What Do You Expect? (II Samuel 2:1-11)
Topic: II Samuel Passage: 2 Samuel 2:1–2:11
Crying for a King
What Do You Expect?
II Samuel 2:1-11
May 5th, 2013
(One Mission: Through Many Tribulations)
I. If Your Dream Came True
Do you have dreams? Goals? Objectives that you are striving toward?
Think about this for a minute: what if those goals were realized tomorrow? Think about it. What if you were able to pay off that credit card? What if you were able to get that promotion at work? What if you were able to get that new house? What if you were able to restore your marriage, or if all the tests finally came back negative, or if you finally got a job, or if your novel was finally picked up by a publisher?
What if, you finally received the credit, or the respect, or the appreciation you’ve always thought you deserved? What then? What would you expect your life to be like AFTER that…after your dream comes true; after your goal is realized; after your objective is met?
What would you expect?
II. The Passage: “They Anointed David King” (2:1-11)
This morning we are coming back to our study of the book of Samuel, specifically the book we call II Samuel. Let's start our study this morning by looking together at the first four verses of chapter 2. II Samuel 2:1…This is what we read…
A. David’s Kingship Established (vs. 1-4)
After this David inquired of the LORD, “Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah?” And the LORD said to him, “Go up.” David said, “To which shall I go up?” And he said, “To Hebron.”  So David went up there, and his two wives also, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel.  And David brought up his men who were with him, everyone with his household, and they lived in the towns of Hebron.  And the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah.
Now there are at least two very monumental things happening in this passage. The first thing is that David is directed by God to go back to the land of Judah, specifically to the city of Hebron. Why is this such a big deal? Because, as we know from our study in I Samuel, David has been on the run for a number of years.
The man who once served the king of Israel, the man who once led the armies of Israel, the man who was once married to the King's daughter, this man, David was branded an outlaw by Saul. He was driven into the desert and hunted like an animal.
And as chapter 2 begins, David is living in a town called Ziklag; a town given to David by the king of the Philistines.
So whether it was by a prophet like Gad (I Samuel 22), or through the ephod of Abiathar the priest (I Samuel 23, 30), God directs David to go home. Saul is dead, and therefore David's exile is over. Can you imagine how David must have felt? It must have felt like he was dreaming, when he heard those words “Go up”. And where does David end up? He ends up in Hebron, only 13 miles south of his hometown of Bethlehem.
But there's something even more significant here. It's right there in verse 4. When David and his men and all there women and children finally return and settle in Israel, the men of Judah come to David and anoint him king over the tribe of Judah. Now, it's important to remember that David is not the true king because his kinsmen decided to anoint him as the new king. No, David is king because God chose him to be king, and because Samuel already anointed him as God's chosen king way back in chapter 16.
The fact that David was the next true king was not a secret. Remember what Jonathan told David in I Samuel 23...“Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Saul my father also knows this.” (I Samuel 23:17) Jonathan knew it. Saul knew it. Abigail also seems to understand this in chapter 25.
But after all this time of waiting, after all these years of trusting that God would take care of Saul, David's anointing is finally being fulfilled. Even if his first subjects only belong to his own tribe, God's king is beginning to reign. And we see this new king's reign at work in the next few verses. Look at verses 5-7…
B. David’s Kingship Manifested (vs. 5-7)
When they told David, “It was the men of Jabesh-gilead who buried Saul,”  David sent messengers to the men of Jabesh-gilead and said to them, “May you be blessed by the LORD, because you showed this loyalty to Saul your lord and buried him.  Now may the LORD show steadfast love and faithfulness to you. And I will do good to you because you have done this thing.  Now therefore let your hands be strong, and be valiant, for Saul your lord is dead, and the house of Judah has anointed me king over them.”
So we here that one of the first things David as the new king is related to the old king. David finds out that the men of Jabesh Gilead were the ones who, according to I Samuel 31, went and took down the bodies of Saul and his sons, after the victorious Philistines had pinned them to the wall of a town called Beth-Shan.
Why would the men of Jabesh Gilead undertake this dangerous mission? Because at the beginning of his reign, Saul had delivered the town from the clutches of a very serious bad guy named Nahash the Ammonite (I Samuel 11). So this town felt extremely indebted to Saul. The least they could do was make sure Saul and his sons received a proper burial.
And it is this act of courage and loyalty that inspires David's blessing in verses 5 and 6: may the LORD show steadfast love and faithfulness to you. Now, notice that David also promises, at the end of verse 6, to “do good to” the people of Jabesh Gilead. And more importantly, at the end of verse 7, David lets them know that he has been anointed king over Judah.
Why would this matter to a town on the other side of the Jordan, a town that was 65-70 miles to the north and east of Hebron? Very clearly, verse 7 is a call, by David, to Jabesh Gilead, to rally behind him as the new king. Do you see that? Saul is dead. It is time to for these people to be strong and valiant for David's kingship. If Jabesh Gilead will stand with Judah under David's reign, then maybe the rest of Israel will also unite behind David.
But sadly, that is NOT what happens. Look at verses 8-11:
C. David’s Kingship Opposed (vs. 8-11)
But Abner the son of Ner, commander of Saul's army, took Ish-bosheth the son of Saul and brought him over to Mahanaim,  and he made him king over Gilead and the Ashurites and Jezreel and Ephraim and Benjamin and all Israel.  Ish-bosheth, Saul's son, was forty years old when he began to reign over Israel, and he reigned two years. But the house of Judah followed David.  And the time that David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months.
If we look back to I Samuel 14, we discover that this Abner is not only Saul's general, but he is also Saul's uncle. And throughout I Samuel, we find Abner in a lot of different scenes. He was there when David killed Goliath (17)(he actually brought David to Saul after David's victory). In I Samuel 20, he was there at the king's table when Jonathan tested Saul, as to whether or not he planned to kill David.
And he was there in the camp, sleeping next to Saul, when David snuck in and stole the king's water jar and spear, but did not take Saul's life. In I Samuel 26:15, 16 we read, And David said to Abner, “...Who is like you in Israel? Why then have you not kept watch over your lord the king? For one of the people came in to destroy the king your lord.  This thing that you have done is not good. As the LORD lives, you deserve to die, because you have not kept watch over your lord, the LORD's anointed.”
And so Abner has shared in David's victories. But he has also been shamed by David. And so when he hears that David has not only been anointed as king in Judah, but has also sought to extend his reign to Jabesh Gilead, he continues his nephew's 'anti-David' policies and sets up one of Saul's only surviving son as the true successor to the throne of Israel.
But notice that God is not mentioned in these final verses. It isn't God who raises up Ishbosheth. It's Abner. And in the end, Ishbosheth only reigns for two years, compared to the seven years that David reigns over Judah in Hebron.
III. From Olive Oil to Spit Wads
And so think about the picture God has painted for us here. After so many years on the run, after so many years of suffering, years of having nothing but the promise of God's anointing, David has finally come home; David has finally begun to claim God's promise.
And as we see in his message to Jabesh Gilead, David wants to begin to bring the people of Israel, who have just suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the Philistines, David wants to bring them together under his leadership...or more importantly, under God’s leadership.
And so, if you could place yourself in David's sandals this morning, in a moment like this, what would you expect? As you settled into a new life back in the land of your birth, as you studied the joy and relief and the faces of your men and their, as you heard the shouts of acclamation from your relatives, as you felt the anointing oil fall off your head, what would you expect?
We are not told what David thought, but wouldn't you think to yourself, “Finally, the time has come. Finally, God's promises are fulfilled. Finally, the moment, the season for which I've waited so long. Finally...victory!” In times like that, it is so easy to believe, to expect that the only direction you can go is up.
Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever felt that way in your spiritual journey? Maybe when you first came to faith, you felt like God’s message of deliverance through Jesus was, more than anything else, an offer of peace and rest and comfort and healing and happiness and ease and victory. Or maybe you’ve concluded, over time, that if you can just get to the next level spiritually, if God would just change a particular situation or relationship in your life, if only your prayers were answered, then everything would be different.
And when something DOES change, when your prayers ARE answered, when God DOES deliver you or give you success or victory, it informs, it often shapes our expectations. We think, “Finally…finally everything is coming together!”
But only God’s word can truly inform our expectations. And the reality is, according to God’s word, there is always an Abner out there. There is always an Ishbosheth. There is always opposition. Some will pour olive oil. But others will shoot spit wads. It is never completely ‘smooth sailing’. And God wants us to understand this.
You see, sometimes were like parents who only talk about the joys of school with their children: “Oh I loved all my teachers. You’re going to learn so much and have so much fun. Oh, library time is so wonderful. And the friends you’ll make, and the field trips, and the sports, and the dances, and the…”
But even though there are wonderful things about going to school, the reality is…school can be very hard. Not everyone WILL like you. Not every teacher IS skilled or passionate or gracious. Tests can be hard. Bullies can bully. You CAN be left out. You CAN fall behind in your work. You CAN be called names.
But did anyone ever tell you that? Did your mom and/or dad prepare you for that reality? Well, God wants to do that very thing in your lives through his word, and I think we are reminded of that very thing by our passage this morning.
Consider these verses: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.  If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:18-21)
…and we sent Timothy, our brother and God's coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith,  that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. (I Thessalonians 3:2-3)
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,  so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (I Peter 1:6-7)
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. (I Peter 4:12)
When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch,  strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. (Acts 14:21-22)
Like a loving parent sending their child to school, God wants us to understand…God wants to constantly remind us what life will really be like. Yes, there will be victories, yes, we will see God’s plan being fulfilled in our lives, but that doesn’t mean the challenges will disappear. As long as we continue in this body, and as long as the return of Jesus is delayed, there will always be Abners. There will always be Ishbosheths.
David was God’s anointed king, and yet God never guaranteed him ‘smooth sailing’. I think of all people, David would wholeheartedly agree with Paul and Barnabas in Acts 14 and say, “Yes! Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” Isn’t that what we see in regard to the kingdom God promised David?
But the reality of these Abners and Ishbosheths does not change the fact that God IS faithful. Listen to what David had written or would go on to write: Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me.  The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever.. (Psalm 138:7-8a)
Did you know we can say the same thing? And we can make this same declaration because the words of another king, words that even David could not speak: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
When your goal is reached, when your objective is met, what do you expect AFTER that? Well, we cannot expect ‘smooth sailing’. But we can expect that the peace Jesus died to give us AND the hope of His victory over death will always be available to us. And that victory is our victory.
Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken… (Hebrews 12:28) I love how Peter reminds his readers of our ultimate expectation, the expectation that should inform all of our expectations here and now: And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself, restore,
confirm, strengthen, and establish you. (I Peter 5:10)