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Two kings in Israel (2:1-3:1)
The Philistines now controlled much of Israel’s territory west of Jordan (see 1 Samuel 31:7). Believing that David was still friendly to them, the Philistines allowed him to become king over Judah in the south, no doubt thinking that this would help to divide and weaken Israel further. The tribes east of Jordan, however, were still free, and David quickly tried to win their support (2:1-7). But Abner (Saul’s army commander and his cousin; see 1 Samuel 14:50) had beaten David to it. Having escaped across Jordan, he appointed Saul’s son Ishbosheth as king over all Israel (apart from Judah), though he himself was the one who had the real power (8-11).
David’s army commander was his nephew Joab (1 Chronicles 2:13-16). Both Abner and Joab were eager to control the strategic town of Gibeon, and when the two happened to meet near the town they agreed to an armed contest between selected young men from each side (12-14). The limited contest grew into a furious battle, which Joab’s army won (15-17). Joab and Abner had long been rivals (see 1 Samuel 26:5-6), but for Joab the rivalry became hatred when Abner killed Joab’s brother (18-25). Abner’s army fared badly, and only his personal appeal to Joab brought a break in hostilities (26-32).
Over the next two years the supporters of Ishbosheth and the supporters of David were in constant conflict. Victory consistently went to those on David’s side (3:1).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 2". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany