And David sent messengers unto the men of Jabesh-gilead, and said unto them, Blessed be ye of the Lord, that ye have shewed this kindness unto your lord, even unto Saul, and have buried him. And now the Lord shew kindness and truth unto you: and I also will requite you this kindness, because ye have done this thing. — 2 Samuel 2:5-6
An anecdote about Abraham Lincoln reflects the principle illustrated by David’s example. One of Lincoln’s bitter political enemies was Edwin M. Stanton, a member of James Buchanan’s cabinet. Stanton was of a different political party and despised Lincoln, both politically and personally. When Lincoln was elected president, in spite of men like Stanton, he set about to form his own cabinet. When he needed to fill the post of Secretary of War, he chose none other than Edwin Stanton. The Civil War was raging and appointing a political enemy to control the War Department seemed to be a very unwise move. But Lincoln stood by Stanton’s appointment and, as historian James McPherson relates, Stanton “revised his politics and his opinion” of Lincoln after assuming his post. He served Lincoln’s administration, the War Department, and the country with “incorruptible efficiency.” At Lincoln’s death, it was Edwin Stanton who uttered the now-famous words, “Now he belongs to the ages.”
Another anecdote about Lincoln demonstrates this aspect of Lincoln’s character even more graphically. During the Civil War, Lincoln shocked a bystander by making a favorable remark about the South. After a woman expressed her reaction, Lincoln answered, “Madam, do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”
We are not really fighting human enemies, but enmity itself. By the power of God’s love we can defeat the hostility that the devil tries to put between us and others. Saul let enmity come between himself and David, but David would give the devil no such victory. If circumstances or people oppose us, especially in our relationship with God, we need to recognize our enemy’s real identity. Like David, we need to call on our truest Ally. God is ready to fight for us as He did for David, and only He can win all our battles.
This text demonstrates why David stood apart from other earthly kings and why God called him a man after His own heart. Saul had pursued David to kill him, but when Saul himself died, David mourned him bitterly. He did so, not because of what Saul did, but because of who he was by God’s calling: the King of Israel.
David also showed a godly character by praying to God for guidance. Rather than simply assuming his place as king in Saul’s absence, he asked God what to do. God told him to go to Judah, and when David asked which city, God told him to go to Hebron. This also shows something about David. The fact that David could discern God’s voice to such a precise degree reveals the closeness of his relationship with God. Since David’s instructions were of God, it is not surprising that they met with success; David was anointed king in Hebron.
One of his first acts as king was to praise the city of Jabesh-gilead for burying Saul and Jonathan. This was clearly no political move — David had secured the crown — but this once again demonstrates the complete absence of vengeance or malice in David’s heart. He then encouraged the people of Jabesh-gilead to continue as the people of God. David had a clear vision of what God’s mission was for Israel.
A rivalry soon appeared to David’s throne, however, when Abner anointed Saul’s son, Ishbosheth, to be king. Abner’s move may have seemed logical to him, but it was not according to God’s will. For a while, the majority of the people followed Ishbosheth, the man chosen by men’s wisdom, while comparatively few followed David, the man chosen by God. Tension between the two groups of followers grew until civil war broke out and it ended in the tragic death of Joab’s brother, Asahel. Nevertheless, Abner’s side in the battle had many more casualties than David’s side, and David’s strength grew while Ishbosheth’s strength weakened continually. In fact, it is noteworthy that Ishbosheth did not take the initiative to claim the crown, but was set up by a general, and Abner clearly appears to have been the real leader.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. The success of King David
A. His reign over Judah
2. David’s anointing as king (2:1-7)
3. David’s securement of his throne
a. The revolt of Abner against David (2:8-11)
b. The pursuit of Abner by Joab (2:12-32)
(1) Joab’s initial victory (2:12-17)
(2) Asahel’s death (2:18-23)
(3) Abner’s retreat to Mahanaim (2:24-29)
(4) Joab’s return (2:30-32)
Let God fight your battles. If you trust and follow Him as David did, He will give victory every time.