Abner Joins Forces With David

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Israel and Judah had lost sight of God’s plan for them to settle in the land (Gen. 12:7), to drive out the Canaanites (Deut. 7:1-4), and to obey God’s laws (Deut. 8:1). Instead of uniting to accomplish these goals they fought each other (v. 1). More and more the people of Israel were in support of David even though Ishbosheth was their king. In actuality Ishbosheth was a figurehead more than a real king. It was Abner who was in control. During the seven plus years at Hebron David continued to prosper. He took three additional wives, one of whom was the daughter of the king of Geshur. Each of his wives bore him one son during this period (vv. 2-5).

Early on Abner was very loyal to the house of Saul. At the same time he viewed David as a threat to the nation (v. 6). He took a concubine of Saul’s as one of his own which was a common practice in those days when someone wanted to indicate his succession to a king. When Ishbosheth found out about this he rebuked Abner (v. 7). In anger Abner responded that he would now work to deliver the kingdom of Saul over to David and proceeded to make an agreement with David to do this (vv. 8-12). Before David would consider a covenant, however, he insisted that his first wife Michal, daughter of Saul, be returned to him (vv. 13-14). Ishbosheth sent and took her from her husband while Abner communicated with the elders of Israel about surrendering to David’s leadership (vv. 15-19).

When Joab found out that David had entertained Abner at a feast (v. 20) and made overtures of friendship to him (vv. 21-23) he rebuked him saying that Abner’s purpose was to spy on David (vv. 24-25). Possibly he said this because he was afraid of Abner taking his job as military leader away.


To Abner, God was someone whom he would cooperate with if it suited his plans. Otherwise he did what seemed best to him at the time. It can be so easy for me to do the same thing. Obedience is easy when God’s word fits my plans but what do I do when his plans are contrary to my plans!

II Samuel 3:1-25 (English Standard Version)

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. And sons were born to David at Hebron: his firstborn was Amnon, of Ahinoam of Jezreel; and his second, Chileab, of Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel; and the third, Absalom the son of Maacah the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur; and the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; and the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital; and the sixth, Ithream, of Eglah, David's wife. These were born to David in Hebron. While there was war between the house of Saul and the house of David, Abner was making himself strong in the house of Saul. Now Saul had a concubine whose name was Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah. And Ish-bosheth said to Abner, "Why have you gone in to my father's concubine?" Then Abner was very angry over the words of Ish-bosheth and said, "Am I a 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. God do so to Abner and more also, if I do not accomplish for David what the LORD has sworn to him, to transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul and set up the throne of David over Israel and over Judah, from Dan to Beersheba." And Ish-bosheth could not answer Abner another word, because he feared him. And Abner sent messengers to David on his behalf, 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." And he said, "Good; I will make a covenant with you. But one thing I require of you; that is, you shall not see my face unless you first bring Michal, Saul's daughter, when you come to see my face." Then David sent messengers to Ish-bosheth, Saul's son, saying, "Give me my wife Michal, for whom I paid the bridal price of a hundred foreskins of the Philistines." And Ish-bosheth sent and took her from her husband Paltiel the son of Laish. But her husband went with her, weeping after her all the way to Bahurim. Then Abner said to him, "Go, return." And he returned. And Abner conferred with the elders of Israel, saying, "For some time past you have been seeking David as king over you. Now then bring it about, for 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.'" Abner also spoke to Benjamin. And then Abner went to tell David at Hebron all that Israel and the whole house of Benjamin thought good to do. When Abner came with twenty men to David at Hebron, David made a feast for Abner and the men who were with him. And 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 heart desires." So David sent Abner away, and he went in peace. 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. 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." 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? You know that Abner the son of Ner came to deceive you and to know your going out and your coming in, and to know all that you are doing."

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