1. After Saul died in battle, there were no obstacles to stop David from taking the throne of Israel. The only rival to the throne was Saul's youngest son, Ishbosheth, who was a fearful and weak leader. Saul's death brought chaos to the leadership of Israel. It was an opportune time for David to take advantage of the situation and take the throne. But instead, David inquired of the Lord as to what to do. He refused to grasp the throne while in En Geri and Ziph, and now once again. The Lord spoke to David and told him to go up to Hebron.
2. During David's seven years in Hebron, he was tested by receiving only a partial fulfillment of what God had promised him. Here he was king over only one tribe- Judah- instead of all 12 tribes that God spoke to him about ruling. He was age 30-37 during his seven years in Hebron ( 2 Sam. 2-4). David was preoccupied with doing God's will, not with being king. He saw himself first as who he was before God, and second as he was before men. David's greatest desire was to love and obey the Lord, regardless of the changing circumstances and seasons of his life. The lesson here is that the promise of God and the timing of God are separate issues. We will never lose anything in God by responding with patience and humility. David was patient, but not passive.
3. Jesus called His people to be wise as a serpent, but innocent as a dove ( Mt. 10:16). He wants us to be wise related to human dynamics. This speaks of divine diplomacy in our approach to decisions related to complex human dynamics. This includes having insight into the nature of fallen people. David was wise with good motives.
4. David's first act as king was to honor Saul by blessing the men of Jabesh who buried Saul and his three sons. This is an example of David employing diplomacy in his actions to help unify Israel. David sent a message of kindness to these men expressing his value for them. This was an expression of his diplomatic wisdom. The nation wanted to see how David would treat the people associated with Saul's house. By honoring Saul, David signaled to the nation, that he was not seeking to seize the throne from Saul's family.
5. Abner took Ishbosheth to be anointed as king of Israel. He was an incompetent leader and was easily intimidated. Abner was the most influential man in Israel. Instead of establishing himself as king, he wanted a descendant of Saul to be king. Thus he used Ishbosheth to legitimize his own power base. Abner was the primary leader in Israel for the first 5 years of David's 7 year reign in Hebron, before anointing Ishbosheth.
6. These chapters describe important events that occurred during a civil war between Israel and Judah that happened during the last two years of David's seven year reign. David longed for Israel to be unified with Judah, but various battles and murders (of Abner and Ishbosheth) set the process back. However. David's wise actions kept the process going forward.
7. David's house and influence grew stronger, and the house of Saul grew weaker ( 3:1). The tensions between the house of Saul and the house of David lasted seven and a half years. The Lord often allows increase to come little by little to protect His people from being harmed ( Deut. 7:22).
8. Abner was strengthening his hold on the house of Saul. Ishbosheth accused Abner of treason by being involved sexually with Rizpah (3:7), a concubine in Saul's harem. To touch a king's concubine sexually was an act of treason. Abner had a change of heart as a result of this accusation and decided on the spot to support David until all of Israel came under David's kingship. It was well known that the Lord promised to make David king over all of Israel (3:9). Abner sent messengers to David to begin the process of turning the Kingdom over to him( 3:12-14). Abner had confidence in David's integrity, having watched Him over the years respond to Saul. David came to agreement with Abner. Abner's plan escalated after he spoke to the elders of Israel ( 3:17-18). Soon after this, the elders affirmed David's divine right to rule over them and took part in his anointing ( 5:2-3).
9. All the tribes of Israel anointed David as king ( 2 Sam. 5:1-5). The humbled, desperate elders received David after the murders of Abner and Ishbosheth. David's generous response to them unified the nation as he refused to yield to bitterness. He forgave them for 7 years of resistance after Saul's death, as well as the previous 7 years being chased in the wilderness. The elders acknowledged that they knew that the Lord had chosen him. His prophetic call to be king was spoken by Samuel, Jonathan, Saul, Abigail, Abner, and Israel's elders.