The first act of David was to inquire of God what he should do. Without hesitation, his own tribe crowned him king. His attitude toward the men of Jabesh-gilead was in the highest sense politic, and yet was in keeping with his attitude toward the house of Saul.
The spirit of Saul, which was antagonistic to David, was perpetuated in Abner, Saul's cousin and captain of the host. He at once set himself to consolidate the house of Israel around the house of Saul. Ish-bosheth was merely a puppet in his hands. While it may be true that Abner did not desire the kingship for himself, it must be remembered that it would have been poor policy on his part to seek for that position. It was easier to gather the people around a son of the dead king.
Thus the kingdom was not actually David's. It had to be gained, and seven years passed before his crowning over the whole nation.
Two remarkable men headed opposing factions in the nation. Joab was a strange and rugged character, at once fierce and faithful. His relation to David forms a strange picture of a troublesome friendship. He was a perpetual source of anxiety, and yet his rugged steadfastness naturally appealed to the king. On the other hand, Abner was strong, resourceful, and courageous. As will be seen later, by his own confession, he had fought through all the years against the howledge of the purpose of God; and yet in some respects he was more admirable than Joab. Here we have the account of the first battle under these leaders, in which Joab was victorious, but his brother Asahel was slain. Asahel's death entered like iron into the soul of Joab, who never rested until his vengeance was satisfied on Abner.
the Second Week after Epiphany