Joab Murders Abner

“Vengeance is a passion to get even. It is a hot desire to give back as much pain as someone gives you. The problem with revenge is that it never gets what it wants; it never evens the score. Fairness never comes. The chain reaction set off by every act of vengeance always t … More


All this time Joab has not forgotten that Abner had slain his brother. Joab took things into his own hands by having Abner return to Hebron (v. 26). Pretending to whisper something of  importance to Abner, Joab took him aside and stabbed him to death. Hebron was one of the cities of refuge where a murder was safe. In that city Joab could not have touched him, but they stepped outside the city. This was in revenge for Abner’s murder of Joab’s brother Asahel (v. 27). Abner had killed Joab’s brother in self defense but now Joab kills Abner in revenge of his brother’s death and perhaps also to save his position of military leadership. David was shocked when he heard what his general had done. He publicly proclaimed his innocence in the matter. He pronounced a curse on Joab and his descendants. He wished sickness, poverty, and hunger on Joab’s family perpetually (vv. 28-30).

The king ordered his supporters, including Joab, to publicly lament the death of Abner. David himself followed the casket to the grave. There he and all his followers wept. The king chanted a lamentation which he had composed in honor of Abner. The man had experienced a death unworthy of him. He had not died in battle, nor had he been executed as a common criminal. Abner had been treacherously murdered (vv. 31-34). After the burial, the people tried to get David to eat. He vowed he would not taste food until sundown. The people were pleased with this demonstration of grief over the murder of his former enemy. They rightly concluded that David had nothing to do with the cold-blooded murder of Abner. The king regarded Abner as “a prince and a great man” in Israel. His sense of justice called for punishment against Joab. All he could do was to call upon God to punish the evil which Joab had done (vv. 35-39).


Joab took revenge for the death of his brother instead of leaving justice to God. I should always remember that God will repay those who deserve it (Rom. 12:19). Seeking revenge will only ruin my own peace of mind and increase the chances of further retaliation. Can I think of someone in my life presently that I would like to get even with and need to turn this over to the Lord?

II Samuel 3:26-39 (English Standard Version)

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. And when Abner returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside into the midst of the gate to speak with him privately, and there he struck him in the stomach, so that he died, for the blood of Asahel his brother. 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. May it fall upon the head of Joab and upon all his father's house, and may the house of Joab never be without one who has a discharge or who is leprous or who holds a spindle or who falls by the sword or who lacks bread!" So Joab and Abishai his brother killed Abner, because he had put their brother Asahel to death in the battle at Gibeon. Then David said to Joab and to all the people who were with him, "Tear your clothes and put on sackcloth and mourn before Abner." And King David followed the bier. They buried Abner at Hebron. And the king lifted up his voice and wept at the grave of Abner, and all the people wept. And the king lamented for Abner, saying, "Should Abner die as a fool dies? 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. Then all the people came to persuade 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 till the sun goes down!" And all the people took notice of it, and it pleased them, as everything that the king did pleased all the people. 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. And the king said to his servants, "Do you not know that a prince and a great man has fallen this day in Israel? And I was gentle today, though anointed king. These men, the sons of Zeruiah, are more severe than I. The LORD repay the evildoer according to his wickedness!"

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