As the body of Saul laid upon Mount Gilboa, the hopes of Israel were wounded as well. As the first King of this young nation, Saul left behind a fractured country with broken ideals. Saul had faced death the way he had dealt with life, by taking matters into his own hands and without considering God's advice. Though God had forsaken Saul, he did not abandon Israel. From the rubble of Saul's leadership came David, the young shepherd king, with God's anointing on his head and a fire for God's glory in his heart. From the broken kingdom of Saul, David united Israel, established Jerusalem, and over the course of 40 years, built a strong, powerful kingdom that reflected justice, mercy and fairness.
And though David was Israel's greatest King, he was still imperfect, as we will soon see. Key places in the book of 2 Samuel include Hebron, Jerusalem, Gath, Moab, Edom, and Ziklag. This book was written about 930 BC soon after the reign of David. The book of 2 Samuel demonstrates effective leadership according to God's principles and also reveals the effects our personal choices have on those around us. And now, let's prepare to study the book of 2 Samuel line online.
Well, here we are. Do you know how rare you are? You are rare. To have a room full of people with Bibles, studying it in the middle of the week--
--when there's so much going on in the world. You see, the Bible predicts that time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine. That's why you're rare. Because too many people today-- too many Christians-- will not endure this which you're about to do-- open the Bible and read it and study it, especially an Old Testament book. Now, here's my heart in a nutshell. I want you to know the Bible well. I want you to love the Bible like a friend. I want you to become familiar with Ish-bosheth and Joab and Abner and the sons of Zeruiah, Asahel, all of those guys and gals. I know you're familiar with Peter, James, John, Jesus, Abraham, David. But there are more, and they're in the book for a reason.
And I presume you're familiar with the names I mentioned because you probably already read several chapters ahead in 2 Samuel to be prepared. And so we're going to start tonight in 2 Samuel chapter 1.
Now, just before I came here, I was asked to go to the Air Force Base and to speak to, for a few moments and pray for, a group of Marines being deployed and their families. I said I'd do it. And they said, well, we don't know when you're going to come because we don't know when we're going to be deployed. It'll probably be soon, but we have a certain amount of time to get packed and get out of town. That's just the way it is. And so I was asked to come tonight. I said, no problem. I'll be there.
America's finest-- soldiers, some sailors, addressed it by their commanding officer. And to just hear the words that you're going overseas, we trust, we pray you're going to come back. We have a mission to fulfill. And the colonel said, we don't make policy. So however you feel about whatever policies are made is irrelevant. We're here to do a job. And we're going to finish the job. And we're going to come back.
And it was a powerful reminder that our world is in a state of conflict. I know that's not really new news to us. Every now and then, you get somebody who thinks that the world is just going to get along and be peaceful, when I would love that. And one day it will happen. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. They won't learn war any more. That's called the return of Christ. That's when that'll happen. And we look forward to that day.
But until that day, did you know that only 8% of world history has been a time of peace? 8%. 92% of world history has been a time of war, conflagration, conflict. Did you know that in the last 3,100 years of history, over 8,000 formal peace treaties have been signed and broken? That's not to mention UN resolutions, just peace treaties, signed and broken.
The book of 2 Samuel opens much like our own culture tonight. It opens in conflict. Saul is dead because of a battle on Mount Gilboa. Three of Saul's sons are dead, including Jonathan. David has been spared because of God's providence back in 1 Samuel chapter 29. He was kept way out of the battle. And David emerges tonight in this book as the main character, God's anointed, a man after God's own heart, the second King of Israel.
Before we begin reading in chapter 1-- speak, Lord, your servant hears. Psalm 78, I'm going to read you a couple verses. Asaph is writing this. And he said, God chose David, his servant. And listen to this little outline of David's life. "He took him from the sheepfolds, from following the ewes that had young, he brought him to shepherd Jacob, his people, and Israel, his inheritance. And so he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart and guided them by the skillfulness of his hands."
David's life was thus. He went from shepherd to servant in Saul's court. He went from servant to sojourner, fugitive, out in the caves for 10 years, hunted like an animal by a jealous King Saul. And then he went from sojourner to sovereign to King of Israel. But Asaph said he shepherded them with the integrity of his heart.
Now, you know the story. But let's just refresh our minds. You remember the time when God told the prophet Samuel, go to the House of Jesse. And you're going to anoint a king. Bring oil with you. I've rejected Saul. I've got a new guy, a man after my own heart. Well, it was just a kid after his own heart. The prophet gets there. And the prophet is fixated on appearance.
And so as the sons of Jesse appear before him, and he looks at Eliab, the eldest, and he's so handsome and so strong and so tall. And he's the firstborn. He is just king material, at least in the prophet Samuel's mind. This is it, he says. And God says, not so fast, buckaroo. This is the New Skip Version. Not so fast, thou buckaroo-- I think is the original.
For I have rejected him. For the Lord does not see as man sees. For man looks at the outward appearance. And God looks at the heart. Samuel's problem is that he was appearance-oriented. Jesse, the father's problem, was that he was age-oriented. All the kids come by and Samuel goes, Lord, have you chosen this one, this one, this one, this one? Out of here. Do you have any more? Nope. None, except a young little kid. He's a shepherd, doesn't amount to much, completely ill-regarded by his father. That is the one God chose. So like God, isn't it?
And this is the one that God chooses to rule the country. Now, let's be real. David was God's choice, but he was far from flawless. He was a man after God's own heart. But he was also a man with the feet of clay. And one thing I love and admire, appreciate and respect about the Bible is that it never flatters its heroes. It doesn't do a little biography section in Good Morning Israel talking about how perfect David was, no flaws, look at him, let's salute him. The Bible tells us the truth. Oh, he was a man after God's own heart. But he was a man who failed, was flawed, but was forgiven.
And we've already seen some of his flaws. We saw how that-- he had an angry streak about him, right? He was going to go out and kill Nabal, just butcher him because he didn't get dinner from him. We saw how that he, instead of trusting God, acted like a Loony Tune in front of King Achish, drooling down his beard and acting really weird. So Achish would send him away. We see in this book a man, a king, a leader, God's leader fallen. He's a murderer and adulterer. And he will bear the consequences for all of these as we'll see.
So to be a person after God's own heart, I'm not saying go ahead and do whatever you want. Look at David, he did too. But I am saying to be a man or a woman after God's own heart isn't to be Superman, Superwoman. You're made out of kryptonite. For the phrase "a man after God's own heart" could be literally translated a man set to fulfill God's issues or agenda. And he will do that. He will fulfill God's purposes as we'll see in this book of 2 Samuel.
Now, you have an outline. And the outline of the book, I made it really easy-- triumphs, transgressions, troubles. That's sort of the book. You know, really the theme of the book is here's the king, this is his life. But it is divided by these three quite easily. For we see his rising power in the first 10 chapters. That's his triumphs. But we see his rising passions in chapters 11 and 12. That's his transgressions. He commits adultery. He murders. He lies. And then we see the result of that transgression, that it covered his whole life, the troubles that followed because of-- though David was a success professionally, he was a failure relationally. And we'll see that.
Now, just if you're interested-- and if you're not, I'm going to tell you anyway-- that the earliest Hebrew manuscripts don't read 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, just Samuel. It's all one long narrative. It wasn't even divided 'til a version came around 250 BC called the Septuagint version, the translation of Hebrew into Greek. And the writers that did that, the 70 writers, divided it into the First Book of the Kingdoms, the Second Book of the Kingdoms.
And then even later on, another translation, the Vulgate, Latin, written by Jerome, called 1 Samuel, 1 Kings; 2 Samuel, 2 Kings; 1 Kings, 3 Kings; 2 Kings, 4 Kings. So there were four books of kings. Doesn't matter. Those are names. Let's get into the book.
"Now it came to pass--" good biblical introduction. "--After the death of Saul, when David had returned from the slaughter of the Amalekites--" mark the word Amalekites. It's key. "--That David stayed two days in Ziklag. On the third day, behold it happened a man came from Saul's camp with his clothes torn and dust on his head. So it was when he came to David that he fell to the ground and prostrated himself. And David said to him, 'Where have you come from?' He said, 'I have escaped from the camp of Israel.' David said to him, 'How did the matter go? Please tell me.' And he answered, 'The people have fled from the battle. Many of the people are fallen and dead. And Saul and Jonathan, his son, are dead also.'"
You remember, I'm sure, 1 Samuel, how it opened up at a low point. Remember that? Remember it was a low point because the priesthood was corrupt. The two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were corrupt. They were idolaters. They were adulterers. They were the priests. The ark wasn't in its place. The nation had turned from God. Now, 2 Samuel opens at a low point. They have a king; the king is dead. The Philistines are occupying not only the southern areas where their strongholds and cities and capitals were, but now they're infiltrating the northern parts. They're up into Galilee now. They've controlled Galilee because they win the battle on Mount Gilboa.
But we're introduced to David, as I said, the main character of the book. God kept him safe. Took him out of the battle on Mount Gilboa. He wanted to fight there. The Lord took him out, brought him down to Ziklag. He looked at the town that he was living in. And do you remember what he saw? It was burned. He comes back, and the city's burned. And the Amalekites burned it. He doesn't like Amalekites. They burned his city. They stole his wives. They stole all the people. They took all the goods.
So not a good guy to meet David now and tell him, the Lord's anointed, whom David's loved and respected, remember, even though he was the enemy, is now dead. David asked him about the battle. He answered in verse 4, "The people have fled from the battle. Many of the people are fallen and dead. And Saul and Jonathan, his son, are dead also."
It's hard perhaps, but try, to put yourself in David's sandals now. Hearing that kind of news-- oh, he loved Jonathan. It was his best friend, his dearest one. Saul was still the Lord's anointed, the King of Israel, whom he loved with great respect, refused to kill him on several occasions, had the opportunity. Now, the Amalekite is thinking, Dave's gonna smile. David is going to smile. We know him by now. So we can call him Dave. He's going to think, "Great, Saul's dead. My enemy's gone." Doesn't happen.
"David said to the young man, 'How do you know that Saul and Jonathan, his son, are dead?' The young man told him, 'As I happened by chance to be on Mount Gilboa, there was Saul leaning on his spear, and indeed, the chariots and horsemen followed hard after him. When he look behind him, he saw me, and called me. And I answered, 'Here I am.' So he said to me, 'Who are you?' So I answered, 'I am an Amalekite.' So he said to me again, 'Please stand over me and kill me. For anguish has come upon me. But my life still remains in me.' So I stood over him and killed him because I was sure that he could not live after he had fallen. Then I took the crown that was on his head, the bracelet that was on his arm, and I have brought them here to my lord."
Here's an Amalekite-- after David had fought the Amalekites-- coming up with this story, saying, Saul and Jonathan are dead. David had just finished fighting the Amalekites. And something else-- the Amalekites are even alive and existing in chapter one of 2 Samuel because Saul was disobedient. Remember that story-- 1 Samuel 15. They were to be completely taken out of the picture. Saul disobeyed, had pity, brought back the king and the booty-- that's an Old Testament term for you young kids who think, "He just said that word 'booty.'
The spoils. The goods, the luggage, the sheep, et cetera.
OK, where was I now? OK, yeah. You get caught in one of these senior moments.
He says he's an Amalekite. When the children of Israel were coming out of Egypt, there was an enemy that followed them far enough, but close enough to attack the stranglers-- the old, the infirmed, the children, all of the stragglers that were hanging back, the rear flanks. The Amalekites attacked them. They created such a problem that God said to Moses, "Moses, write this down, and recite it in the hearing of Joshua." Here it is. Write it down. Here's a message. And I want you to tell it to Joshua, read it to him. "I will utterly blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven."
He tried to do that. Saul didn't obey. Somebody will say, well, Saul was a good guy. He had pity on him. That's just human kindness. But you see, the Amalekites were a terrorist organization. They were completely bent on not a fair fight, but attacking those who could not fight-- the women, the children, the sick the elderly. And so God had a death sentence for them.
You say, well, what's the big deal? Let them alone. Well, I'll tell you the big deal. You go a few years into the future to the book of Esther, and there was a guy named Haman who decided, I've got a good plan. I'm going to let every Jew in the kingdom-- I'm going to kill them all. I'm going to kill all of them. He was a Hitler. I want to kill every Jewish person in the entire empire. He was an Amalekite.
Saul's disobedience brought the nation to a death sentence. God intervened of course, as he often does for his people. But it was Saul's disobedience that brought that on. OK, he said, I'm an Amalekite. He tells the story of Saul. He has the crown. He gives it to David.
David took hold of his own clothes and tore them, a symbol of disgust, grief, mourning. And so did all the men who were with them. They took their cue from Dave. And they mourned and wept and fastened until evening for Saul and Jonathan, his son, for the people of the Lord, and for the house of Israel because they had fallen by the sword.
So David said to the young man who told him, "Where are you from?" He answered, "I am the son of an alien." Hm, Roswell. Oh, not that kind of alien. "An Amalekite." "A David said to him, 'How was it that you were not afraid to put forth your hand to destroy the Lord's anointed?' David called one of the young men and said, 'Go near and execute him.' And he struck him so that he died. And David said to him, 'Your blood is on your own head. For you, your own mouth has testified against you saying, 'I have killed the Lord's anointed.'"
Now, we have a conflict. We have two different stories of the death of Saul. Story number one comes to us in chapter 31 of the last book, 1 Samuel 31. There, we're told that Saul was wounded, and he turned to his armor bearer and he said, do me in, man. Kill me. Thrust me through. I don't want an enemy finding me like this. They'll humiliate me. I want you to kill me now. Well, the armor bearer wouldn't do it because it's God's anointed. I'm not going to touch the King. So Saul fell on his own sword, committed suicide.
Now, the Amalekite comes, has a completely different story. How do we reconcile them? Well, option number one is Saul did fall on his sword, 1 Samuel 31, but he didn't die. He was still alive. There was still breath in him, and he's still breathing. The Amalekite comes by, and he says, finish me off. Or, and this is what I believe, the Amalekite is lying. Bringing the crown to him, hoping to get a rich financial reward from David for finally killing his enemy Saul who had been dogging him for 10 years.
But that wasn't David's heart. The man loses his life. And then look at verse 17. "Then David did not rejoice. He's not singing a worship song of joy and gladness. "He lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan, his son. And he told them to teach the children of Judah the song of the bow. Indeed, it is written in the Book of Jashar." And the sweet psalmist of Israel, David, writes now a lamentation, a song of mourning over Saul and Jonathan.
This is, to me, insight into David's greatness. He's not going, yay, the wicked witch is dead. He's mourning over Saul. And it was true mourning. In fact, this is the only record of this great a mourning for Saul. There's no record of the Bible of anybody in his camp, or his son who was left, Ish-bosheth or Mephibosheth, two weird names. But they were his remaining sons. Or Abner, the commander in chief of his army, nobody had a funeral dirge for this guy. But David, the guy that Saul has been hunting, has this deep of an anguish for the one who tried to kill him.
As I read this, I can't help but think of the son of David, the greater son of David, who was born in the City of David, Bethlehem-- Jesus Christ, who stood over the very city that persecuted him, and would in a few days kill him, and wept. "Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often I would have gathered you as a mother hen gathers her chicks. But you are not willing." Jesus lamented, wept, cried aloud over the very city that rejected and would kill him as David does here for Saul.
Wow. What a lesson for us in handling our enemies. As I recall, Jesus didn't say, sue your enemies. Hate your enemies. Think bad thoughts and gossip about your enemies. No. He said one of the hardest scriptures ever, one that is rarely underlined in most Bibles. Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you, persecute you, spitefully use you. Pray for them.
I know it's easy to preach that. It's OK, and it looks good on paper. It looks good in red ink. We look at it, go, yeah, amen. But try doing it. Try loving that ex-husband who walked out on you. Try loving the enemy across the sea who hates you. Love your enemies. Pray for them. I know revenge is much more fun than loving and forgiving. It just feels good. Yeah, I'm going to revenge. Tit for tat, man. You get what's coming to you. Yeah.
A mom heard a scream come out of her son's bedroom. She ran into the bedroom. What happened? And she saw what happened. Her two-year-old daughter had her son's hair and was yanking at it, pulling at it. Mom went over quickly and gently took the hand away and said to the boy, knowing his anger problem, now, she didn't know what she was doing. So just forget about it. She didn't know that it hurt you. Mom walks out of the room, hears her daughter screaming. Comes in, looks at the boy. What happened? He smiles, and says, she knows now.
Now, you know, it felt really good for that kid to do that. But think of it this way. When you get even with somebody who's hurt you, you do exactly that. You get even with them. You lower yourself down, and you are now even with their low level of thinking and acting. Well, they acted like an animal. Well, good for you. Now you are. Don't you feel so good about yourself? You're getting even with them. And bitterness will poison your soul. It will poison your soul. It will ruin you.
David was able to live with Saul on that high level of lamenting, forgiving. This was the Lord's anointed. So by the way, in verse 18, the Book of Jashar, you may recall, is a book mentioned back in Joshua chapter 10 when the sun stands still over the Valley of Aijalon in Gibeon. The Book of Jashar means the Book of the Upright. It's probably a book of poetry exalting the great men, the great people of Israel.
"The beauty of Israel. Here's the song-- "is slain on your high places. How the mighty have fallen. Tell it not in Gath." Why? Because Gath is the capital of the Philistine country. He doesn't want them to hear about it. They'll gloat. "Proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon--" one of the five cities of the Philistines-- "lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, and the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph."
You remember after September 11 seeing the video footage of the rejoicing, the dancing in the streets. That's exactly what David didn't want to have happen by the news getting out. "O, mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew, nor let there be no rain upon you, nor fields of offerings. For the shield of the mighty is cast away there. The shield of Saul, not anointed with oil."
They would put oil on their shields a few thousand years ago. They'd oil them. It protected them, shined them up. It cleaned them. But it was blood, not oil, that was splattered all over Saul's shield. "From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan did not turn back. The sword of Saul did not return empty. Saul and Jonathan were beloved and pleasant in their lives. And in their death, they were not divided. They were swifter than eagles. They were stronger than lions. O, daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you in scarlet with luxury, who put ornaments of gold on your apparel.
How the mighty have fallen in the midst of the battle. Jonathan was slain in your high places. I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan. You have been very pleasant to me. Your love to me was wonderful, surpassing the love of women. How the mighty have fallen and the weapons of war perished."
You know, I am blown away of how people will read a scripture and infer something so far removed from the original intention. And all you can wonder is, how perverted can you be to think such thoughts? For instance, concerning Jonathan, your love is surpassing that of women. Some because of that have thought that David and Jonathan had a homosexual relationship. You have to have that warped disposition to get that out of the text.
It's easy to decipher what this means. David was married to Jonathan's sister, right, Michal. It wasn't a good marriage. They weren't close. In fact, David won her in a contest by providing 100 foreskins of the Philistines. Not a great start to a relationship, first of all. Their relationship wasn't solid. In fact, Saul knew what kind of woman she was. He said, oh, great. This will be perfect. She shall be a snare unto Dave.
And even when David brings her back-- and it was a bad move. You'll see. Bad move. She spurns his love, mocks him. So in that relationship, David could turn to her brother and say, your love, our relationship, our friendship was surpassing that of even women.
"How the mighty have fallen and the weapons of war perished." A note-- tuck this away in your brain, your heart, your wherever, your kidney, doesn't matter. Just tuck it away somewhere. In this book-- I mentioned David's flaws. You'll see them when it comes to women. This man after God's own heart, so successful as a warrior, and so successful as a king, but such a failure when it came to marriage relationships, became his undoing. He couldn't control his lust, his passion, his desires, and became his undoing.
Now, if chapter one-- and I'll give it a title-- chapter one is David Crying Over the King. I would entitle chapter two David's Coronation As the King. That's right. In chapter two, he becomes the king. He's given the crown, but not of the whole kingdom, but of the southern portion of Judah, one tribe only, one city only, the city of Hebron.
"It happened after this that David inquired of the Lord, saying, 'Shall I go up to any of the cities of Judah?' The Lord said, 'Go up.' David said, 'Where shall I go up?' And He said, 'To Hebron.'" Do you notice something-- that David is doing what Saul never did-- prayer. What a novel concept. He's talking to God about ruling God's people, being the King of God's people, fulfilling God's promises. He doesn't go out apart from inquiring of the Lord. Saul never did that. Saul never had a real relationship with God past the youthful part of his life. David is waiting on God.
There is value in waiting upon the Lord for an answer. Now sometimes, I get pressured to make a choice, a decision. Why didn't Skip do something about this? We brought it to his attention. He's waiting. He's mulling. He needs to do it. He needs to decide. He needs to do it. And when I do it, I'll do it. And it will be a firm decision. But until then, to wait on the Lord, to find out what is God saying.
When I married Lenya, some people around me were shocked. They said, who's Lenya? Now, I had known her, and she was then in Hawaii for a while. I was living in Huntington Beach. But when I finally made up my mind, I'm going to ask her to marry me, I made the choice. I asked her. We went for it. But it took some time. It took some waiting on both of our parts. After all, she would be stuck with me forever. Talk about-- you better hear from the Lord with that one.
I had been dating other girls, and I finally came to a place. I know this sounds really like a typical California bachelor. I just said, Lord, I'm never going to get married. I've made the decision. I don't want a relationship. I don't want a woman. I'm happy. This is-- I mean, what else could you want? I have a house on Eighth Street a few blocks from the Huntington Beach pier. I work four hours a day at the hospital. The rest of the time, I surf-- for your glory, of course, Lord.
I have friends who are like-minded. This has to be your will. I'm happy right here. I asked her to marry me one night. And I saw that she was also waiting on the Lord. No, I didn't ask her to marry me that night. I told her how I loved her that night. We resumed the dating relationship. She was in her father's living room, and I turned to her, and I said Lenya, I love you. And she looked at me, and she said, thank you.
Well, I wasn't laughing.
I thought, is that all she's going to say? Thank you? A guy says, I love you, and she goes, thank you. How about "I love you too." That's appropriate. But she didn't say it. And I walked home going, you idiot. Why did you even say that? And she called me the next day at work about 10:00 in the morning. Skip? Yes? I love you too. But I didn't want to tell you last night because I wanted to wait and ask the Lord if I could tell you that because I wasn't going to give my heart to someone unless I really meant it. The value of waiting on God-- Lord, do you want me to go up? Go up. Where should I go? Hebron. I'm going. Lord, do you want me to get married? Get married. To whom? To Lenya. OK.
To Skip. Are you sure?
"So David went up there." And notice this now. Here we go. Hang on for the ride. "And his two wives also." Well, that's not so bad, only two. Oh, he'll get four more in just a minute. Don't worry. He'll be on a roll. "Ahinoam, the Jezreelitess, and Abigail, the widow of Nabal." Remember the guy he almost killed? The Carmelite, he made caramels. No, he lived in Mount Carmel, the Carmel area.
"David brought up the men who were with him, every man with his household. So they dwelt in the cities of Hebron." Question. Did God approve of David having two wives? He did not. He allowed it, like he allows us to do a lot of dumb stuff. But it was not the heart, nor the will of God. "For this reason, God said, 'A man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife.'" That's singular in my Bible, not wives, but his wife. And the two, not three, four, five, or eight, or 20-- "The two shall become one flesh. What God has joined together--" Jesus picks that up-- "let no man tear asunder."
But David had two wives, and later on, he'll have a total of six. It wasn't-- and it's going to bite him. He'll get into trouble. This is his downfall. This is his problem. Why would anybody want two wives?
Or two husbands? I mean, isn't one spouse enough to handle, to work through all the problems? It takes such a period of time to gel and to go through that process, where you're just, you're comfortable with each other. There's an openness. And to do that again, and with-- oh, forget it.
Why spoil the beauty? Why did he do it then? He did it because other kings did it. Monarchial polygamy was common among kings. Kings would take many wives, usually daughters of kings of other nations they wanted to establish ties with, close friendships. It sealed the friendship. After all, I'm not going to attack the guy who's married to my daughter.
However, God didn't want his king doing that. Deuteronomy said, "And when a king is put up in the throne of the land, he shall not multiply wives to himself." You say, yeah, Solomon was a bad guy. David started it. Like father, like son. This is where Solomon got it. I know Solomon went nuts with hundreds of them, 300 wives. Whoa.
"The men of Judah came." Here it is. Look at verse four. "The men of Judah came. And there they anointed David king over the house of Judah." Now, not the whole nation of Israel. There is some intrigue going on here as we're going to see. And here's the intrigue. Beginning in verse eight, we're introduced to a guy named Ish-bosheth. Say that 10 times real fast. No don't. Ish-bosheth was one of the sons of Saul. Three sons of Saul are dead from the battle on Mount Gilboa with their dad. Mephibosheth, you'll get to him later, is left. He's lame. He's a cripple. Ish-bosheth, not a warrior like Jonathan, kind of a softy, a palace boy, is left.
Abner, the commander of the army of King Saul. Has survived the battle. He takes Ish-bosheth and proclaims him the king. After all, this is Saul's son. There needs to be a dynastic succession. The dynasty of Saul must continue. So he proclaims him King over the 11 tribes. And David watches it happen. This is the interesting thing about David. David doesn't say, OK, kill him. Let's fight. He puts it in the Lord's hands.
And I want you to notice something about David. David had plenty of opportunities, did he not, to kill Saul. Like the time Saul went to the restroom-- remember that-- in the cave, went to relieve himself, not knowing there were 600 men hiding in the restroom.
That's an interesting picture in and of itself. And while he's relieving himself, he's right next to David in the dark. And the guy next to David says, this is God. Kill him. The Lord's delivered him in your hands. And he goes, don't you even put that thought in my mind. I'm not going to touch the Lord's anointed. So David gets a little knife and cuts off a little patch of Saul's robe. Saul leaves. And then David feels remorseful. I cut off his robe. And his men are going, are you an idiot? You should of killed him. And your bummed that you got his threads? But this is the kind of guy David was.
See, here's the thinking-- and please start thinking this way about leaders in your life that God has allowed you to be under-- be they people you didn't vote for or whatever. You can bad mouth them, or you can say, you know what, if the Lord put the crown on him, I'll let the Lord take the crown off him. I won't touch it. That was David's thinking his whole life even with this Ish-bosheth, he waited.
In verse 11, "At the time, David was King in Hebron over the house of Judah seven years and six months." Now, if you'll allow me to make some summaries of this section-- can I for you? Because you've read it, I know. Abner-- remember his name. Abner is the commander of Saul's army. He's survived. Saul is dead. Abner is the general, Joint Chiefs of Staff. Joab is the commander of the Army for David. Joab and Abner meet together. And they decide to take 12 men apiece and meet at a pool, a well-known pool called the Pool of Gibeon. It's a well-attested to pool. There's been, in fact, archeological digs that have discovered in Gibeon, about seven miles northwest of Jerusalem, a 35 foot deep pool, 37 feet wide, circular staircase going down into it, steps going down from the bottom of the pool another 45 feet down to house even more water from the rainfall.
And so at this well-attested to landmark, 12 Benjamites with Abner, 12 men of Judah with Joab have some sword play. Here's the idea. Let's kind of negotiate this deal. There's two kingdoms here. You've got David in Judah, you've got Ish-bosheth in the 11 tribes. Let's get these armies together. Let's just get 12 guys. They'll fight it out. And whoever wins, wins. And we'll test each other's military strength.
Well, the negotiations didn't go well. They basically butchered each other. And it precipitated a bigger battle so that in the end, David's men pursued Abner and his men. And Ish-bosheth, i.e. Abner and his men, lost 300-some people in the battle. So it was a bloody fiasco.
And you'll read about it, verse 17. "There was a fierce battle that day. And Abner and the men of Israel were beaten before the servants of David. Now, the three sons of Zeruiah were there-- Joab and Abishai and Asahel." I have a tour guide friend in Israel named David Asahel. He's named after this guy. His name means "made by God." Isn't that a great name? Made by God. And Made by God was as fleet of foot as a wild gazelle. The guy was a runner. He was a Nike prototype athlete.
"And so Asahel pursued Abner. And in going, he did not turn from the right hand or from the left following Abner." OK, this Asahel was a very interesting character. He's a runner. Abner isn't a runner, but he's a fighter. So Asahel is running all day long. And Abner keeps looking back. You're coming, man. And so he's dodging. Coming. Finally turns back and says, "I'm warning you. Turn back." "I ain't turning back."
Well, Abner takes the blunt end of his spear-- not the sharp end, the blunt end, and thrusts it through his gut and kills him. This is Joab's brother. Now, this is all-- the author is showing us how David gets to the throne of Israel with all this intrigue and weird activity. So Joab doesn't know his brother is killed. He and his brother and the rest of the army fight to the end of the day. And Abner, verse 26, "called to Joab and said, 'Shall the sword devour forever? Do you not know that it will be bitter in the latter end? How long will it be, then, until you tell the people to return from pursuing their brethren?' Joab said, 'As God lives, unless you had spoken, surely then by morning, all the people would have given up pursuing their brother.'"
And so Joab blew a trumpet. Still, he doesn't know his brother is dead. And all the people stood still and did not pursue Israel anymore, nor did they fight anymore. Verse 31, "But the servants of David had struck down of Benjamin and Abner's man 360 men who died."
And there is a summary verse, verse 1 of chapter 3. "Now, there was a long war between the house of Saul and the house of David. But David grew stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul grew weaker and weaker." David's going up. Saul's dynasty is going down. David's not really pushing this thing. Joab is. Abner is. But they just made a mess of it. Joab's brother is dead. When Joab finds out, he's going to be pretty angry. And he's going to want to kill Abner, which he will do. But notice this. Sons were born to David in Hebron. I mentioned he had a lot of chicks.
"His first born was Amnon by Ahinoam, the Jezreelitess. The second Chileab by Abigail, the widow of Nabal the Carmelite. The third, Absalom, the son of Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, the king of Geshur. The fourth, Adonijah, the son of Haggith. The fifth--" this other guy. "The son of Abital. "And the sixth--" the other guy, "by David's wife Eglah. These were born to David in Hebron."
So he comes to Hebron, two wives. Now he has four more. Six sons are mentioned. He'll have more. He has more. Three of the names mentioned here become an utter grief to David. Notice their names and put them in your brain or your heart or wherever. Amnon, he'll become a murderer, a rapist. Absalom, he'll become a murderer and an insurrectionist. Verse four Adonijah, he will proclaim himself the next King and start a coup.
So this is what happens. And I have just a few minutes. And I can really sum up a lot for you. Because I know you've already read. And so I'm just summing up what you already know. The plot thickens. Abner goes back home to the kid he put on the throne, Ish-bosheth. Saul's dead, of course. But he leaves his kingdom behind. And one of the things he leaves behind is a concubine, actually several. And concubines were really legal chattel of kings. They were prostitutes in the court of the king. And often, they were used to raise up heirs to the king. And it was legally done.
Ish-bosheth accuses Abner of taking one of his father's concubines to himself and having relations with her. Whether it was true or not, we don't know. We're not told. But the accusation is made. In other words, it is seen as a gesture of trying to usurp authority over the kingdom by taking somebody's concubine to yourself. That's what it was seen as. So Ish-bosheth becomes unglued and accuses the only guy who's protecting him of being a traitor.
"Abner became very angry--" verse eight-- "at the words of Ish-bosheth and said, 'Am I a dog's head?'" That's an interesting kind of a question, isn't it?
I mean, have you ever asked that? What am I, a dog's head?
That belongs to Judah?
In other words, am I a worthless, contemptible dog? Traitor? Am I a dog's head that belongs to David? You think I'm a traitor? You think I would do all this to not be loyal to you? You're accusing me of this? So he's fed up. And he says in verse nine, "May God do so to Abner and more also if I do not do for David as the Lord has sworn to him." He knows about God's promise to transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul and set up the throne of David over Israel, over Judah from Dan to Beersheba. And he could not answer Abner another word because he feared him. Remember, Ish-bosheth is not the warrior Jonathan, his brother, was. He's a palace boy. He's a softy. Abner's a fighter, a warrior, a protector.
OK, Abner gets on the phone. He calls David down south in Judah. David? Yep. Abner. Abner, how are you doing? Good. Listen, I am ready to transfer those 11 tribes that I tried to usurp from you. I know God made you a promise. And I gave it to Ish-bosheth. I'm ready to transfer, and I have the power as the commander of the army to do it. I'm going to give it all to you. David say, great. One condition. One condition? I'm giving you something. One condition. My wife. Excuse me? Yeah, my wife, Michal, my first wife, Saul's daughter, I want her back. Saul had taken her from David. Well, she's already married to a second husband. But David says, I want her. That's the condition. So Abner goes, no problem. Deal. Hangs up the phone.
Verse 15, "And Ish-bosheth sent and took her from her husband and from Paltiel the son of Laish." Notice-- this is a sad, very sad scene. "And her husband went along with her to Bahurim weeping behind her." Poor fella. Yeah. Oh, boo hoo, my wife. She's going. "And Abner said, 'Go, return.' And he returned." Why did he do this? Because he's dumb.
Oh, he had political reasons. This would strengthen his ties and right to the throne of Saul. After all, that is my first wife. So I do have a legal right to the throne. But it's going to bite him. It's going to bite him. Well, Joab is away during this time. OK, now picture the scene. It's Hebron. By the way, do you know that Hebron was the city of refuge? You remember what that means? If you kill somebody, you can flee to a city of refuge and get a fair trial. Nobody can kill you there.
Well, Joab's away. Abner comes to Hebron, sits down, negotiates with David. It's a done deal. Abner leaves. He's going to make preparations to ensure the kingdom goes to David. Joab comes back. He goes, hey, did you know Abner was here? Now, by this time, he remembers Abner killed my brother Asahel. He's mad. And he sees him as a rival. After all, if he's going to switch sides and come over as the commander of the armed forces, that's my job here. I don't want a rival.
Joab finds out, goes to David, rebukes David. What? Are you insane? This guy was coming here just to spy on you. He's not going to give you the kingdom. So Joab goes out to the gate. Abner has left the city gate. He's well out of Hebron. Calls him back. He shouldn't have come. It was foolish for him to come. But he does. And he basically says, well, buddy, you know, let's just make amends here. I want to talk to you. I'm glad you came, and all that nonsense.
And verse 26, "When Joab had gone from David's presence, he sent messengers after Abner who brought him back from the Well of Sirah." David didn't know of it. "When Abner had returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside in the gate to speak with him privately and there stabbed him in the stomach so that he died for the blood of Asahel, his brother." David is displeased, and David mourns again.
In verse 31-- we'll finish chapter three, and we're done for the night. Hold on. You're almost there. "David said to Joab and to all the people who were with him, 'Tear your clothes. Gird yourselves with sackcloth. And mourn for Abner.' And the King David followed the coffin. And they buried Abner in Hebron." You can go and see where his grave is today. "The king lifted up his voice and wept at the grave of Abner. And all the people wept. And the King sang a lament over Abner. 'Should Abner die as a fool? Your hands were not bound, nor your feet put into fetters. As a man falls before wicked men, so you fell.'"
What a song to sing at a warrior's funeral. Doesn't it sound odd to ask the question, "Should Abner die as a fool?" What does he mean by that? Well, Abner was a fool. Abner did kill someone, was in the city of refuge, and went out of the city of refuge. Joab knew about it, called him back, and probably took him in the gate, and then just outside enough to be legal and knifed him.
How many people today die outside their city of refuge? Christ, the rock, the refuge, from the storm coming of judgment-- it is coming. Christ, the only hope of salvation, and people leave Him, walk away from Him, don't receive Him, and die as a fool. I do a lot of funerals for fools and for wise. I love doing funerals for the wise. It's hard to do a funeral for a fool, someone who has heard the gospel and rejected Christ.
And yet, when somebody who doesn't know the Lord does die, of course, they want you to say, well, just say that he's in heaven. Just tell that to the crowd. And a lot of preachers, well, if they were honest, they would say, here lies a fool who's rejected Christ and will spend eternity apart from him. Where are you tonight? Are you wise? Have you come and stay in and claim to your city of refuge, Christ and Christ alone? Are you trusting in something else, someone else? I will die. You will die. We will die. Will it be as wise or as a fool?
Heavenly Father, as we come to a close to this very long and meaty study in the word, we've seen a lot. We've learned a lot. We've covered a lot of ground. But Father, the most important question lies still before some of us-- some of us who even know the Bible, but don't know the Lord, some of us who have come to church, but not come to the Savior. We're in a building, but we're not in Christ. We're living as a fool would live. May we be wise, Lord. Enter into the gate of salvation. Remain in the city of refuge. Live within its walls. Be nourished, fed, satisfied under your kingdom, your rule over our lives.
Lord, I thank you for so many hungry people and what a testimony it is to just the strength of your church, Lord. Thank you, Father. So many hungry ones, growing ones, young and old alike. But Father, we would ask further that if anyone is here tonight that doesn't yet know you personally, that tonight would be a night where they would just surrender. They know they ought to. They've had that hunch for a long time that they should. They've been told, but they don't need to be told anymore because they're convinced they need You.
And so I pray, Lord, that they would come to You as You call them. And right now, we're praying around this auditorium. And as we're praying, we're praying for some sitting next to us who haven't yet surrendered, made that commitment, let go and taken a hold of the Savior. Tonight, if you're here and you haven't done that personally, authentically, you haven't just come face to face with God and said, I'm sorry, forgive me, take me change, I want to know you, I want to be born again, if you want true freedom, you do that.