In yesterday's post, I almost wrote about a fantastic verse that says David strengthened himself by his faith in the Lord when his own men were ready to stone him. You see, other enemies, the Amalekites, had raided David's town and taken all their women and children captive.
David rallied the men and then went after the raiders. They were fighting the Amalekite threat while Saul and the army fought the Philistines.
It was his bad luck that an Amalekite brought the news of Saul's death to David. He claimed responsibility for Saul's death for himself, probably expecting a reward. Instead he lost his head.
You would think that after everything David had been through, he would have been the instant, obvious choice as king. No such luck. David asked God if he should return to Judah. When God said yes, he went home, and Judah crowned him.
The tribe of Benjamin crowned Saul's remaining son, Ish-bosheth, He was recognized as king by the remaining ten tribes. He last as king for two years. David ruled in Hebron for 7½ years. It's unclear what the rest of Israel did for leadership in the interim.
One tragic thing did happen during those years: brother fought brother as Israel's army, led by Abner, and David's men, led by Joab, met in armed conflict. Abner is clearly a man of honor, not wanting to kill Joab's brother Asahel (but Asahel wouldn't leave him alone), and calling a halt to the fighting. They parted ways, under a temporary truce.
And the nation remained divided. How glad I am that the story doesn't end there.
Oh, what was David doing through all of this? Acting like a head of state. He wrote a lament for Saul and Jonathan and thanked the citizens of Gibeon for giving them a decent burial. He didn't go to war with Joab on this occasion. He asked God before he rushed into the void created by Saul's death.
Annointed by God as a teenager, David was willing to wait and wait and wait some more.
Oh, to have that kind of patience.