September 5, 2023

God's plan for your life is better.

2 Samuel 2–3

Denise Kendrick
Tuesday's Devo

September 5, 2023

Tuesday's Devo

September 5, 2023

Big Idea

No one is immune to sin.

Key Verse | 2 Samuel 3:1

There was a long war between the house of Saul and the house of David. And David grew stronger and stronger, while the house of Saul became weaker and weaker.

2 Samuel 2–3

David Anointed King of Judah

After this David inquired of the LORD, “Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah?” And the LORD said to him, “Go up.” David said, “To which shall I go up?” And he said, “To Hebron.” So David went up there, and his two wives also, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel. And David brought up his men who were with him, everyone with his household, and they lived in the towns of Hebron. And the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah.

When they told David, “It was the men of Jabesh-gilead who buried Saul,” David sent messengers to the men of Jabesh-gilead and said to them, “May you be blessed by the LORD, because you showed this loyalty to Saul your lord and buried him. Now may the LORD show steadfast love and faithfulness to you. And I will do good to you because you have done this thing. Now therefore let your hands be strong, and be valiant, for Saul your lord is dead, and the house of Judah has anointed me king over them.”

Ish-bosheth Made King of Israel

But Abner the son of Ner, commander of Saul's army, took Ish-bosheth the son of Saul and brought him over to Mahanaim, and he made him king over Gilead and the Ashurites and Jezreel and Ephraim and Benjamin and all Israel. 10 Ish-bosheth, 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. 11 And the time that David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months.

The Battle of Gibeon

12 Abner the son of Ner, and the servants of Ish-bosheth the son of Saul, went out from Mahanaim to Gibeon. 13 And Joab the son of Zeruiah and the servants of David went out and met them at 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. 14 And Abner said to Joab, “Let the young men arise and compete before us.” And Joab said, “Let them arise.” 15 Then they arose and passed over by number, twelve for Benjamin and Ish-bosheth the son of Saul, and twelve of the servants of David. 16 And 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, 1 2:16 Helkath-hazzurim means the field of sword-edges which is at Gibeon. 17 And the battle was very fierce that day. And Abner and the men of Israel were beaten before the servants of David.

18 And the three sons of Zeruiah were there, Joab, Abishai, and Asahel. Now Asahel was as swift of foot as a wild gazelle. 19 And Asahel pursued Abner, and as he went, he turned neither to the right hand nor to the left from following Abner. 20 Then Abner looked behind him and said, “Is it you, Asahel?” And he answered, “It is I.” 21 Abner said to him, “Turn aside to your right hand or to your left, and seize one of the young men and take his spoil.” But Asahel would not turn aside from following him. 22 And Abner said again to Asahel, “Turn aside from following me. Why should I strike you to the ground? How then could I lift up my face to your brother Joab?” 23 But he refused to turn aside. Therefore Abner struck him in the stomach with the butt of his spear, so that the spear came out at his back. And he fell there and died where he was. And all who came to the place where Asahel had fallen and died, stood still.

24 But Joab and Abishai pursued Abner. And as the sun was going down they came to the hill of Ammah, which lies before Giah on the way to the wilderness of Gibeon. 25 And the people of Benjamin gathered themselves together behind Abner and became one group and took their stand on the top of a hill. 26 Then Abner called to Joab, “Shall the sword devour forever? Do you not know that the end will be bitter? How long will it be before you tell your people to turn from the pursuit of their brothers?” 27 And 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.” 28 So Joab blew the trumpet, and all the men stopped and pursued Israel no more, nor did they fight anymore.

29 And Abner and his men went all that night through the Arabah. They crossed the Jordan, and marching the whole morning, they came to Mahanaim. 30 Joab returned from the pursuit of Abner. And when he had gathered all the people together, there were missing from David's servants nineteen men besides Asahel. 31 But the servants of David had struck down of Benjamin 360 of Abner's men. 32 And they took up Asahel and buried him in the tomb of his father, which was at Bethlehem. And Joab and his men marched all night, and the day broke upon them at Hebron.

Abner Joins David

There was a long war between the house of Saul and the house of David. And David grew stronger and stronger, while the house of Saul became weaker and weaker.

And sons were born to David at Hebron: his firstborn was Amnon, of Ahinoam of Jezreel; and his second, Chileab, of Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel; 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.

While there was war between the house of Saul and the house of David, Abner was making himself strong in the house of Saul. Now Saul had a concubine whose name was Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah. And Ish-bosheth said to Abner, “Why have you gone in to my father's concubine?” Then Abner was very angry over the words of Ish-bosheth and said, “Am I a dog's head of Judah? To this day I keep showing steadfast love to the house of Saul your father, to his brothers, and to his friends, and have not given you into the hand of David. And yet you charge me today with a fault concerning a woman. God do so to Abner and more also, if I do not accomplish for David what the LORD has sworn to him, 10 to transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul and set up the throne of David over Israel and over Judah, from Dan to Beersheba.” 11 And Ish-bosheth could not answer Abner another word, because he feared him.

12 And Abner sent messengers to David on his behalf, 2 3:12 Or where he was; Septuagint at Hebron saying, “To whom does the land belong? Make your covenant with me, and behold, my hand shall be with you to bring over all Israel to you.” 13 And he said, “Good; I will make a covenant 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.” 14 Then David sent messengers to Ish-bosheth, Saul's son, saying, “Give me my wife Michal, for whom I paid the bridal price of a hundred foreskins of the Philistines.” 15 And Ish-bosheth sent and took her from her husband Paltiel the son of Laish. 16 But her husband went with her, weeping after her all the way to Bahurim. Then Abner said to him, “Go, return.” And he returned.

17 And Abner conferred with the elders of Israel, saying, “For some time past you have been seeking David as king over you. 18 Now then bring it about, for the LORD has promised David, saying, ‘By the hand of my servant David I will save my people Israel from the hand of the Philistines, and from the hand of all their enemies.’” 19 Abner also spoke to Benjamin. And then Abner went to tell David at Hebron all that Israel and the whole house of Benjamin thought good to do.

20 When Abner came with twenty men to David at Hebron, David made a feast for Abner and the men who were with him. 21 And 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 heart desires.” So David sent Abner away, and he went in peace.

22 Just then the servants of David arrived with Joab from a raid, bringing much spoil with them. But Abner was not with David at Hebron, for he had sent him away, and he had gone in peace. 23 When Joab and all the army that was with him came, it was told Joab, “Abner the son of Ner came to the king, and he has let him go, and he has gone in peace.” 24 Then Joab went to the king and said, “What have you done? Behold, Abner came to you. Why is it that you have sent him away, so that he is gone? 25 You know that Abner the son of Ner came to deceive you and to know your going out and your coming in, and to know all that you are doing.”

Joab Murders Abner

26 When Joab came out from David's presence, he sent messengers after Abner, and they brought him back from the cistern of Sirah. But David did not know about it. 27 And when Abner returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside into the midst of the gate to speak with him privately, and there he struck him in the stomach, so that he died, for the blood of Asahel his brother. 28 Afterward, when David heard of it, he said, “I and my kingdom are forever guiltless before the LORD for the blood of Abner the son of Ner. 29 May it fall upon the head of Joab and upon all his father's house, and may the house of Joab never be without one who has a discharge or who is leprous or who holds a spindle or who falls by the sword or who lacks bread!” 30 So Joab and Abishai his brother killed Abner, because he had put their brother Asahel to death in the battle at Gibeon.

David Mourns Abner

31 Then David said to Joab and to all the people who were with him, “Tear your clothes and put on sackcloth and mourn before Abner.” And King David followed the bier. 32 They buried Abner at Hebron. And the king lifted up his voice and wept at the grave of Abner, and all the people wept. 33 And the king lamented for Abner, saying,

“Should Abner die as a fool dies?
34  Your hands were not bound;
    your feet were not fettered;
as one falls before the wicked
    you have fallen.”

And all the people wept again over him. 35 Then 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 till the sun goes down!” 36 And all the people took notice of it, and it pleased them, as everything that the king did pleased all the people. 37 So all the people and all Israel understood that day that it had not been the king's will to put to death Abner the son of Ner. 38 And the king said to his servants, “Do you not know that a prince and a great man has fallen this day in Israel? 39 And I was gentle today, though anointed king. These men, the sons of Zeruiah, are more severe than I. The LORD repay the evildoer according to his wickedness!”


[1] 2:16 Helkath-hazzurim means the field of sword-edges
[2] 3:12 Or where he was; Septuagint at Hebron

S2:172 2 Samuel 2 - 3

Listen Now

Dive Deeper | 2 Samuel 2–3

I'm a "B-team" athlete, strong and persistent, but lacking in some pretty key skills like speed, agility, and accuracy. Throughout youth sports, coaches would put me in when our team was so far ahead that I couldn't do much damage, or so far behind it didn't make a difference anyway. I have many trophies from tournaments I spent riding the bench. Truthfully, the team's victories were not just not because of me, they were in spite of me. I share this because 2 Samuel is a story of victory in spite of.

Today's passage chronicles a feud between the houses of Saul and David, with the house of Saul attempting to block David's rise to power. Between the twists, turns, betrayal, and battles in this epic series of events, there's a more intimate, human story unfolding—the story of our problematic hero, David.

The biblical writers weren't gentle in their documentation of these events. We see David seek the Lord and show mercy to his enemies, but we also see his darker side. He seduces another man's wife, then sends that man to his death (2 Samuel 11:1–27). He refuses to punish his son Amnon for raping his sister (2 Samuel 13:1–39). He's a polygamist, which was accepted and even encouraged by the culture of the time, but at direct odds with God's commandment to kings (Deuteronomy 17:17) and God's plan for marriage (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:4-6). While I've not personally ordered anyone's demise or ruled a nation, I see a bit of myself in David—shining bright one moment, tangled in sin the next.

It's a relief to know my bungling B-team and sinful self can't derail God's plan. God's unstoppable, redemptive purposes are both carried out by and cannot be thwarted by people like David. And people like me.

This month's memory verse

16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

– Matthew 5:16

Discussion Questions

1. We saw God bless and use David despite his disobedience, but also saw David reap some serious consequences for his decisions. What consequences of sin have you personally experienced? How did these consequences impact your future decision-making or behavior?

2. Anger and bitterness drive much of the conflict in these chapters. Joab's anger-fueled actions ended up cursing his family for generations to come. How do you deal with and resolve anger when it wells up in your life?

3. What characteristics of God do you see in this passage?


Respond to Today's Passage

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Hugh Stephenson

Good morning, Denise, Love this from your devo. “It's a relief to know my bungling B-team and sinful self can't derail God's plan.” B.C., it’s hard to imagine that God was able to accomplish anything through me. I’m sure He did. I’ll just have to wait and see, I guess. Q1. What consequences? Probably the most severe business consequence is not being more deliberate and prayerful about business partners. Some real dumpster fires back there. Q2. B.C. I usual blew up like most/many. A.D., I’m thankful for the Holy Spirit that draws me more to investigate and seek to resolve. My batting average is not high; just higher than it was. Q3. Characteristics of God? The main one is that flawed people can’t derail His plan. Moreover, He often uses them as He did Pharaoh and Saul. Additionally, He doesn’t shield us from consequences of bad choices. David’s polygamy will come back to haunt him. As will Abner’s duplicity and dishonesty.

Hugh Stephenson

It’s interesting to think about David’s early years- followed by years on the run. All the while being discipled by God through men around David so that he would become fully equipped as a leader and the future King. The ESV SB notes offer this: “Now that Saul has been completely disqualified as king, David is introduced as his successor, and God trains David, through suffering, to lead his people.” The key phrase is this- “God trains David, through suffering, to lead his people”. Is there a way to learn valuable lessons other than through hardship trials and suffering? In my case…no. These are my takeaway verses on suffering- Isaiah 30:20-21, Romans 5:3-5, James 1:1-4, 1 Peter 5:10 a Why is suffering necessary? For me, it was the only way to get out of my own head and embrace the truth that I had no idea what I was doing. My suffering led to my surrender which led to my being “teachable”. I like this duality from Constable’s notes- “In 1 Samuel, we see that God's ultimate victory does not depend on people's attitudes toward Him. His people can be loyal or rebellious, but this will not affect His ultimate victory. In 2 Samuel, we learn that our ultimate victory in life depends on our attitude toward God. Conformity to the will of God creates fitness for service. Conformity to the will of God depends fundamentally on our attitude toward God.” There is a great theme of "fertility". Progeny, agriculturally, and spiritually. In His will we will be spiritually fertile and bear fruit?

Hugh Stephenson

A very interesting passage with three interesting characters. Note this observation from Constable and see if you can connect these types of people in our modern culture. Perhaps you can even name some. "There's a modern touch to this scenario, for our political and religious worlds are populated by these same three kinds of people. -We have weak people like Ish-Bosheth, who get where they are because they have 'connections.' -We have strong, selfish people like Abner, who know how to manipulate others for their own personal profit. 
 -We also have people of God like David who are called, anointed, and equipped but must wait for God's time before they can serve." ----------------------------- One of the most important leadership lessons I have learned, (the hard way), is to make the tough decisions rightly and asap. David seems to have not made a “right’ decision about Joab. He killed an Israelite in a sanctuary city. Not allowed. Regardless of the reason. The notes indicate this conveys a reluctance to make tough decisions regarding close friends or family members. This will show itself to be a big problem in a few more chapters. "A king who cannot deal with someone of strength is open to challenge, so this narrative actually prepares for the rebellions of Absalom (2 Sam. 15—19) and Sheba (2 Sam. 20). In both of these rebellions we also find Joab ignoring David's instructions to achieve his own goals (2 Sam. 18:9-15; 20:9-10). Joab is intensely loyal to David's reign, but his loyalty always has its own agenda. ... Only through Solomon, and after his own death, can David deal with Joab." Helpful links- On Joab killing Abner-

Michael Sisson

Re: 2Sam 2:8 2Sam 2:8 (NASB) But >>>Abner the son of Ner<<<, commander of Saul's army, had taken Ish-bosheth the son of Saul and brought him over to Mahanaim. There seems to be a slight debate over whether Abner was Saul’s cousin (1Sam 14:50) or Saul’s uncle. (1Chr 8:33) Ish-bosheth, Saul’s youngest and one remaining son, was forty at the time. (2Sam 2:10) Re: 2Sam 2.13 2Sam 2:13 (NASB) And >>>Joab the son of Zeruiah<<< and the servants of David went out and met them by the pool of Gibeon; and they sat down, one on the one side of the pool and the other on the other side of the pool. Joab is David’s nephew. (1Chr 2:13-16) Re: 2Sam 2:18 2Sam 2:18 (NASB) Now the three sons of >>>Zeruiah<<< were there, Joab and Abishai and Asahel; and Asahel was as swift-footed as one of the gazelles which is in the field. Zeruiah was David’s sister. (1Chr 2:13-16) Re: 2Sam 2:25 2Sam 2:25 (NASB) The sons of Benjamin gathered together behind Abner and became >>>one<<< band, and they stood on the top of a certain hill. “Echad” used to describe a compound unity of persons. (c.f. “echad” in Dt. 6:4)

Sue Bohlin

Super devo, Denise! Thank you! I appreciate Dr. Constable's wisdom in pointing out how the writer of 2 Samuel highlights, right at the start of chapter 2, both what made David great--his trust in Yahweh--and his Achilles' heel--his weakness for women. Later on in today's reading we see how he stacked up wives and started producing sons. violating the Lord's command to kings. It ain't gonna end well.

Greg Jones

Abner and Asahel Sometimes, it’s time to stop running. Sometimes, it’s time to put down the spear. Apparently when it came to Abner and Asahel mistakes were made on both sides. I like how scripture images the rest of the story. V23 He (Asahel) fell there and died on the spot. And- [every man stopped]- when -he came to the place where Asahel had fallen and died. V24 But-[Joab and Abishai] [pursued]- Abner, and as the sun was setting they came to the hill of Ammah. V25 Then-[the men of Benjamin] [rallied] -behind Abner. They formed themselves into a group and [took their stand] on top of a hill. V26 How long before you order your men to stop pursuing their fellow Israelites? (What? They all stopped back in v23 when they came to where Abishai fell) V27 Joab answered, “As surely as God lives, if you had not spoken, the men would have continued pursuing them until morning.” ( I picture Joab looking up at the high ground he and his men will have take, and turning around to look at his men before he addresses them…but seeing none. Then-Joab answered… Sometimes it’s time to stop running. Sometimes it’s time to put down the spear. Sometimes we learn “when” later than sooner. “I see a bit of myself in David—shining bright one moment, tangled in sin the next.” Love that. Me too.

Amy Lowther

1. Consequences of sin I have experienced include being tired (though I slept in (skipped service)) and a series of “not good” test taking tendencies (but the season finale/the awards show/ the game was phenomenal). Telling God I was sorry for doing these sins helped me learn God will go with me anywhere in everything I do so I do my best and produce the best results possible. 2. I step back from whatever situation it is and pray to God. I try to see things like God and do my best with what’s available. 3. There are characteristics of God in this passage. One, David sent his messengers to the men of Jabesh-gilead to be blessed by the Lord for their good efforts. Two, the negotiations of who would rule Israel after Saul passed showed the Lord’s spirit. Three, the death of Abner helped David consider who people really were and why things happened just like God.

Michael Scaman

David anointed. Ishbosheth anointed. Kingdoms in conflict. Oddly, Ithbosheth means 'man of shame and humility' His original name Eshbaal may be man who is lord pr even more insulting than the first name “man of Baal.” The struggle of David seeking God while others more violent may have ben the historical context for the first Psalm of Ascent Psalm 120 where he makes up his mind to worship god in the road songs to the temple "I was glad when they said let us go to the house of God" and "I am for peace but they are for war" ____ Easton's Bible Dictionary - Ish-bosheth Ish-bosheth [N] man of shame or humiliation, the youngest of Saul's four sons, and the only one who survived him ( 2 Samuel 24 -4). His name was originally Eshbaal ( 1 Chronicles 8:33 ; 9:39 ). He was about forty years of age when his father and three brothers fell at the battle of Gilboa.

Michael Scaman

One way David is a type of Christ is that in a sense he initially was really King but was accepted openly only by some and eventually more decisively. No one can really hold him truly to be King and call him Lord except by the power of the Holy Spirit. There will be false contenders until Jesus comes back.