Saul’s son Abner defects to David. Joab assassinates Abner.
VERSE 1. Now there was long war between Saul’s house and David’s house. David grew stronger and stronger, but Saul’s house grew weaker and weaker.
long war. The war between the two houses did not resolve quickly.
Sons were born to David. This chapter lists seven wives of David:
- Ahinoam the Jezreelitess (verse 2)
- Abigail the wife of Nabal (verse 3)
- Maacah the daughter of Talmai (verse 3)
- Haggith (verse 4)
- Abital (verse 4)
- Eglah (verse 5)
- Michal (verse 13)
Deuteronomy 17:17. He shall not multiply wives to himself, that his heart not turn away. He shall not greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.
The verses that follow list six sons of David. But from other passages, we know that David had hundreds of wives and concubines. We can assume he was quite sexually active. Yet he had very few children.
Doubtless, David and his many wives and concubines practiced Biblical Sexuality.
Ahinoam the Jezreelitess. She is the first wife of David mentioned in this chapter.
VERSE 3. and his second, Chileab, of Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite; and the third, Absalom the son of Maacah the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur;
Abigail the wife of Nabal. She is the second wife of David mentioned in this chapter.
Maacah the daughter of Talmai. She is the third wife of David mentioned in this chapter.
Haggith. She is the fourth wife of David mentioned in this chapter.
Abital. She is the fifth wife of David mentioned in this chapter.
Eglah. She is the sixth wife of David mentioned in this chapter.
VERSE 6. While there was war between Saul’s house and David’s house, Abner made himself strong in Saul’s house.
VERSE 7. Now Saul had a concubine, whose name was Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah; and Ishbosheth said to Abner, “Why have you gone in to my father’s concubine?”
VERSE 8. Then Abner was very angry about Ishbosheth’s words, and said, “Am I a dog’s head that belongs to Judah? Today I show kindness to Saul’s house your father, to his brothers, and to his friends, and have not delivered you into the hand of David; and yet you charge me today with a fault concerning this woman!
VERSE 9. God do so to Abner, and more also, if, as the LORD has sworn to David, I don’t do even so to him;
VERSE 10. to transfer the kingdom from Saul’s house, and to set up David’s throne over Israel and over Judah, from Dan even to Beersheba.”
VERSE 11. He could not answer Abner another word, because he was afraid of him.
VERSE 12. Abner sent messengers to David on his behalf, saying, “Whose is the land?” and saying, “Make your alliance with me, and behold, my hand will be with you, to bring all Israel around to you.”
Abner sent messengers to David. It was not David who proposed a solution. Rather, it was Abner.
VERSE 13. He said, “Good. I will make a treaty with you, but one thing I require of you. That is, you will not see my face unless you first bring Michal, Saul’s daughter, when you come to see my face.”
bring Michal. This is the seventh wife of David in this chapter.
VERSE 14. David sent messengers to Ishbosheth, Saul’s son, saying, “Deliver me my wife Michal, whom I was given to marry for one hundred foreskins of the Philistines.”
VERSE 15. Ishbosheth sent and took her from her husband, even from Paltiel the son of Laish.
VERSE 16. Her husband went with her, weeping as he went, and followed her to Bahurim. Then Abner said to him, “Go! Return!” and he returned.
VERSE 17. Abner had communication with the elders of Israel, saying, “In times past, you sought for David to be king over you.
Abner had communication with the elders. Abner met with the elders, and persuaded them that the rule of David over them was in their best interest.
VERSE 18. Now then do it; for the LORD has spoken of David, saying, ‘By the hand of my servant David, I will save my people Israel out of the hand of the Philistines, and out of the hand of all their enemies.’ ”
VERSE 19. Abner also spoke in the ears of Benjamin: and Abner went also to speak in the ears of David in Hebron all that seemed good to Israel, and to the whole house of Benjamin.
spoke in the ears of Benjamin. Abner especially spoke to the elders from Benjamin, which was Saul’s own tribe, and persuaded them too that the rule of David over them was in their best interest.
This, of course, elevated Abner considerably in David’s estimation. That greatly displeased David’s loyal men.
Joab was particularly incensed. In verse 27 below, Joab assassinates Abner.
VERSE 20. So Abner came to David to Hebron, and twenty men with him. David made Abner and the men who were with him a feast.
VERSE 21. Abner said to David, “I will arise and go, and will gather all Israel to my lord the king, that they may make a covenant with you, and that you may reign over all that your soul desires.” David sent Abner away; and he went in peace.
VERSE 22. Behold, David’s servants and Joab came from a raid, and brought in a great plunder with them; but Abner was not with David in Hebron; for he had sent him away, and he had gone in peace.
VERSE 23. When Joab and all the army who was with him had come, they told Joab, “Abner the son of Ner came to the king, and he has sent him away, and he has gone in peace.”
VERSE 24. Then Joab came to the king, and said, “What have you done? Behold, Abner came to you. Why is it that you have sent him away, and he is already gone?
VERSE 25. You know Abner the son of Ner. He came to deceive you, and to know your going out and your coming in, and to know all that you do.”
He came to deceive you. They claim Abner had surreptitious motives.
VERSE 26. When Joab had come out from David, he sent messengers after Abner, and they brought him back from the well of Sirah; but David didn’t know it.
VERSE 27. When Abner was returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside into the middle of the gate to speak with him quietly, and struck him there in the body, so that he died, for the blood of Asahel his brother.
Abner was returned to Hebron. Hebron was a city of refuge. Nobody could be killed there.
struck him there in the body, so that he died. Joab stabbed Abner to death. He assassinated Abner, out of jealousy.
In the next chapter, two assassins from the tribe of Benjamin murder Ishbosheth in the same way:
2 Samuel 4:7. Now when they came into the house, as he lay on his bed in his bedroom, they struck him, killed him, beheaded him, and took his head, and went by the way of the Arabah all night.
VERSE 28. Afterward, when David heard it, he said, “I and my kingdom are guiltless before the LORD forever of the blood of Abner the son of Ner.
VERSE 29. Let it fall on the head of Joab, and on all his father’s house. Let there not fail from the house of Joab one who has a discharge, or who is a leper, or who leans on a staff, or who falls by the sword, or who lacks bread.”
Let it fall on the head of Joab. David curses Joab for assassinating Abner.
VERSE 30. So Joab and Abishai his brother killed Abner, because he had killed their brother Asahel at Gibeon in the battle.
VERSE 31. David said to Joab, and to all the people who were with him, “Tear your clothes, and clothe yourselves with sackcloth, and mourn in front of Abner.” King David followed the bier.
VERSE 32. They buried Abner in Hebron; and the king lifted up his voice, and wept at Abner’s grave; and all the people wept.
VERSE 33. The king lamented for Abner, and said, “Should Abner die as a fool dies?
VERSE 34. Your hands weren’t bound, and your feet weren’t put into fetters. As a man falls before the children of iniquity, so you fell.” All the people wept again over him.
VERSE 35. All the people came to urge David to eat bread while it was yet day; but David swore, saying, “God do so to me, and more also, if I taste bread, or anything else, until the sun goes down.”
if I taste bread, or anything else. David fasts for the rest of the day.
Fasting is a natural human impulse. And it is a wonderful companion during our special times of prayer to God.
VERSE 36. All the people took notice of it, and it pleased them; as whatever the king did pleased all the people.
whatever the king did pleased all the people. Right at the start, King David’s “approval ratings” are very high.
This begins a “honeymoon” period.
VERSE 37. So all the people and all Israel understood that day that it was not of the king to kill Abner the son of Ner.
VERSE 38. The king said to his servants, “Don’t you know that a prince and a great man has fallen today in Israel?
VERSE 39. I am weak today, though anointed king. These men, the sons of Zeruiah are too hard for me. May the LORD reward the evildoer according to his wickedness.”
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