Dave Burnette's Commentary

2 Samuel Chapter 2

Written By: God through Inspiration
Penned By: Nathan, Zabud, & Gad 
Date Penned: (930 BC)
Overview: A Record of David's Reign (c 1-24)
Theme: David's Successes (c 1-10)
Message: Judah Crowns David King (v 1-32)

2 Samuel 2 Commentary

(2:1) David Ask the Lord's Direction - Although David knew he would become king (1 Samuel 16:13; 23:17; 24:20), and although the time seemed right now that Saul was dead, David still asked God if he should move back to Judah, the home territory of his tribe. Before moving ahead with what seems obvious, we should first bring the matter to God, who alone knows the best timing.

(2:2) David Goes to Hebron - God told David to return to Hebron, where he would soon be crowned king of Judah. David made Hebron his capital because (1) it was the largest city in Judah at that time; (2) it was secure against attack; (3) it was located near the center of Judah's territory, an ideal location for a capital city; and (4) many key trade routes converged at Hebron, making it difficult for supply lines to be cut off in wartime.

(2:4) Israel Fails to Accept David's Kingship - The men of Judah publicly anointed David as their king. David had been anointed king by Samuel years earlier (1 Samuel 16:13), but that ceremony had taken place in private. This one was like the inauguration of a public official who has already been elected to office. The rest of Israel, however, didn't accept David's kingship for another seven and a half years (2 Samuel 2:10-11).

(2:5-7) David Thanks His Men - David sent a message thanking the men of Jabesh-gilead who had risked their lives to bury Saul's body (1 Samuel 31:11-13). Saul had rescued Jabesh-gilead from certain defeat when Nahash the Ammonite had surrounded the city (1 Samuel 1), so these citizens were showing their gratitude and kindness. In his message, he also suggested that they follow Judah's lead and acknowledge him as their king. Jabesh-gilead was to the north in the land of Gilead, and David was seeking to gain support among the ten remaining tribes who had not yet recognized him as king.

(2:8-9) Israel is Divided - The nation of Israel split in two after Saul's death. Ten tribes followed Ish-bosheth, one of Saul's surviving sons; two tribes (Judah and Simeon) followed David. Abner, Saul's general, rallied Israel around Ish-bosheth; he was no doubt afraid that he, as the opposing general, would be killed if David became king of all Israel. Judah pledged allegiance to David (2:4) because (1) he was from their own tribe; (2) he had kept close ties with them; and (3) he had protected their land and shared battle spoils with them (1 Samuel 30:26). In addition, the elders of Judah may have known that Samuel had anointed David as Israel's next king and that therefore he was God's choice (1 Samuel 16:13).

(2:10-11) The Philistines Dominate the Northern Territory - David ruled over Judah for seven and a half years, while Ish-bosheth reigned in Israel for only two years. The five-year gap may be due to Ish-bosheth not assuming the throne immediately after Saul's death. Because of constant danger from the Philistines in the northern part of Israel, five years may have passed before Ish-bosheth could begin his reign. During that time, Abner, commander of his army, probably played a principal role in driving out the Philistines and leading the northern confederacy. Regardless of when Ish-bosheth began to rule, his control was weak and limited. The Philistines still dominated the area, and Ish-bosheth was intimidated by Abner (3:11).

(2:12-17) David's Troops Win the Battle - With Israel divided, there was constant tension between the north and south. David's true rival in the north, however, was not Ish-bosheth but Abner. In this incident, Abner suggested hand-to-hand combat between the champions of his army and the champions of David's army, led by Joab. The fact that this confrontation occurred at the pool of Gibeon (located in Saul's home territory of Benjamin) suggests that Joab's men were pushing northward, gaining more territory. Abner may have suggested this confrontation in hopes of stopping Job's advance. Twelve men from each side were supposed to fight each other, and the side with the most survivors would be declared the winner. The confrontation between David and Goliath (1Samuel 17) was a similar battle strategy--a way to avoid terrible bloodshed from an all-out war. In this case, however, all 24 champions were killed before either side could claim victory. The civil war continued, but David's troops won the battle. 2:14 "Let the young men now arise, and play before us" could be translated, "Let's watch some swordplay between our young men."

(2:21-23) Asahel Refuses to Turn Back - Abner repeatedly warned Asahel to turn back or risk losing his life, but Asahel refused to turn from his self-imposed duty. Abner was more skilled in battle, but he knew killing Asahel would unleash a cycle of revenge from his brother Joab. Persistence is a good trait if it is for a worthy cause. But if the goal is only personal honor or gain, persistence may be no more than stubbornness. Asahel's stubbornness not only cost him his life but also spurred unfortunate disunity in David's army for years to come (3:26-27; 1 Kings 2:28-35). Before you decide to pursue a goal, make sure it is worthy of your devotion.

(2:28) Victory for Joab's Troops - This battle ended with a victory for Joab's troops (2:17), but war in the divided nation continued until David was finally crowned king over all Israel (5:1-5).


Dave Burnette's Life Application

The Lord Keeps His Promises

Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter, making application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Today we continue in the book of 2nd Samuel with Chapter 2. In our text, we see David crowned King by Judah and Abner crowning Ish-bosheth, Saul's Son, as King. This decision splits Israel, and a civil war begins. What catches my eye is how David was named King just as the Lord said He would. After many tests and turns, we see the promise of God coming to pass. In applying God's Word, we see a principle of the Lord keeping His promises. It may seem that the Lord has forgotten you in your situation, but our God keeps his promises. We have many promises in the Scriptures. Some are conditional on our obedience, but if the Lord says it - You can rest assured that He will do it. It reminds me of several times He has shown me a promise in His Word, seeing it come to pass in the Lord's perfect timing. How about you? Do you have faith that the Lord will do what He says? Let us learn from our text today and the Life of David to realize that the Lord keeps His Promises. 


2 Samuel 2

2 Samuel 2

 1And it came to pass after this, that David enquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah? And the LORD said unto him, Go up. And David said, Whither shall I go up? And he said, Unto Hebron.

 2So David went up thither, and his two wives also, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail Nabal's wife the Carmelite.

 3And his men that were with him did David bring up, every man with his household: and they dwelt in the cities of Hebron.

 4And the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah. And they told David, saying, That the men of Jabeshgilead were they that buried Saul.

 5And David sent messengers unto the men of Jabeshgilead, and said unto them, Blessed be ye of the LORD, that ye have shewed this kindness unto your lord, even unto Saul, and have buried him.

 6And now the LORD shew kindness and truth unto you: and I also will requite you this kindness, because ye have done this thing.

 7Therefore now let your hands be strengthened, and be ye valiant: for your master Saul is dead, and also the house of Judah have anointed me king over them.

 8But Abner the son of Ner, captain of Saul's host, took Ishbosheth the son of Saul, and brought him over to Mahanaim;

 9And made him king over Gilead, and over the Ashurites, and over Jezreel, and over Ephraim, and over Benjamin, and over all Israel.

 10Ishbosheth Saul's son was forty years old when he began to reign over Israel, and reigned two years. But the house of Judah followed David.

 11And the time that David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months.

 12And Abner the son of Ner, and the servants of Ishbosheth the son of Saul, went out from Mahanaim to Gibeon.

 13And Joab the son of Zeruiah, and the servants of David, went out, and met together by the pool of Gibeon: and they sat down, the one on the one side of the pool, and the other on the other side of the pool.

 14And Abner said to Joab, Let the young men now arise, and play before us. And Joab said, Let them arise.

 15Then 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.

 16And they caught every one his fellow by the head, and thrust his sword in his fellow's side; so they fell down together: wherefore that place was called Helkathhazzurim, which is in Gibeon.

 17And there was a very sore battle that day; and Abner was beaten, and the men of Israel, before the servants of David.

 18And there were three sons of Zeruiah there, Joab, and Abishai, and Asahel: and Asahel was as light of foot as a wild roe.

 19And Asahel pursued after Abner; and in going he turned not to the right hand nor to the left from following Abner.

 20Then Abner looked behind him, and said, Art thou Asahel? And he answered, I am.

 21And 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, and take thee his armour. But Asahel would not turn aside from following of him.

 22And Abner said again to Asahel, Turn thee aside from following me: wherefore should I smite thee to the ground? how then should I hold up my face to Joab thy brother?

 23Howbeit he refused to turn aside: wherefore Abner with the hinder end of the spear smote him under the fifth rib, 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.

 24Joab also and Abishai pursued after Abner: 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.

 25And the children of Benjamin gathered themselves together after Abner, and became one troop, and stood on the top of an hill.

 26Then Abner called to Joab, and said, Shall the sword devour for ever? knowest thou not that it will be bitterness in the latter end? how long shall it be then, ere thou bid the people return from following their brethren?

 27And Joab said, As God liveth, unless thou hadst spoken, surely then in the morning the people had gone up every one from following his brother.

 28So Joab blew a trumpet, and all the people stood still, and pursued after Israel no more, neither fought they any more.

 29And Abner and his men walked all that night through the plain, and passed over Jordan, and went through all Bithron, and they came to Mahanaim.

 30And Joab returned from following Abner: and when he had gathered all the people together, there lacked of David's servants nineteen men and Asahel.

 31But the servants of David had smitten of Benjamin, and of Abner's men, so that three hundred and threescore men died.

 32And they took up Asahel, and buried him in the sepulchre of his father, which was in Bethlehem. And Joab and his men went all night, and they came to Hebron at break of day.