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2 Samuel 3

2 Samuel  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Abner, the commander of Saul’s army, had made Saul’s one remaining son, Ishbosheth, king over Israel with his headquarters at Mahanaim.
A skirmish broke out between the two armies at Gibeon and Abner’s soldiers were defeated.
This resulted in a footrace with Asahel, the brother of Joab, chasing Abner.
Asahel was faster, but Abner had more experience and he was able to trick Asahel into impaling himself on his spear.
Joab and Abishai continued the pursuit, but Abner was able to reconnect with his troops on a hill.
And Abner managed to convince Joab to break off his pursuit and they both returned to their headquarters, Joab to Hebron and Abner to Mahanaim.
Had Joab finished the job instead of being convinced by Abner to stop, he would have prevented what chapter 3 verse 1 calls a long war between the house of Saul and the house of David.
And because Abner had killed Joab’s brother, Joab will do something unwise in our chapter.
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But Ishbosheth and Abner were not David’s only problems.
David’s many wives were chosen in direct violation of . Some students believe that this expression of David’s lust eventually led to the many family problems that plagued his later days. Amnon violated his half-sister Tamar (chap. 13); Absalom rebelled against David and tried to capture the crown (chaps. 13–18); and Adonijah tried to wrest the kingdom from Solomon (). Abner had problems with lust too; for he took one of Saul’s concubines and incurred the displeasure of the pretended king. This led to a disruption between Abner and Ishbosheth. Abner tried to make a peaceful agreement with David, but the “sons of Zeruiah” plotted against him and killed him (vv. 26–30). While Joab did the actual killing, it is likely that his brother was in on the plans. Joab’s hands were stained with blood before his own death came; for he not only killed Abner, but also Absalom () and Amasa (). David asked his son Solomon to deal with Joab, and he did (, ). How different history would have been had Abner lived, it is difficult to tell. Certainly Joab held unusual power over David, particularly after he assisted the king in his murderous plot against innocent Uriah (11:14ff). Note, however, David’s godly conduct in the matter of Abner’s death.
Some people believe that David’s lust and this divided family eventually led to the many family problems that plagued his later days.
David had a man killed with the help of Joab, so that he could take his wife, Bathsheba.
Amnon forced himself on Tamar, his half-sister … the sister of Absalom (chap. 13) and Absalom killed him.
Absalom rebelled against David and tried to capture the crown (chaps. 13–18) but Absalom was killed.
Adonijah, David’s 4th son, tried to take the kingdom from Solomon () thinking he should have have been next in line for the throne.
But David promised Bathsheba that Solomon would get the throne.
For the meantime, however, David had two great problems … Ishbosheth and Joab.
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And Abner had his eyes on both Israel and Judah.
In a power play, Abner took one of Saul’s concubines.
Instead of giving Abner more control over Ishbosheth, this led to a disruption between Abner and Ishbosheth.
Abner tried to make a peaceful agreement with David, but Joab and Abishai, the two remaining “sons of Zeruiah” plotted against him to kill him.
(While Joab did the actual killing, it is likely that his brother was in on the plans.)
Before his own death, Joab would also kill David’s son Absalom () and Amasa, commander of Absalom’s army ().
In , David asked his son Solomon to deal with Joab, and he did, having him killed.
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How different history would have been had Abner lived, it is difficult to tell.
So that’s where we are and where we are headed.
Certainly Joab held unusual power over David, particularly after he assisted the king in his murderous plot against innocent Uriah (11:14ff).
Some twists and turns and intrigue.
Note, however, David’s godly conduct in the matter of Abner’s death.
Let’s pray and we’ll dig in:
Prayer: Lord, we place ourselves before the authority of Your Written Word this evening and ask that You would open up our hearts to understanding. May You be blessed by our commitment to Your Word and blessed through it.
David had learned some patience.
Instead of an outright assault on Ishbosheth, this war was a series of skirmishes back and forth as David waited on the LORD.
David knew that God would keep His promises and give him the throne of Israel.
And Ishbosheth and his forces were weakening while David and his forces were gaining in strength.
And Ishbosheth and his forces were weakening while David and his forces were gaining in strength.
And Ishbosheth and his forces were weakening while David and his forces were gaining in strength.
But stronger and weaker here do not only refer to combat and defensive ability … that is, military strength.
Those who believed that David was God’s anointed king over Israel grew in confidence.
Those who held to Saul’s house were losing confidence.
David was gaining support while Ishbosheth was losing support.
In fact, this long war was more about the allegiance of the people of Israel rather than armies and battles.
And more and more people began to switch their allegiance from Ishbosheth and the house of Saul to David.
As we see from , this is a process that began while Saul was still king as seen in 1 Samuel when David was in exile, and continued into the 7 years of David’s rule from Hebron.
1 Kings
But we’ll get to that later.
David had moved to Hebron with two wives, and now he had six sons by six different wives.
Polygamy started with Lamech, a descendant of Cain ().
But, as we saw earlier, according to , it was forbidden to Israel’s kings.
David’s firstborn was Amnon.
He had Amnon by Ahinoam, who was originally from Jezreel and became David’s wife along with Abigail (widow of Nabal, the Carmelite.)
His name meant “Faithful.”
Ahinoam would later deceive and force himself on his half-sister Tamar.
He was then murdered by Tamar’s full brother Absalom, who would be killed while trying to take the kingdom from his father.
would rape his half-sister Tamar (chap. 13) and be murdered by Tamar’s full brother Absalom, who would be killed while trying to take the kingdom from his father (chap. 14–18).
David’s second was Chileab.
He had Amnon by Abigail, the widow of Nabal.
In he is called Daniel.
It is not uncommon in the Old Testament for a person to have 2 names.
Generally, one of them is the proper name and the other is descriptive.
With Chileab, his real name is Daniel meaning “God has judged me favorably” … a proclamation of God’s goodness toward David.
Chileab was Daniel’s nickname … because he looked so much like his father … the name means, “He is completely like his father.”
Although he is older than his brothers Absolam and Adonijah, there is nothing more recorded of him … which might mean that he died young.
David’s third son was Absalom.
He had Absalom by Maacah.
She was the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur.
Geshur was an Aramaean kingdom located east of the Sea of Galilee.
Geshur was an Aramaean kingdom located east of the Sea of Galilee. The half-tribe of Manasseh in the Transjordan had failed to drive them out during the conquest (; ), so Geshur continued as an independent kingdom. When Absalom fell out of favor with David for killing his brother Amnon, he fled to Talmai, his grandfather, for protection ().
The half-tribe of Manasseh had failed to drive them out during the conquest of the land, so Geshur continued as an independent kingdom.
David’s marriage to Maacah was politically motivated so that David would have an ally nearby to IshBosheth.
David’s marriage to Maacah was politically motivated so that David would have an ally near Ish-Bosheth.
Major Contributors and Editors. (2016). Talmai, Son of Ammihud. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
But when Absalom fell out of favor with David for killing his brother Amnon, he fled to Talmai, his grandfather, for protection.
When Absalom fell out of favor with David for killing his brother Amnon, he fled to Talmai, his grandfather, for protection.
He would also try to steal the kingdom from his father.
His name meant, “My Father is Peace.”
David’s fourth son was Adonijah … Adoniyah or Adoniyyahu.
His name meant “My Lord is Yahweh.”
He had Adoniyah by Haggith.
Given the deaths of his older brothers, he assumed he was next in line for the throne, but that had been promised to Solomon.
During David’s final illness, Adonijah tried to capture the throne and was executed by Solomon.
During David’s final illness, Adonijah would try to capture the throne and would be executed by Solomon
David’s fifth son was Shephatiah … Shephatyah or Shephatyahu.
David’s fifth son was Shephatiah … Shephatyah or Shephatyahu.
His name meant “Yah has judged.”
He had Shephatyah by Abital.
Finally, David’s sixth son was Yithream.
His name meant “Rest of the People.”
David had Yithream by Eglah.
There are several theories about Eglah.
One is that she is another wife of David that we haven’t seen before.
If that’s the case then we don’t see Michal in this list, because she bore no children, which scripture does indicate.
Another theory is that she is Michal … and Eglah was a term of endearment.
By the way, Eglah means “young cow” … probably not as endearing today as it might have been back then.
Actually, today’s equivelent probably would be
Michal does not feature, because she bore no children.
As you may have guessed, we know nothing about Shephatyah and his mother Abitai, and Yithream and his mother Eglah (if she is not Michal.)
As you may have guessed, we know nothing about Shephatyah and his mother Abitai, and Yithream and his mother Eglah.
We know nothing about Shephatiah and his mother Abitai, and Ithream and his mother Eglah. After relocating his capital in Jerusalem, David took even more wives and concubines and had eleven more sons born to him (5:13–16).
Later on, after relocating his capital in Jerusalem, David took even more wives and concubines and had eleven more sons born to him.
And he was aware that Abner was growing even more powerful at his expense.
In fact, Abner made quite a power play here.
Abner tried to take for his own Rizpah, the concubine of Saul, whose sons were Mephibosheth and Armoni.
We’ve heard the term concubine used in the Bible previously, but I’m not sure that we’ve defined what is meant by that term.
In the Bible, concubine refers to women without dowry who include among their duties providing children to the family.
Concubines are women without dowry who include among their duties providing children to the family. In the royal household they may represent minor political alliances. Since a concubine has been a sexual partner, a son who used his father’s concubine was not only viewed as incestuous but was seen as attempting to usurp the authority of the family patriarch. In a similar way a successor to the throne at times sought to expropriate the authority of his predecessor by taking over his concubines. Israel was a tribal society in transition to a monarchy. The network of support for a king would have been found in the powerful clans and families. Acquiring concubines and wives would therefore be the mechanism for building up the backing of each local area. Support might also be found in wealthy merchants, military leaders or even in priestly families.
The act of taking a kings’ concubine was an attempt to usurp his authority.
This may have been what was going on in Genesis when it records Ham as seeing the “Nakedness of his father” and telling his brother about it.
It may have been an attempt to usurp his father’s authority over the clan by claiming Noah’s wife for himself.
Which may have been why he told his brothers about it.
Since a concubine has been a sexual partner, a son who used his father’s concubine was not only viewed as incestuous but was seen as attempting to usurp the authority of the family patriarch. In a similar way a successor to the throne at times sought to expropriate the authority of his predecessor by taking over his concubines. Israel was a tribal society in transition to a monarchy. The network of support for a king would have been found in the powerful clans and families. Acquiring concubines and wives would therefore be the mechanism for building up the backing of each local area. Support might also be found in wealthy merchants, military leaders or even in priestly families.
At this point, Israel was a tribal society in transition to a monarchy.
The network of support for a king would have been found in the powerful clans and families.
And acquiring concubines and wives would therefore be the mechanism for building up the backing of each local area.
Support might also be found in wealthy merchants, military leaders or even in priestly families.
So, this may have been David’s strategy in taking wives and concubines, but it was also Abner’s strategy in taking Rizpah, Saul’s concubine.
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And Abner’s anger back at Ishbosheth indicates just how powerful Abner was.
He implies that after all he has done for Ishbosheth, how dare he question him and implies that Ishbosheth owes him everything.
And, in a fit of anger indicating the accusation was correct, he declares a change of allegiance to David.
In verse 8, where it reads, “Am I a dog’s head that belongs to Judah?” is not the best translation.
Am I a dog’s head that belongs to Judah?
It would be better rendered something like, “Why should I be a chief for you? It is better to be a dog in Judah!”
In other words, “If you are going to reward me with accusations, why should I not hand you over to David?”
And check out verse 9 … “As the Lord has sworn to him.”
And check out verse 9 … “As the Lord has sworn to him.”
Abner, who had willingly flouted what he knew to be God’s revealed purpose, finds himself helping to fulfil it.
Abner, who had willingly disregarded what he knew to be God’s revealed purpose, finds himself helping to fulfil it.
Abner was a shrewd man.
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On the flip side of this, Abner was a shrewd man.
On the flip side of this, Abner was a shrewd man.
On the flip side of this, Abner was a shrewd man.
Abner was a pragmatic politician as well as a shrewd general, and his basic principle was, “Always join the winning side.”
Ishbosheth was aware that Abner was growing powerful at his expense
Abner was a pragmatic politician as well as a shrewd general, and his basic principle was, “Always join the winning side.”
When he perceived that the throne of Ishbosheth had no future, he decided to switch loyalties and thereby guarantee his own security.
David had a reputation for kindness, and he had shown remarkable patience with the house of Saul.
By the way, the phrase “throne of David” is used in verse 10 for the first time in Scripture, and as time passes, it will take on Messianic significance ().
We see this play in the text here.
First, Abner sent messengers to David offering to bring all Israel under his rule (v. 12).
Abner sent messengers to David offering to bring all Israel under his rule (v. 12).
Second, David sent messengers to Abner accepting his offer, provided Abner first sent Michal to him. She was David’s wife and Ish-Bosheth’s sister (v. 13).
Next, Abner told IshBosheth to honor David’s request, and David also sent IshBosheth a message asking that Michal be sent to Hebron (v. 14).
Fourth, Abner conferred with the elders of Israel (vv. 17–18).
Then in verse 19, Abner conferred with the leaders of Benjamin.
And then Abner and 20 representatives from the tribes came to Hebron, bringing Michal with them (vv. 15–16, 20).
Finally, Abner and David agreed on how to transfer the kingdom, and they shared a feast and made a covenant (v. 21).
Abner with Ishbosheth had been the enemy.
Now, suddenly, Abner is reaching out to David.
Was it a trick?
Well, Abner’s message to David was strange in it’s disrespectful tone.
It was important for David to find out before any personal meeting with Abner.
So, they depended on other officials to make the necessary contacts.
In the early stages of these negotiations it would have been dangerous and unwise for David and Abner to meet personally, so they depended on their officials to make the necessary contacts.
David had no reason not to cooperate with Abner since he had never personally been at war with him or King Saul.
If he could unite the tribes as quickly as possible and with the least amount of bloodshed, that’s the course he was going to take.
It had been 7 years since David had first become king of Judah … so he was ready for things to start falling into place.
Yet he wasn’t going to just say yes …
But perhaps we find something strange about the conditions he puts forward for further negotiations.
Why did David make the return of Michal a condition for further negotiation?
First of all, she was still his wife, even though Saul had given her to another man.
10 years before, when they were wed, Michal loved David very much (), and we have reason to believe that David loved her.
She helped David escape from Saul.
And there is no reason to doubt her care for David … she probably had little choice but to follow her father’s order in re-marriage.
But it was also a good diplomatic move.
The fact that she came from the house of Saul helped to strengthen unity between Judah and Israel.
There was also an underlying result … kind of like when he married Abigail, Nabal’s widow.
By claiming the daughter of Saul, David was also claiming all the kingdom.
Finally, when Abner brought Michal to Hebron, it was a public announcement that he had broken with the house of Saul and was now allied with David.
So, at this point it looks as though everything is set for a peaceful transition.
But there were problems that would come up.
It looked as though everything was in good order for a peaceful transition, but there were hidden land mines in the diplomatic field and they were ready to explode. Ish-Bosheth was still on the throne and David would have to deal with him and the loyal supporters of the house of Saul. Abner had killed Asahel, and Joab was biding his time until he could avenge his brother’s death.
For one, Ishbosheth was still on the throne.
David would have to deal with him and the loyal supporters of the house of Saul.
It looked as though everything was in good order for a peaceful transition, but there were hidden land mines in the diplomatic field and they were ready to explode. Ish-Bosheth was still on the throne and David would have to deal with him and the loyal supporters of the house of Saul. Abner had killed Asahel, and Joab was biding his time until he could avenge his brother’s death.
Secondly, Abner had killed Asahel, and Joab was just waiting until he could avenge his brother’s death.
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It’s as if there had long been popular support for David, but Abner had suppressed it.
Now, he is releasing them to pledge their allegiance to David.
And notice that verse 19 calls out the tribe of Benjamin.
Benjamin was Saul’s tribe and they would have had the strongest ties to the house of Saul.
But Abner managed to convince them to accept David because David was ascending to the throne according to God’s anointing.
Some raids were carried out with military objectives in mind (such as expansion, control of trade routes, and things like that).
Most armies, whether made up of mercenaries, conscripts or professional members of a standing army, considered plunder to be part of the pay of being a soldier (much like a waitress would consider tips). Some raids were carried out with military objectives in mind (expansion, control of trade routes, etc.), but others would be intended to pester an enemy and, at the same time, provide extra pay for the soldiers. Since David had little means to finance an administration or military, plunder was probably the sole source of compensation for the army.
But other raids were just to be a nuisance to an enemy and, at the same time, provide extra pay for the soldiers.
Since David had little means to finance an administration or military, plunder was probably the sole source of compensation for the army.
So, Joab and the troops were away when David and Abner made peace.
And Joab arrives back to what he considers a slap in the face.
For one thing, he just led a successful raid and he gets back to find his victory overshadowed.
Worse, he’s overshadowed by the man who killed his brother!
He would have thought that David, like he did with the Amalekite who claimed to have killed Saul, would have put Abner to death for killing his brother.
Instead, David made peace with him.
You can see how this might have fueled Joab’s anger at Abner even more.
The key here is that Saul’s general and the man who killed young Asahel had come and gone “in peace.”
And Joab couldn’t understand it.
His own heart was still hurt over the death of his brother, and Joab couldn’t understand David’s reasoning.
We don’t know how David responded to Abner, but hopefully he picked up on the potential for Joab to take some action.
If not, then I’m not sure how he could later say, “My kingdom and I are guiltless before the Lord forever of the blood of Abner the son of Ner.”
My kingdom and I are guiltless before the Lord forever of the blood of Abner the son of Ner.
But he did say that … and so he must have warned Joab.
Joab had never been easy to deal with.
In verse 39, David refers to Joab and his brothers as “too harsh for me.”
I’m pretty certain that David was aware of both the possibility of deceit by Ahab and that Joab might try to conduct a personal vendetta in David’s name.
In fact, the sentiments of could certainly apply to David’s situation at this time.
Psalm 120
Remember that Joab was one of the sons of David’s sister … The fact that Joab was a relative surely made the situation even more difficult.
The fact that he was a relative surely made the situation even more difficult.
The dynamics of David’s family — his many wives, the many children he had and various relatives in places of authority — these all created endless problems for the king, and they weren’t easy to solve.
wasn’t prepared to let his impetuous general conduct a personal vendetta in the name of the king.
The sentiments of could certainly apply to David’s situation at this time.
We’re often guilty of the sins we say others commit, and “it takes a thief to catch a thief.”
We ourselves are often guilty of the sins we notice in others … which is one reason Jesus commands:
Matthew 25:
It stands to reason that Abner would have been cautious of Joab.
The fact that Abner came back with the messengers to meet Joab probably reveals that those messengers were sent in the name of the king.
Abner hadn’t seen Joab at the king’s house, so he probably assumed that David’s general was still away on his raiding expedition.
Verse 30 informs us that Joab was not alone.
It was both Joab and his brother Abishai who were waiting for Abner.
And they took him to a secluded part of the city gate, and stabbed him in the stomach so that he died.
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Asahel had been pursuing Abner on the battlefield.
So he was a casualty of war.
However, the death of Abner was murder.
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Hebron was one of those cities.
It was a sanctuary where an accused murderer could get a fair trial.
In a bit of irony, the 2 brothers never gave the elders in Hebron a chance to hear their case against Abner.
Abner killed Asahel in self-defense; but when Joab and Abishai killed Abner, it was pure revenge, and Abner never had an opportunity to defend himself.
And it may be significant that Joab took Abner “aside into the gateway.”
in which killers were safe from those set to avenge a relative’s death. It may be significant that Joab took Abner “aside into the gateway.” There, just outside the city confines, he might explain the act as lawful revenge for the killing of his brother Asahel (v. 30). Since Asahel was killed in battle, Abner believed no legitimate basis for vengeance existed, and having made a pact with David felt safe. David may well not have punished the murder of Abner not only because Joab and his family were so influential (v. 39), but also because the legal situation was not at all clear-cut. So David settled for a verbal reprimand (v. 29) and public mourning over Abner’s death (vv. 31–34). In view of the serious way in which O.T. peoples viewed curses, in laying a curse against Joab David did punish him.
There, just outside the confines of the city, he might explain the act as lawful revenge for the killing of his brother Asahel.
But since Asahel was killed in battle, no legitimate basis for vengeance existed, and having made a pact with David, he felt safe.
Then we’re left with the question, why does David seem not to take any action over the death Abner?
It might have been because Joab and his family were influential as well as family.
David may well not have punished the murder of Abner not only because Joab and his family were so influential, but also because the legal situation was not at all clear-cut.
But it is also because the legal situation was not at all clear-cut.
So we’ll see that David settled for a verbal reprimand and public mourning over Abner’s death.
You have to wonder if Abner died thinking that David had been involved in the plot to kill him.
It was a sanctuary where an accused murderer could get a fair trial.
In a bit of irony, the two brothers never gave the elders in Hebron a chance to hear their case against Abner.
Abner killed Asahel in self-defense; but when Joab and Abishai killed Abner, it was pure revenge, and Abner never had an opportunity to defend himself.
Abishai had accompanied David into Saul’s camp and had seen him refuse to kill his father-in-law (), so he knew that David would never countenance the murder of Saul’s general.
When David heard the news of Abner’s death, he immediately disclaimed any part in what his two nephews had done.
For more on
David issued a royal edict that commanded Joab and his army to mourn over Abner and to attend his funeral.
The phrase “all the people” is used seven times in vv. 31–37.
As verse 31 makes it clear, the phrase refers to the men in Joab’s army.
David commanded them all to rend their garments, put on sackcloth, and weep over the death of a great man, and David himself followed the bier to the place of interment.
And remember that Joab and Abishai were among these mourners.
When David pronounced the curse, it was probably before a limited audience.
That means that it’s likely that many of the people didn’t know that Joab and Abishai were the murderers.
David didn’t call them to trial.
He tried to shield them as much as possible, although they certainly didn’t deserve it.
And he made it clear that Abner had never been a prisoner at any time in his military career.
Instead, he had fallen before wicked men who had deceived him.
David further honored Abner by burying him in the royal city of Hebron and not taking him back to Benjamin.
Later, in verse 38, David said to his confidential servants that Abner was “a prince and a great man.”
We find out in that David also appointed Abner’s son Yaasiel as chief officer over the tribe of Benjamin.
David’s lament for himself in verse 39 was heard by his select “inner circle” and expressed the problems David had with his own family.
The word “weak” is the Hebrew word Rak (rock) and it doesn’t suggest that David was not strong enough to be king.
Instead it’s meant to be taken as a contrast.
David was “restrained and gentle” in contrast to the “hard” approach of his nephews.
David had experienced God’s gentleness.
He sang about it in his song recorded in
2 Samuel 22:34 NKJV
He makes my feet like the feet of deer, And sets me on my high places.
David tried to deal with others as God had dealt with him.
And he went too far in this approach when it came to his own family which led him to, unlike the Lord, not discipline those he loved as he should.
Nevertheless, David was a man after God’s own heart as we see vividly when we compare his actions here with Psalm 103 ().
David could have in anger punished Joab and his brother severely.
Instead, David left judgment up to the Lord, for the Lord never makes mistakes.
Prayer: Lord Father we thank You for this time we’ve had together studying Your Word and we ask that You would make it fertile in our lives to do what You desire.
Joab reproaches David (vv. 22–25). David had sent Joab and some of his men on a raid to secure wealth to help support the kingdom. On his return, when Joab heard that David had received Abner and given him a feast, his anger erupted and he rebuked the king. The key idea in this paragraph is that Saul’s general and the man who killed young Asahel had come and gone “in peace” (vv. 21–23), and Joab couldn’t understand it. His own heart was still pained at the death of his brother, and Joab couldn’t understand his sovereign’s policies. Of course, Joab was protecting his own job just as Abner was protecting his, but unlike David, Joab didn’t have any faith in what Abner said or did. Joab was certain that Abner’s visit had nothing to do with turning the kingdom over to David. The wily general was only spying out the situation and getting ready for an attack.
v26-27
Joab accused Abner of being a liar (v. 25) but practiced deception himself! We’re often guilty of the sins we say others commit, and “it takes a thief to catch a thief.” Joab must have sent the messengers in the name of the king or Abner would have been more cautious. Abner hadn’t seen Joab at the king’s house, so he probably assumed that David’s general was still away on his raiding expedition. Joab and his brother Abishai (v. 30) were waiting for Abner, took him to a secluded part of the city gate, and stabbed him under the fifth rib, the same place he had stabbed Asahel (2:23).
Everything about the death of Abner was wrong. The two brothers knew what their king wanted, yet they deliberately put their own interests ahead of that of the kingdom. Asahel had been pursuing Abner on the battlefield, so he was another casuality of war; but the death of Abner was murder. Hebron was a city of refuge, a sanctuary where an accused murderer could get a fair trial, but the two brothers never gave the elders in Hebron a chance to hear the case. Abner killed Asahel in self-defense; but when Joab and Abishai killed Abner, it was pure revenge, and Abner never had an opportunity to defend himself. Asahel’s death occurred in broad daylight where everybody could witness what happened, but Abner was deceived and led into the shadows. Abishai had accompanied David into Saul’s camp and had seen him refuse to kill his father-in-law (), so he knew that David would never countenance the murder of Saul’s general. We wonder if Abner died thinking that David had been involved in the plot to kill him.
v28-39
When David heard the news of Abner’s death, he immediately disclaimed any part in what his two nephews had done. In fact, he went so far as to call down a curse on the house of Joab, naming some of the plagues that Moses had warned about in the Covenant (, ). David issued a royal edict that commanded Joab and his army to mourn over Abner and to attend his funeral. The phrase “all the people” is used seven times in vv. 31–37 (kjv) and refers to the men in Joab’s army (2:28; 12:29). David commanded them all to tear their garments, put on sackcloth, and weep over the death of a great man, and David himself followed the bier to the place of interment. Because Joab and Abishai were among the official mourners, it’s likely that many of the people didn’t know that they were the murderers. David didn’t call them to trial, and it’s likely that his statements in verses 29 and 39 were spoken privately to his inner council. He tried to shield them as much as possible, although they certainly didn’t deserve it.
When David heard the news of Abner’s death, he immediately disclaimed any part in what his two nephews had done. In fact, he went so far as to call down a curse on the house of Joab, naming some of the plagues that Moses had warned about in the Covenant (, ). David issued a royal edict that commanded Joab and his army to mourn over Abner and to attend his funeral. The phrase “all the people” is used seven times in vv. 31–37 (kjv) and refers to the men in Joab’s army (2:28; 12:29). David commanded them all to tear their garments, put on sackcloth, and weep over the death of a great man, and David himself followed the bier to the place of interment. Because Joab and Abishai were among the official mourners, it’s likely that many of the people didn’t know that they were the murderers. David didn’t call them to trial, and it’s likely that his statements in verses 29 and 39 were spoken privately to his inner council. He tried to shield them as much as possible, although they certainly didn’t deserve it.
As he did for Saul and Jonathan, David wrote an official elegy to honor the dead general (vv. 33–34, 38). He made it clear that Abner hadn’t died because of some foolish act on his part, and he had never been a prisoner at any time in his military career. He had fallen before wicked men who had deceived him. David further honored Abner by burying him in the royal city of Hebron and not taking him back to Benjamin. Later, David said to his confidential servants that Abner was “a prince and a great man.” David also appointed Abner’s son Jaasiel as chief officer over the tribe of Benjamin.
David’s lament for himself in verse 39 was heard by his select “inner circle” and expressed the problems David had with his own family. The word “weak” doesn’t suggest that David was not strong enough to be king, but rather that he was “restrained and gentle” in contrast to the “hard” approach of his nephews. David had experienced God’s gentleness (22:36), and he tried to deal with others as God had dealt with him. He no doubt went too far in this approach when it came to his own family (18:5, 14), but David was a man after God’s own heart (). All David could do was leave the judgment with the Lord, for He never makes a mistake.
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