From Eternity Past


Chapter 69—David at Last Crowned King

This chapter is based on 2 Samuel 2 to 5:5.

The death of Saul removed the dangers that had made David an exile. The way was now open for him to return to his own land. “David inquired of the Lord, saying, Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah? And the Lord said unto him, Go up. And David said, Whither shall I go up? And he said, Unto Hebron.” EP 506.1

David and his followers immediately prepared to obey. As the caravan entered the city, the men of Judah were waiting to welcome David as the future king of Israel. Arrangements were at once made for his coronation. “And there they anointed David king over the house of Judah.” But no effort was made to establish his authority over the other tribes. EP 506.2

Upon learning of the brave deed of the men of Jabesh-gilead in rescuing the bodies of Saul and Jonathan and giving them honorable burial, David sent the message, “Blessed be ye of the Lord, that ye have showed this kindness unto your lord, even unto Saul, and have buried him. And now the Lord show kindness and truth unto you: and I also will requite you this kindness.” EP 506.3

The Philistines did not oppose the action of Judah in making David a king. They hoped that because of their former kindness to David the extension of his power would work to their advantage. But David's reign was not to be free from trouble. EP 506.4

God had chosen David to be king of Israel, yet hardly had his authority been acknowledged by the men of Judah, when Ishbosheth, the son of Saul, was set upon a rival throne in Israel. Ishbosheth was a weak, incompetent representative of the house of Saul, while David was pre-eminently qualified. Abner, the chief agent in raising Ishbosheth to kingly power, was the most distinguished man in Israel. He knew that David had been appointed by the Lord to the throne, but he was not willing that the son of Jesse should succeed to the kingdom. EP 506.5

Abner was ambitious and unprincipled. He had been influenced by Saul to despise the man whom God had chosen to reign over Israel. His hatred had been increased by the cutting rebuke that David had given him when the cruse of water and the spear of the king had been taken from the side of Saul as he slept. EP 507.1

Determined to create division in Israel whereby he himself might be exalted, he employed the representative of departed royalty to advance his own selfish ambitions. He knew that Saul's first successful campaigns had not been forgotten by the army. With determination, this rebellious leader went forward to carry out his plans. EP 507.2

Mahanaim, on the farther side of Jordan, was chosen as the royal residence. Here the coronation of Ishbosheth took place. His reign extended over all Israel except Judah. For two years the son of Saul enjoyed his honors in his secluded capital. But Abner, intent upon extending his power over all Israel, prepared for aggressive warfare. And “there was long war between the house of Saul and the house of David: but David waxed stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul waxed weaker and weaker.” EP 507.3

At last Abner, becoming incensed against the incompetent Ishbosheth, deserted to David, with the offer to bring over to him all the tribes of Israel. His proposals were accepted. But the favorable reception of so famed a warrior excited the jealousy of Joab, commander-in-chief of David's army. There was a blood feud between Abner and Joab, the former having slain Asahel, Joab's brother, during the war between Israel and Judah. Now Joab basely took occasion to waylay and murder Abner. EP 507.4

David, upon hearing of this treacherous assault, exclaimed, “I and my kingdom are guiltless before the Lord forever from the blood of Abner the son of Ner. Let it rest on the head of Joab.” In view of the unsettled state of the kingdom and the power of the murderers, David could not visit the crime with just retribution, yet he publicly manifested his abhorrence. The king followed Abner's bier as chief mourner, and at the grave he pronounced an elegy which was a cutting rebuke of the murderers. EP 508.1

Died Abner as a fool dieth? ...
As a man falleth before wicked men,
So fellest thou.
EP 508.2

David's recognition of one who had been his bitter enemy won the admiration of all Israel. “For all the people and all Israel understood that day that it was not of the king to slay Abner the son of Ner.” In the private circle of his trusted counselors and attendants, the king recognized his own inability to punish the murderers as he desired. He left them to the justice of God. “The Lord shall reward the doer of evil according to his wickedness.” EP 508.3

“When Saul's son heard that Abner was dead in Hebron, his hands were feeble, and all the Israelites were troubled.” Soon another act of treachery completed the downfall of the waning power. Ishbosheth was murdered by two of his captains, who, cutting off his head, hastened with it to the king of Judah, hoping thus to ingratiate themselves in his favor. EP 508.4