King David's Wars Against Israel
King David became king of all of the tribes of Israel by winning a civil war between Judah, who supported David, and the other tribes of Israel, who supported Saul (see The Civil War; also Royal Democracy):
"3:1 Now there was long war between the house of Saul and the house of David: but David waxed stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul waxed weaker and weaker." (2 Samuel 3:1 KJV)
"5:1 Then came all the tribes of Israel to David unto Hebron, and spake, saying, Behold, we are thy bone and thy flesh. 5:2 Also in time past, when Saul was king over us, thou wast he that leddest out and broughtest in Israel: and the LORD said to thee, Thou shalt feed my people Israel, and thou shalt be a captain over Israel. 5:3 So all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron; and king David made a league with them in Hebron before the LORD: and they anointed David king over Israel.
5:4 David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years.
5:5 In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months: and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty and three years over all Israel and Judah." (2 Samuel 5:1-5 KJV)
"The people of Israel were slain before the servants of David, and there was there a great slaughter that day of twenty thousand men"
David's victory over Saul was not the last time that he would be forced to fight other Israelites. David's own son Absalom staged a coup against his father, seizing David's throne at Jerusalem, leaving David no alternative to fight another civil war. A victory for David was certain however, not only because he was the LORD's choice for king, but because Absalom and his supporters were no military match for David and those who remained loyal to him.
"18:1 And David numbered the people that were with him, and set captains of thousands and captains of hundreds over them. 18:2 And David sent forth a third part of the people under the hand of Joab, and a third part under the hand of Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab's brother, and a third part under the hand of Ittai the Gittite. And the king said unto the people, I will surely go forth with you myself also.
18:3 But the people answered, Thou shalt not go forth: for if we flee away, they will not care for us; neither if half of us die, will they care for us: but now thou art worth ten thousand of us: therefore now it is better that thou succour us out of the city.
18:4 And the king said unto them, What seemeth you best I will do.
And the king stood by the gate side, and all the people came out by hundreds and by thousands.
18:5 And the king commanded Joab and Abishai and Ittai, saying, Deal gently for my sake with the young man, even with Absalom. And all the people heard when the king gave all the captains charge concerning Absalom." (2 Samuel 18:1-5 KJV)
As described above, David's military commanders would not risk the safety of their king because the victory that they were about to deliver to David nevertheless would be lost if he was - wisdom that eluded vain Absalom. Instead of merely losing a battle that could possibly be won in a later attempt, Absalom lost the battle and himself. It was all over in a single day.
"18:6 So the people went out into the field against Israel: and the battle was in the wood of Ephraim; 18:7 Where the people of Israel were slain before the servants of David, and there was there a great slaughter that day of twenty thousand men. 18:8 For the battle was there scattered over the face of all the country: and the wood devoured more people that day than the sword devoured."
18:9 And Absalom met the servants of David. And Absalom rode upon a mule, and the mule went under the thick boughs of a great oak, and his head caught hold of the oak, and he was taken up between the heaven and the earth; and the mule that was under him went away.
18:10 And a certain man saw it, and told Joab, and said, Behold, I saw Absalom hanged in an oak.
18:11 And Joab said unto the man that told him, And, behold, thou sawest him, and why didst thou not smite him there to the ground? And I would have given thee ten shekels of silver, and a girdle.
18:12 And the man said unto Joab, Though I should receive a thousand shekels of silver in mine hand, yet would I not put forth mine hand against the king's son: for in our hearing the king charged thee and Abishai and Ittai, saying, Beware that none touch the young man Absalom. 18:13 Otherwise I should have wrought falsehood against mine own life: for there is no matter hid from the king, and thou thyself wouldest have set thyself against me."
"18:14 Then said Joab, I may not tarry thus with thee. And he took three darts in his hand, and thrust them through the heart of Absalom, while he was yet alive in the midst of the oak.
18:15 And ten young men that bare Joab's armour compassed about and smote Absalom, and slew him.
18:16 And Joab blew the trumpet, and the people returned from pursuing after Israel: for Joab held back the people. 18:17 And they took Absalom, and cast him into a great pit in the wood, and laid a very great heap of stones upon him: and all Israel fled every one to his tent.
18:18 Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and reared up for himself a pillar, which is in the king's dale: for he said, I have no son to keep my name in remembrance: and he called the pillar after his own name: and it is called unto this day, Absalom's place." (2 Samuel 18:6-18 KJV)
Fact Finder: How is King David to be a yet future king of Israel?
See David, Future King Of Israel