2 Samuel 3:1 through 4:12

Daybreak for Students

2 Samuel 3:1 through 4:12

2 Samuel 3
2 Samuel 4
And all the people took notice of it, and it pleased them: as whatsoever the king did pleased all the people. — 2 Samuel 3:36

The little girl clumsily descended the stairs, one hand clutching the stair rail and a purse, the other struggling to keep her skirt out of the way of the high-heeled shoes which threatened to fall off at every step. Her hat kept falling down over one eye, making it even more difficult to safely negotiate the final steps. She may have presented a comical sight to an onlooker, but she was very serious in what she was doing — she was being a “beautiful lady,” just like her mother, grandmother, or some other feminine influence in her life.

A young boy brought his toy toolbox into the kitchen, where his father was stretched out full-length with his head under the kitchen sink. Pretty soon there were two pairs of legs protruding across the kitchen floor as the little one manfully tried to “help” his father repair the clogged drain.

In both of these cases, the motivation for the child’s actions was a desire to be like someone else. Children learn from the people around them — how to walk, how to talk, how to treat others, and how to love and serve God. In today’s passage, David was presented with several challenges where his godly attitude became very apparent. He was leaning heavily on God for strength and guidance, and this showed in his interaction with the people. In his humility and sensitivity to the will of God, he provided an example that pleased the people and caused them to desire to follow him.

Each time he was presented with a difficult situation, David sought God and responded according to His directions. When Joab and Abishai killed Abner, David made a public display of his sorrow, and honored Abner by leading the people in mourning at his burial. David also instructed the brothers to take part in this public ceremony. When Abner’s captains took matters into their own hands, and thinking to gain favor in David’s eyes, killed Ishbosheth, David’s response was quick and sure. He reminded them of what had happened to the messenger who attempted to gain favor by pretending to have killed God’s anointed (Saul), and dealt with them in the same manner. He took no delight in the death of Ishbosheth, and mourned for him and treated his body with respect.

David was willing to let God place him on the throne in His own time and in His own way, and his attitude before the people reflected this. He was looking to God in every aspect of his life by maintaining a close relationship, and being sensitive to His guidance.

People are watching us every day. What do they see? Are we living and reacting in ways that will make us the kind of role models that will be pleasing before God and man? When we face difficult situations, we want to have a godly reaction, like David did, so that others will know we have spent time with God, and He will be glorified by our lives.


In the time since Samuel had anointed David king, he had spent many years as a fugitive from King Saul. However, rather than becoming bitter or hard through this experience, he had used that time to grow stronger in his relationship with God.

Upon hearing of Saul’s death, David inquired of the Lord for guidance, rather than immediately seizing control of the throne. Following God’s instruction, he moved to Hebron, and the “men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah” (2 Samuel 2:4). His first recorded act as king was to show kindness to the men of Jabesh-gilead, who had buried Saul and his sons.

Even though David had been anointed king by Judah, there were many who did not want to follow him. Civil war ensued, and it was over seven years before David was finally crowned king over all of Israel.

Under Abner’s direction, the rest of Israel made Saul’s son Ishbosheth king. Ishbosheth reigned for two years. Quite possibly, Abner, who was Saul’s nephew as well as his military commander, saw in Ishbosheth an opportunity for personal gain and also to maintain control of the country. This thought is borne out in 2 Samuel 2:14, when Abner proposed that twelve young men from each side should fight. He planned to prove to the men of Benjamin that they were stronger than the men of Judah. Instead, all twenty-four of the young men were killed. This resulted in a severe battle that same day, and Abner and the men of Israel were defeated by David’s men.

The captain of David’s army was Joab, who was the son of David’s sister, Zeruiah. Joab had two brothers, Asahel and Abishai, who also served in David’s army. While the army of Israel was in retreat, Asahel pursued Abner and challenged him. Abner apparently did not wish to harm him, but Asahel was persistent. Finally, Abner struck Asahel with the butt of his spear, and Asahel died. Joab and Abishai eventually killed Abner because of Asahel’s death.

The sum of the entire situation was, “David waxed stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul waxed weaker and weaker” (2 Samuel 3:1). David, as God’s anointed one, was walking close to God and remembering to rely on Him for triumph over Ishbosheth and Abner, and his eventual kingship over the entire nation of Israel.


(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I.   The success of King David
     A.   His reign over Judah
           3.   David’s securement of his throne
                 c.   The extended civil war (3:1)
                 d.   The increase of David’s family (3:2-5)
                 e.   The defection of Abner from Ishbosheth (3:6-39)
                       (1)   The cause of the defection (3:6-11)
                       (2)   The negotiations for the defection (3:12-16)
                       (3)   The consultation after the defection (3:17-21)
                       (4)   The death of Abner by Joab (3:22-30)
                       (5)   The lament of David for Abner (3:31-39)
                 f.   The cessation of the revolt (4:1-12)
                       (1)   The capitulation of Ishbosheth (4:1-3)
                       (2)   The assassination of Ishbosheth (4:4-8)
                       (3)   The punishment of the assassins (4:9-12)


  1. List the names of David’s sons born while they were in Hebron. 

  2. What do you find in today’s reading that would cause you to believe that Ishbosheth was a “puppet king” and that Abner was the real leader of Israel? 

  3. What spiritual qualities in your life have been impacted by the example of others?


Are you listening closely for God’s voice to guide you in every aspect of your life? If you maintain a close relationship with Him, He will make you a person who is an example that will lead others to Christ.