We are introduced to Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son, who was lame in both feet. He became disabled when news of Saul’s and Jonathan’s deaths were learned by his nurse who fell and injured Mephibosheth when he was five.
Rekab and Baana go to Ish-Bosheth’s house in the heat of the day while he was taking his noonday rest. They stabbed him in the stomach and slipped away (v. 6), after cutting off his head. They bring the head to David at Hebron and boasted, “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.” (v. 8).
But Rekab and Baanah don’t get the response from David that they expected. David says, “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!” David orders their executions, has their hands and feet cut off and their bodies hung by the pool in Hebron. They took Ish-Bosheth’s head and buried it in Abner’s tomb at Hebron (v. 12).
Some takeaways for me:
1. Incredibly evil actions are sometimes explained as actions directed by the Lord. Saul used such religious language several times. Rekab and Baanah describe their cowardly act of murdering Ish-Bosheth while he was taking a nap as “this day the Lord has avenged my lord the king!”
2. Even in wartime, there are lines that should not be crossed. David describes their action as wicked men killing an innocent man in his own house and on his own bed! David gives the order to execute them, to “rid the earth of you!” (v. 11).
3. Some today suggest that capital punishment is not useful as a deterrent. David did not hold that opinion (he publicly displays Rekab and Baanah’s bodies for all to see).