vv 10-11. Ishbosheth, Saul’s son, was forty years old when he became king, and he ruled from Mahanaim for two years. Meanwhile, the people of Judah remained loyal to David. David made Hebron his capital, and he ruled as king of Judah for seven and a half years.
The start of David’s reign was not plain sailing. In spite of the respect that David showed for Saul, there were those – a majority in fact – who remained loyal to Saul and his family. Saul’s son, Ishbosheth, was made King in Israel supported by a powerful military leader, Abner. The whole of this chapter 2 Samuel 2 is a sad record of the enmity between Judah and the rest of Israel. Initially, David’s men get the upper hand. A fierce battle followed that day, and Abner and the men of Israel were defeated by the forces of David. (v 17) It was Abner who took the initiative in stopping the killings ‘Abner shouted down to Joab, “Must we always be killing each other? Don’t you realize that bitterness is the only result? When will you call off your men from chasing their Israelite brothers?” ‘ (v26) and then later (2 Samuel 3:12) where he negotiates with David. Then Abner sent messengers to David, saying, “Doesn’t the entire land belong to you? Make a solemn pact with me, and I will help turn over all of Israel to you.”
David’s Chief-of Staff Joab then murdered Abner ‘When Abner arrived back at Hebron, Joab took him aside at the gateway as if to speak with him privately. But then he stabbed Abner in the stomach and killed him in revenge for killing his brother Asahel. ‘ (v 27)
This was not what David wanted, nor what he had planned, and once again he turns to mourning the death of Abner who was trying to help him. We read more of this sad story tomorrow.