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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 4

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-8

Second Samuel - Chapter 4

Assassination of Ish-bosheth, vs. 1-8

When the news of Abner’s murder in Hebron reached lshbosheth in Mahanaim he was so disturbed he became ill and had to go to bed. Here is another indication of weakness as the probable cause why he was not among the warrior sons of Saul. The people of Israel were also disturbed, for they did not know what to expect of this turn of events.

Verses 2 and 3 form a kind of explanatory notice of the event about to be related, while verse 4 then is interspersed about the son of Jonathan for a seemingly inexplicable reason. It would appear that the two events (about the Beerothites and the son of Jonathan) are somehow related, but the reason is unclear. Beeroth was one of the towns of the Hivites, who along with Gibeon, made peace with Joshua (Joshua 9:17). Later it was allotted to the tribe of Benjamin (Joshua 18:25). The family of Saul were Benjamites, and it is possible that the Beerothites had befriended his family, helping Mephibosheth to escape from the Philistines when his father and grandfather were slain.

The record relates how Mephibosheth was five years of age when Jonathan, his father, was slain in battle. In the haste of fleeing, when the news of Israel’s defeat and the death of the king and princes reached them, Mephibosheth’s nurse had dropped him and crippled him. He grew up lame in both feet.

If the Beerothites had been friends of Saul’s family, the two mentioned here, Baanah and Rechab, betrayed their trust. They were guilty of one of the most foul deeds related in the Scriptures, one which evidently compelled them to flee their ancestral city and go to Gittaim in another part of Benjamin (see verse 3). Baanah and Rechab must have been trusted servants of Ish-bosheth having free access to his house. They came in at mid-day, when Ish-bosheth had taken his bed, out of fear for Abner’s loss, as though they came to get wheat for the provision of the house hold.

Finding Ish-bosheth in bed they did not hesitate to stab him under the fifth rib and cut off his head. They then fled across the plain in an all-night flight to Hebron and David. Once there they presented the head of their master to the king, informing him that the last of his enemies of the house of Saul was dead. They claimed to have avenged David of those who sought his life. Pfobably they thought David had caused Abner to be slain and would welcome and reward those who completed the coup.

Verses 9-12

Assassins Executed, vs. 9-12

Baanah and Rechab were quickly shocked into realization that they had misjudged the situation between David and the house of Saul. David swore by the Lord who had kept him safe in all the times he had suffered at the hands of Saul. He told these renegades that one had come to him in Ziklag thinking he was bringing welcome news of the death of Saul and expecting to get a reward. But David had that messenger put to death.

Now these two come admitting their despicable deed, having killed a sick man in his bed in his own house, a man who had done nothing wrong, or worthy of death. So David asks them if he should not avenge Ish-bosheth’s blood by ending their lives. Consequently he called his young men, who speedily executed the two on the spot. David had the hands that perpetrated the wicked deed cut off and the feet which brought the evil message, and hung them over the pool in Hebron, as a warning to others who might similarly transgress. The head of Ish­bosheth he had buried in the tomb of Abner.

Some lessons: 1) There seem to be always wicked men ready to take advantage of tragedy for their own advancement; 2) God’s people will not react to the world in the way they expect and to which they are accustomed; 3) good rulers do not hesitate to deal with wickedness promptly and in accord with the law of God.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 4". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/2-samuel-4.html. 1985.
 
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