Sometimes we can be so familiar with a story that we miss crucial details. As we get to 2 Samuel 2 most of us know what is coming: King Saul is dead, the age of King David has begun. And yet the transition is far from being that straightforward.
David inquires of God what he should do. In response to God’s reply he moves to Hebron. Judea immediately embraces him as king. David reaches out with magnimity to those who buried Saul. You might think that the reign of King David over the whole nation of Israel would begin immediately.
Yet Saul’s house is not quite over. A son of the fallen Saul is installed as king over the rest of Israel. And so begins a split that, although reunited during the days of David and Solomon, would lead to a painful division in God’s people right up until the time of Jesus and beyond. The heirs of those who followed Saul would eventually be scattered, with some known as the Samaritans before vanishing into history, while rumors of “Lost Tribes” of Israel crop up as far afield as Africa.God had called David to be king years ago. He had apparently confirmed that call by telling him to go back to Judea. Often we assume that if God has called us to a task the way will easily open up. This is not always the case. We will frequently find ourselves being tested, and delays are par for the course. God’s delays are often part of his preparation of our hearts for what is coming. The story of David shows us that God doesn’t choose to use perfect people. Like David we may need to learn patience as step-by-step we see God’s promises fulfilled in our lives.
King David received only part of his promise at first. There is no record of him being frustrated by this. One could criticize him for taking something of a back seat while a cruel civil war between brothers begins. David perhaps didn’t want to join the battle to push himself forward as the king, and perhaps he didn’t want to fight his fellow Israelites. But neither did he at the beginning try to restrain it. David seems to abdicate his leadership, and this will come back to bite him in the very next chapter.