Scripture reading – 2 Samuel 4; Psalm 6

The events recorded in 2 Samuel 4 are another reminder that humanity has not changed. The treachery and deceit exposed in today’s Scripture remind us that evil men have always struggled for power, riches, and influence.

2 Samuel 4


The Plot to Kill, Ishbosheth, King of Israel (2 Samuel 4:1-4)

When the news of Abner’s death (2 Samuel 3:26-27) reached Saul’s son, Ishbosheth was so overcome with fear that “his hands were feeble [i.e., became limp], and all the Israelites were troubled” (2 Samuel 4:1). With the captain of his army dead, Ishbosheth realized his days as king were numbered.

Two brothers, Baanah and Rechab (2 Samuel 4:2-3), supposed the death of Abner provided them an opportunity to exact revenge against the house of Saul (for that king had slain many Gibeonites who lived in Beeroth, 2 Samuel 21:1-2). Besides Ishbosheth, the son of Saul, there was one other male of the late king’s household. Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, was, however, lame and unfit to be king (2 Samuel 4:4). With Ishbosheth dead, Baanah and Rechab reasoned the last obstacle to David becoming king of Israel would be removed, and they would be rewarded.

The Assassination of Ishbosheth (2 Samuel 4:5-8)

Under the pretense of gathering grain, possibly as compensation to their band of soldiers, Rechab and Baanah entered the king’s palace. Finding Ishbosheth sleeping, they killed him upon his bed and beheaded him (2 Samuel 4:5-7).

Carrying the head of the king as proof he was slain, Rechab and Baanah traveled through the night and “brought the head of Ishbosheth unto David to Hebron” (2 Samuel 4:8). Imagining they would be rewarded, they said to David, “Behold the head of Ishbosheth the son of Saul thine enemy, which sought thy life; and the Lord hath avenged my lord the king this day of Saul, and of his seed” (2 Samuel 4:8).

David Condemned the Murderous Actions of Rechab and Baanah (2 Samuel 4:9-12)

Reflecting on the LORD’s faithfulness during his wilderness years, David certainly did not need Rechab and Baanah to slay Ishbosheth (2 Samuel 4:9). Then, drawing upon how he ordered the death of the Amalekite soldier who had claimed to kill King Saul (2 Samuel 1), David condemned the two brothers for slaying Ishbosheth whom he described as “a righteous person in his own house upon his bed” (2 Samuel 4:11).

David then “commanded his young men, and they slew them [Rechab and Baanah], and cut off their hands and their feet, and hanged them up over the pool in Hebron” (2 Samuel 4:12). Because the pool in Hebron was a public gathering place, hanging the limbs of the slain served as a testimony and a warning to Israel. A testimony that David had no part in the assassination of Ishbosheth. It also served as a warning to anyone tempted to betray David in the future. David, however, made sure “the head of Ishbosheth” was given an honorable burial “in the sepulchre of Abner in Hebron” (2 Samuel 4:12).

Closing thought:

We should not be surprised that when there is no law, evil men commit heinous acts of treachery and murder. The wicked actions of Rechab and Baanah, and their expectation to be rewarded for murdering Ishbosheth, is the way of the world. David, however, proved to be a righteous man, and his judgment to put Rechab and Baanah to death was according to the Law (Genesis 9:6, Exodus 21:12; Leviticus 24:17, 21).

Psalm 6 – Suffering, Sorrows, and Setbacks

The setting and historical context of Psalm 6 is not known. David, however, was identified as its author. Time and space do not allow an in-depth study of Psalm 6; however, my brief overview and summary might be a blessing. [I’d like to remind you that bracketed portions in the following verses are my amplification of word meanings.]

David’s Plea for Healing and God’s Mercy (Psalm 6:1-7)

Psalm 6:22 Have mercy [Be gracious; show favor] upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal [cure; make whole] me; for my bones [i.e., body; substance] are vexed [troubled; disturbed].   

Psalm 6:5-75  For in death there is no remembrance [memory; memorial] of thee: in the grave [hell; the pit; Sheol] who shall give thee thanks [praise; revere]?

6 I am weary [faint; exhausted; grown weary] with my groaning [sighing; mourning]; all the night make I my bed to swim [i,e, swimming with tears]; I water [melt; dissolve] my couch [i.e., a bed with a canopy] with my tears [weeping]. 

7  Mine eye [sight] is consumed [dimmed; waste away] because of grief [sorrow; anger]; it waxeth old  [grows old; fails] because of all mine enemies [distress; pains].”

David’s Confidence in God Hearing and Answering Prayer (Psalm 6:8-10)

Psalm 6:8–108Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity [evil; sin]; For the Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping.

9The Lord hath heard my supplication [cry for mercy and compassion]; The Lord will receive my prayer.

10Let all mine enemies be ashamed and sore vexed [troubled]: Let them return [turn back] and be ashamed suddenly. [put to shame]

Closing thoughts:

Believer, if you are amid trials, and your soul is burdened and weary of life…take heart. The testimony of the saints of God is that the LORD gives strength in troubles and weakness when we turn to the Lord by faith.

Many are the saints of the LORD who can readily identify with David’s sleepless nights. Many have cried themselves to sleep amid the sufferings of trials or the disappointments of a loved one’s sinful choices. Are you weary of sorrows?

Take heart…God hears the cries and prayers of His children in the night.

Questions to ponder:

1) What feelings were expressed by David in Psalm 6?

2) What was David’s reason for asking the LORD to spare him from death? (Psalm 6:4-5)

3) How did David’s sorrows affect him physically? (Psalm 6:6-7)

4) How does Psalm 6:9 express David’s faith in the LORD?

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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