2 Samuel 3-5 The Message (MSG)
3 The war between the house of Saul and the house of David dragged on and on. The longer it went on the stronger David became, with the house of Saul getting weaker.
2-5 During the Hebron years, sons were born to David:
Amnon, born of Ahinoam of Jezreel—the firstborn;
Kileab, born of Abigail of Carmel, Nabal’s widow—his second;
Absalom, born of Maacah, daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur—the third;
Adonijah, born of Haggith—the fourth;
Shephatiah, born of Abital—the fifth;
Ithream, born of Eglah—the sixth.
These six sons of David were born in Hebron.
6-7 Abner took advantage of the continuing war between the house of Saul and the house of David to gain power for himself. Saul had had a concubine, Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah. One day Ish-Bosheth confronted Abner: “What business do you have sleeping with my father’s concubine?”
8-10 Abner lost his temper with Ish-Bosheth, “Treat me like a dog, will you! Is this the thanks I get for sticking by the house of your father, Saul, and all his family and friends? I personally saved you from certain capture by David, and you make an issue out of my going to bed with a woman! What God promised David, I’ll help accomplish—transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul and make David ruler over the whole country, both Israel and Judah, from Dan to Beersheba. If not, may God do his worst to me.”
11 Ish-Bosheth, cowed by Abner’s outburst, couldn’t say another word.
12 Abner went ahead and sent personal messengers to David: “Make a deal with me and I’ll help bring the whole country of Israel over to you.”
13 “Great,” said David. “It’s a deal. But only on one condition: You’re not welcome here unless you bring Michal, Saul’s daughter, with you when you come to meet me.”
14 David then sent messengers to Ish-Bosheth son of Saul: “Give me back Michal, whom I won as my wife at the cost of a hundred Philistine foreskins.”
15-16 Ish-Bosheth ordered that she be taken from her husband Paltiel son of Laish. But Paltiel followed her, weeping all the way, to Bahurim. There Abner told him, “Go home.” And he went home.
17-18 Abner got the elders of Israel together and said, “Only yesterday, it seems, you were looking for a way to make David your king. So do it—now! For God has given the go-ahead on David: ‘By my servant David’s hand, I’ll save my people Israel from the oppression of the Philistines and all their other enemies.’”
19 Abner took the Benjaminites aside and spoke to them. Then he went to Hebron for a private talk with David, telling him everything that Israel in general and Benjamin in particular were planning to do.
20 When Abner and the twenty men who were with him met with David in Hebron, David laid out a feast for them.
21 Abner then said, “I’m ready. Let me go now to rally everyone in Israel for my master, the king. They’ll make a treaty with you, authorizing you to rule them however you see fit.” Abner was sent off with David’s blessing.
22-23 Soon after that, David’s men, led by Joab, came back from a field assignment. Abner was no longer in Hebron with David, having just been dismissed with David’s blessing. As Joab and his raiding party arrived, they were told that Abner the son of Ner had been there with David and had been sent off with David’s blessing.
24-25 Joab went straight to the king: “What’s this you’ve done? Abner shows up, and you let him walk away scot-free? You know Abner son of Ner better than that. This was no friendly visit. He was here to spy on you, figure out your comings and goings, find out what you’re up to.”
26-27 Joab left David and went into action. He sent messengers after Abner; they caught up with him at the well at Sirah and brought him back. David knew nothing of all this. When Abner got back to Hebron, Joab steered him aside at the gate for a personal word with him. There he stabbed him in the belly, killed him in cold blood for the murder of his brother Asahel.
28-30 Later on, when David heard what happened, he said, “Before God I and my kingdom are totally innocent of this murder of Abner son of Ner. Joab and his entire family will always be under the curse of this bloodguilt. May they forever be victims of crippling diseases, violence, and famine.” (Joab and his brother, Abishai, murdered Abner because he had killed their brother Asahel at the battle of Gibeon.)
31-32 David ordered Joab and all the men under him, “Rip your cloaks into rags! Wear mourning clothes! Lead Abner’s funeral procession with loud lament!” King David followed the coffin. They buried Abner in Hebron. The king’s voice was loud in lament as he wept at the side of Abner’s grave. All the people wept, too.
33-34 Then the king sang this tribute to Abner:
Can this be? Abner dead like a nameless bum?
And all the people wept—a crescendo of crying!
35-37 They all came then to David, trying to get him to eat something before dark. But David solemnly swore, “I’ll not so much as taste a piece of bread, or anything else for that matter, before sunset, so help me God!” Everyone at the funeral took notice—and liked what they saw. In fact everything the king did was applauded by the people. It was clear to everyone that day, including all Israel, that the king had nothing to do with the death of Abner son of Ner.
38-39 The king spoke to his servants: “You realize, don’t you, that today a prince and hero fell victim of foul play in Israel? And I, though anointed king, was helpless to do anything about it. These sons of Zeruiah are too much for me. God, requite the criminal for his crime!”
The Murder of Ish-Bosheth
4 Saul’s son, Ish-Bosheth, heard that Abner had died in Hebron. His heart sank. The whole country was shaken.
2-3 Ish-Bosheth had two men who were captains of raiding bands—one was named Baanah, the other Recab. They were sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, a Benjaminite. (The people of Beeroth had been assigned to Benjamin ever since they escaped to Gittaim. They still live there as resident aliens.)
4 It so happened that Saul’s son, Jonathan, had a son who was maimed in both feet. When he was five years old, the report on Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel. His nurse picked him up and ran, but in her hurry to get away she fell, and the boy was maimed. His name was Mephibosheth.
5-7 One day Baanah and Recab, the two sons of Rimmon, headed out for the house of Ish-Bosheth. They arrived at the hottest time of the day, just as he was taking his afternoon nap. They entered the house on a ruse, pretending official business. The maid guarding the bedroom had fallen asleep, so Recab and Baanah slipped by her and entered the room where Ish-Bosheth was asleep on his bed. They killed him and then cut off his head, carrying it off as a trophy. They traveled all night long, taking the route through the Arabah Valley.
8 They presented the head of Ish-Bosheth to David at Hebron, telling the king, “Here’s the head of Ish-Bosheth, Saul’s son, your enemy. He was out to kill you, but God has given vengeance to my master, the king—vengeance this very day on Saul and his children!”
9-11 David answered the brothers Recab and Baanah, sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, “As surely as God lives—the One who got me out of every trouble I’ve ever been in—when the messenger told me, ‘Good news! Saul is dead!’ supposing I’d be delighted, I arrested him and killed him on the spot in Ziklag. That’s what he got for his so-called good news! And now you show up—evil men who killed an innocent man in cold blood, a man asleep in his own house! Don’t think I won’t find you guilty of murder and rid the country of you!”
12 David then issued orders to his soldiers. They killed the two—chopped off their hands and feet, and hung the corpses at the pool in Hebron. But Ish-Bosheth’s head they took and buried in Abner’s tomb in Hebron.
5 1-2 Before long all the tribes of Israel approached David in Hebron and said, “Look at us—your own flesh and blood! In time past when Saul was our king, you were the one who really ran the country. Even then God said to you, ‘You will shepherd my people Israel and you’ll be the prince.’”
3 All the leaders of Israel met with King David at Hebron, and the king made a treaty with them in the presence of God. And so they anointed David king over Israel.
4-5 David was thirty years old when he became king, and ruled for forty years. In Hebron he ruled Judah for seven and a half years. In Jerusalem he ruled all Israel and Judah for thirty-three years.
6 David and his men immediately set out for Jerusalem to take on the Jebusites, who lived in that country. But they said, “You might as well go home! Even the blind and the lame could keep you out. You can’t get in here!” They had convinced themselves that David couldn’t break through.
7-8 But David went right ahead and captured the fortress of Zion, known ever since as the City of David. That day David said, “To get the best of these Jebusites, one must target the water system, not to mention this so-called lame and blind bunch that David hates.” (In fact, he was so sick and tired of it, people coined the expression, “No lame and blind allowed in the palace.”)
9-10 David made the fortress city his home and named it “City of David.” He developed the city from the outside terraces inward. David proceeded with a longer stride, a larger embrace since the God-of-the-Angel-Armies was with him.
11-12 It was at this time that Hiram, king of Tyre, sent messengers to David, along with timbers of cedar. He also sent carpenters and masons to build a house for David. David took this as a sign that God had confirmed him as king of Israel, giving his kingship world prominence for the sake of Israel, his people.
13-16 David took on more concubines and wives from Jerusalem after he left Hebron. And more sons and daughters were born to him. These are the names of those born to him in Jerusalem:
17-18 When the Philistines got word that David had been made king over all Israel, they came on the hunt for him. David heard of it and went down to the stronghold. When the Philistines arrived, they deployed their forces in Raphaim Valley.
19 Then David prayed to God: “Shall I go up and fight the Philistines? Will you help me beat them?”
20-21 “Go up,” God replied. “Count on me. I’ll help you beat them.”
David then went straight to Baal Perazim, and smashed them to pieces. Afterward David said, “God exploded on my enemies like a gush of water.” That’s why David named the place Baal Perazim (The-Master-Who-Explodes). The retreating Philistines dumped their idols, and David and his soldiers took them away.
22-23 Later there was a repeat performance. The Philistines came up again and deployed their troops in the Rephaim Valley. David again prayed to God.
23-24 This time God said, “Don’t attack them head-on. Instead, circle around behind them and ambush them from the grove of sacred trees. When you hear the sound of shuffling in the trees, get ready to move out. It’s a signal that God is going ahead of you to smash the Philistine camp.”
25 David did exactly what God told him. He routed the Philistines all the way from Gibeon to Gezer.
Luke 14:25-34 The Message (MSG)
Figure the Cost
25-27 One day when large groups of people were walking along with him, Jesus turned and told them, “Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters—yes, even one’s own self!—can’t be my disciple. Anyone who won’t shoulder his own cross and follow behind me can’t be my disciple.
28-30 “Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it? If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you’re going to look pretty foolish. Everyone passing by will poke fun at you: ‘He started something he couldn’t finish.’
31-32 “Or can you imagine a king going into battle against another king without first deciding whether it is possible with his ten thousand troops to face the twenty thousand troops of the other? And if he decides he can’t, won’t he send an emissary and work out a truce?
33 “Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be my disciple.
34 “Salt is excellent. But if the salt goes flat, it’s useless, good for nothing.
“Are you listening to this? Really listening?”