Reading 85/341, 2 Samuel 1-3

Today is the first period of David's kingship. He is king only of the tribe of Judah.

2 Samuel...

It happened after the death of Saul, when David had returned from the slaughter of the Amalekites, David dwelt two days in Ziklag. It happened on the third day, that behold, a man came out of the camp of Saul, with his clothes torn, and earth on his head, and so it was, when he came to David, that he fell to the earth, and did homage. David said to him, “Where do you come from?” He said to him, “Out of the camp of Israel. I have escaped.” David said to him, “How did it go? Please tell me.” He answered, “The people have fled from the battle, and many of the people are fallen and dead, and Saul and Jonathan his son are dead also.” David said to the young man who told him, “How do you know that Saul and Jonathan his son are dead?” The young man who told him said, “As I happened by chance to be on Mount Gilboa, behold, Saul was leaning on his spear, and behold, the chariots and the horsemen followed closely after him. When he looked behind him, he saw me, and called to me. I answered, ‘Here I am.’ He said to me, ‘Who are you?’ I answered him, ‘I am an Amalekite.’ He said to me, ‘Stand, I pray you, beside me, and kill me, for anguish has taken hold of me, yet my life is still in me. So I stood beside him, and killed him, because I was sure that he could not live after he had fallen, and I took the crown that was on his head, and the bracelet that was on his arm, and have brought them here to my lord.” Then David took hold on his clothes, and tore them, and likewise all the men who were with him, and they mourned, and wept, and fasted until evening, for Saul, and for Jonathan his son, and for the people of the Lord, and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword. David said to the young man who told him, “Where are you from?” He answered, “I am the son of an immigrant, an Amalekite.” David said to him, “How is 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.” He struck him, so that he died. David said to him, “Your blood be on your head, for your mouth has testified against you, saying, ‘I have slain the Lord's anointed.’”

David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son and he bade them teach the children of Judah the song. Behold, it is written in the book of Jashar. “Your glory, O Israel, is slain on your high places! How the mighty have fallen! Tell it not in Gath. Publish it not in the streets of Ashkelon, lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph. You mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew nor rain on you, nor fields of offerings. For there the shield of the mighty was defiled. The shield of Saul was not anointed with oil. From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, Jonathan's bow did not turn back. Saul's sword did not return empty. Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant. In their lives and their death, they were not divided. They were swifter than eagles. They were stronger than lions. You daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you in scarlet delicately, who put ornaments of gold on your clothing. How the mighty have fallen in the midst of the battle! Jonathan lies slain on your high places. I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan. You have been very pleasant to me. Your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women. How the mighty have fallen, and the weapons of war perished!”

It happened after this, that David inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah?” The Lord said to him, “Go up.” David said, “Where shall I go up?” He said, “To Hebron.” So David went up there, and his two wives also: Ahinoam the Jezreelite, and Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite. And David brought up his men who were with him, every man of his household, and they lived in the cities of Hebron. The men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah. They told David, saying, “The men of Jabesh-gilead were those who buried Saul.” David sent messengers to the men of Jabesh-gilead, and said to them, “Blessed be you by the Lord, that you have shown this kindness to your lord, to Saul, and have buried him. Now the Lord show loving kindness and truth to you, and I also will repay you this kindness, because you have done this thing. Now therefore let your hands be strong, and be you valiant, for Saul your lord is dead, and also the house of Judah have anointed me king over them.”

Now Abner the son of Ner, captain of Saul's army, had taken Ishbosheth the son of Saul, and brought him over to Mahanaim, and he made him king over Gilead, and over the Ashurites, and over Jezreel, and over Ephraim, and over Benjamin, and over all Israel. Ishbosheth, Saul's son, was forty years old when he began to reign over Israel, and he reigned two years. But the house of Judah followed David. The time that David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months. Abner the son of Ner, and the servants of Ishbosheth the son of Saul, went out from Mahanaim to Gibeon. Joab the son of Zeruiah, and the servants of David, went out, and met them by the pool of Gibeon, and they sat down, the one on the one side of the pool, and the other on the other side of the pool. Abner said to Joab, “Please let the young men arise and compete before us.” Joab said, “Let them arise.” Then they arose and went over by number, twelve for Benjamin, and for Ishbosheth the son of Saul, and twelve of the servants of David. Each caught his opponent by the head, and thrust his sword in his opponent’s side, so they fell down together. Therefore that place was called Helkath-hazzurim [Field of Blades], which is in Gibeon. The battle was very severe that day, and Abner was beaten, and the men of Israel, before the servants of David. The three sons of Zeruiah were there: Joab, and Abishai, and Asahel, and Asahel was as light of foot as a wild gazelle. Asahel pursued after Abner, and in going he did not turn to the right hand nor to the left from following Abner. Then Abner looked behind him, and said, “Is it you, Asahel?” He answered, “It is I.” Abner said to him, “Turn aside to your right hand or to your left, and lay hold of one of the young men, and take his armor.” But Asahel would not turn aside from following him. Abner said again to Asahel, “Turn aside from following me, why should I strike you to the ground? How then could I hold up my face to Joab your brother?” However he refused to turn aside, therefore Abner with the hind end of the spear struck him in the stomach, so that the spear came out behind, and he fell down there, and died in the same place, and it happened, that as many as came to the place where Asahel fell down and died stood still.

But Joab and Abishai pursued after Abner, and the sun went down when they had come to the hill of Ammah, that lies before Giah by the way of the desert of Gibeon. The children of Benjamin gathered themselves together behind Abner, and became one band, and stood on the top of the hill. Then Abner called to Joab, and said, “Shall the sword devour forever? Do not you know that it will be bitter in the end? How long shall it be then, before you bid the people return from pursuing their brothers?” Joab said, “As God lives, if you had not spoken, surely the men would not have given up the pursuit of their brothers until the morning.” So Joab blew the trumpet, and all the people stood still, and pursued Israel no more, nor did they fight anymore. Abner and his men went all that night through the Arabah, and they crossed over the Jordan, and, marching the whole morning, came to Mahanaim. Joab returned from following Abner, and when he had gathered all the people together, of David's servants, nineteen men and Asahel were missing. But the servants of David had struck of Benjamin, and of Abner's men, three hundred sixty men. They took up Asahel, and buried him in the tomb of his father, which was in Bethlehem. Joab and his men went all night, and the day broke on them at Hebron.

Now there was long war between the house of Saul and the house of David, and David grew stronger and stronger, but the house of Saul grew weaker and weaker. To David sons were born in Hebron: his firstborn was Amnon, of Ahinoam the Jezreelite, and his second, Chileab, of Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite, and the third, Absalom the son of Maacah the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur, and the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith, and the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital, and the sixth, Ithream, of Eglah, David's wife. These were born to David in Hebron. It happened, while there was war between the house of Saul and the house of David, that Abner made himself strong in the house of Saul. Now Saul had a concubine, whose name was Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah, and Ishbosheth said to Abner, “Why have you gone in to my father's concubine?” Then was Abner very angry over the words of Ishbosheth, and said, “Am I a dog's head that belongs to Judah? This day I show kindness to the house of Saul your father, to his brothers, and to his friends, and have not delivered you into the hand of David, and yet you charge me this day with a fault concerning this woman. 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 to set up the throne of David over Israel and over Judah, from Dan to Beersheba.” He could not answer Abner another word, because he feared him.

Abner sent messengers to David on his behalf, saying, “Whose is the land?” And saying, “Make your treaty with me, and behold, my hand shall be with you, to bring all Israel to you.” He said, “Good. I will make a treaty with you, but one thing I require of you, that is, you shall not see my face unless you first bring Michal, Saul's daughter, when you come to see my face.” David sent messengers to Ishbosheth, Saul's son, saying, “Deliver me my wife Michal, for whom I paid the bridal price of one hundred foreskins of the Philistines.” Ishbosheth sent, and took her from her husband, from Paltiel the son of Laish. Her husband went with her, weeping as he went, and followed her to Bahurim. Then said Abner to him, “Go, return”, and he returned. Abner had communication with the elders of Israel, saying, “For some time now you have been seeking to have David be king over you. Do it now then, for the Lord has spoken of David, saying, ‘By the hand of my servant David I will save my people Israel out of the hand of the Philistines, and out of the hand of all their enemies.’” Abner also spoke in the ears of Benjamin, and Abner went also to speak in the ears of David in Hebron all that seemed good to Israel, and to the whole house of Benjamin. So Abner came to David at Hebron, and twenty men with him. David made Abner and the men who were with him a feast. Abner said to David, “I will arise and go, and will 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 soul desires.” David sent Abner away, and he went in peace. Behold, the servants of David and Joab came from a raid, and brought in a great spoil with them, but Abner was not with David in Hebron, for he had sent him away, and he had gone in peace. When Joab and all the army who was with him had come, they told Joab, saying, “Abner the son of Ner came to the king, and he has sent him away, and he is gone in peace.” Then Joab came to the king, and said, “What have you done? Behold, Abner came to you, why then have you sent him away? And he is gone? You know Abner the son of Ner, that he came to deceive you, and to know your going out and your coming in, and to know all that you do.”

When Joab was come out from David, he sent messengers after Abner, and they brought him back from the well of Sirah, but David did not know it. When Abner had returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside into the midst of the gate to speak with him quietly, and struck him there in the stomach, so that he died, for the blood of Asahel his brother. Afterward, when David heard it, he said, “I and my kingdom are forever guiltless before the Lord for the blood of Abner the son of Ner. May it fall on the head of Joab, and on all his father's house, and let there not fail from the house of Joab one who has an issue, or who is a leper, or who leans on a staff, or who falls by the sword, or who lacks bread.” So Joab and Abishai his brother killed Abner, because he had killed their brother Asahel at Gibeon in the battle. David said to Joab, and to all the people who were with him, “Tear your clothes, and gird yourself with sackcloth, and mourn before Abner.” King David followed the bier. They buried Abner in Hebron, and the king lifted up his voice, and wept at the grave of Abner, and all the people wept. The king lamented for Abner, and said, “Should Abner die as a fool dies? Your hands were not bound, nor your feet put into fetters. As a man falls before the children of iniquity, so you fell.” All the people wept again over him. All the people came to persuade David to eat bread while it was yet day, but David swore, saying, “God do so to me, and more also, if I taste bread, or anything else, until the sun goes down.” All the people took notice of it, and it pleased them, as whatever the king did pleased all the people. So all the people and all Israel understood that day that it was not of the king to kill Abner the son of Ner. The king said to his servants, “Do not you know that there a prince and a great man has fallen this day in Israel? I was gentle today, though the anointed king, and these men the sons of Zeruiah more severe than I. May the Lord reward the evil-doer according to his wickedness.”

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