The Heart of God Seeks Unity 

Second Samuel 2–4

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • March 15, In the year of our Lord, 2015

Scripture Reader and Reading: Wayne Duncan – Psalm 133

Song Leader and Song Suggestions: Phil Joseph – Anything related to unity


  1. Second Samuel 2.1–3 – David Inquires of the Lord

    1 It happened after this that David inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I go up to any of the cities of Judah?” And the Lord said to him, “Go up.” David said, “Where shall I go up?” And He said, “To Hebron.” 2 So David went up there, and his two wives also, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite. 3 And David brought up the men who were with him, every man with his household. So they dwelt in the cities of Hebron.
  2. Second Samuel 2.4–7 – David Becomes King

    4 Then the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah. And they told David, saying, “The men of Jabesh Gilead were the ones who buried Saul.” 5 So David sent messengers to the men of Jabesh Gilead, and said to them, “You are blessed of the Lord, for you have shown this kindness to your lord, to Saul, and have buried him. 6 And now may the Lord show kindness and truth to you. I also will repay you this kindness, because you have done this thing. 7 Now therefore, let your hands be strengthened, and be valiant; for your master Saul is dead, and also the house of Judah has anointed me king over them.”
  3. Second Samuel 2.8–10 – The House of Saul Tries to Reign

    8 But Abner the son of Ner, commander of Saul’s army, took Ishbosheth the son of Saul and brought him over to Mahanaim; 9 and he made him king over Gilead, over the Ashurites, over Jezreel, over Ephraim, over Benjamin, and over all Israel. 10 Ishbosheth, Saul’s son, was forty years old when he began to reign over Israel, and he reigned two years. Only the house of Judah followed David.
  4. Second Samuel 2.11–16 – Champions of Israel and Judah Fight

    11 And the time that David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months. 12 Now Abner the son of Ner, and the servants of Ishbosheth the son of Saul, went out from Mahanaim to Gibeon. 13 And Joab the son of Zeruiah, and the servants of David, went out and met them by the pool of Gibeon. So they sat down, one on one side of the pool and the other on the other side of the pool. 14 Then Abner said to Joab, “Let the young men now arise and compete before us.” And Joab said, “Let them arise.” 15 So they arose and went over by number, twelve from Benjamin, followers of Ishbosheth the son of Saul, and twelve from the servants of David. 16 And each one grasped his opponent by the head and thrust his sword in his opponent’s side; so they fell down together. Therefore that place was called the Field of Sharp Swords, which is in Gibeon.
  5. Second Samuel 2.17–28 – Principal Men Kill One Another

    17 So there was a very fierce battle that day, and Abner and the men of Israel were beaten before the servants of David. 18 Now the three sons of Zeruiah were there: Joab and Abishai and Asahel. And Asahel was as fleet of foot as a wild gazelle. 19 So Asahel pursued Abner, and in going he did not turn to the right hand or to the left from following Abner. 20 Then Abner looked behind him and said, “Are you Asahel?” He answered, “I am.” 21 And Abner said to him, “Turn aside to your right hand or to your left, and lay hold on one of the young men and take his armor for yourself.” But Asahel would not turn aside from following him. 22 So Abner said again to Asahel, “Turn aside from following me. Why should I strike you to the ground? How then could I face your brother Joab?” 23 However, he refused to turn aside. Therefore Abner struck him in the stomach with the blunt end of the spear, so that the spear came out of his back; and he fell down there and died on the spot. So it was that as many as came to the place where Asahel fell down and died, stood still. 24 Joab and Abishai also pursued Abner. And the sun was going down when they came to the hill of Ammah, which is before Giah by the road to the Wilderness of Gibeon. 25 Now the children of Benjamin gathered together behind Abner and became a unit, and took their stand on top of a hill. 26 Then Abner called to Joab and said, “Shall the sword devour forever? Do you not know that it will be bitter in the latter end? How long will it be then until you tell the people to return from pursuing their brethren?” 27 And Joab said, “As God lives, unless you had spoken, surely then by morning all the people would have given up pursuing their brethren.” 28 So Joab blew a trumpet; and all the people stood still and did not pursue Israel anymore, nor did they fight anymore.
  6. Second Samuel 2.29–32 – The Losses

    29 Then Abner and his men went on all that night through the plain, crossed over the Jordan, and went through all Bithron; and they came to Mahanaim. 30 So Joab returned from pursuing Abner. And when he had gathered all the people together, there were missing of David’s servants nineteen men and Asahel. 31 But the servants of David had struck down, of Benjamin and Abner’s men, three hundred and sixty men who died. 32 Then they took up Asahel and buried him in his father’s tomb, which was in Bethlehem. And Joab and his men went all night, and they came to Hebron at daybreak.
  7. Second Samuel 3.1 – One Grows Stronger, Another Grows Weaker

    1 Now there was a long war between the house of Saul and the house of David. But David grew stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul grew weaker and weaker.
  8. Second Samuel 3.2–5 – The Sons of David

    2 Sons were born to David in Hebron: His firstborn was Amnon by Ahinoam the Jezreelitess; 3 his second, Chileab, by Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite; the third, Absalom the son of Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur; 4 the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital; 5 and the sixth, Ithream, by David’s wife Eglah. These were born to David in Hebron.
  9. Second Samuel 3.6–12 – Abner Delivers Israel to David

    6 Now it was so, while there was war between the house of Saul and the house of David, that Abner was strengthening his hold on the house of Saul. 7 And Saul had a concubine, whose name was Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah. So Ishbosheth said to Abner, “Why have you gone in to my father’s concubine?” 8 Then Abner became very angry at the words of Ishbosheth, and said, “Am I a dog’s head that belongs to Judah? Today I show loyalty to the house of Saul your father, to his brothers, and to his friends, and have not delivered you into the hand of David; and you charge me today with a fault concerning this woman? 9 May God do so to Abner, and more also, if I do not do for David as the Lord has sworn to him— 10 to transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul, and set up the throne of David over Israel and over Judah, from Dan to Beersheba.” 11 And he could not answer Abner another word, because he feared him. 12 Then Abner sent messengers on his behalf to David, saying, “Whose is the land?” saying also, “Make your covenant with me, and indeed my hand shall be with you to bring all Israel to you.”
  10. Second Samuel 3.13–16 – David Retrieves His Wife

    13 And David said, “Good, I will make a covenant with you. But one thing I require of you: you shall not see my face unless you first bring Michal, Saul’s daughter, when you come to see my face.” 14 So David sent messengers to Ishbosheth, Saul’s son, saying, “Give me my wife Michal, whom I betrothed to myself for a hundred foreskins of the Philistines.” 15 And Ishbosheth sent and took her from her husband, from Paltiel the son of Laish. 16 Then her husband went along with her to Bahurim, weeping behind her. So Abner said to him, “Go, return!” And he returned.
  11. Second Samuel 3.17–21 – Abner Unites the Tribes

    17 Now Abner had communicated with the elders of Israel, saying, “In time past you were seeking for David to be king over you. 18 Now then, do it! For the Lord has spoken of David, saying, ‘By the hand of My servant David, I will save My people Israel from the hand of the Philistines and the hand of all their enemies.’” 19 And Abner also spoke in the hearing of Benjamin. Then Abner also went to speak in the hearing of David in Hebron all that seemed good to Israel and the whole house of Benjamin. 20 So Abner and twenty men with him came to David at Hebron. And David made a feast for Abner and the men who were with him. 21 Then Abner said to David, “I will arise and go, and gather all Israel to my lord the king, that they may make a covenant with you, and that you may reign over all that your heart desires.” So David sent Abner away, and he went in peace.
  12. Second Samuel 3.22–27 – Joab’s Thirst for Blood

    22 At that moment the servants of David and Joab came from a raid and brought much spoil with them. But Abner was not with David in Hebron, for he had sent him away, and he had gone in peace. 23 When Joab and all the troops that were with him had come, they told Joab, saying, “Abner the son of Ner came to the king, and he sent him away, and he has gone in peace.” 24 Then Joab came to the king and said, “What have you done? Look, Abner came to you; why is it that you sent him away, and he has already gone? 25 Surely you realize that Abner the son of Ner came to deceive you, to know your going out and your coming in, and to know all that you are doing.” 26 And when Joab had gone from David’s presence, he sent messengers after Abner, who brought him back from the well of Sirah. But David did not know it. 27 Now when Abner had returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside in the gate to speak with him privately, and there stabbed him in the stomach, so that he died for the blood of Asahel his brother.
  13. Second Samuel 3.28–39 – David Mourns the Loss of Another Leader

    28 Afterward, when David heard it, he said, “My kingdom and I are guiltless before the Lord forever of the blood of Abner the son of Ner. 29 Let it rest on the head of Joab and on all his father’s house; and let there never fail to be in the house of Joab one who has a discharge or is a leper, who leans on a staff or falls by the sword, or who lacks bread.” 30 So Joab and Abishai his brother killed Abner, because he had killed their brother Asahel at Gibeon in the battle. 31 Then David said to Joab and to all the people who were with him, “Tear your clothes, gird yourselves with sackcloth, and mourn for Abner.” And King David followed the coffin. 32 So they buried Abner in Hebron; and the king lifted up his voice and wept at the grave of Abner, and all the people wept. 33 And the king sang a lament over Abner and said:

    “Should Abner die as a fool dies?
    34 Your hands were not bound
    Nor your feet put into fetters;
    As a man falls before wicked men, so you fell.”

    Then all the people wept over him again. 35 And when all the people came to persuade David to eat food while it was still day, David took an oath, saying, “God do so to me, and more also, if I taste bread or anything else till the sun goes down!” 36 Now all the people took note of it, and it pleased them, since whatever the king did pleased all the people. 37 For all the people and all Israel understood that day that it had not been the king’s intent to kill Abner the son of Ner. 38 Then the king said to his servants, “Do you not know that a prince and a great man has fallen this day in Israel? 39 And I am weak today, though anointed king; and these men, the sons of Zeruiah, are too harsh for me. The Lord shall repay the evildoer according to his wickedness.”

  14. Second Samuel 4.1–8 – Men Kill the Son of Saul

    1 When Saul’s son heard that Abner had died in Hebron, he lost heart, and all Israel was troubled. 2 Now Saul’s son had two men who were captains of troops. The name of one was Baanah and the name of the other Rechab, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, of the children of Benjamin. (For Beeroth also was part of Benjamin, 3 because the Beerothites fled to Gittaim and have been sojourners there until this day.) 4 Jonathan, Saul’s son, had a son who was lame in his feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel; and his nurse took him up and fled. And it happened, as she made haste to flee, that he fell and became lame. His name was Mephibosheth. 5 Then the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, Rechab and Baanah, set out and came at about the heat of the day to the house of Ishbosheth, who was lying on his bed at noon. 6 And they came there, all the way into the house, as though to get wheat, and they stabbed him in the stomach. Then Rechab and Baanah his brother escaped. 7 For when they came into the house, he was lying on his bed in his bedroom; then they struck him and killed him, beheaded him and took his head, and were all night escaping through the plain. 8 And they brought the head of Ishbosheth to David at Hebron, and said to the king, “Here is the head of Ishbosheth, the son of Saul your enemy, who sought your life; and the Lord has avenged my lord the king this day of Saul and his descendants.”
  15. Second Samuel 4.9–12 – Men Keep Misreading David

    9 But David answered Rechab and Baanah his brother, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, and said to them, “As the Lord lives, who has redeemed my life from all adversity, 10 when someone told me, saying, ‘Look, Saul is dead,’ thinking to have brought good news, I arrested him and had him executed in Ziklag—the one who thought I would give him a reward for his news. 11 How much more, when wicked men have killed a righteous person in his own house on his bed? Therefore, shall I not now require his blood at your hand and remove you from the earth?” 12 So David commanded his young men, and they executed them, cut off their hands and feet, and hanged them by the pool in Hebron. But they took the head of Ishbosheth and buried it in the tomb of Abner in Hebron.

Seek Unity 

  1. Abner 
    1. Abner acknowledged David as king of Israel.
    2. Abner no longer sought the kingdom for the house of Saul.
    3. To Abner it was not about our side versus their side within Israel.
    4. Abner simply supported the king,
      1. even after he died and
      2. the son of Saul became king.
        1. Abner did what anyone in his position should have done,
        2. he supported and fought for the new king.
          1. However, once he saw how Israel was going to be,
          2. that the house of Saul would no longer rule,
            1. Abner supported the one whom God had chosen, and
            2. whom all Israel backed or was starting to back, David.
    5. Therefore, Abner put his efforts into strengthening a unified Israel.
      1. He paid the cost with his life.
      2. Many have paid their lives for unity.
        1. That happened in America numerous times.
        2. Think on Lincoln and Lee
  2. Lincoln and Lee 
    1. President Abraham Lincoln of the Union and General Robert E. Lee of the Confederacy
      1. both sought the unity of the nation.
        1. Lincoln sought it during the war, as in his Gettysburg speech.
        2. Lee sought it after the war.
      2. When the war ended,
        1. enough killing, enough hatred, had taken place.
        2. It was time for healing.
    2. “Cut It Down and Forget It!”

      The Civil War left a tragic aftermath of bitterness, hatred, and resentment in America. The wounds inflicted by the war were deep and painful. Though the guns fell silent, the angry recriminations went on. Many could not forget or forgive what had been done. Exchanges between former enemies rarely rose above the level of angry accusations and scornful denunciations.

      One man who refused to participate in or condone this terrible harvest of bitterness was General Robert E. Lee. In word and deed, Lee urged reconciliation between North and South. He knew that the war was over and that the future of the nation demanded a new attitude for a new day. To the day of his death, the “Gray Knight” was never heard to speak an unkind word about those who had formerly been his enemies. Lee even opposed the erection of Confederate monuments because he thought they would only serve to keep wartime passions alive. On one occasion a lady in Lexington, Virginia, where Lee lived after the war, showed him the scarred remains of a tree in her yard. All the limbs had been shot off by Federal artillery during a raid. Thinking the General would share her sense of outrage she waited expectantly for him to comment.

      Finally, Lee spoke: “Cut it down my dear Madam, and forget it.”

      (By Bobby Dockery, Keyser, West Virginia Church Bulletin, 09/02/1990)

    3. Can the church learn anything from his example?
  3. Do Not Accept Blind Loyalty 
    1. Men thought they brought good news to David with the death of Abner.
    2. They thought they brought good news with the death of Saul.
    3. They thought they brought good news with the death of Ishbosheth.
    4. Later they thought they brought good news to David with the death of his rebellious son Absalom.
      1. These people may have desired something from David,
      2. some kind of favor.
        1. Yet, in some cases,
        2. they received death.
  4. To David, It Was Not About Him 
    1. When others came to him with news of the death of an Israelite enemy,
      1. he did not rejoice,
      2. he did not see it as good news, but
        1. he rebuked the bringer of the good news, and
        2. in two cases when someone claimed to have killed David’s enemy,
          1. David ordered the death penalty against that person.
          2. He did the same thing with the men who killed Ishbosheth.
    2. If we do not seek self-promotion, but
      1. the promotion of the whole,
      2. we will do what is necessary for unity.
    3. If we seek self-promotion,
      1. we will not seek unity,
      2. we will seek a following.
    4. It is not about us;
      1. it is about the Lord and His concerns.
      2. Therefore, the Bible tells us to seek the Spirit’s unity,

        1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all (Eph 4.1–6).
    5. To David, it was not about his hurt feelings or anything of that nature.
      1. Therefore, he could write the magnificent Psalm of unity,

        1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
        For brethren to dwell together in unity!
        2 It is like the precious oil upon the head,
        Running down on the beard,
        The beard of Aaron,
        Running down on the edge of his garments.
        3 It is like the dew of Hermon,
        Descending upon the mountains of Zion;
        For there the Lord commanded the blessing—
        Life forevermore.
        (Psa 133)
    6. David knew that a house divided cannot stand.


  1. When you look at this congregation, 
    1. do you see yourself promoting its unity?
    2. Pray for our unity:
      1. that we keep it, and
      2. that we grow in it.
    3. Put the church ahead of yourself.
  2. See the church as the Israel of God today, and 
    1. that you must think of it in the highest terms possible.
    2. It has preeminence over everything.
  3. Do you think living for Jesus ranks as the highest calling in life? 
    1. Where do you think
      1. His kingdom,
      2. His bride, and
      3. His body
        1. should rank?
        2. How can I rank Him high in my mind, but
          1. not what belongs to Him?
          2. He died to purchase the church with His blood.