Today’s reading begins with David being anointed King of Judah and concludes with David ordering the execution of the murderers of Saul’s son Ish-bosheth.
The events of the reading for today for anyone familiar with the typical course of events of the changing of the guard in kingdoms from one family to another aren’t that surprising. The killing of the family formerly in power was an expectation. Leaders loyal to the former king are killed and those who are cunning do their best to win the favor of the new monarch.
In today’s reading we see some of these things:
1. Saul’s commander Abner turns his back on the entire family of Saul and attempts to win David’s favor.
2. David’s commander Joab kills Abner.
3. Saul’s son Ish-bosheth is murdered.
What’s surprising about the events covered in today’s reading are David’s reactions to some of these events. When Abner turns his back on Saul’s family, David’s commander Joab likely sees the hypocrisy of those actions and combined with the fact that during the struggle for the kingdom Abner killed Joab’s brother, Joab has Abner killed. David doesn’t express satisfaction in the death of Abner, rather he mourns his death. He had seen Abner’s loyalty to the king and admired him for that and felt that he deserved a more fitting end.
In the opening paragraphs of today’s reading, David is anointed King of Judah. Having come from the tribe of Judah, it wasn’t surprising that the people of Judah named him as their king. The remainder of Israel, however, was loyal to the family of Saul and named Saul’s son Ish-bosheth as their new king. Some of David’s soldiers thinking that they were doing a good deed for the new King of Judah decide to find Ish-bosheth and have him murdered. Even though David stood to benefit greatly from the death of Ish-bosheth in terms of uniting the Kingdom of Israel, this vigilante act greatly angered him and he ordered the execution of Ish-bosheth’s killers. Unusual responses to events that would normally be celebrated by a man seeking power.