Last week we studied how David mourned the deaths of Saul and Jonathan. David recited a poem called the “The Song of Bows.” In the poem the phrase, “How the mighty have fallen,” was repeated three times. In a moving and beautiful manner, David expressed an honorable tribute to these men whom David loved and missed. There was now, however, a power vacuum, particularly in Judah, now that Saul and three of his sons by his wife Ahinoam were gone.
However, with the death of Saul the door was now opened for David as the future king. (2 Samuel 2:1–4) Samuel had anointed the future king more than 15 years before (1 Samuel 16:13).
David, therefore, sought the mind of God and was told to go to Hebron where, at last, he was formally installed by oil-anointing as king over … Judah.
This was a decisive and important move for it immediately alienated him from the Philistines with whom he had taken refuge and made an alliance. Davis as Judah’s king, signified the apparent independence of Judah from Israel. This move also asserted David’s reign as being in rivalry with that of Saul’s son, Ish-Bosheth, who succeeded his father in the North.
David was appointed by God. The Lord instructed David to go to Hebron. There the elders of Judah anointed him king. His first act as king was the gracious commendation of the men of Jabesh Gilead who had bravely rescued the body of Saul (1 Samuel 31:8–13).
In contrast, Abner, Saul’s general, installed Saul’s surviving son, Ish-Bosheth, as David’s rival. Ish-Bosheth’s name means “man of shame.” His name was was changed from the original Esh-Baal which means “man of Baal.” (1 Chronicles 8:33; 9:39).
In 2 Samuel 2, we read about our first outbreak of war between the two Jewish factions. Abner confronted Joab, David’s general, in battle at Gibeon. Abner was pursued by Joab’s brother, Asahel. Abner warned him to stop, but he continued; and Abner was forced to kill him. This decision will have grave consequences.