BIG WORD: 2 Samuel 1–4
Posted by Tanya Dennis
We are in our third season of Big Word. Last night we had a great turnout. I am so very excited to study the book of 2 Samuel with the ladies who came AND with you!
If you’re new to our online Bible study, jump over to the Big Word page. There you’ll find everything you need, available as a free .pdf download. We’ve just started, so you’re right on time.
Israel’s Civil War
At the end of 1 Samuel, King Saul and his sons die in battle. That is, all but one son: Ishbosheth. I don’t know why he wasn’t in battle with the others, but he wasn’t. Abner, Saul’s commander, crowns Ishbosheth king over Israel and its many territories, but the men of Judah crown David king over Judah. And so the kingdom divides into civil war.
The civil war lasts about two years, during which time the key players engage in some interesting drama.
Most of the questions from the homework can be answered directly from Scripture. Answer to some, however, are important and not immediately obvious. One of those is the issue of Ishbosheth’s accusation of Abner.
Abner had continued to gain power within the palace and the Israelite kingdom (3:6). Based on rumors or perhaps paranoia, Ishbosheth accuses Abner of sleeping with Rizpah, one of Saul’s concubines. Abner doesn’t deny it, but he does get very upset. The accusation is serious because of its symbolism. To sleep with the king’s woman is to usurp the throne. Now, Saul was dead, so it might seem like an innocuous tryst. However, upon a king’s death, all of his women — wives and concubines — would be taken off the market. They might be given to the next reigning king, depending on the circumstances, but they were never just up for grabs. And, if Abner did sleep with Rizpah, he was grabbing at something, namely the throne.
Appalled at the accusation, Abner then defects to David’s side, taking most of Israel’s leaders with him.
In these chapters we also see an interesting play with Michal, Saul’s daughter and David’s first wife. We’ll dive more into her story in the next set of homework.
One last question: 4:4 offers an odd little interruption and the introduction of Mephibosheth. The purpose of this verse will be revealed in chapter 9. For now, just know that this is important. It shows that Saul does still have at least one descendant through the line of Jonathan. Being in the royal line would make Mephibosheth heir to the throne, but now being crippled, he’s not a viable option for the monarchy.
One pattern is clear with David: he inquires of the Lord and then he acts. He does this again and again and it leads to blessing.
In two weeks we’ll cover chapters 5–10. Click here to download the homework..
Your turn: What observations did you make from these chapters? What do these events say about the character of those involved?