But David said to Recab and Baanah, “The Lord, who saves me from all my enemies, is my witness. Someone once told me, ‘Saul is dead,’ thinking he was bringing me good news. But I seized him and killed him at Ziklag. That’s the reward I gave him for his news! How much more should I reward evil men who have killed an innocent man in his own house and on his own bed? Shouldn’t I hold you responsible for his blood and rid the earth of you?”
So David ordered his young men to kill them, and they did. They cut off their hands and feet and hung their bodies beside the pool in Hebron. Then they took Ishbosheth’s head and buried it in Abner’s tomb in Hebron.
(2 Samuel 4:9-12)
Ishbosheth took his courage from another man (Abner) rather than from God. When Abner died, Ishbosheth was left with nothing. In crisis and under pressure, he collapsed in fear.
David called Ishbosheth an “innocent man.” As Saul’s son, Ishbosheth had reason to think he was in line for the throne. He was not wicked for wanting to be king; rather, he was simply too weak to stand against injustice. Although David knew Ishbosheth was not the strong leader needed to unite Israel, he had no intention of killing him. God had promised the kingdom to David, and he knew that God would fulfill his promise.
When David learned of Ishbosheth’s death, he was angry. He had never harmed Saul, and he thought the assassins’ method was cowardly. David wanted to unite Israel, not drive a permanent wedge between him and Ishbosheth’s supporters. To show that he had nothing to do with the extermination of Saul’s royal line, he ordered the assassins killed and gave Ishbosheth a proper burial. All the tribes of Israel, recognizing that David was the strong leader they needed, pledged their loyalty to him. No doubt the Philistine threat and David’s military reputation (1 Samuel 18:7) also helped unify the people.
Have you ever felt like you reached the finish line only to have it moved a little farther? David must have felt this way when Ishbosheth became king after Saul. He’d been waiting for Saul to die, and now he was, but David still wasn’t king of Israel. The finish line had moved, so he kept running.
Has the finish line moved on you? Don’t give up. God rewards those who continue to run faithfully the race set before them. Continue to pray and wrestle with God. He knows what you need, and he will give you his strength so you can remain faithful to the end.