think it was particularly fair because it was at Saul’s request. It also contradicts that Saul fell on the sword himself in the last book. Nevertheless, the guy is killed and David writes a lament for Saul and Jonathon.
After all that happened in First Samuel, David is still not the king over all Israel. Also, I thought Saul’s sons had all died with him, but apparently there was one left who could rule over the rest of Israel while David was king of Judah alone.
The chapter revolves around a major battle between’s David’s men and that of Saul’s son where no one really seems to win. It looks like Abner asked for a cease-fire and Joab acquiesced.
There’s a mention of children born to David and another wife that apparently got picked up a long the way, her name was Eglah. Meanwhile, Ish-bosheth (Saul’s son who reigns now) accuses Abner of sleeping with his father’s former concubine and Abner turns on him. Surely there’s more to this incident, maybe some transgressions leading up or other sort of doubt and issue. Whatever the case, Abner gets upset, saying:
Am I a dog’s head of Judah? To this day I keep showing steadfast love to the house of Saul your father, to his brothers, and to his friends, and have not given you into the hand of David. And yet you charge me today with a fault concerning a woman. God do so to Abner and more also, if I do not accomplish for David what the Lord has sworn to him, to transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul and set up the throne of David over Israel and over Judah, from Dan to Beersheba.
So yeah, it sounds like Ish-bosheth made a pretty big mistake. He doesn’t seem to really get the landscape he’s living in. There doesn’t appear to be any indication that it happened, either, just that Ish-bosheth felt the need to confront Abner about it.
I don’t mean to dwell, but I don’t know what the one problem has to do with the other. The extent of my rationalization of this is that his integrity is impuned. If loyalt is loyalty, then a man who would go to war for a man would not sleep with his wife or concubine.
Abner decides to switch sides and makes a deal with David, which David’s condition on the whole thing is that Abner bring his first wife, who also happened to be a daughter of Saul, back to him. I was wondering if he cared about her at all. He even mentions that he paid the bride-price for her, which can be taken two ways.
I’d rather think of it as David reminding his opponent that he’d had no right to keep her, but it could also be taken that David was demanding his property. I lean toward the first because she had saved his life back in the day and there was a distinct mention that they had fallen in love. I know it had been a while and both had been married to other people but I guess he still held carried a torch for her. Not that he was about to get rid of the other wives, but he still wanted her. And Abner sent her second husband away, even though that guy apparently wanted her too.
He meets with David and all goes well until he leaves. Joab comes back and tries to convince David that it’s a ruse. Joab then calls Abner back and kills him, which David curses him for when he finds out. He also mourns Abner and has everyone else mourn him. He mourns Abner hard enough that everyone else realizes that his death wasn’t David’s doing.
Some of David’s men take it upon themselves to kill off Ish0bosheth in his own house and brings his head back to David. Just like Saul, “good initiative, bad judgement”. David had them put to death, quite gruesomely, for the favor they thought they were doing him.
David finally gets to sit on the throne and it’s included that he reigned for forty years. He “takes” many more unnamed wives and has many more children. He defeats all his old foes.
Things are looking pretty good for David.