Verses 1–6

Here is, I. The struggle that David had with the house of Saul before his settlement in the throne was completed, 2 Sam. 3:1. 1. Both sides contested. Saul’s house, though beheaded and diminished, would not fall tamely. It is not strange between them, but one would wonder it should be a long war, when David’s house had right on its side, and therefore God on its side; but, though truth and equity will triumph at last, God made for wise and holy ends prolonged the conflict. The length of this war tried the faith and patience of David, and made his establishment at last the more welcome to him. 2. David’s side got ground. The house of Saul waxed weaker and weaker, lost places, lost men, sunk in its reputation, grew less considerable, and was foiled in every engagement. But the house of David grew stronger and stronger. Many deserted the declining cause of Saul’s house, and prudently came into David’s interest, being convinced that he would certainly win the day. The contest between grace and corruption in the hearts of believers, who are sanctified but in part, may fitly be compared to this recorded here. There is a long war between them, the flesh lusted against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh; but, as the work of sanctification is carried on, corruption, like the house of Saul, grows weaker and weaker; while grace, like the house of David, grows stronger and stronger, till it come to a perfect man, and judgment be brought forth unto victory.

II. The increase of his own house. Here is an account of six sons he had by six several wives, in the seven years he reigned in Hebron. Perhaps this is here mentioned as that which strengthened David’s interest. Every child, whose welfare was embarked in the common safety, was a fresh security given to the commonwealth for his care of it. He that has his quiver filled with these arrows shall speak with his enemy in the gate, Ps. 127:5. As the death of Saul’s sons weakened his interest, so the birth of David’s strengthened his. 1. It was David’s fault thus to multiply wives, contrary to the law (Deut. 17:17), and it was a bad example to his successors. 2. It does not appear that in these seven years he had above one son by each of these wives; some have had as numerous a progeny, and with much more honour and comfort, by one wife. 3. We read not that any of these sons came to be famous (three of them were infamous, Amnon, Absalom, and Adonijah); we have therefore reason to rejoice with trembling in the building up of our families. 4. His son by Abigail is called Chileab (2 Sam. 3:3), whereas (1 Chron. 3:1) he is called Daniel. Bishop Patrick mentions the reason which the Hebrew doctors give for these names, that his first name was Daniel—God has judged me (namely, against Nabal), but David’s enemies reproached him, and said, “It is Nabal’s son, and not David’s,” to confute which calumny Providence so ordered it that, as he grew up, he became, in his countenance and features, extremely like David, and resembled him more than any of his children, upon which he gave him the name of Chileab, which signifies, like his father, or the father’s picture. 5. Absalom’s mother is said to be the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur, a heathen prince. Perhaps David thereby hoped to strengthen his interest, but the issue of the marriage was one that proved his grief and shame. 6. The last is called David’s wife, which therefore, some think, was Michal, his first and most rightful wife, called here by another name; and, though she had no child after she mocked David, she might have had before.

Thus was David’s house strengthened; but it was Abner that made himself strong for the house of Saul, which is mentioned (2 Sam. 3:6) to show that, if he failed them, they would fall of course.