2 Samuel 3:1 (KJV)

Now 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.

Remember, Israel demanded from Samuel that he anoint for them a king.

It was an act of rebellion against God but it was also one that God did not resist.

They wanted a king so they got a king.

1 Samuel 9:15–17 (KJV)

Now the LORD had told Samuel in his ear a day before Saul came, saying,

To morrow about this time I will send thee a man out of the land of Benjamin, and thou shalt anoint him to be captain over my people Israel, that he may save my people out of the hand of the Philistines: for I have looked upon my people, because their cry is come unto me.

And when Samuel saw Saul, the LORD said unto him, Behold the man whom I spake to thee of! this same shall reign over my people

Here’s the lesson; just because God will let you get away with something doesn’t mean it is God’s Will for you to do it.

People pray like this, “God, if you don’t want me to have this $90,000 dollar vehicle, don’t let the bank approve the loan.”

When the bank approves the loan, don’t blame God that you can’t make the payment!

Every heard the phrase, “They got what they wanted but didn’t want what they got?

It was not long before that king lost his privilege and God found a man after his own heart.

1 Samuel 13:13–14 (KJV)

And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the LORD thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the LORD have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever.

But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee.

Saul turned out to be the fulfillment of every bad thing God told Israel a king could and would do.

But then God gave them the king they should have waited for all along.

David was a man after God’s own heart.

Now comes the struggle for unity

God has clearly rejected one king and anointed another but the people remained loyal to the one they wanted and not the one God replaced him with.

It happens all of the time in a number of different settings.

It’s happening right now in our country. Liberal minded people dislike the man who is rightfully leading our country and protest almost his every move.

Disagreeing with his decisions is the right of every citizen. Despising the man is a sin, no matter who he is.

It happens in churches when a new pastor comes and the people won’t follow him as they should.

Sometimes it happens just like it did in Israel when the one who was replaced refuses to step out of the way and let the appointed leader do what God has given him to do.

So David spent seven years or so running for his life.

It is significant that he never lifted his hand against Saul.

This was God’s doing and he was certain God would deal with it in His own time.

Eventually Saul was killed in battle against the Philistines

At this point David was established to be king in Hebron, over the tribe of Judah — but not yet over all of Israel.

He reigned over Judah in Hebron seven years and six months.[1]

I take it that the war mentioned in 2 Samuel 3:1 lasts all of these seven years and six months.

That war is described in 2 Samuel chapters 2–4.

And what I hope you will notice is that, while David clearly had the authority of God on his side, and the military ability to defeat the house of Saul, He walked this very fine balance, fighting to create unity among the people of God.

Even after the war was over and he was anointed to be king over all of Israel, a position he held for the next thirty three years,[2]keeping the people unified was a constant challenge.

Here’s the reason; most of them[3]would have always preferred to be ruled by the flesh rather than the Spirit of God.

Notice, David defeated them but


2 Samuel 2:12–17 (KJV)

And Abner the son of Ner, and the servants of Ishbosheth the son of Saul, went out from Mahanaim to Gibeon.

And Joab the son of Zeruiah, and the servants of David, went out, and met together 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.

And Abner said to Joab, Let the young men now arise, and play before us. And Joab said, Let them arise.

Then there arose and went over by number twelve of Benjamin, which pertained to Ishbosheth the son of Saul, and twelve of the servants of David.

And they caught every one his fellow by the head, and thrust his sword in his fellow’s side; so they fell down together: wherefore that place was called Helkathhazzurim, which is in Gibeon.

And there was a very sore battle that day; and Abner was beaten, and the men of Israel, before the servants of David.

One of the questions that came to mind as I prepared this is:

· Why was it wrong that Saul did not wipe out the Amalekites (it was why God took the kingdom from him) and yet

· It was proper that David did not utterly destroy the house of Saul when he had them on the run?

The difference is twofold:

· First, Saul had been given an explicit command to utterly destroy the Amalekites. David was given no such command against the house of Saul.

· Second, Saul was up against an avowed enemy of Israel and of God. David was at war with his own brethren.

I am reminded of:2 Thessalonians 3:14–15 (KJV)

And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.

Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

Here is a truth worthy of much meditation:

It is possible to be at war with a man and at the same time love him as a brother.

It takes incredible compassion and love for both God and our brethren to withstand[4]them for error.

Here is how we can reconcile the difference between Saul and David’s actions and make an application for our day,

A. We mortify the enemy

Colossians 3:5 (KJV)

Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:

Those deeds we do in the flesh are to be mortified.

· Show no mercy

· Give no quarter

We should never excuse our own sins and impulses of the flesh but, as quickly as we discover them, crucify them and put them off.

On the other hand

B. We rebuke a brother

2 Corinthians 2:6–11 (KJV)

Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many.

So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.

Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.

For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things.

To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ;

Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.

When it comes to a child of God,

· Withstand them when they are to be blamed

· Rebuke them for their error and

· Separate from them if you must

But then,

· Pray for them faithfully

· Forgive them readily and, when they repent

· Restore them completely

When Abner was ready to talk


2 Samuel 3:17–22 (KJV)

And Abner had communication with the elders of Israel, saying, Ye sought for David in times past to be king over you:

Now then do it: for the LORD hath 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.

And Abner also spake 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 that seemed good to the whole house of Benjamin.

So Abner came to David to Hebron, and twenty men with him. And David made Abner and the men that were with him a feast.

And Abner said unto David, I will arise and go, and will gather all Israel unto my lord the king, that they may make a league with thee, and that thou mayest reign over all that thine heart desireth. And David sent Abner away; and he went in peace.

And, behold, the servants of David and Joab came from pursuing a troop, and brought in a great spoil with them: but Abner was not with David in Hebron; for he had sent him away, and he was gone in peace.

I think of Joab and Abner sort of like the generals in the north and south during our country’s Civil War:

· I think the position of the North was right — and was vindicated of God, but the North had some pretty wretched generals.

· I think the South handled the matter wrongly, and they were whipped because of it, but they some some generals that were, by far, more honorable than did the North.

Joab, David’s general, picked the right side.

· But Joab was personally a scoundrel and David would warn Solomon of him. Eventually Solomon had to execute him.

· Abner was the better of the two men, but his loyalty to the house of Saul was wrongly placed.

There came a day when Abner realized his error and sought to correct it.

If anyone think he was traitorous to attempt to lead Israel to follow David, remember that it was Abner who set Ishbosheth up in Saul’s place.

When Abner realized his wrong

· He began speaking to the leaders in Israel about submitting to David and then

· He arranged a meeting to negotiate their surrender and submission to David’s reign

David was happy to talk and to settle the war peacefully.

I am reminded of James 1:19–20 (KJV)

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:

For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

Maybe the most difficult discipline a man can develop is the discipline of hearing.

I don’t mean just being quiet when someone is speaking — although I know plenty of people who can’t do that.

I mean engaging that cog that goes between the ear to the mind.


A. “Swift to hear…”

That’s an interesting phrase, isn’t it?

How can a person hear quickly?

The word swiftdoes mean “fleet” and “prompt.”

But it also means “ready” and “prepared.”

A person has to train himself or herself to be a good listener.

To prepare to do a thing means

· You determine that you will do it

· You provide an environment that allows it to be done

· You take measures that all is ready to do it and

· You appoint a time in which to do it

B. “Slow to speak…”

Some people just like the sound of their own voice.

They don’t often say anything, but they sure say a lot of it.

· They speak non-stop

· They interrupt others when they are speaking and

· They speak louder than others

They are the real life example of the old adage, “Better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and prove it.”

C. “Slow to wrath.”

Notice the difference between David and Joab.

David listened to Abner and sent him away in peace.

Joab had no idea what David and Abner had spoken about but when he heard that Abner was there, he chased him down, deceived him and killed him.

James said

For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

Notice finally that, even in victory,


2 Samuel 4:1–12 (KJV)

And when Saul’s son heard that Abner was dead in Hebron, his hands were feeble, and all the Israelites were troubled.

And Saul’s son had two men that were captains of bands: the name of the one was Baanah, and the name of the other Rechab, the sons of Rimmon a Beerothite, of the children of Benjamin: (for Beeroth also was reckoned to Benjamin:

And the Beerothites fled to Gittaim, and were sojourners there until this day.)

And Jonathan, Saul’s son, had a son that was lame of his feet. He was five years old when the tidings came of Saul and Jonathan out of Jezreel, and his nurse took him up, and fled: and it came to pass, as she made haste to flee, that he fell, and became lame. And his name was Mephibosheth.

And the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, Rechab and Baanah, went, and came about the heat of the day to the house of Ishbosheth, who lay on a bed at noon.

And they came thither into the midst of the house, as though they would have fetched wheat; and they smote him under the fifth rib: and Rechab and Baanah his brother escaped.

For when they came into the house, he lay on his bed in his bedchamber, and they smote him, and slew him, and beheaded him, and took his head, and gat them away through the plain all night.

And they brought the head of Ishbosheth unto David to Hebron, and said to the king, Behold the head of Ishbosheth the son of Saul thine enemy, which sought thy life; and the LORD hath avenged my lord the king this day of Saul, and of his seed.

And David answered Rechab and Baanah his brother, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, and said unto them, As the LORD liveth, who hath redeemed my soul out of all adversity,

When one told me, saying, Behold, Saul is dead, thinking to have brought good tidings, I took hold of him, and slew him in Ziklag, who thought that I would have given him a reward for his tidings:

How much more, when wicked men have slain a righteous person in his own house upon his bed? shall I not therefore now require his blood of your hand, and take you away from the earth?

And David commanded his young men, and they slew them, and cut off their hands and their feet, and hanged them up over the pool in Hebron. But they took the head of Ishbosheth, and buried it in the sepulchre of Abner in Hebron.

You ever hear what happened to Jefferson Davis after the South surrendered?

He tried to sneak out of Virginia dressed as a woman and with the South’s small treasury of about $500,000.

Davis was caught in Georgia, but no one really knows what happened to the money he was transporting.

The man had no business trying to lead a government.

I think the same is true in our biblical account.

Ishbosheth had no business being a king.

· His father and his family had been rejected by God from the throne.

· His brother Jonathon understood that and had covenanted to follow David

· He wasn’t in the battle where Jonathan and Saul were killed and maybe he should have been there

· He only became king because Abner set him up there

· He probably didn’t have the manly fortitude to tell Abner, “No.”

When Abner died, even though Ishbosheth was still alive, Israel had no real leader and he was soon assassinated.

Cowardly men took advantage of the times and, thinking to do David a pleasure, killed Ishbosheth and brought his head to David.

Instead of receiving a reward David had them executed and had Ishbosheth buried with Abner.

Notice that David called Ishbosheth a righteous man.

· They disagreed

· They fought

But David did not despise or hate him.


· David did not destroy Israel though he defeated them

· David listened to Abner though he had not sided with him and

· David valued honor though could have gained him the kingdom

The reason was that David saw two things as more important than himself:

· The glory and will of God and

· The unity of God’s people

That is a man after God’s own heart.

[1]2 Samuel 2:11 (KJV)

And the time that David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months.

[2]2 Samuel 5:5 (KJV)

In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months: and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty and three years over all Israel and Judah.

[3]The ten tribes versus the two tribes willing to submit to David.

[4]Galatians 2:11 (KJV)

But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.



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Marvin McKenzie

Marvin McKenzie


Pastor, self published Amazon Author, avid student of the Bible. teacher of the Word of God in college level . Daily visit with God