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Some thoughts on Joab and Abner:
It's interesting to me that both these guys were second in charge, but took ultimate authority into their own hands. Their first conflict at Gibeon almost seemed to start as sport. It seems that the battle was not "authorised" by either David or Ish-Bosheth. (Please correct me if I'm wrong because the rest of this post is based on this thought!)

Ish-Bosheth seemed to be more of Abner's puppet than anything else, but then again, it was Abner who arranged Ish-Bosheth's kingship in the first place. So there was probably quite a lot of dependency there. It was Abner who made the decision to unite with Judah, albeit by creating fear in Ish-Bosheth.

When Joab, under David's kingship, was expected to unite with Abner, this was of course very difficult because of the hot blood between them generated by "unauthorised" conflict. So Joab takes ultimate authority into his own hands and does what he sees fit, which we see is catastrophic.

Now the interesting part to me is David's comment: "And today, though I am anointed king, I am weak, and these sons of Zeruiah are too strong for me." It makes me wonder where David was in all the above goings on. Did he know that there was something he could have done to prevent it? Ch 3v1 says: "The war between the house of Saul and the house of David dragged on and on." (Msg Bible). David must then have been party to this war? Should stricter discipline/ guidelines have been laid down by David after the "unauthorised" conflict?

I think that every great leader relies on people around them, but ultimately, the leader should be making the final decisions. I get the feeling that neither David nor Ish-Bosheth were acting within their full authority here.

One last comment: Ramona, your thoughts yesterday on Jonathan's loyalties got me thinking, although I don't know if I agree with you on them. My thoughts today made me wonder about whose authority Jonathan was under. As son of king Saul whom David revered as Israel's king, was Jonathan not right to remain under Saul's leadership until God raised up David as king?

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