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David at Hebron
v. 1. And it came to pass after this that David enquired of the Lord, by means of the Urim and Thummim of the high priest. 1 Samuel 23:2-1 Kings :; 1 Samuel 30:7-:, saying, Shall I go up, namely, from the low lands of Philistia, into any of the cities of Judah, this being his own tribe? And the Lord said unto him, Go up. And David said, Whither shall I go up, that is, to which special city or district? And He said, Unto Hebron, about twenty miles south of Jerusalem and near the center of the territory of Judah.
v. 2. So David went up thither, and his two wives also, Ahinoam, the Jezreelitess, and Abigail, Nabal's wife, the Carmelite, 1 Samuel 30:5.
v. 3. And his men that were with him did David bring up, the six hundred men who had been faithful to him in his adversity, every man with his household; and they dwelt in the cities of Hebron, the suburbs in the vicinity.
v. 4. And the men of Judah came, the elders of his own tribe, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah, the affairs of the northern tribes at that time being in a condition of chaos. And they told David, saying, that the men of Jabesh-gilead were they that buried Saul. This seems to have been in answer to David's inquiry concerning the disposition of the bodies of Saul and Jonathan, his first official act after his crowning.
v. 5. And David sent messengers unto the men of Jabesh-gilead, the city east of Jordan, whose inhabitants had been rescued by Saul and had, in gratitude, gotten his body from the walls of Beth-shan, 1 Samuel 31:11-1 Chronicles :, and said unto them, Blessed be ye of the Lord that ye have showed this kindness unto your lord, even unto Saul, and have buried him; they had shown that grateful love which became them in their relation to Saul as their king.
v. 6. And now the Lord show kindness and truth unto you, favor, gracious, faithful love in fulfilling all His promises for their benefit; and I also, by virtue of the royal authority now vested in him, will requite you this kindness, by calling down the divine blessing upon them, because ye have done this thing.
v. 7. Therefore, now, let your hands be strengthened, with a strong and cheerful courage, and be ye valiant, literally, "sons of valor or bravery"; for your master Saul is dead, and also the house of Judah have anointed me king over them. This message of David was a wise diplomatic move, particularly since the remnant of Saul's army had fled to Gilead, and there was danger that the heads of the army would not acknowledge David.
v. 8. But Abner, the son of Ner, captain of Saul's host, took Ishbosheth, the son of Saul, this had evidently been done even before David sent his messengers, and brought him over to Mahanaim, a city in Gilead northeast of Jabesh,
v. 9. and made him king over Gilead, the country east of Jordan, and over the Ashurites, probably in the territory of the upper Jordan, and over Jezreel, the entire plain of the recent defeat, and over Ephraim, and over Benjamin, and over all Israel, all the northern tribes.
v. 10. Ishbosheth, Saul's son, was forty years old when he began to reign over Israel, and reigned two years. But the house of Judah, with the descendants of Simeon living in their midst, followed David.
v. 11. And the time, the total number of days, that David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months. Thus the suffering and persecution which had darkened the life of David was now turned into joy. Even so, days of refreshing joy follow days of darkness in the lives of the Christians; for when God finds that faith has been sufficiently tested through afflictions, He changes tribulation into glory.
David's War with Ishbosheth
v. 12. And Abner, the son of Ner, and the servants of Ishbosheth, the son of Saul, went out from Mahanaim to Gibeon; they crossed to the western side of Jordan, into the territory of Benjamin, in order to wage war against David and to conquer Judah.
v. 13. And Joab, the son of Zeruiah, a nephew of David and the general of his armies, and the servants of David, who had prepared for such an attack, went out and met together by the Pool of Gibeon, the two opposing armies meeting at the reservoir some six miles north of Jerusalem, and they sat down, encamped, the one on the one side of the pool, and the other on the other side of the pool.
v. 14. And Abner said to Joab, proposing to decide the matter by individual contests, Let the young men now arise and play before us, here said of a serious battle-play, a combat of arms which was more than a game. And Joab, agreeing to the proposal to avoid a bloody civil war, if possible, said, Let them arise.
v. 15. Then there arose and went over by number twelve of Benjamin, which pertained to Ishbosheth, the son of Saul, and twelve of the servants of David, these chosen warriors meeting, apparently, midway between the lines.
v. 16. And they caught every one his fellow, his opponent, by the head, and thrust his sword in his fellow's side, in a quick motion showing their excellent military training, but also the bitterness usually present in a civil war; so they fell down together, in a mutual slaughter, the twenty-four being slain at the same time; wherefore that place was called Helkath-hazzurim (field of sword-edges), which is in Gibeon.
v. 17. And, the individual combats having been a failure in deciding the issue, there was a very sore battle that day; and Abner was beaten, and the men of Israel, before the servants of David. A special scene of the pursuit which followed the defeat of the men of Israel, featuring champions of the family of David, is now given.
v. 18. And there were three sons of Zeruiah there, all nephews of David, Joab, and Abishai, and Asahel; and Asahel was as light of foot as a wild roe, as swift as the gazelles of the field.
v. 19. And Asahel pursued after Abner, for his capture would be the decisive blow ending the battle; and in going he turned not to the right hand nor to the left from following Abner, determined to accomplish his purpose.
v. 20. Then Abner looked behind him and said, Art thou Asahel? For he had evidently heard of him. And he answered, I am.
v. 21. And Abner said to him, Turn thee aside to thy right hand or to thy left, and lay thee hold on one of the young men, one of the privates, and take thee his armor, for Be thought that Asahel was merely seeking the glory of having slain an enemy, knowing that his own skill was much more than a match for the eager young man. But Asahel would not turn aside from following of him, he wanted to realize his ambition.
v. 22. And Abner said again to Asahel, in a last attempt at warning him, Turn thee aside from following me; wherefore should I smite thee to the ground? How, then, could I hold up my face to Joab, thy brother? His former friendship for Joab was such as to make it very unpleasant for him in case he should meet David's general afterwards.
v. 23. How-beit he, Asahel, refused to turn aside; wherefore Abner with the hinder end of the spear, with the lower metallic point, smote him under the fifth rib, in the abdomen, that the spear came out behind him; and he fell down there, and died in the same place. And it came to pass that as many as came to the place where Asahel fell down and died stood still; for he had been held in high regard by all, and therefore his death caused a general mourning.
v. 24. And Joab also and Abishai pursued after Abner, with the same persistence. And the sun went down when they were come to the hill of Ammah, that lieth before Giah by the way of the Wilderness of Gibeon. So the pursuit ended east of Gibeon, after it had lasted all day.
v. 25. And the children of Benjamin gathered themselves together after Abner, rallying for a last decided stand, and became one troop, and stood on the top of an hill, a favorable position to await an attack.
v. 26. Then Abner called to Joab and said, Shall the sword devour forever, in an endless bloody combat? Knowest thou not that it will be bitterness in the latter end? in a civil war of this kind there was always danger that sullen despair would cause such a wave of embittered feeling to arise as to make reconciliation extremely difficult. How long shall it be, then, ere thou bid the people return from following their brethren? It was an urgent demand to suspend hostilities at once and to agree to a truce.
v. 27. And Joab said, As God liveth, unless thou hadst spoken, suggesting the method of individual combat, surely then in the morning the people had gone up, every one, from following his brother. He held that Abner was responsible for the stubborn battle of the day, for they might have come to an agreement without bloodshed.
v. 28. So Joab blew a trumpet, and all the people stood still, the battle was discontinued, and pursued after Israel no more, neither fought they any more, they concluded a truce.
v. 29. And Abner and his men walked all that night through the plain, marching up the valley of the Jordan to the place where they had forded, and passed over Jordan, and went through all Bithron, evidently a district on the Jabbok; and they came to Mahanaim, where their headquarters were at the time.
v. 30. And Joab returned from following Abner; and when he had gathered all the people together, there lacked of David's servants nineteen men and Asahel, very likely including the twelve that fell in single combat.
v. 31. But the servants of David had smitten of Benjamin and of Abner's men, so that three hundred and threescore men died. Joab had in his army only veteran soldiers, tried by many severe battles and steeled by many privations, while Abner had merely the remains of an army which had but recently been defeated by the Philistines, and which may otherwise have been weakened and discouraged.
v. 32. And they took up Asahel, and buried him in the sepulcher of his father, which was in Bethlehem, only a little to the left of the direct road to Hebron. And Joab and his men went all night, and they came to Hebron at break of day. Note: Christians should be glad to take upon themselves the disgrace and suffering of Christ, the Son of David, to be zealous for Him and His honor, to battle for His cause with the weapons of the Spirit, in order that the kingdom and rule of the Anointed may be spread over the world.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
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