With the death of Saul, the way is opened for David to be King. But how should he proceed? How do you effect the coronation?
Not very smoothly it would seem. These chapters detail a ‘rise to power’ story worthy of a modern dictator. You would think God would smooth the way for David, and perhaps He does. Perhaps the road to monarchy would have been rougher, but it is difficult to see how.
Like the conquest of Canaan, David’s rise to power is slow. It involves a seven year civil war between David’s forces, led by his nephew Joab, and and those of Ish-Bosheth, Saul’s son. Ish-Bosheth’s forces were led by Abner, Saul’s cousin. Both Abner and Joab were cold, calculating warriors, though Joab likely more so.
What you are going to see in these chapters is a bloody and convoluted struggle for power. Through it all though, David maintains a balance to life. Saul has been his enemy, but he mourns the loss of God’s anointed and executes the one who claims to have killed him. He rewards those who give Saul a decent burial. He will mourn the murder of Abner and give him a hero’s funeral. He will execute Ish-Bosheth’s assassins.
On the one hand, it would seem David is wholly unappreciative of the loyalty given him by his subjects. But on the other, David knows that it is wrong to do a wrong thing – even if the cause is just. It is a message we all need to remember, but unfortunately, one David himself will forget.