2 Samuel 2
-David, as was his custom, inquired of the LORD for a big decision and direction in his life. This would impact those who were faithful to him in his family and the wider clan of followers. They went up at the LORD’s discretion to Hebron, which were of the cities of Judah with his two wives and the men who were with him along with their families. A fairly large exodus of people by now which had to have been well over 1,000 individuals in total. “Then the men of Judah came and there anointed David king over the house of Judah (2 Samuel 2:1-4).” This is an important development in the saga.
-At this time, the men of Judah told David how it was the men of Jabesh-gilead who buried Saul. Therefore, David sent messengers to those in Jabesh-gilead (to the north and east) proclaiming blessings on them from the LORD for their kindness to Saul in his death. David extended the lovingkindness and truth of the LORD as His favored and anointed king promising them goodness from his kingdom. He also let them know that their hands should be made strong and that they should be valiant due to the death of their king; plus, he informed them as to the fact that Judah had anointed him their king at this point (2 Samuel 2:5-7).
-But, there was trouble in the house of Israel that revolved around the commander of Saul’s army, Abner, who had taken Ish-bosheth, the son of Saul, to Mahanaim (east of the Jordan approximately half way between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea) and set him up as king over Gilead, the Ashurites, Jezreel, Ephraim, and Benjamin, even all of Israel. Ish-bosheth was 40 years old at this juncture and lasted as king for a mere two years. This caused a rift in the nation since Judah had decided that David was their king and followed him. Therefore, David’s kingdom, which was a division from Israel, in Judah lasted 7 years and 6 months in Hebron (2 Samuel 2:8-11).
-Civil war soon ensued as Abner brought the servants of Ish-bosheth from Mahanaim to Gibeon, just northwest of Jerusalem and directly north of Hebron in the vicinity of where Saul was from in the land of Benjamin. Joab, who was a military leader faithful to David, and the servants of David went out and met the forces of Abner by the pool of Gibeon. There they all sat down, one group on one side of the pool and the other on the other side of the pool. Finally, Abner said to Joab, “Now let the young men arise and hold a contest before us.” Joab replied, “Let them arise.” The contest consisted of 12 on 12 in a sword fight. As they drew near one another the Scriptures say that “each one of them seized his opponent by the head and thrust his sword in his opponent’s side; so they fell down together.” The place of this tragic occurrence was then called Helkath-hazzurim (the field of sword edges) which, again, was in Gibeon. This erupted a “very severe” battle between the two clans of the sons of Abraham. Joab’s men, the servants of David, ended up beating the forces of Abner and Israel. The three sons of Zeruiah including Joab, Abishai, and Asahel were there, and Asahel, who was very fast of foot, chased after Abner in straight course. As Asahel was catching up to this commander a conversation took place. Abner first asked if it was indeed the fleet footed Asahel to which Asahel answered, “It is I.” Abner warned him to turn to the left or right and collect spoil from one of the already fallen young men, but Asahel refused in his pursuit. He continued to follow the commander at a rapid pace, and Abner spoke warning once more, “Turn aside from me. Why should I strike you to the ground? How then could I lift up my face to your brother Joab?” However, Asahel refused the directive once more and advanced on this warrior. Therefore, the Bible tells us that Asahel was about to catch Abner, the commander cleverly struck him in the belly with the butt end of his spear to the point that the spear pierced through and came out of his back. Asahel fell there where he was struck and died on the spot. All who came to this place stood still, but Joab and Abishai continued to pursue Abner. As the sun was going down on this bloody day “they came to the hill of Ammah, which in front of Giah by the way of the wilderness of Gibeon.” The sons of Benjamin gathered there together as one band of brothers behind Abner and stood on the top of a certain hill. From this lofty spot Abner called to Joab saying, “Shall the sword devour forever? Do you not know that it will be bitter in the end? How long will you refrain from telling the people to turn back from following their brothers?” Joab responded, “As God lives, if you had not spoken, surely then the people would have gone away in the morning, each from following his brother.” Then Joab blew the trumpet signaling a halt for the people, and they pursued Israel no longer, “nor did they continue to fight anymore.” Abner and his men fled through the Arabah all that night. They crossed the Jordan and walked all morning back to Mahanaim where they had begun. Joab on his part returned from following Abner to find that 19 of David’s servants, besides his brother Asahel, were missing (unaccounted for, presumed dead). But, the servants of David had killed many of Abner and Benjamin’s men. In fact, 360 men had died on the side of Israel. This indicated a decisive but hollow victory for the men of David. Asahel was taken up and buried in his father’s tomb which was in Bethlehem. “Then Joab and his men went all night until the day dawned at Hebron (2 Samuel 2:12-32).”
-*Application* Sometimes the decisions we make in haste can have catastrophic consequences. David is our example here of inquiring of the LORD before any important change in direction or action. He was blessed with a kingdom, security, and homes there in Judah. Asahel proved to be impulsive, raging, and unconscious of the dire straits he was putting himself into, which ended costing him his life. This civil war need not have happened. Both Abner and Joab would have been better off consulting the Sovereign LORD before agreeing to a destructive contest that eventually lead to hundreds of Israeli lives lost for virtually nothing. Wisdom is a stake here for our lives as we meditate on the mistakes of the past. Consider God before taking next steps. It makes all the difference in the world for blessing, honor, and favor.
Verse to Memorize: 2 Samuel 2:4