How The Mighty Have Fallen

The first king of Israel is dead at the hand of Israel’s enemy the Philistines. The people of Israel had asked for a king because of their fear of the nations around them. Now though, they not only have enemies around them, they have division internally. David is anointed the king over Judah with Joab commander of his army. Abner, commander of Saul’s army sets Ish-Bosheth, Saul’s son as king over Israel. As Abner and Joab come together, fighting breaks and in 2 Samuel 2:17 “the battle became increasingly fierce on that day”. Finally, Abner calls out to Joab in 2 Samuel 2:26 “Will the sword devour forever?” and in 2 Samuel 2:28 “Joab blew on the trumpet and all the people stopped, and they no longer pursued after Israel, and they did not fight with them again”. 

They Fell Slain

1 Samuel 31:1–13
David had taken refuge from Saul with the Philistines, but now, the Philistines sent David away in 1 Samuel 29:3 as they prepared for battle with Saul and his army. Saul had used a medium in 1 Samuel 28:7 to seek guidance from Samuel and said in

1 Samuel 28:19 “And Yahweh will also give Israel with you into the hands of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me, and Yahweh will also give the army of Israel into the hand of the Philistines.”

Even so, Saul stood with his army “In a regular engagement, in which the two armies met (1 Sa 28:1–4), the Israelites were forced to give way, being annoyed by the arrows of the enemy, which, destroying them at a distance before they came to close combat, threw them into panic and disorder”.1

1 Samuel 31:1–3 Now the Philistines were fighting against Israel, and the men of Israel fled before the Philistines, and they fell slain on Mount Gilboa. 2 And the Philistines overtook Saul and his sons, and the Philistines killed Jonathan and Abinadab and Malki-Shua, the sons of Saul. 3 Saul was in the thick of the battle, and the archers spotted him, and he was badly wounded by the archers.

Saul witnesses the defeat of the army of Israel, the death of his three sons, and then took his own life in 1 Samuel 31:4 “So Saul took the sword and fell on it”. The battle was just as Samuel had said and in

1 Samuel 31:6 “So Saul died, and his three sons, his armor bearer, and all his men together that same day.”

Stand Over Me and Kill Me

2 Samuel 1:1–9

Your Mouth Has Testifies Against You

2 Samuel 1:10–16

How The Mighty Have Fallen

2 Samuel1:17-27
This marks the end of David’s days of running for his life. His enemy is dead, but there is no celebration. David laments the loss of Saul, Israels first anointed king and Jonathan who David loved. Their deaths are not a tail to be told, but a memory to hold with weeping.

May Yahweh Show Loyal Love and Faithfulness With You

2 Samuel 2:1–11
David steps into his rightful place as king in

2 Samuel 2:4 Then the men of Judah came, and they anointed David there as king over the house of Judah, and they told David, “The men of Jabesh-Gilead buried Saul.”

In his first act as king, David commands a blessing on those that retrieved Saul’s body from the Philistines in

2 Samuel 2:5–6 So David sent messengers to the men of Jabesh-Gilead and said to them, “May you be blessed by Yahweh because you did this loyal love with your lord, with Saul, and you buried him. 6 Now may Yahweh show loyal love and faithfulness with you. I will also show the good with you that you have done in this matter.

But there are still factions as men seek to maintain their positions. Abner is commander of Saul’s army and Ish-Bosheth is the surviving son of Saul who in

2 Samuel 2:9 He (Abner) made him king over Gilead, over the Ashurites, over Jezreel, over Ephraim, over Benjamin, and over Israel, all of it.


They Fell Together

2 Samuel 2:12–23
The lament for the children of Israel does not end with the death of Saul and three of his sons. There is still a division between David who has been made the king of Judah and Abner who has made Ish-Bosheth king over Israel. They each send emissaries in

2 Samuel 2:13 Then Joab the son of Zeruiah and the servants of David went out, and they met at the pool of Gibeon. The one group sat on one side of the pool, and the other sat on the other side.

Each side sent their twelve to fight, the more honorable way to wage war, but they killed each other, every one in

2 Samuel 2:16 Then each seized his opponent by the head and each thrust his sword in the side of his opponent, so they fell together. So they called the name of that place Helkath Hazzurim, which is in Gibeon.

So, instead of finishing with a small hand to hand skirmish, in

2 Samuel 2:17 Then the battle became increasingly fierce on that day, and Abner and the men of Israel were defeated before the servants of David.

As Abner is chased, he pleads for an end. Abner will stop because he is commander of Saul’s army and a man of war, but he pleads that Asahel his pursuer will relent and Abner will avoid killing the brother of Joab, Abner’s counterpart and commander of David’s army in

2 Samuel 2:22 So Abner said to Asahel once again, “For your own sake, turn aside from following me. Why should I strike you down to the ground? How could I show my face to Joab your brother?”


Will The Sword Devour Forever

2 Samuel 2:24–32
Joab and the army of David continue the pursuit of Abner and his army joins around him in

2 Samuel 2:25 The descendants of Benjamin rallied after Abner, and they became as one fighting group and stood on the top of a certain hill.

Finally, Abner calls out to Joab to break off this conflict in

2 Samuel 2:26–27 Then Abner called to Joab and said, “Will the sword devour forever? Do you not know that there will be bitterness in the end? How long will you not tell the people to turn away from pursuing their brothers?”

and Joab responds agreeing to stop their pursuit in

2 Samuel 2:27 Joab said, “As God lives, for if you had not spoken, the people would surely have gone up in the morning, each one of them from following after his brother.”

How have the children of Israel come to this place of bitter division, fighting and killing their brothers? They have had the king they asked the Lord to give them, but at what cost? Finally, here, Abner sees the truth of their actions, “Will the sword devour forever?”

Study Verses

Today’s Reading

  • 1 Samuel 31:1-13
  • 2 Samuel 1:1-27
  • 2 Samuel 2:1-32


  • 1. Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 1, p. 195). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.