THE COLD-BLOODED MURDER OF ISHBOSHETH WINS NO FAVOR FROM THE RIGHTEOUS KING DAVID
(:1) INTRODUCTION: DEATH OF ABNER CHANGED THE POLITICAL LANDSCAPE
“Now when Ishbosheth, Saul’s son, heard that Abner had died in Hebron, he lost courage, and all Israel was disturbed.”
This was an unsettled time in Israel. Different factions were vying for political prominence. Ishbosheth had been propped up by the strong military leadership and political savvy of Abner. With Abner out of the picture he knew his time was up.
King David certainly recognized the vulnerability of Israel. He knew God’s overall scheme to have him reign over a united nation. Yet he was committed to trusting in God and following His timetable and submitting to His will. He was not selfishly ambitious in the sense of taking matters into his own hands and thinking that God was dependent on David making something happen.
Contrast the reaction of Ishbosheth in times of trouble to that of David who would always strengthen himself in his Lord.
Verse 9 is key: “As the Lord lives, who has redeemed my life from all distress.”
David detested the treachery of political manipulators. He did not need their assistance. His hope was in the Lord and his commitment was to righteousness. He was truly a man after God’s own heart.
I. (:2-4) MAJOR PLAYERS REMAINING FOR ISRAEL
A. (:2-3) Prominent Military Commanders – Two Sons of Rimmon the Beerothite –
Example of Striving After Blessing by Selfish Ambition and Treachery
“And Saul’s son had two men who were commanders of bands: the name of the one was Baanah and the name of the other Rechab, sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, of the sons of Benjamin (for Beeroth is also considered part of Benjamin, and the Beerothites fled to Gittaim, and have been aliens there until this day).”
Gordon: In continuation of his father’s policy (1 Sa. 22:7), Ishbosheth (or Abner?) appears to have favoured Benjaminites for command positions in his army.
B. (:4) Crippled Mephibosheth – Example of Receiving Blessing by Grace
“Now Jonathan, Saul’s son, had a son crippled in his feet. He was five years old when the report of Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel, and his nurse took him up and fled. And it happened that in her hurry to flee, he fell and become lame. And his name was Mephibosheth.”
Obviously the house of Saul is left helpless and crippled when it comes to having any power or resources to prop itself up.
McGee: The story about Mephibosheth and David is one of the most beautiful stories ever told. This boy was Jonathan’s son. As long as he lived, he was a constant danger to David because he had throne rights. Since he was Jonathan’s son, however, David would never harm a hair of his head. Later on David will go looking for family members of Saul and Jonathan not to slay them but to show them kindness.
II. (:5-8) COSTLY MISCALCULATION – THE SONS OF RIMMON EXPECTED THE TROPHY OF THE HEAD OF ISHBOSHETH TO EARN THEM FAVOR FROM KING DAVID
A. (:5) Surprise Attack
“So the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, Rechab and Baanah, departed and came to the house of Ishbosheth in the heat of the day while he was taking his midday rest.”
B. (:6-7) Treacherous Plot
1. (:6) Overview
“And they came to the middle of the house as if to get wheat, and they struck him in the belly; and Rechab and Baanah his brother escaped.”
2. (:7) More Detailed Account
“Now when they came into the house, as he was lying on his bed in his bedroom, they struck him and killed him and beheaded him. And they took his head and traveled by way of the Arabah all night.”
C. (:8) Trophy Presentation
“Then they brought the head of Ishbosheth to David at Hebron, and said to the king, ‘Behold, the head of Ishbosheth, the son of Saul, your enemy, who sought your life; thus the Lord has given my lord the king vengeance this day on Saul and his descendants.”
They must have been shocked out of their mind at the reaction of righteous indignation on the part of David. They respected the customary cultural reward due to those who were bringing glad tidings from afar.
III. (:9-12) SWIFT RETRIBUTION – RIGHTEOUS KING DAVID DESPISED TREACHERY AS A METHOD FOR FURTHERING GOD’S KINGDOM
A. (:9-11) Response of David
1. (:9a) Introducing the Response
“And David answered Rechab and Baanah his brother, sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, and said to them”
2. (:9b) Invoking His Reliance on God = Key verse for this chapter
“As the Lord lives, who has redeemed my life from all distress”
Cf. 1 Sam. 26:24
3. (:10) Illustrating His Abhorrence of Treachery by Citing Historical Example
“when one told me, saying, ‘Behold, Saul is dead.’ And thought he was bringing good news, I seized him and killed him in Ziklag, which was the reward I gave him for his news.”
Those who ignore the lessons of history are destined to repeat them.
(like retaking a class you failed in school)
4. (:11) Indicting the Perpetrators of This Very Wicked Act
a. Very Wicked because of the Contrast in Character between the Perpetrators and the Victim
“How much more, when wicked men have killed a righteous man”
Ryrie: Ishbosheth was called righteous in that he was not guilty of any wicked deed or crime. He had merely assumed the throne upon Saul’s death, at the encouragement of Abner.
b. Very Wicked because of the Treachery of the Setting
“in his own house on his bed”
c. Fundamental Principle of Justice – Implications for Capital Punishment
“shall I not now require his blood from your hand, and destroy you from the earth?”
B. (:12) Execution, Humiliation, and Respect
1. Execution of Sons of Rimmon
“Then David commanded the young men, and they killed them”
2. Humiliation of Sons of Rimmon
“and cut off their hands and feet, and hung them up beside the pool in Hebron.”
Appropriate retribution for their dismembering of the body of Ishbosheth.
3. Respect Shown in Burying Head of Ishbosheth
“But they took the head of Ishbosheth and buried it in the grave of Abner in Hebron.”
Buried with full military honors