Ishboseth is Murdered

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When Ishboseth heard that Abner was dead in Hebron he fell into complete despair. Instead of causing him to reassert his own authority over Israel it only increased his instability and brought a sense of panic to the nation (v. 1). Two Benjamite brothers, who were commanders in Ishbosheth’s army, decided to take advantage of the situation (vv. 2-3). They decided to assassinate the king so as to gain some recognition from David. The author then notes parenthetically that no other viable candidate for the throne could be found within the royal family (v. 4). The son of Jonathan was now only twelve. He had been crippled from childhood. He was unwilling or unable to press any claims to the throne. Although David knew that Ishboseth was a weak leader he had no intention of killing him. He understood that God was working behind the scenes to accomplish His own will with His people and He was quite willing to wait. God had promised the kingdom to David and he know that God would fulfill His promise.

Two of Ishbosheth’s captains saw that David was the true king in Israel and that unless they changed sides very soon they would be on the losing side. Therefore they conspired to kill their king and join David. They went to Ishbosheth’s house and slew him in his bed (vv. 5-6). They proceeded to behead him (v. 7) and carried his head to David at Hebron (v. 8), no doubt thinking he would be pleased.

David’s response to this deed was identical to his reaction when Amalikite told him about Saul’s death (vv. 9-10). He was angry and ordered the two men to be executed, their hands and feet to be cut off, and their bodies to be hanged publicly at the pool of Hebron (vv. 11-12).  He regarded their act as an unjustified assault on a defenseless man.


David was tempted to profit from someone elses cruel deed but refused. When I am so tempted, how do I react?

II Samuel 4:1-12 (English Standard Version)

When Ish-bosheth, Saul's son, heard that Abner had died at Hebron, his courage failed, and all Israel was dismayed. Now Saul's son had two men who were captains of raiding bands; the name of the one was Baanah, and the name of the other Rechab, sons of Rimmon a man of Benjamin from Beeroth (for Beeroth also is counted part of Benjamin; the Beerothites fled to Gittaim and have been sojourners there to this day). Jonathan, the son of Saul, had a son who was crippled in his feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel, and his nurse took him up and fled, and as she fled in her haste, he fell and became lame. And his name was Mephibosheth. Now the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, Rechab and Baanah, set out, and about the heat of the day they came to the house of Ish-bosheth as he was taking his noonday rest. And they came into the midst of the house as if to get wheat, and they stabbed him in the stomach. Then Rechab and Baanah his brother escaped. When they came into the house, as he lay on his bed in his bedroom, they struck him and put him to death and beheaded him. They took his head and went by the way of the Arabah all night, and brought the head of Ish-bosheth to David at Hebron. And they said to the king, "Here is the head of Ish-bosheth, the son of Saul, your enemy, who sought your life. The LORD has avenged my lord the king this day on Saul and on his offspring." But David answered Rechab and Baanah his brother, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, "As the LORD lives, who has redeemed my life out of every adversity, when one told me, 'Behold, Saul is dead,' and thought he was bringing good news, I seized him and killed him at Ziklag, which was the reward I gave him for his news. How much more, when wicked men have killed a righteous man in his own house on his bed, shall I not now require his blood at your hand and destroy you from the earth?" And David commanded his young men, and they killed them and cut off their hands and feet and hanged them beside the pool at Hebron. But they took the head of Ish-bosheth and buried it in the tomb of Abner at Hebron.

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