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Jonathan he misses especially because Jonathan was his friend, a companion, David says, whose love was greater than any love a woman could have for a man. David and Jonathan shared a relationship built in adversity, and the secret they kept from Saul that preserved David’s life made the relationship stronger than what most will ever experience.

After David mourned, he asked the Eternal One a question.

David: Should I go up now to one of the cities of Judah?

The Eternal indicated that he should go.

David: Where should I go?

Eternal One: Hebron.

So David went to Hebron, a royal city, with his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail the widow of Nabal from Carmel. David also brought along all his men and their households, and they settled in and around Hebron. Then the people of Judah came and anointed David king over them. They told David how the people of Jabesh-gilead had buried Saul with dignity, so David sent messengers to them.

David’s Message: May you be blessed by the Eternal One for your loyalty to your king Saul by burying him. May the Eternal always love and be faithful to you! I will also reward you for this noble act. Now be strong and mighty, for Saul your king is dead, and the people of Judah have anointed me as their new king.

But it was not so simple. Abner, Ner’s son who had commanded Saul’s armies, took Saul’s son Ish-bosheth and brought him to Mahanaim; and there Abner named Ish-bosheth king over Gilead and over the Ashurites, Jezreel, Ephraim, Benjamin, and all Israel. 10 Ish-bosheth, Saul’s son, was 40 years old when he began to rule Israel, and he was king for two years. But the people of Judah followed David, 11 and he was king over them in Hebron for 7½ years.

12 Abner, the son of Ner, and the servants of Ish-bosheth (the son of Saul) traveled from Mahanaim to Gibeon. 13 David’s general Joab, whose mother was David’s sister Zeruiah, and David’s servants went out to meet them at the pool of Gibeon. Abner’s forces were by one side of the pool, Joab’s forces by the other.

Abner (to Joab): 14 Why don’t we send our young soldiers out to have a contest before us?

Joab: All right. Send them forward.

15 Twelve men came forward to represent the people of Benjamin and Ish-bosheth, the son of Saul, and twelve to represent David and his people. 16 They all caught their opponents by the head and thrust their swords into their opponents’ sides, so they all fell down together. That is why this place was called the Field of Adversaries, Helkath-hazzurim in Gibeon.

17 The battle that followed this contest was brutal that day, and Abner and the men of Israel were defeated by the servants of David.

18 All three of Zeruiah’s sons were fighting for David: Joab, Abishai, and Asahel. Asahel was a swift runner, fast as a gazelle, 19 and he chased after Abner intently. 20 Abner looked behind him.

Abner: Is that you, Asahel?

Asahel: It is.

Abner: 21 Stop pursuing me. Attack one of the soldiers of your own rank, and take his possessions instead.

But Asahel would not stop in his pursuit.

Abner: 22 If you don’t stop pursuing me, I’ll have no choice but to kill you! And how could I show my face in front of your brother Joab if I do such a thing?

23 But Asahel refused to be diverted. Abner didn’t even use the point of his spear. He thrust with the butt of his spear, and the spear struck Asahel in his abdomen and passed all the way through him. He fell, and there he died. And all those who arrived on that spot stopped and just stood there staring in amazement.

24 But Asahel’s brothers, Joab and Abishai, pursued Abner with their forces. As the sun was setting, they reached the hill of Ammah that is in front of Giah on the way to the wilderness of Gibeon. 25 The people of Benjamin banded together to protect Abner, and they made their stand on top of a hill.

Abner (calling to Joab): 26 Are we to continue this killing forever? Don’t you see that this will come to a bitter end? How long until you order your forces to stop pursuing their brothers?

Joab: 27 I swear before the living God that if you had not said this, my forces would have pursued their Israelite brothers until morning.

28 Joab blew the trumpet to call off the attack against the men of Israel, and all pursuit and battle stopped. 29 Abner and his men went on, traveling all night across the desert plain.[a] They crossed the Jordan River, and by traveling all morning reached Mahanaim. 30 Joab and his forces, meanwhile, came back together after pursuing Abner. They discovered that in addition to Asahel, 19 of David’s men were missing; 31 but David’s men had killed 360 of the men of Benjamin and the others who served Abner.

32 They brought Asahel’s body back and buried him in Bethlehem in his ancestral tomb. Joab and his men marched all night and arrived home in Hebron at dawn.


  1. 2:29 Hebrew, Arabah

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