2 Samuel 2

David, King of Judah

1 Some time later, David inquired of the Lord:[a] "Should I go to one of the towns of Judah?" The Lord answered him, "Go." Then David asked, "Where should I go?" "To Hebron," the Lord replied.
2 So David went there with his two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelite and Abigail, the widow of Nabal the Carmelite.[b]
3 In addition, David brought the men who were with him, each one with his household, and they settled in the towns near Hebron.[c]
4 Then the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah.[d] They told David: "It was the men of Jabesh-gilead who buried Saul."[e]
5 David sent messengers to the men of Jabesh-gilead and said to them, "The Lord bless you, because you have shown this special kindness to Saul your lord when you buried him.
6 Now, may the Lord show special kindness and faithfulness to you, and I will also show the same goodness to you because you have done this deed.
7 Therefore, be strong and courageous, for though Saul your lord is dead, the house of Judah has anointed me king over them."
8 Abner son of Ner, commander of Saul's army,[f] took Saul's son Ish-bosheth[g][h]and moved him to Mahanaim.
9 He made him king over Gilead, Asher, Jezreel, Ephraim, Benjamin-over all Israel.
10 Saul's son Ish-bosheth was 40 years old when he began his reign over Israel; he ruled for two years. The house of Judah, however, followed David.
11 The length of time that David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months.[i]
12 Abner son of Ner and soldiers of Ish-bosheth son of Saul marched out from Mahanaim to Gibeon.
13 So Joab son of Zeruiah and David's soldiers marched out and met them by the pool of Gibeon. The two groups took up positions on opposite sides of the pool.
14 Then Abner said to Joab, "Let's have the young men get up and compete in front of us." "Let them get up," Joab replied.
15 So they got up and were counted off-12 for Benjamin and Ish-bosheth son of Saul, and 12 from David's soldiers.
16 Then each man grabbed his opponent by the head and [thrust] his sword into his opponent's side so that they all died together. So this place, which is in Gibeon, is named Field of Blades.[j]
17 The battle that day was extremely fierce, and Abner and the men of Israel were defeated by David's soldiers.
18 The three sons of Zeruiah were there: Joab, Abishai, and Asahel.[k] Asahel was a fast runner, like one of the wild gazelles.[l]
19 He chased Abner and did not turn to the right or the left in his pursuit of him.
20 Abner glanced back and said, "Is that you, Asahel?" "Yes it is," Asahel replied.
21 Abner said to him, "Turn to your right or left, seize one of the young soldiers, and take whatever you can get from him." But Asahel would not stop chasing him.
22 Once again, Abner warned Asahel, "Stop chasing me. Why should I strike you to the ground? How could I ever look your brother Joab in the face?"[m]
23 But Asahel refused to turn away, so Abner hit him in the stomach with the end of his spear. The spear went through his body, and he fell and died right there. When all who came to the place where Asahel had fallen and died, they stopped,
24 but Joab and Abishai pursued Abner. By sunset, they had gone as far as the hill of Ammah, which is opposite Giah on the way to the wilderness of Gibeon.
25 The Benjaminites rallied to Abner; they formed a single unit and took their stand on top of a hill.
26 Then Abner called out to Joab: "Must the sword devour forever? Don't you realize this will only end in bitterness? How long before you tell the troops to stop pursuing their brothers?"
27 "As God lives," Joab replied, "if you had not spoken up, the troops wouldn't have stopped pursuing their brothers until morning."
28 Then Joab blew the ram's horn, and all the troops stopped; they no longer pursued Israel or continued to fight.
29 So Abner and his men marched through the Arabah all that night. They crossed the Jordan, marched all morning,[n] and arrived at Mahanaim.
30 When Joab had turned back from pursuing Abner, he gathered all the troops. In addition to Asahel, 19 of David's soldiers were missing,
31 but they had killed 360 of the Benjaminites and Abner's men.
32 Afterwards, they carried Asahel to his father's tomb in Bethlehem and buried him. Then Joab and his men marched all night and reached Hebron at dawn.

2 Samuel 2 Commentary

Chapter 2

David made king in Hebron. (1-7) Abner makes Ishbosheth king Battle between Abner's men and those of Joab. (8-17) Asahel slain by Abner: 25-32. Both parties retreat. (18-24)

1-7. After the death of Saul, many went to David at Ziklag, ( 1 Chronicles. 12:22 ) to give it in his own time and manner. Yet assurance of hope in God's promise, will quicken pious endeavours. If I be chosen to the crown of life, it does not follow, Then I will do nothing; but, Then I will do all that God directs me. This good use David made of his election, and so will all whom God has chosen. In all our journeys and removes, it is comfortable to see God going before us; and we may do so, if by faith and prayer we set Him before us. God, according to the promise, directed David's path. David rose gradually: thus the kingdom of the Messiah, the Son of David, is set up by degrees; he is Lord of all, but we see not yet all things put under him.

8-17. The nation in general refused David. By this the Lord trained up his servant for future honour and usefulness; and the tendency of true godliness was shown in his behaviour while passing through various difficulties. David was herein a type of Christ, whom Israel would not submit to, though anointed of the Father to be a Prince and a Saviour to them. Abner meant, Let the young men fight before us, when he said, Let them play before us: fools thus make a mock at sin. But he is unworthy the name of a man, that can thus trifle with human blood.

Verses 18-24 Death often comes by ways we least suspect. We are often betrayed by the accomplishments we are proud of! Asahel's swiftness, which he presumed so much upon, did him no service, but hastened his end.

Verses 25-32 Abner appeals to Joab concerning the miserable consequences of a civil war. Those who make light of such unnatural contests, will find that they are bitterness to all concerned. How easy it is for men to use reason, when it makes for them, who would not use it, if it made against them! See how the issue of things alter men's minds! The same thing which looked pleasant in the morning, at night looked dismal. Those who are most forward to enter into contention, will repent before they have done with it, and had better leave it off before it be meddled with, as Solomon advises. This is true of every sin, oh that men would consider it in time, that it will be bitterness in the latter end! Asahel's funeral is here mentioned. Distinctions are made between the dust of some and that of others; but in the resurrection no difference will be made, but between the godly and ungodly, which will remain for ever.

Footnotes 14

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO SECOND SAMUEL 2

This chapter relates that David, upon inquiring of the Lord, was directed to go up to Hebron, and did, where he was anointed king of Judah, 2Sa 2:1-4. And that being told of the kindness of the men of Jabeshgilead in burying Saul, he sent them thanks, and promised to remember it, and took the opportunity to let them know he was anointed king over Judah, 2Sa 2:5-7. It also relates that Abner set up Ishbosheth, the son of Saul, to be king over Israel, 2Sa 2:8-11; and that there was an encounter between twelve of Abner's men and twelve of David's, which brought on a sore battle between them, in which Abner was beaten, 2Sa 2:12-17; and Asahel, who was of David's party, was slain in the pursuit by Abner, 2Sa 2:18-25; when a retreat was sounded by Joab, at the influence of Abner, who, with his wen, betook themselves to Mahanaim, where he had left Ishbosheth, 2Sa 2:26-29. And the chapter closes with an account of the slain on both sides, the burial of Asahel, and the return of Joab with David's men to Hebron, 2Sa 2:30-32.

2 Samuel 2 Commentaries