II Samuel 4 The Assassination Of Ishbosheth And Judgment.
With the death of Abner Ishbosheth feared, and the people of Israel were troubled. Peace was so soon broken. Perhaps because they saw how fearful Ishbosheth was, two of his captains from the tribe of Benjamin, Baanah and Rechab, set out and killed and beheaded him as he laid in his bed (vv. 5-7). Like the Amalekite of 1:1-16, these men thought that they would pacify any wrath of David, and secure their place in his favour (v. 8). David in fact referred back to this incident with the Amalekite and the death of Saul, stating that he never took vengeance into his own hands, but rather that the LORD was his redeemer “from all adversity” (v. 9). So as with the Amalekite, so also with Rechab and Baanah, he declared them guilty of murder, since like Abner, Ishbosheth was assasinated in a time of peace. He therefore ordered his servants to execute Baanah and Rechab, cut off their hands and feet, “and hanged them by the pool in Hebron. But they took the head of Ishbosheth and buried it in the tomb of Abner in Hebron” (v. 12).
Our author parenthetically notes that Ishbosheth was not the only descendant of Saul. He was placed in his position by Abner (2:8-10). Jonathan had a surviving son named Mephibosheth. Baanah and Rechab were thinking that the death Ishbosheth would eliminate any hereditary claim to Saul’s throne. He was likely out of mind to most, because “he was five years old when the news of Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel” (v. 4a). Perhaps he was also disregarded because he was a cripple. When his nurse took him and fled in haste, “he fell and became lame” (v. 4b). This son of Jonathan will come into play later, as David sought to show kindness to anyone related to his covenantal friend Jonathan (Ch. 9). For now, it is enough for the author to mention him, because it has to do with the focus of this passage, namely the succession to the Israelite throne and a covenant of peace with Judah and her king. That covenant would in a way find continuation in the covenant that David will make with the house of Israel in the next chapter (5).