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  • Writer's pictureEast Martin CRC

Divided Kingdom

2 Samuel 2:8-11

Verse 8 Meanwhile, Abner son of Ner, the commander of Saul’s army, had taken Ish-Bosheth son of Saul and brought him over to Mahanaim.

King Saul’s army general, who was also his cousin, is not happy about the throne possibly going to someone outside the family and he does what he can to keep it in the bloodline. When we hear of Abner taking Saul’s son it is easy to think of him as a young child who is able to be carried and made to do his bidding but we learn in this passage that Ish-Bosheth is 40 years old.

Knowing Ish-Bosheth is as old as he is helps us see a bigger picture of Saul’s family. We know that Jonathan was Saul’s oldest because Saul was planning on Jonathan taking over the kingdom for him some day. With Ish-Bosheth being 40, we know that Jonathan must have been older than that and therefore older than David by a bit. We don’t know if the other two sons of Saul that were killed along with the king and Jonathan were older or younger than Ish-Bosheth. One thing we can know about this sole surviving son of the king is that he was easily led, he wasn’t a man of strong personal character, in fact his name meant, man of shame.

The place that Abner set up Ish-Bosheth, Mahanaim, was on the east side of the Jordan River. This is an interesting fact because instead of setting him up in his father’s throne and home, Abner makes sure there is more space between him and David. Maybe this man of shame had gotten his name from living in a way which wouldn’t have many people feeling confident in his leadership and by setting him up in a city further from home, Abner hoped that the man could gain a bigger following quickly.

David seemed content to reign over the people of Judah. These months of reigning over the smaller portion of the nation would be a good starting point for David. He was learning the truth of the trials and blessings of being king. Ruling among his own tribe would have given him people who loved him to rule, not that it was easy but he may have felt better supported. The tribe of Judah stayed faithful to King David, and the other tribes gave loyalty to Saul’s surviving son. This wouldn’t be the only time that the tribes would be divided but this division was different than the one to come. This one was about holding a dynasty that God had declared finished.

Making It Personal

Have you ever sought power or tried to put someone you liked into a place of power? What was your motive? Do you pray about who God would like in power before making a choice or voting?

Making It Personal Kids

How important is it to know who is in charge? How does Jesus want you to treat those in charge? How would you feel if Jesus wanted you in charge someday?

Closing Prayer

Father, we know that You place authority in our lives for a reason and they may not always be who we would choose. Help us remember You are always in control and so we need to listen to You first and choose wise leaders. In Jesus’ name, amen.


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