Poor Ish-Bosheth. Recall that he had been taken and made king, and now the guy who put him there is dead. His power, means and direction was gone – the ESV translates his hands were feeble like this: his courage failed. He believes that he doesn’t have control of the situation and that Israel’s rebellion against God’s anointed king, David, will probably end in severe punishment – especially for him. He believes that he will be looked upon as the usurper to the throne. There’s no doubt in Ish-Bosheth’s mind (nor the minds of all the rest of Israel) that David has the ability to launch a full scale assault to take the throne. Everyone in Israel seems to be well aware that David’s the one who’s been anointed to rule for many years, and now he has the manpower to get the job done:
These were the men who came to David at Ziklag, while he was banished from the presence of Saul son of Kish (they were among the warriors who helped him in battle; 2 they were armed with bows and were able to shoot arrows or to sling stones right-handed or left-handed; they were relatives of Saul from the tribe of Benjamin)1st Chronicles 12:1-2 niv 2011
Israel has been defecting into David’s ranks left and right. The first troops were the Benjamites – Saul’s own kinsmen – and they joined David while he was still in Ziklag. They came ready for war – not to prepare. They came ready to do battle for the kingdom of David. There was some resolve here.
Next came the Gadites. King James reports it like this:
8 And of the Gadites there separated themselves unto David…. 1st Chronicles 12:8a kjv
The Gadites “separated themselves” from their fellowship, and from their leader (Saul). They were also resolved and steadfast in what they believed:
14 These Gadites were army commanders; the least was a match for a hundred, and the greatest for a thousand. 15 It was they who crossed the Jordan in the first month when it was overflowing all its banks, and they put to flight everyone living in the valleys, to the east and to the west. 1st Chronicles 12:14-15 niv 2011
They were determined to stand with David in his exile, but before they could even join with him they had colossal obstacles to overcome. First of all, they had to engage Saul’s men on the east side of the Jordan. They very soon had victory there, and then they crossed the Jordan – which was at flood stage. And, while trying to cross raging flood waters, they simultaneously fought Saul’s forces in Benjamin and northern Judah. After these harrowing works, they made it into the wilderness stronghold where David was holed up.
And the list of defectors, their bravery and heroics goes on and on in 1st Chronicles 12. David’s army grew to be a great army, like the army of God 1st Chronicles 12:22 niv 1984 and warriors from every tribe joined him:
38 All these were fighting men who volunteered to serve in the ranks. They came to Hebron fully determined to make David king over all Israel. All the rest of the Israelites were also of one mind to make David king. 39 The men spent three days there with David, eating and drinking, for their families had supplied provisions for them. 40 Also, their neighbors from as far away as Issachar, Zebulun and Naphtali came bringing food on donkeys, camels, mules and oxen. There were plentiful supplies of flour, fig cakes, raisin cakes, wine, olive oil, cattle and sheep, for there was joy in Israel. 1st Chronicles 12:38-40 niv 2011
As regards the 12th chapter of 1st Chronicles, William McDonald writes:
Today the kingdom of God needs men and women who are equipped by God (v. 2), trained and swift (v.8), strong in faith, able to prevail against overwhelming odds and put the enemy to flight (vv. 14, 15), full of the Spirit, and selflessly dedicated to Jesus (v. 32)—people who have an undivided heart (v. 33)!
—William McDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary
These Israelites who’ve now joined David at Hebron have unswerving conviction to submit to this anointed king – and there was joy in Israel because of it.
Please note Revelation chapter 7: 9 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.
They’ve come from every tribe, and there’s a celebration going on here. What are they celebrating?
10 And they cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”
11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying:
Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honor
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.
These in the white robes, along with the elders and angels are proclaiming wisdom, thanks and honor, power and strength to the One on the Throne. They are celebrating His acknowledgment.
13 Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?”
14 I answered, “Sir, you know.”
And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Having Saul on the throne, and then Ish-Bosheth/ Abner created tumultuous times for the Israelites. They are ready to be done with their tribulations and serve the king who’s been anointed by God.
“they are before the throne of God
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne
will shelter them with his presence.
16 ‘Never again will they hunger;
never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down on them,’
nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne
will be their shepherd;
‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’
‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’” Revelation 7:9-17 niv 2011
There will be great joy in heaven when Christ Jesus and His Kingship are finally recognized on this earth.
Before Saul died, the Israelites were beginning to recognize David as the chosen and anointed king of Israel. As time went on, warriors from every tribe joined David, determined to establish his throne, and there was joy in Israel – just as there will be great joy in heaven when our Lord is finally recognized for who He is.
These warriors who’d jumped ship to join David have an undivided heart – they were of a single mind to make David king.
And apparently Ish-Bosheth knows nothing of (or doesn’t believe) David’s oath to Saul that he would not cut off Saul’s descendants. So we can understand why Ish-Bosheth is so depressed he goes to bed in the middle of the day, where men with murderous intentions find him and behead him. (See 2nd Samuel 4)
Ish-Bosheth’s worries, as well as the worries of the rest of Israel (or whoever was still with Ish-Bosheth), were unrealistic – as David proves when he has Ish-Bosheth’s assassins put to death. We see a glimmer of righteousness beginning to emerge in David as he does to the assassins what he could not do to Joab.
Please come back next week for A Kingdom Established – Part 2 in our series: The Lion of Judah.
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© 2018, Ta`Mara Hanscom