Today’s reading: 1 Sam 27-31, 2 Sam 1-5, Ps 41-42
Today’s reading includes an important historical event–the first mention of a separation of Israel and Judah, which occurs around the year 1000 BCE. Shortly after Saul’s death, we learn that David moves to Hebron, where he is immediately embraced as the new king by all the clans of Judah. Remember that Samuel had previously anointed David as the one God has chosen to rule over all of Israel. It quickly becomes apparent, though, that his rule will not be accomplished without a power struggle.
No sooner has David been hailed as king in Judah than Abner rushes to implement his own plans. As the commander of Saul’s army, he takes it upon himself to install Saul’s son Ish-bosheth as king of Israel. What follows is a bloody civil war “between the house of Saul and the house of David that dragged on and on” (2 Samuel 3:1–The Message). It’s a confrontation that includes deception, scheming, cold-blooded revenge, and plenty of other examples of boys behaving badly.
David’s behavior stands out in stark contrast. He publicly mourns the death of Saul, in spite of how badly Saul had treated him. He honors the dead, even his enemies. He is insistent on fair rules of engagement in war and on pursuing justice, even for those who seek to harm him. In today’s reading, we see examples of leadership traits that will serve him well as king.
We end the day with the news that the kingdom is reunited. After a seven-year struggle, David, who we first met as the handsome but unassuming shepherd boy, is now king over all Israel.