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. David also sent messengers to the men of Jabesh-gilead with blessings and promises of the Lord's favour, and his own, because of the kindness they had showed to Saul and his sons, in giving them burial.
DAVID, KING OF ISRAEL.
David now asked direction of the Lord, who bade him go with all his household and followers to Hebron : and there the men of Judah anointed him king of Judah.
All David's troubles were not by any means over, however; for Abner,
for Abner, who had been Captain of Saul's host, took a son of Saul's who was yet alive, Ish-bosheth, and set him up as king of Israel. There followed a great deal of quarrelling and fighting between the two parties of David and Ish-bosheth. Abner and his side were beaten in a sore battle, and as he fled, he slew Asahel, a brother of Joab, David's captain. After this David's party grew stronger, and Ish-bosheth's weaker
every day; and this was still more the case when Abner fell out with the king he had set up, and made a league with David, promising to support bis cause, and bring the men of
Israel over to it, if David would promise peace and security to him. David did this. But when his captain Joab returned to Hebron, and found what his master had done, he was very angry that the enemy who had slain his brother should escape thus. Joab was both a bold and deceitful man, and through King David's after life he often suffered from Joab's influence. Now the captain came to his king, and reproached him bitterly with having let Abner go free; and then, without telling David, Joab sent messengers to recal Abner. Trusting to the king's promise, Abner came back, when Joab murdered him with his own hand, in revenge for the death of his brother Asahel.
David was sorely grieved when he heard of this act of treachery. He solemnly declared himself free from Abner's blood, and said, “Let it rest on the head of Joab, and on all his father's house." David and his servants put on sackcloth, and followed Abner's bier, lamenting him, and fasted all that day. The people all took notice of this, and were pleased at it, as indeed we read that “whatsoever the king did pleased the people.” Nevertheless, David felt that king as he was, he was too much in the power of Joab and Abishại (Joab's brother) to be really strong and independent. David himself did not seem willing to strengthen himself by acts of cruelty or treachery ; but his followers were not so forbearing. The murder of Abner was quickly followed by that of Ish-bosheth, who was very feeble when left to himself. Two of his own captains, when they saw that he was likely to fail, thought to make interest for themselves with David ; and they killed him as he lay upon his bed in the noontide heat, and brought his head to David. But the king was sorely displeased, and he caused the murderers to be punished according to the Law of Moses, which says, “Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed.”
After this all the tribes of Israel and Judah came to David, and acknowledged him as their king; and the LORD blessed and prospered him in all that he did.
David wished to bring the Ark of God to his own city Bethlehem, where he dwelt; and he and all the people went to Gibeah to fetch it. All through Holy Scripture we read with what exceeding reverence God would have His ark treated, “Whose Name is called by the name of the Lord of Hosts that dwelleth between the cherubims." The Ark was yet in the house of Abinadab at Gibeah, and thence David took it, placed in a new cart or carriage, which was driven by Abinadab's two sons, Uzzah and Ahio, while the king and all the house of Israel went in procession before it, playing on harps and timbrels, cornets, psalteries, and cymbals, and singing joyful songs of praise. As they came to the threshing floor of a man called Nachon, the oxen that drew the cart stumbled, and shook the Ark, and Uzzah put forth his hand to hold it, forgetting the Lord's command that it should not be touched. Then the LORD's anger was kindled, and He smote Uzzah with death, that all men might see and remember how fearful a thing it is to disobey the LORD of heaven and earth. But David was afraid when he saw what was done, and remembering too, no doubt, how the men of Bethshemesh were punished with death for merely looking too curiously into the Ark, he trembled at its sacred presence, and said he would not take it to Beth, lehem, but would leave it in the house of Obed
edom the Gittite. He did so, and for three months the Lord blessed Obed-edom and all his household, because of the Ark. When David saw this, and that a blessing was with the sacred presence, if It was treated with fitting reverence, he went for it, and brought the Ark up to Bethlehem with great gladness and solemnity, with shoutings, and trumpets, and sacrifices. David himself went with the Ark, wearing a linen ephod as a minister of the LORD, and he joined in the dances of joy before the Ark. His wife Michal, Saul's daughter, saw him, and in her pride she despised David for thus taking part in the rejoicings; and she mocked him and spoke disrespectfully to him, who was both her husband and king. David rebuked her mildly, telling her that those who are lowly in their own eyes, and give all honour to God, shall be exalted. But the LORD punished Michal by never giving her any children; and this was a heavy punishment to a Jewish woman especially, as they looked upon bearing children as a glory and honour, and also each one hoped that she might be the appointed mother of the promised Messiah. When all the rejoicings were ended, David left Zadok the high priest, and many other priests, to