2 Samuel 3
-A prolonged war between the house of Saul and the house of David begins this unique, and necessary, chapter of Scripture. David grew steadily stronger under the Divine will of the LORD as the house of Saul grew steadily weaker and weaker. The text then describes the six sons that were born to David by various wives at Hebron while he ruled Judah from there (2 Samuel 3:1-5).
-The narrative now picks up with Abner, who was the commander in Saul and his son Ish-bosheth’s army, making himself strong in the house of Saul. He did a mischievous thing, which initiated a pivotal turn in the dynamic of Israel. He slept with one of Saul’s concubines named Rizpah, which angered the reigning King Ish-bosheth. Upon the king’s asking why he had done such a thing to dishonor the royal line, Abner retorted in his own prideful anger, “Am I a dog’s head that belongs to Judah? Today I show kindness to the house of Saul your father, to his brothers and to his friends, and have not delivered you into the hands of David; and yet today you charge me with a guilt concerning the woman. May God do so to Abner, and more also, if as the LORD has sworn to David, I do not accomplish this for him, to transfer the kingdom form the house of Saul and to establish the throne of David over Israel and over Judah, from Dan even to Beersheba.” This stunned and stymied the poor and falling king. Ish-bosheth was so afraid of his commander now that he could not even speak an answer to him, not even a word (2 Samuel 3:6-11).
-Abner immediately took action to follow through with his threats. He sent messengers to David asking for a covenant with him to make Israel all united under King David. He pledged his allegiance to the Judean king if the covenant was accepted. David felt like the offer was “Good!” The only thing he asked for was his original wife, Michal, back, whom Saul had taken from him to give to Paltiel (1 Samuel 18:20-28; 25:44). He asked this of Ish-bosheth ironically, and the king complied agreeably probably out of sheer fear by now. Michal was taken from her husband, Paltiel, by Ish-bosheth and given back to David. Paltiel sorrowfully followed her all the way to Bahurim weeping, but Abner at that point made him turn around and return, which he did. Meanwhile, Abner gathered the elders of Israel for consultation reminding them that in times past they had desired David to be king over them. He told them that this was the time to “do it! For the LORD has spoken of David, saying, ‘By the hand of My servant David I will save My people Israel from the hand of the Philistines and from the hand of all their enemies.’” Abner also told these things to the sons of Benjamin, and let these words be heard in Hebron where David was privy to his message. Everything seemed good to Israel as was presented by this commander. Therefore, David made a feast for Abner and the 20 men who had come with to Hebron. Here, Abner said to David, “Let me arise and go and gather all Israel to my lord the king, that they may make a covenant with you, and that you may be king over all that your soul desires.” David sent him away to do this peace, but trouble was on the horizon (2 Samuel 3:12-21).
-Joab and other servants of David came back to Hebron from a raid and brought spoil with them. Much to their chagrin, they were informed of the peace overtures purposed by Abner, who had been there and left in peace. They were more than likely misinformed and negligent in their assessments. They mistrusted Abner, and Joab, along with his brother Abishai, had a vendetta because of what had happened to their brother, Asahel (2 Samuel 2:18-23). They were convinced that this was a spy mission, and that Abner had come in deception to learn of their strategies and plans to find out all they were doing. This seemed feasible given the fact that these two parties were at war for a prolonged time. They assessed in fear, vigilance, and trepidation rather than trust. They did not bother to get all the facts. They acted impetuously, and tracked down Abner bringing him back to the well which was at Sirah without consulting their king. David had no knowledge of this action according to the text; therefore, Joab acted alone in his inquiry and retribution. There in Hebron, as Abner was brought to Joab, Joab took him aside into the middle of the gate to speak with him privately. There he struck him in vengeance right in his belly so that the commander died. The text simply says it was “on account of the blood of Asahel his brother” as to why Joab was so impatient and ruthless. When David got wind of this debauchery, he exclaimed, “I and my kingdom are innocent before the LORD forever of the blood of Abner the son Ner. May it fall on the head of Joab and on all his father’s house; and may there not fail from the house of Joab one who has a discharge (physical infirmities), or who is a leper (disease), or who takes hold of a distaff (affliction), or who falls by the sword (violence), or who lacks bread (provision).” David pronounced a well-deserved curse on his military leader for his hasty decisions and actions (2 Samuel 3:22-30).
-The murder turned into a time of mourning and healing as David told Joab to join him and all the people in tearing their clothes and girding on sackcloth to lament and weep for the deceased Abner. David walked behind the funeral procession following the bier of Abner as they buried him honorably in Hebron. At the grave site, King David lifted up his voice and wept along with all the people who were gathered. Laments were chanted by this poetic leader as the grieving was intense. Afterwards, all the compassionate people came to David to convince him to eat some bread while it was still day, but he vowed not to do that. He told them, “May God do so to me, and more also, if I taste bread or anything else before the sun goes down.” This was a day of sorrow and penitence. All the people took note of David’s somber actions and realized that this whole thing was not the will of the king and that unity could definitely be achieved in their nation. These things pleased all the people, and David grew in favor once more with them because all that he did was in righteousness with the right heart motivation. They were perceptive. By the end David noted, “I am weak today, though anointed king; and these men the sons of Zeruiah (namely Joab and Abishai) are too difficult for me. May the LORD repay the evildoer according to his evil (2 Samuel 3:31-39).”
-*Application* Do we act on gossip, lies, and slander without getting our facts straight sometimes as well? Much like Joab, we jump to conclusions all too often if we have a vendetta or foul dispossession towards someone or something. Our prejudice keeps us from righteousness, and retaliation is not becoming of the child of the King. Let’s get our facts straight and give people and situations all the grace that they deserve (Ephesians 4:29). Let’s be innocent of wrongdoing, like David was in this narrative. It will please the people around us as they see our good works and glorify our Father who is in Heaven (Matthew 5:16).
Verses to Memorize: 2 Samuel 3:1, 27, 36