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2 Samuel 3

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Abner Joins David

1 There was a long war between the house of Saul and the house of David. And David grew stronger and stronger, while the house of Saul became weaker and weaker.
2 1And sons were born to David at Hebron: his firstborn was Amnon, of 2Ahinoam of Jezreel;
3 and his second, Chileab, of 3Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel; and the third, Absalom the son of Maacah 4the daughter of Talmai king of 5Geshur;
4 and the fourth, 6Adonijah the son of Haggith; and the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital;
5 and the sixth, Ithream, of Eglah, David's wife. These were born to David in Hebron.
6 While there was war between the house of Saul and the house of David, Abner was making himself strong in the house of Saul.
7 Now Saul had a concubine whose name was 7Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah. And Ish-bosheth said to Abner, 8"Why have you gone in to my father's concubine?"
8 Then Abner was very angry over the words of Ish-bosheth and said, "Am I 9a dog's head of Judah? To this day I keep showing steadfast love to the house of Saul your father, to his brothers, and to his friends, and have not given you into the hand of David. And yet you charge me today with a fault concerning a woman.
9 10God do so to Abner and more also, if I do not accomplish for David 11what the LORD has sworn to him,
10 to transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul and set up the throne of David over Israel and over Judah, 12from Dan to Beersheba."
11 And Ish-bosheth could not answer Abner another word, because he feared him.
12 And Abner sent messengers to David on his behalf,[a] saying, "To whom does the land belong? Make your covenant with me, and behold, my hand shall be with you to bring over all Israel to you."
13 And he said, "Good; I will make a covenant with you. But one thing I require of you; that is, 13you shall not see my face unless you first bring 14Michal, Saul's daughter, when you come to see my face."
14 Then David sent messengers to Ish-bosheth, Saul's son, saying, "Give me my wife Michal, 15for whom I paid the bridal price of a hundred foreskins of the Philistines."
15 And Ish-bosheth sent and took her from her husband Paltiel the son of Laish.
16 But her husband went with her, weeping after her all the way to 16Bahurim. Then Abner said to him, "Go, return." And he returned.
17 And Abner conferred with the elders of Israel, saying, "For some time past you have been seeking David as king over you.
18 Now then bring it about, 17for the LORD has promised 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.'"
19 Abner also spoke to 18Benjamin. And then Abner went to tell David at Hebron all that Israel and the whole house of Benjamin thought good to do.
20 When Abner came with twenty men to David at Hebron, David made a feast for Abner and the men who were with him.
21 And Abner said to David, "I will arise and go and 19will gather all Israel to my lord the king, that they may make a covenant with you, and that you may 20reign over all that your heart desires." So David sent Abner away, and he went in peace.
22 Just then the servants of David arrived with Joab from a raid, bringing much spoil with them. But Abner was not with David at Hebron, for he had sent him away, and he had gone in peace.
23 When Joab and all the army that was with him came, it was told Joab, "Abner the son of Ner came to the king, and he has let him go, and he has gone in peace."
24 Then Joab went to the king and said, "What have you done? Behold, Abner came to you. Why is it that you have sent him away, so that he is gone?
25 You know that Abner the son of Ner came to deceive you and to know 21your going out and your coming in, and to know all that you are doing."

Joab Murders Abner

26 When Joab came out from David's presence, he sent messengers after Abner, and they brought him back from the cistern of Sirah. But David did not know about it.
27 And when Abner returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside into the midst of the gate to speak with him privately, 22and there he struck him 23in the stomach, so that he died, for the blood of Asahel his brother.
28 Afterward, when David heard of it, he said, "I and my kingdom are forever guiltless before the LORD for the blood of Abner the son of Ner.
29 24May it fall upon the head of Joab and upon all his father's house, and may the house of Joab never be without 25one who has a discharge or who is 26leprous or who holds a spindle or who falls by the sword or who lacks bread!"
30 So Joab and Abishai his brother killed Abner, because 27he had put their brother Asahel to death in the battle at Gibeon.

David Mourns Abner

31 Then David said to Joab and to all the people who were with him, 28"Tear your clothes and 29put on sackcloth and mourn before Abner." And King David followed the bier.
32 They buried Abner at Hebron. And the king lifted up his voice and wept at the grave of Abner, and all the people wept.
33 And the king 30lamented for Abner, saying, 31"Should Abner die 32as a fool dies?
34 Your hands were not bound; your feet were not fettered; as one falls before the wicked you have fallen."And all the people wept again over him.
35 Then all the people came 33to persuade David to eat bread while it was yet day. But David swore, saying, 34"God do so to me and more also, if I taste bread or anything else 35till the sun goes down!"
36 And all the people took notice of it, and it pleased them, as everything that the king did pleased all the people.
37 So all the people and all Israel understood that day that it had not been the king's will to put to death Abner the son of Ner.
38 And the king said to his servants, "Do you not know that a prince and a great man has fallen this day in Israel?
39 And I was gentle today, though anointed king. 36These men, the sons of Zeruiah, are more severe than I. 37The LORD repay the evildoer according to his wickedness!"

2 Samuel 3 Commentary

Chapter 3

David's power increases His family. (1-6) Abner revolts to David. (7-21) Joab kills Abner David mourns for him. (22-39)

Verses 1-6 The length of this war tried the faith and patience of David, and made his settlement at last the more welcome. The contest between grace and corruption in the hearts of believers, may fitly be compared to this warfare. There is a long war between them, the flesh lusting against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh; but as the work of holiness is carried on, corruption, like the house of Saul, grows weaker and weaker; while grace, like the house of David, grows stronger and stronger.

Verses 7-21 Many, like Abner, are not above committing base crimes, who are too proud to bear reproof, or even the suspicion of being guilty. While men go on in sin, and apparently without concern, they are often conscious that they are fighting against God. Many mean to serve their own purposes; and will betray those who trust them, when they can get any advantage. Yet the Lord serves his own designs, even by those who are thus actuated by revenge, ambition, or lust; but as they intend not to honour him, in the end they will be thrown aside with contempt. There was real generosity both to Michal and to the memory of Saul, in David's receiving the former, remembering probably how once he owed his life to her affection, and knowing that she was separated from him partly by her father's authority. Let no man set his heart on that which he is not entitled to. If any disagreement has separated husband and wife, as they expect the blessing of God, let them be reconciled, and live together in love.

Verses 22-39 Judgments are prepared for such scorners as Abner; but Joab, in what he did, acted wickedly. David laid Abner's murder deeply to heart, and in many ways expressed his detestation of it. The guilt of blood brings a curse upon families: if men do not avenge it, God will. It is a sad thing to die like a fool, as they do that any way shorten their own days, and those who make no provision for another world. Who would be fond of power, when a man may have the name of it, and must be accountable for it, yet is hampered in the use of it? David ought to have done his duty, and then trusted God with the issue. Carnal policy spared Joab. The Son of David may long delay, but never fails to punish impenitent sinners. He who now reigns upon the throne of David, has a kingdom of a nobler kind. Whatever He doeth, is noticed by all his willing people, and is pleasing to them.

Cross References 37

  • 1. For ver. 2-5, see 1 Chronicles 3:1-4
  • 2. 1 Samuel 25:42, 43
  • 3. [See ver. 2 above]
  • 4. 2 Samuel 13:37, 38
  • 5. 2 Samuel 14:32; 2 Samuel 15:8; [1 Samuel 27:8]
  • 6. 1 Kings 1:5
  • 7. 2 Samuel 21:8-10
  • 8. [2 Samuel 16:21]
  • 9. See 1 Samuel 17:43
  • 10. ver. 35; See Ruth 1:17
  • 11. 1 Samuel 15:28; 1 Samuel 16:1, 12; 1 Samuel 28:17; 1 Chronicles 12:23
  • 12. 2 Samuel 17:11; 2 Samuel 24:2, 15; Judges 20:1; 1 Samuel 3:20; 1 Kings 4:25
  • 13. [Genesis 43:3]
  • 14. 1 Samuel 14:49
  • 15. 1 Samuel 18:25, 27
  • 16. 2 Samuel 16:5; 2 Samuel 17:18; 2 Samuel 19:16; 1 Kings 2:8
  • 17. See ver. 9
  • 18. [1 Chronicles 12:29]
  • 19. ver. 12
  • 20. 1 Kings 11:37
  • 21. See 1 Samuel 29:6
  • 22. 1 Kings 2:5, 32; [2 Samuel 20:9, 10]
  • 23. See 2 Samuel 2:23
  • 24. See 2 Samuel 1:16
  • 25. Leviticus 15:2
  • 26. Leviticus 14:2
  • 27. 2 Samuel 2:23
  • 28. See Joshua 7:6
  • 29. Genesis 37:34; 1 Kings 20:31
  • 30. [2 Samuel 1:17; 2 Chronicles 35:25]
  • 31. [Ecclesiastes 2:16]
  • 32. 2 Samuel 13:12, 13
  • 33. 2 Samuel 12:17
  • 34. See Ruth 1:17
  • 35. [2 Samuel 1:12]
  • 36. [2 Samuel 16:10; 2 Samuel 19:22]
  • 37. [Psalms 28:4; 2 Timothy 4:14]

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Or where he was; Septuagint at Hebron

Chapter Summary


This chapter begins with the continuation of the war between the house of Saul and the house of David, 2Sa 3:1; and gives an account of the wives of David, and his sons by them, 2Sa 3:2-5; of a quarrel between Ishbosheth and Abner, 2Sa 3:6-11; and of Abner's proposal to make a league with David; but David would not see his face unless Michal his wife was returned to him, who was accordingly, 2Sa 3:12-16; and of the interest Abner made with the elders of Israel in favour of David, which he reported to him, and promised to make more, 2Sa 3:17-21; but Joab returning from a pursuit, and with great spoil, just as Abner departed, and hearing of it, chided David for letting him go, and privately sent for him back, and treacherously murdered him, 2Sa 3:22-27; from which murder David cleared himself and his kingdom, and for it made dreadful imprecations on Joab and his family, 2Sa 3:28-30; and buried Abner with great lamentation, expressing much concern for his death, and the high opinion he had of him, 2Sa 3:31-39.

2 Samuel 3 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.