April 21, 2015: Daily Bible Reading with Commentary for 2 Samuel 1-4
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Date: Possibly 10th Century BC
Context: David is informed by an Amalekite that Saul is dead. The Amalekite was certain because he killed Saul. David strikes down the Amalekite for killing the Lord's anointed and mourns the loss of Saul and Jonathan, David's close friend. David is first anointed king of Judah, while Saul's son Ish-Bosheth, had been crowned king in the North. The two kings battled over the course of several years, after they were unable to settle their dispute with man-to-man combat, which resulted in all being killed. The reader is also introduced to Abner, the man behind the scenes who enabled Ish-Bosheth to come to power and who later helped David reunite Israel under one crown. During the years of war, David grew stronger while Ish-Bosheth grew weaker. Ish-Bosheth alienated Abner after he accused Abner of trying to lay his own claim to throne by sleeping with one of Saul's concubines. Abner defected to David and spoke with the elders of tribes to persuade them to support David's leadership. Abner is ultimately killed by the brother of a man he previously killed. The text ensures that the reader is aware that David had no part in Abner's murder. David was innocent and would not face judgment for it.
World History: Israel wanted to be like other nations who had a king. The northern tribes of Israel refused David as king in favor of Saul's son because, like other nations, they wanted succession to the throne. During the war, 12 men were chosen from each side to fight in man-to-man combat. This was sometimes used as a substitute for a full-fledge battle in order to spare bloodshed. In this case, it solved nothing.