Greetings! Today we start 2 Samuel (1 Samuel and 2 Samuel were originally one book, so we are just picking up where we left off with 1 Samuel.)
It appears that the man below was lying to win David’s favor, as his account differs from that of 1 Samuel 31. He assumed that since Saul had tried to kill David that David would reward someone who finished Saul off. He was wrong. Despite being chased and threatened by Saul for roughly a decade, David was still loyal to God’s annointed King.
David Hears of Saul’s Death
1 After the death of Saul, David returned from defeating the Amalekites and stayed in Ziklag two days. 2 On the third day a man arrived from Saul’s camp, with his clothes torn and with dust on his head. When he came to David, he fell to the ground to pay him honor.
3 “Where have you come from?” David asked him.
He answered, “I have escaped from the Israelite camp.”
4 “What happened?” David asked. “Tell me.”
He said, “The men fled from the battle. Many of them fell and died. And Saul and his son Jonathan are dead.”
5 Then David said to the young man who brought him the report, “How do you know that Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?”
6 “I happened to be on Mount Gilboa,” the young man said, “and there was Saul, leaning on his spear, with the chariots and riders almost upon him. 7 When he turned around and saw me, he called out to me, and I said, ‘What can I do?’
8 “He asked me, ‘Who are you?’
“‘An Amalekite,’ I answered.
9 “Then he said to me, ‘Stand over me and kill me! I am in the throes of death, but I’m still alive.’
10 “So I stood over him and killed him, because I knew that after he had fallen he could not survive. And I took the crown that was on his head and the band on his arm and have brought them here to my lord.”
11 Then David and all the men with him took hold of their clothes and tore them. 12 They mourned and wept and fasted till evening for Saul and his son Jonathan, and for the army of the Lord and the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.
13 David said to the young man who brought him the report, “Where are you from?”
“I am the son of an alien, an Amalekite,” he answered.
14 David asked him, “Why were you not afraid to lift your hand to destroy the Lord’s anointed?”
15 Then David called one of his men and said, “Go, strike him down!” So he struck him down, and he died. 16 For David had said to him, “Your blood be on your own head. Your own mouth testified against you when you said, ‘I killed the Lord’s anointed.’”
David’s Lament for Saul and Jonathan
This section is where the phrase, “Oh how the mighty have fallen” comes from. Note how open David was in his grief.
17 David took up this lament concerning Saul and his son Jonathan, 18 and ordered that the men of Judah be taught this lament of the bow (it is written in the Book of Jashar):
19 “Your glory, O Israel, lies slain on your heights.
How the mighty have fallen!
20 “Tell it not in Gath, proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon, lest the daughters of the Philistines be glad, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised rejoice.
21 “O mountains of Gilboa, may you have neither dew nor rain, nor fields that yield offerings of grain.
For there the shield of the mighty was defiled, the shield of Saul—no longer rubbed with oil.
22 From the blood of the slain, from the flesh of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan did not turn back, the sword of Saul did not return unsatisfied.
23 “Saul and Jonathan— in life they were loved and gracious, and in death they were not parted. They were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions.
24 “O daughters of Israel, weep for Saul, who clothed you in scarlet and finery, who adorned your garments with ornaments of gold.
25 “How the mighty have fallen in battle!
Jonathan lies slain on your heights.
26 I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.
27 “How the mighty have fallen! The weapons of war have perished!”
David and Jonathan were best friends. Some people try to say that they were gay lovers because David described their loving friendship as being more wonderful than that of women. Those people are pretty sick and are bad at reading things in context. In the event that they make it to Heaven, I’m sure King David and Jonathan will be glad to clear that up with them.
David Anointed King Over Judah
2 In the course of time, David inquired of the Lord. “Shall I go up to one of the towns of Judah?” he asked.
The Lord said, “Go up.”
David asked, “Where shall I go?”
“To Hebron,” the Lord answered.
2 So David went up there with his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. 3 David also took the men who were with him, each with his family, and they settled in Hebron and its towns. 4 Then the men of Judah came to Hebron and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah.
When David was told that it was the men of Jabesh Gilead who had buried Saul, 5 he sent messengers to the men of Jabesh Gilead to say to them, “The Lord bless you for showing this kindness to Saul your master by burying him. 6 May the Lord now show you kindness and faithfulness, and I too will show you the same favor because you have done this. 7 Now then, be strong and brave, for Saul your master is dead, and the house of Judah has anointed me king over them.”
War Between the Houses of David and Saul
The followers of Saul did not give up easily. They still wanted to be in charge. David ruled over Judah (the southern half of Israel) for 7 years before the kingdom was united.
8 Meanwhile, Abner son of Ner, the commander of Saul’s army, had taken Ish-Bosheth son of Saul and brought him over to Mahanaim. 9 He made him king over Gilead, Ashuria and Jezreel, and also over Ephraim, Benjamin and all Israel.
10 Ish-Bosheth son of Saul was forty years old when he became king over Israel, and he reigned two years. The house of Judah, however, followed David. 11 The length of time David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months.
12 Abner son of Ner, together with the men of Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, left Mahanaim and went to Gibeon. 13 Joab son of Zeruiah and David’s men went out and met them at the pool of Gibeon. One group sat down on one side of the pool and one group on the other side.
14 Then Abner said to Joab, “Let’s have some of the young men get up and fight hand to hand in front of us.”
“All right, let them do it,” Joab said.
15 So they stood up and were counted off—twelve men for Benjamin and Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, and twelve for David. 16 Then each man grabbed his opponent by the head and thrust his dagger into his opponent’s side, and they fell down together. So that place in Gibeon was called Helkath Hazzurim.
17 The battle that day was very fierce, and Abner and the men of Israel were defeated by David’s men.
18 The three sons of Zeruiah were there: Joab, Abishai and Asahel. Now Asahel was as fleet-footed as a wild gazelle. 19 He chased Abner, turning neither to the right nor to the left as he pursued him. 20 Abner looked behind him and asked, “Is that you, Asahel?”
“It is,” he answered.
21 Then Abner said to him, “Turn aside to the right or to the left; take on one of the young men and strip him of his weapons.” But Asahel would not stop chasing him.
22 Again Abner warned Asahel, “Stop chasing me! Why should I strike you down? How could I look your brother Joab in the face?”
23 But Asahel refused to give up the pursuit; so Abner thrust the butt of his spear into Asahel’s stomach, and the spear came out through his back. He fell there and died on the spot. And every man stopped when he came to the place where Asahel had fallen and died.
Persistence isn’t always a good thing. Asahel was warned to turn back and he didn’t.
24 But Joab and Abishai pursued Abner, and as the sun was setting, they came to the hill of Ammah, near Giah on the way to the wasteland of Gibeon. 25 Then the men of Benjamin rallied behind Abner. They formed themselves into a group and took their stand on top of a hill.
26 Abner called out to Joab, “Must the sword devour forever? Don’t you realize that this will end in bitterness? How long before you order your men to stop pursuing their brothers?”
27 Joab answered, “As surely as God lives, if you had not spoken, the men would have continued the pursuit of their brothers until morning.c”
28 So Joab blew the trumpet, and all the men came to a halt; they no longer pursued Israel, nor did they fight anymore.
29 All that night Abner and his men marched through the Arabah. They crossed the Jordan, continued through the whole Bithrond and came to Mahanaim.
30 Then Joab returned from pursuing Abner and assembled all his men. Besides Asahel, nineteen of David’s men were found missing. 31 But David’s men had killed three hundred and sixty Benjamites who were with Abner. 32 They took Asahel and buried him in his father’s tomb at Bethlehem. Then Joab and his men marched all night and arrived at Hebron by daybreak.
The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.