They brought the head of Ish-bosheth to David at Hebron and said to the king, "Here is the head of Ish-bosheth son of Saul, your enemy who sought your life. Today the LORD has granted vengeance to my lord the king against Saul and his offspring."
2 Samuel 4:5-8. - (MAHANAIM.)
1. What useful purpose can the record of the atrocious deeds of such men serve? To throw light upon the condition of the age in which they occurred. To confirm inspired testimony concerning human depravity (Psalm 14.). To exhibit the tendency of the evil principles and passions by which these men were actuated, and incite hatred and abhorrence of them. To show that the wickedness of the wicked is subject to restraint and returns upon their own heads in significant punishment. To make us grateful for our preservation from crime and from calamity; thankful for the improved condition of society, and zealous for its farther advancement.
2. The crime of the two brothers, Baanah and Rechab, which has given them an infamous immortality, was not an ordinary murder. What their former course had been, and whether they were influenced by any other motive besides the love of gain, we know not. But in taking away the life of the head of their tribe, the ruler under whom they held their position, and in their subsequent conduct, they acted disloyally, ungratefully, deceitfully, basely. Notice their -
I. DELIBERATE TREASON. Having lost the feeling of reverence and obligation, they marked the helplessness of Ishbosheth, and resolved to take advantage of it; consulted together as to the time and means of effecting their design; "went, and came about the heat of the day," etc. (ver. 5); "and behold, the woman who kept the door of the house winnowed wheat, and she slumbered and slept. And the brothers Rechab and Baanah got through unobserved," etc. (LXX.).
1. In proportion to the duty of men to do good to others is their guilt in doing them evil.
2. Premeditated sin greatly aggravates its guilt.
3. Those whose hearts are set on crime are lured on by circumstances to its commission.
II. HEARTLESS CRUELTY. "He lay on his bed in his bed chamber," taking his midday siesta, "and they smote him" etc. (ver. 7). Men of violence, with more than the ordinary fierceness of their tribe, they "murdered sleep, the innocent sleep," without pity and without compunction, being "past feeling;" escaped with their ghastly trophy; and "gat them away through the plain [of the Jordan] all night" to Hebron (a distance of sixty miles), knowing not that they were swiftly pursued by nemesis with unerring aim, and hurrying to their doom (Acts 28:4).
III. HYPOCRITICAL MEANNESS. "Behold the head of Ishbosheth thine enemy," etc. (ver. 8). In order to gain the favour of David they hesitated not to blacken the character of their former master by attributing to him feelings of personal revenge; called him their lord the king; and represented their crime as an act of judgment performed by them under the sanction of Jehovah. How often do ungodly men profanely and hypocritically use the name of God when it suits their purpose; and even paint their shameful villainies as praiseworthy virtues! "Hypocrisy is the homage which vice pays to virtue."
IV. MERCENARY SELFISHNESS. Like the Amalekite (2 Samuel 1:2), they sought, not David's welfare, but their own interest (ver. 10). Hence "their feet were swift to shed blood" (Isaiah 59:7; Romans 3:9-18), and "their mouth was fall of deceit" (Psalm 10:3-10). "Cursed be he that taketh reward to slay an innocent person" (Deuteronomy 27:26). For thirty pieces of silver Judas betrayed the Lord.
V. SELF-BLINDED MISJUDGMENT. They were probably acquainted with the manner in which Abner had been treated (2 Samuel 3:20) and with the impunity of his murderer; and not unnaturally supposed that whatever promoted the interests of David would be pleasing to him. The nature of the wicked is ever to measure others by themselves. Their ruling motive gives its colouring to their views of everything, and leads them to attribute to the same motive actions which are due to one entirely different. Their delusion is sometimes suddenly dispelled, and they fall into the pit which they have digged (Psalm 7:15; Psalm 37:15). "Hell is truth discovered too late."
VI. JUSTLY DESERVED DOOM. (Ver. 12.) "David acted with strict justice in this case also, not only to prove to the people that he had neither commanded nor approved the murder, but from heartfelt abhorrence of such crimes and to keep his conscience void of offence toward God and toward man" (Keil). "Indeed, in a war of five years' continuance, which followed upon Saul's death, David never lifted up his sword against a subject; and at the end of it he punished no rebel; he remembered no offence but the murder of his rival." "Though Mephibosheth (the next avenger of blood) was lame and could not overtake them, yet God's justice followed and punished them when they little expected" (Wordsworth). - D.
And the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, Rechab, and Baanah.I. THE MOTIVES that induced those two traitors to murder Ishbosheth were:
1. Abner's death had disabled him for any royal duty.
2. All the tribes were in a confusion to hear their peacemaker was slain; hereupon they now doubted of obtaining David's favour.
3. None of Saul's house (beside concubine sons incapable of the crown) were alive to revenge Ishbosheth's murder, save only Mephibosheth.
4. These two traitors, therefore, thought that by their removing useless Ishbosheth out of David's way the Crown of the whole kingdom must needs come to him without any contradiction.
II. WHAT RECEPTION THESE TWO TRAITORS FOUND WITH DAVID WHEN THEY PRESENTED ISHBOSHETH'S HEAD TO HIM.
1. David abhors the villany, and resolves with an oath to execute the villains.
2. Hereupon David justly commanded their execution, and cut off their hands that had done the deed, and their feet that carried them away with this present.
(A. F. Kirkpatrick, M. A.)
PeopleAbner, Baanah, Beerothites, Benjamin, David, Ishbosheth, Israelites, Jezreel, Jonathan, Mephibosheth, Rechab, Saul
PlacesArabah, Beeroth, Gittaim, Hebron, Jezreel, Ziklag
TopicsAvenged, Behold, Bring, David, Descendants, Enemy, Hater, Hebron, Ishbosheth, Ish-bosheth, Ish-bo'sheth, Offspring, Payment, Saul, Seed, Sought, Thus, Tried, Vengeance, Wrongs
Outline1. The Israelites being troubled at the death of Abner
2. Baanah and Rechab slay Ish-Bosheth, and bring his head to Hebron
9. David causes them to be slain, and Ish-Bosheth's head to be buried.
Dictionary of Bible Themes2 Samuel 4:1-8
Alike from the literary and the historical point of view, the book of Samuel stands midway between the book of Judges and the book of Kings. As we have already seen, the Deuteronomic book of Judges in all probability ran into Samuel and ended in ch. xii.; while the story of David, begun in Samuel, embraces the first two chapters of the first book of Kings. The book of Samuel is not very happily named, as much of it is devoted to Saul and the greater part to David; yet it is not altogether inappropriate, …
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament
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