Today Ishbosheth, the new king of Israel, accuses Abner, Saul’s cousin and army commander, of sleeping with Saul’s concubine. This accusation infuriates Abner, so Abner tells Ishbosheth that his loyalty to him is over. Abner says, “May God do so to Abner, and more also, if I do not do for David as the Lord has sworn to him— to transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul, and set up the throne of David over Israel and over Judah, from Dan to Beersheba.”
David agrees to make a covenant with Abner on one condition – “But one thing I require of you: you shall not see my face unless you first bring Michal, Saul’s daughter, when you come to see my face.” Remember that Michal was David’s first wife to whom he was betrothed for a hundred Philistine foreskins, but she was later given to another man. So Abner strips Michal from her new husband and brings her to David. “Then Abner said to David, ‘I will arise and go, and gather all Israel to my lord the king, that they may make a covenant with you, and that you may reign over all that your heart desires.’ So David sent Abner away, and he went in peace.”
However, Joab doesn’t trust Abner, who in self defense killed his brother Asahel. So Joab and his other brother Abishai ruthlessly murder Abner “for the blood of Asahel his brother.” When David hears about the murder of Abner, he curses Joab’s household but does nothing more to punish him. Then David mourns greatly the death of Abner. “Now all the people took note of it, and it pleased them… For all the people and all Israel understood that day that it had not been the king’s intent to kill Abner the son of Ner.” David states, regarding Joab and Abishai, “these men, the sons of Zeruiah, are too harsh for me. The Lord shall repay the evildoer according to his wickedness.” Later in the story, before David dies, David will instruct his son Solomon to execute judgment against Joab.
We end the reading with two men killing Ishbosheth, king of Israel, while he is napping and bringing his head to David. Apparently these men didn’t hear what David did to the other man who claimed to kill the king of Israel. So David explains to them how he killed the man who claimed to kill Saul, “the one who thought I would give him a reward for his news. How much more, when wicked men have killed a righteous person in his own house on his bed? Therefore, shall I not now require his blood at your hand and remove you from the earth?” Then David has these men executed for the shameful way they killed the king of Israel.
Tomorrow David becomes the new king over all of Israel, so keep reading. (2 Samuel 3:6-4:12)