Useful Bible Studies > 2 Samuel Commentary > chapter 4

The death of Ish-Bosheth

2 Samuel 4:1-6

Ish-Bosheth the son of Saul, was king over central and northern Israel. He was the only member of Saul’s family still alive whom people considered suitable to be king. (Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son and Saul’s grandson, suffered a severe injury on the day when Saul died. He was still only a boy, and he was unable to walk.)

When Abner died, he was trying to make an agreement to bring the whole of Israel under David’s rule. Abner’s sudden death worried Israel’s people greatly. The people did not know what would happen.

Abner had been the leader of Ish-Bosheth’s army. Two brothers, Baanah and Recab, led smaller groups in that army. They were men with strong ambitions. However, they did not want to take Abner’s job and to lead Ish-Bosheth’s army. They could see that David was constantly becoming more powerful. Soon David would rule the whole of Israel, and they did not want to fight against him. So, they decided to join David’s side. They made a plan which, in their opinion, would make it possible for them to have important jobs in David’s army.

Ish-Bosheth used to sleep during the hottest part of the day. As important members of the army, Baanah and Recab were able to enter the private rooms of his palace. They pretended that they were just getting some food. However, they actually entered the room where Ish-Bosheth was sleeping. They acted silently and quickly; he never woke. They killed him; and then they cut off his head, which they took with them. They wanted to prove to David what they had done. They were proud of what they had achieved; they considered that they had acted bravely.

Next part: David punishes Recab and Baanah (2 Samuel 4:7-12)


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