2 Samuel 4

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Read 2 Samuel 4

Ish-Bosheth Murdered

1 When Ish-Bosheth son of Saul heard that Abner had died in Hebron, he lost courage, and all Israel became alarmed. Now Saul’s son had two men who were leaders of raiding bands. One was named Baanah and the other Rekab; they were sons of Rimmon the Beerothite from the tribe of Benjamin—Beeroth is considered part of Benjamin, because the people of Beeroth fled to Gittaim and have resided there as foreigners to this day.

(Jonathan son of Saul had a son who was lame in both feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel. His nurse picked him up and fled, but as she hurried to leave, he fell and became disabled. His name was Mephibosheth.)

Now Rekab and Baanah, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, set out for the house of Ish-Bosheth, and they arrived there in the heat of the day while he was taking his noonday rest. They went into the inner part of the house as if to get some wheat, and they stabbed him in the stomach. Then Rekab and his brother Baanah slipped away.

They had gone into the house while he was lying on the bed in his bedroom. After they stabbed and killed him, they cut off his head. Taking it with them, they traveled all night by way of the Arabah. They brought the head of Ish-Bosheth to David at Hebron and said to the king, “Here is the head of Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, your enemy, who tried to kill you. This day the Lord has avenged my lord the king against Saul and his offspring.”

David answered Rekab and his brother Baanah, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, “As surely as the Lord lives, who has delivered me out of every trouble, 10 when someone told me, ‘Saul is dead,’ and thought he was bringing good news, I seized him and put him to death in Ziklag. That was the reward I gave him for his news! 11 How much more—when wicked men have killed an innocent man in his own house and on his own bed—should I not now demand his blood from your hand and rid the earth of you!”

12 So David gave an order to his men, and they killed them. They cut off their hands and feet and hung the bodies by the pool in Hebron. But they took the head of Ish-Bosheth and buried it in Abner’s tomb at Hebron.

Go Deeper

2 Samuel 4 is surprising and gruesome. Yet, it displays David’s knowledge that man’s attempts to impress others or help God in our own strength doesn’t serve anyone well. Said another way, human effort is powerless to destroy or secure God’s will and plan. 

Rechab and Baanah thought David would be pleased to see the severed head of Ish-bosheth. They wanted to impress the king by murdering his political enemy. They took matters into their own hands, rationalizing their actions and manipulating circumstances. However, they underestimated David’s loyalty to God and the house of Saul (1 Samuel 24:20-22). 

We like to distance ourselves from terrible sinners, like wicked murderers, thinking we can’t relate to their horrific actions. Yet, we too fall prey to the motives that drove Rechab and Baanah—approval of man and impatience with God’s plan. It’s easy to want to “help” God expedite His work, especially if there is a possible advantage in it for us. Too often, we make decisions based on what others will think of us rather than courageously pursuing righteousness and faithfulness. 

David feared God. He knew that the foundation of God’s throne is righteousness and justice (Psalm 89:14). David trusted God’s plan to position him as king and didn’t allow evil or cowardly acts to interfere with God’s promises. 

We make decisions every day to either seek the approval of man or the approval of God. We can choose to trust His timing and His plan or grow impatient and take shortcuts to “help” God. Let’s be people who choose wisely. 


  1. How do you see the character of God through David’s actions in this passage? (Look up Ezekiel 33:11 for additional insight.)
  2. In what ways do you try to “help” God with His plan? In what ways do you seek to gain the approval of others? 
  3. What actions are you rationalizing, hoping to gain approval or manipulate circumstances? Tell someone in your Life Group or community.

Did you know:

Mephibosheth was the son of Jonathan, David’s closest friend. It feels strange to have this parenthetical verse in the middle of the chapter, but it foreshadows the later story of David’s kindness to Mephibosheth driven by his love for Jonathan. We’ll read more about him in chapter 9. 

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2 thoughts on “2 Samuel 4”

  1. Ella Snodgrass

    I wonder how often we grieve God’s heart by our stubborn persistence to do things our way and not wait on His timing. It’s hard to surrender our will to His even though we have countless examples in Scripture that He is completely trustworthy. When tempted to rush into a decision instead we should pause, pray, and pursue Godly counsel. Proverbs 11:14 says “Without guidance, people fall, but with many counselors there is deliverance.”

    1. True, it is important to pause, pray, and seek guidance from others when making decisions. I also believe that when God tells us to do something, no matter the feat, we must obey and carry out His orders. For me, I could have possibly avoided being fired from my job had I listened and obeyed God. Sometimes I have been afraid to carry out his orders in fear of what would happen to me if I did. I think it’s important for me to learn to be assertive though for in doing so I could save myself and others much sorrow.

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