Human interactions from David illustrate there is a time to drive events (i.e., make things happen) and a time to wait and respond to events driven by others. God often drives events through people. At times, he may want a person to initiate an event and provide leadership; whereas at other times he wants the person to wait and respond to events initiated by others. David provides examples based on interactions during a period of approximately seven years from the death of Saul through confirmation of David as king of Israel. He initiated a few events and provided leadership to accomplish the objectives. However, he mostly waited patiently to respond to events initiated by others. In every case, his response demonstrates leadership based on unwavering commitment to what is right and just. The events culminated in his confirmation as king of all Israel.
David was confirmed king of Israel approximately seven years after the death of Saul. His interactions during the period illustrate an important choice: should a person drive events (i.e., make things happen) or wait and respond to events as they occur (i.e., wait for others to initiate the events)? Every person will likely face such a choice while waiting for God’s intervention: do you drive events or wait and respond to events driven by others? The choice depends on communication with God. He may want a person to initiate certain events and lead others through. Alternatively, he may want the person to wait and respond to events initiated by others. A person guided by right and just will recognize God’s command to initiate events and provide leadership, in contrast with attempts by the Devil to mislead; because God will not command an action that violates right-and-just mandate. Also, such a person will recognize when and how to respond to events initiated by others.
David provides several examples through his interactions during the seven-year period after the death of Saul as he waited to be confirmed king of Israel. He initiated a few events and provided leadership to accomplish the objectives. However, majority of the events he encountered during the period were initiated by others. David waited patiently as the events occurred and responded in a way that demonstrates his leadership based on unwavering commitment to doing what is right and just.
Although some of the events were tragic and potentially could have increased disunity among the people, David used the events to unify Israel under him because his response in each case demonstrated commitment to what is right and just. We discuss the events to identify those he initiated and led and those he joined and provided leadership after others initiated the events. Also, we highlight how his response demonstrates commitment to right and just.
King of Judah
RELOCATION TO HEBRON David sought and received God’s guidance to relocate to Hebron with his followers, after sojourn in Ziklag within Philistine territory. Sometime after Saul’s death, David likely felt the time was right to return to Israel. Therefore, he sought God’s guidance [2 Samuel 2:1]: “It happened after this that David inquired of the Lord, saying, ‘Shall I go up to any of the cities of Judah?’” Therefore, David initiated the events and led his followers to settle in Hebron and neighboring towns.
KING OVER JUDAH The people of Judah assembled in Hebron and made David king over Judah. There may have been some hesitation among other people of Israel regarding whether David should be king. However, the people of Judah agreed among themselves and decided to move ahead of the rest of Israel. They made David king and he accepted.
OVERTURE TO JABESH GILEAD After David was made king over Judah, he initiated and led an overture to the people of Jabesh Gilead. He likely perceived an opportunity to reach out to the people because they had given Saul an honorable burial after his demise at the hand of Philistines. Therefore, he sent them a message that included appreciation for the honor they bestowed on Saul and unmistakable intimation that it was time for them to consider supporting him to become king of Israel: “Now then, be strong and brave, for Saul your master is dead, and the people of Judah have anointed me king over them” [2 Samuel 2:7].
Civil War Among People of Israel
After David was made king of Judah; Abner, the commander of Israel’s army under Saul, declared Ish-Bosheth king and launched a military attack against David [2 Samuel 2:8–9]: “Meanwhile, Abner son of Ner, the commander of Saul’s army, had taken Ish-Bosheth son of Saul and brought him over to Mahanaim. He made him king over Gilead, Ashuri and Jezreel, and also over Ephraim, Benjamin and all Israel.”
David sent his troops to defend Judah against the attack. His men defeated the Israeli army under Abner, and pursued them until Abner called for peace [2 Samuel 2:26]: “Abner called out to Joab, ‘Must the sword devour forever? Don’t you realize that this will end in bitterness? How long before you order your men to stop pursuing their fellow Israelites?’” In response, David’s commander, Joab, called for an end to the hostilities. Therefore, the war ended with a peace settlement that has lasted till the present day.
UNIFICATION TALKS Having failed in the attack, Abner initiated negotiation to unify Israel under David. The unification talks appeared heading for success after Abner led a delegation of twenty men to meet with David [2 Samuel 3:21]: “Then Abner said to David, ‘Let me go at once and assemble all Israel for my lord the king, so that they may make a covenant with you, and that you may rule over all that your heart desires.’ So David sent Abner away, and he went in peace.”
DEATH OF ABNER However, Joab, the commander of David’s army, was not happy with the apparent success of negotiations led by Abner. Therefore, he lured Abner into a private discussion and murdered him in cold blood. David condemned Joab vehemently for the murder and placed a curse on him [2 Samuel 3:29]: “May his blood fall on the head of Joab and on his whole family! May Joab’s family never be without someone who has a running sore or leprosy or who leans on a crutch or who falls by the sword or who lacks food.”
Furthermore, he honored Abner with burial in Hebron, one-day fast, published lament, and public recognition as commander and great man. All Israel was pleased with David’s response and recognized he did not have any blame for the murder: “So on that day all the people there and all Israel knew that the king had no part in the murder of Abner son of Ner” [2 Samuel 3:37].
DEATH OF ISH-BOSHET Two men murdered Ish-Bosheth, who had been king of Israel by Abner’s appointment. They brought his head to David, expecting reward. Instead, David rebuked them and ordered them killed [2 Samuel 4:11]: “How much more—when wicked men have killed an innocent man in his own house and on his own bed—should I not now demand his blood from your hand and rid the earth of you!” Furthermore, he honored Ish-Bosheth with burial in Abner’s tomb at Hebron.
King of Israel
After David waited patiently for approximately seven years and through the events discussed previously herein, representatives of Israel met with David in Hebron and made him king over all Israel. They recognized him as the one that led Israel on their military campaigns when Saul was king.
As we discuss in a previous study under Growing Reputation and Pains for David; while in his former position as high-ranking officer and commander in Saul’s army, David demonstrated leadership and grew his reputation as potential future king of Israel. Representatives of Israel at the Hebron meeting appreciated him for his performance then and cited his service in Saul’s army as evidence of his qualification to be king [2 Samuel 5:2]: “In the past, while Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel on their military campaigns. And the Lord said to you, ‘You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will become their ruler.’”
David made covenant with them and became king of unified Israel, including Judah.
Summary of What We Learned
We discuss interactions during the life of David to recognize there is a time to drive events (i.e., make things happen) and a time to wait and respond to events driven by others. God often drives events through people. He may want a person to initiate an event and provide leadership; whereas at other times he wants the person to wait and respond to events initiated by others. David provides examples based on interactions during a period of approximately seven years from the death of Saul through confirmation of David as king of Israel.
He initiated a few events and provided leadership to accomplish the objectives. However, he mostly waited patiently to respond to events initiated by others. In every case, his response demonstrates leadership based on unwavering commitment to what is right and just. The events culminated in his confirmation as king of all Israel, approximately seven years after the death of Saul.
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