It is clear from v.1 that Israel’s dismay was not simply because Abner had died; but because Abner died as the mediator between Judah and themselves. Ish-bosheth, a man of shame, is therefore left to his own devices and his own counsel. Though Abner had positively decided to fellowship with the light by putting himself before the anointed David (2 Corinthians 6:14), Ish-bosheth has sadly remained without hope, only to have the ruthless Benjaminites (Beerothites) surround him (Genesis 49:27), the Beerothites who had fled to the double-winepress Gittaim as the double-winepress Baanah and Rechab attempt to destroy the final line of Saul via the death Ish-bosheth.
It is therefore important that we see the parallel not simply between the righteousness of Abner as a temporary type of Christ, but also the comparison between Ish-bosheth and Mephibosheth, bearing names of contrasting meaning. Where Ish-bosheth is the appointed king clothed in royal garb, he is in fact a man of shame who is undeserving of the title; contrary to Mephibosheth, the grandson of Saul and the son of righteous Jonathan who is lamed but will be brought to the meal table before David (2 Samuel 9:10). Where Ish-bosheth’s courage failed, Mephibosheth’s courage was brought to life. Such is the man titled the exterminator of idol and shame compared with the man of shame. In what form does this exterminator take? The form of a lame man from his youth. And that is why Mephibosheth is mentioned in what is a seemingly random placement between the repeated descriptions of Baanah and Rechab (v.2 and v.5); in the midst of the ravenous wolves of Benjamin is this ray of hope in the physical house of Israel, in the natural branches of the olive tree (Romans 11).
It is therefore immediately clear that Mephibosheth’s humility is described in such a way as to shame Baanah and Rechab who in their own mind are exterminating Ish-bosheth as if he was an idol. Yet, these two men are deceivers (v.6), like the Benjaminite ravenous wolves in sheep’s clothing, the true enemy of the church from within her own ranks (Matthew 7:15). And so Baanah and Rechab are the false exterminators – they fail to see that Israel is not to be replaced by any more shedding of blood, nor it is pleasing to God that Saul should fall for David to rise. Is Saul’s blood not enough? Is Asahel’s blood not excessive? Is Abner’s blood not innocent? Is Joab’s violence not rebuked? And so we see a chain of events which spiral out of control preceding David’s enthronement; and yet, this is not of David’s will nor is it of God’s will. It is reflective of Judas’ betrayal of Jesus – his excessive, selfish betrayal which is typified by these chains of madness. Yet, God works through this madness to bring about Christ’s exaltation, restoring even the house of Israel though crippled and lamed by its internal conflict and warfare to display that it is only by Christ’s grace that Israel is to return to the table which it once took part of at the height of its glory at Mt. Sinai (Exodus 24).
And so such blasphemous words from the ravenous wolves in sheepskin: “The LORD Has avenged my lord the king this day on Saul and on his offspring” – what ridicule that such a Messianic race of people should dare kill the offspring of the first anointed king Saul when they are indeed anticipating the One beyond David and beyond Saul who will redeem them! These are the secret responses from Satan that from the day of his punishment (Genesis 3) he would want to murder the offspring of the king!
Therefore the removal of the hands and feet of the Beerothites is a symbol of the powerlessness of Satan hanged up beside the pool at the seat of association before the LORD; their heads are not cut off for all to see and identify such heresy as powerless before the living God effectuated through David. By parallel, the head of Ish-bosheth is buried with Abner, representative that both men of Israel however once shameful are considered righteous men by David’s account and pronouncement; that they should share the same tomb at Hebron. Ish-bosheth, a man of shame to have his head buried in the same tomb as the man whose death was heavily mourned and fasted for (c.f. chapter 3) – such is the exaltation which David is capable of bringing on the house of Saul, from the shackles of sin (Mark 5) to the glory of gifted righteousness from the anointed king! David has consistently exercised this power of redemption throughout his ministry in restoring shameful Israel to glory from 1 Samuel 17 to 2 Samuel 4, and it is upon his enthronement as the King of Israel that the headless man of shame is now led by the new head David son of Jesse, and that another brand of worthless men – Abner and Ish-bosheth – are to be honoured and to go with Him into the true Promised Land.