Today's passage: II Samuel 4
The Israelites would soon learn that they were serving under a very different king. After Abner's death, Ish-bosheth is afraid for his life and his kingdom. He depended on Abner's counsel. Actually, I think he depended on Abner's decisions, since it doesn't appear Ish-bosheth ever makes one. He will not get a chance to prove he can do things without Abner's help either, because two of his father's military men murder him in his own bed. They had apparently not heard what happened to the Amalekite who assisted, or said he assisted, in Saul's demise. They believe this action against Ish-bosheth will result in David's confidence. Saul would have rewarded them for such an act (well, maybe not against his own son). They were used to working for a king who pursued enemies, real or invisible. They had been accustomed to alleviating paranoia by eliminating any potential threats to the throne. They think they are showing loyalty, but it will not be a brand of loyalty David appreciates or rewards.
When these men present Ish-bosheth's trophy head to David, he responds by having these same men's hands and feet cut off, and then hanging their bodies for display above a pool. I'm thinking this is probably not what they were expecting. David wants to send a clear message, since the Amalekite's death did not seem to do the job, that the new king will not tolerate anyone who takes these matters into their own hands.
What was the main difference between Saul and David? Saul encouraged his men to destroy his enemies, even if he just believed them to oppose him. David trusted God to take care of the opposition. David knew that God had placed him on the throne. He trusted that if God had put him there, then God would handle those who tried to usurp him. David is not a worrier. He does not pace the floor, wondering when the rest of the tribes will fall in line and recognize his leadership. He leaves those things to the Lord. This is not to say he didn't have armed guards or watchkeepers. This does not mean he didn't have a military strategy in place should enemies storm the castle. He would defend his kingdom, but he did not see the need to go on the offense, and mow down regents or anyone else in Saul's line who might be Ish-bosheth's successor.
Saul, on the other hand seemed consumed with securing his throne. He could not rest easily unless he or his men were pursuing any threats to his reign. Perhaps, he never really felt confident that God had put him in that position. I only know that Saul and David's approach was different because their trust was different. Saul believed it was his kingship. David believed it was His kingship.
That one letter changes a person's perspective. When I leave everything in His hands, I don't have to worry about my enemies, my opposers, my critics. God will take care of those who try to sully my name, who make false accusations, who paint me in a bad light. Should I be ousted from my position, if He is the One who put me in it to begin with, I have to trust that He knows what He is doing and is taking me out of that position for a little while. I don't have to go looking for my enemies, they will always be around. But God could be using them in my life to either build up my faith in Him, to allow me to be a witness to them, or to show His strength and His ability to handle the situation. David trusted in God when he was on the throne, before he was on the throne, and during the times he was taken off the throne. He always knew that if it was God's plan, he would be put back in his rightful place, and if it was not God's plan, than His plan was better. With that perspective, with that foresight, David was able to be one of Israel's greatest kings. He made mistakes, he wasn't perfect, but David trusted God to even help him in his messes. God can help me in mine.