“David and his men tore their clothes in sorrow when they heard the news. They mourned and wept and fasted all day for Saul and his son Jonathan, and for the Lord’s army and the nation of Israel, because they had died by the sword that day” (II Samuel 1:11-12, NLT). The Holy Spirit may have long since departed from Saul, who may have been David’s worst enemy; but he was still God’s chosen leader until God’s timing brought his life to an end.
Just as David respected Saul because of the position of authority the Lord had allowed him to have, he also showed respect in mourning Saul’s death as the leader of his nation. David’s behavior reflected genuine integrity through a life obedient to God. Christians who lambast those whom God has allowed to be in authority today could take a huge lesson from what we’ve seen in David. ‘Nuf said.
So now Saul’s dead. What does David do? He “asked the Lord, ‘Should I move back to one of the towns of Judah?’ ‘Yes,’ the Lord replied. Then David asked, ‘Which town should I go to?’ ‘To Hebron,’ the Lord answered” (II Samuel 2:1).
“So David and his wives and his men and their families all moved to Judah, and they settled in the villages near Hebron. Then the men of Judah came to David and anointed him king over the people of Judah” (II Samuel 2:2b-4).
At last, David is king. But he’s king over Judah, not Israel. And the Lord had the prophet Samuel anoint him as the replacement for Saul over Israel – see First Samuel 16. What now? He sends Israel a message: “Now that Saul is dead, I ask you to be my strong and loyal subjects like the people of Judah, who have anointed me as their new king” (II Samuel 2:7).
And all the people whooped and hollered and welcomed David as king, didn’t they? Nope. “Abner son of Ner, the commander of Saul’s army, had already gone to Mahanaim with Saul’s son Ishbosheth. There he proclaimed Ishbosheth king over Gilead, Jezreel, Ephraim, Benjamin, the land of the Ashurites, and all the rest of Israel” (II Samuel 2:8-9).
David was supposed to be king over Israel! Yet here he is, rejected by Israel and accepted only by li’l ol’ Judah. What’s up with that? Timing, folks. God’s timing. David got his feet wet ruling over Judah, which undoubtedly gave him a great deal of preparatory experience for the day when he’d also rule over Israel.
“David made Hebron his capital, and he ruled as king of Judah for seven and a half years” (II Samuel 2:11).
David waited patiently on God’s timing. And as he waited, he matured and grew in wisdom. He was the right man for the job, but only when God said it was time for him to take over.
As we can see from David’s life, following God’s plan sometimes takes a heap of patience. But being in God’s will is always worth the waiting.