Summary: This section explains why the Israelites came & asked David to become their king & vindicates David of any involvement in the murder of his rival. These events also are a reminder that God is able to work His purposes both through deeds & misdeeds of peo
2 SAMUEL 4: 1-12, 5:1-5 [The Life of David]
WAITING FOR A THRONE
Chapter three closed with the funeral of Israel's strongest leader, chapter 4 gives the account of the death of Israel's puppet king, Ishbosheth. His death would remove the last remaining obstacle to David's reigning over all Israel. Chapter five begins with David's long awaited coronation over all of Israel. This section explains why the Israelites came and asked David to become their king (2 Sam. 5:1) and vindicates David of any involvement in the murder of his rival (CIT). These events also are a reminder that God is able to work His purposes both through the deeds and the misdeeds of people, in this case to bring David to the throne of Israel. [Chafin, Kenneth. The Preacher's Commentary Series, Vol 8 : 1, 2 Samuel. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1989, S. 239.]
I. CORRUPTION , 4:1-8.
II. CORRECTION , 4:9-12.
III. CORONATION, 5:1-5.
News about Abner's death did not encourage Ish-Bosheth to reassert his own authority over Israel; on the contrary, it only increased his instability and brought a sense of panic to the nation as we see in 4:1. "Now when Ish-bosheth, Saul's son, heard that Abner had died in Hebron, he lost courage, and all Israel was disturbed" [NASV].
Abner's control over Israel is understood by the effect his death had on the king and the people. Losing their only real leader robbed them of their courage and created a political vacuum. The king, Ish-Bosheth, had been put on the throne by Abner and functioned as his puppet. While he resented Abner's heavy-handedness, he was dependent upon him. The people looked to Abner for protection against their traditional enemies. While few thought that Ishbosheth could lead Israel, they were all aware that as long as he was king they couldn't approach David about being their king. The circumstances were ripe for intrigue and violence. [Chafin, S. 240.]
Ishbosheth's death is a story of betrayal and opportunism literally from within his own ranks as we learn in verse 2. "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..." [NASV]
Two brothers who felt their hour had come decide to take things into their own hands. Baanah and Recab were both captains of raiding parties [some say divisions] and were accustomed to making quick judgments and acting on them. It's possible that they sensed the mood of the people—the resentment of the fact that a weak and despondent king stood in the way of David's being their king—and decided to take things into their own hands. The more likely scenario is that they were opportunists. They knew that Ishbosheth was through and decided to act quickly in order to ingratiate themselves to David and possibly collect a reward. They felt no loyalty to anyone but themselves, so they set their sails to the prevailing winds to advance their own ship. We live in a society where more people make decisions on the basis of self-interest than out of deep convictions. As a result every structure of society is weakened. [Chafin, S. 240.]
Within this narrative is a reference (v. 4) to Jonathan's son, Mephibosheth [originally Merib-Baal,1 Chron. 8:34. The name change is similar to that of Esh-Baal to Ish-Bosheth, but here the change was from "Baal contends" to "from the mouth of shamefulness." Walvoord, John & Zuck, Roy. The Bible Knowledge Commentary. Wheaton, IL : Victor Books, 1983, S. 460] The death of Saul would mean there would be a new king. The custom of the day was that, when a new king ascended to power, everyone in the previous king's family would be killed. Therefore, hearing that Saul and Jonathan had died, Jonathan's son's nurse grabbed him and ran to protect him from what she knew would otherwise come his way.
His lameness occurred when his nurse, who was carrying the young five-year-old lad out of danger, dropped him and injured him. Mephibosheth reappears later in the story as one in special need of protection (2 Sam. 9). David will be merciful and invite him to eat at his table in Jerusalem. David exhibits the thought of Matthew 5: "Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy. & [Matthew 5:9] "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God." In contrast, the opportunistic assassins [Baanah and Recab] thought only of making a place for themselves in David's kingdom.
Sensing that Ish-Bosheth was powerless, the two Benjamite assassins—Baanah and Recab gained access to Ish-Bosheth's house at Mahanaim at midday and murder him in his bed in verse 6. "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."