2Samuel 1-3

Sunday Evening Bible Study

March 10, 2002


Several things have been taking place at the same time.  David had been running from Saul and had been living with the Philistines for a year and a half.  When the Philistines decided to mount a huge attack against Israel in the north, David almost found himself pitted against his own people.  But the Philistines didn’t trust David and he was sent home from the battle.  When David got home to Ziklag, he found that the Amalekites had raided the city and had taken everything, including all the families of he and his army.  After asking God for help, David and his men pursued the Amalekites and not only slaughtered them, but were able to recover everything that the Amalekites had taken.  Meanwhile, the Philistines attacked in the north, and King Saul was slain in battle on Mount Gilboa, along with three of his sons.  Israel suffered a terrible defeat at the hands of the Philistines and lost much territory.

2Samuel 1

:1-10  The Amalekite tells of Saul’s death

:1  David had abode two days in Ziklag;

Ziklag – this has been David’s home in the land of the Philistines.   see map

:2 It came even to pass on the third day

It was a three day journey from the battlefield to Ziklag, and this would mean that David was fighting the Amalekites at the same time that Saul was fighting the Philistines.

:5 How knowest thou that Saul and Jonathan his son be dead?

David wants to know how this man got this information.  He doesn’t want to listen to rumors.


Be careful about rumors

Internet rumors
I know this guy whose neighbor, a young man, was home recovering from the trauma of his friend's aunt who took her kids to a Burger King restaurant in a major city and they all got bit by snakes in the ball pit.  Anyway, he decided to forget his troubles by having a few stiff drinks at Mulligans, and the next thing he awoke in a hotel bathtub full of ice and he was sore all over.  When he got out of the tub he saw a note on the mirror saying that HIS KIDNEYS HAD BEEN STOLEN by Bill Gates, and he could only get them back by dialing 9-0-# and forwarding 5000 emails to a dying girl at Disney World.
THIS IS ABSOLUTELY TRUE!!!  My uncle's friend heard this story from his neighbor who got it from a guy named Craig Shergold who used to work for the American Cancer Society in a major city.
Well the poor guy immediately tried to call 911 from a pay phone to report his missing kidneys, but upon reaching into the coin-return slot, he got jabbed with an HIV-infected needle around which was wrapped a note that said, "JOIN THE CREW".  He was so distraught at this point that he went into the nearest theater and bought a ticket.  It was then that he felt a sharp pain in his left shoulder blade.  The people behind him got up laughing and tossed a wadded-up paper ball at him as they ran out.  When he uncrumpled the paper, it said "WIN A HOLIDAY" and was signed by Jessica Mydek.
THIS IS NOT A JOKE!!!  I have a friend who works next door to the police department of a major city and he heard it from his elderly aunt.
The poor man, having no kidneys and infected with a dread disease, stumbled into a nearby Neiman Marcus cafe and ordered a plate of cookies.  He asked for the recipe and was told that it would cost "two fifty."  When he received his bill, there was a charge for 250 dollars! Furious, he fired up his laptop and sent an email to his lawyer.  It was then that he noticed his Palm Pilot was infected by the Budweiser screen saver virus.  A "flashing IM" appeared on his AOL screen, and without thinking, he clicked on it.  Instantly, hackers stole his password and began downloading salacious photos of Nina Tottenberg onto his hard drive.
So anyway the poor guy tried to drive himself to the hospital, but on the way he noticed another car driving along without its lights on.  To be helpful, he flashed his lights at him and was promptly shot as part of a gang initiation in a major city.  His arm was bleeding badly, but he was able to make it into the mall parking lot.  Just at that moment, he saw two guys with black hoods stuffing his wife into a van. Apparently they had told the woman there was a dying baby in the parking lot and asked for her help.
THIS IS NOT A CHAIN LETTER!!!  Please forward this urgent message to every one you can, and spread the news that the Make-A-Wish foundation will donate a pair of Nike sneakers to everyone at Disney World, but only if you send it to 1000 people.  Don't be a thoughtless jerk - it only takes a minute of your time to spread this chain letter, and it could be true!

:6  mount Gilboa

The place of the battle.   see map

:8 And he said unto me, Who art thou? And I answered him, I am an Amalekite.

Amalekite = “dweller in a valley”. These were wandering, wicked, nomadic people who lived in the desert south of Canaan (1Sam.15:7; 27:8), descendants of Esau (Gen.36:12).

The Amalekites are an interesting parable or picture about the “flesh”.

:10 So I stood upon him, and slew him

Some have suggested that the Amalekite has fabricated this entire story.  Earlier we had read:

(1 Sam 31:3-6 KJV)  And the battle went sore against Saul, and the archers hit him; and he was sore wounded of the archers. {4} Then said Saul unto his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me. But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it. {5} And when his armourbearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise upon his sword, and died with him. {6} So Saul died, and his three sons, and his armourbearer, and all his men, that same day together.

The problem with thinking that this story is made up is that we’re never told that. 
For example, there will be a story about a prophet who was sent on a mission to give a message and return home immediately.  But when word got out about this prophet, another prophet wanted a chance to talk to him:

(1 Ki 13:18 KJV)  He said unto him, I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of the LORD, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water. But he lied unto him.

We were told that he lied.  But here in 2Samuel, we aren’t told that.  I tend to get into trouble when I end up teaching on something that the Scripture doesn’t say.




:10  I took the crown that was upon his head, and the bracelet that was on his arm, and have brought them hither unto my lord.

This man seems to think that David would want to hear this news about Saul, and that David would want to have the crown and bracelet belonging to Saul.  This is how David will remember it later:

(2 Sam 4:10 KJV)  When one told me, saying, Behold, Saul is dead, thinking to have brought good tidings, I took hold of him, and slew him in Ziklag, who thought that I would have given him a reward for his tidings:




Dealing with the flesh

Saul had been commanded by God to wipe out the Amalekites.
(1 Sam 15:2-3 KJV)  Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. {3} Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.
Though Saul did kill a lot of Amalekites, but he didn’t do what God commanded.  He didn’t completely wipe them out.
(1 Sam 15:8-9 KJV)  And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. {9} But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.

In fact, as we found out last week, not only had Saul spared Agag, but later David would have another huge group of Amalekites capture his entire town (1Sam. 30).

Now we see the horrible irony of it all.  Saul himself is killed by an Amalekite.
It really doesn’t even end there.  Later in history there will be a descendant of Agag, an “Agagite” who would rise to power in the Persian Empire.  His name was Haman.  And he got very, very close to wiping out the entire nation of Israel.  You can read about it in the book of Esther.
Warren Wiersbe:  “The sin we fail to slay is the one that slays us.”
The Bible talks about us “putting to death” our flesh.
(Rom 8:13 KJV)  For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

:11-16  David kills the Amalekite

:16  Thy blood be upon thy head; for thy mouth hath testified against thee, saying, I have slain the LORD'S anointed.

David is saying that he is not guilty of this man’s death in having him killed, but that the man himself confessed to having done a deed worthy of death.  The guilt for the man’s death rests on himself.

:17-27  David’s lament

:18 (Also he bade them teach the children of Judah the use of the bow: behold, it is written in the book of Jasher.)

(2 Sam 1:18 NKJV)  and he told them to teach the children of Judah the Song of the Bow; indeed it is written in the Book of Jasher:

Apparently this song becomes known as “The Song of the Bow”.

Saul was a big guy, almost invincible in hand-to-hand combat.  But Saul was brought down by an arrow shot from a “bow”.

:19 how are the mighty fallen!

This could be the title of this song, the phrase will be repeated three times. (vs. 19, 25, 27)

:20 Tell it not in Gath

Though it would be told in Gath.  The Philistines had taken Saul’s head and armor and were taking them on a tour of the Philistine cities.

:21 Ye mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew, neither let there be rain, upon you, nor fields of offerings:

Chuck Smith:  When the Jews began to return to the land of Israel, they began great reforestation projects all over Israel.  Hundreds of millions of trees were planted all over Israel.  But they have left an area on mount Gilboa without trees.  “Let it be barren.”   And really, because of this lamentation of David and his declaration, “let it be barren”, they won’t plant trees on this northern most portion of mount Gilboa.  When you go there today, it is still a barren area.  It is, interestingly enough, an area that gets very little rain.  It is just geographically positioned so that it gets very little rain, and thus, it is pretty barren on that northern most portion of mount Gilboa.  And when you go there today in the tour busses, and you look at it, the tour guides will often read to you this passage of Scripture: as you look at that barren mount Gilboa, they will read this passage of Scripture.  And it becomes very graphic, and alive: looking at that barren mountain side. 

David’s “curse” actually becomes prophetic.

:21   for there the shield of the mighty is vilely cast away, the shield of Saul, as though he had not been anointed with oil.

Some have suggested that this isn’t talking about Saul and his anointing, but is talking about the actual shield of Saul.  There was apparently a common practice of putting oil on the shields to help make the arrows glance off them.

:24 Ye daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you in scarlet


David’s heart for Saul

We’ve seen several times how David had learned not to take his own revenge against Saul.
Yet here we see a little different slant on things – David’s heart.
David not only didn’t try to kill Saul and take revenge, he seems to have truly loved and honored Saul.

He wasn’t the guy who was keeping himself back from revenge solely because that was the right thing to do, yet secretly looking forward to the day that Saul would be wiped out.

David isn’t rejoicing over Saul’s death, he seems to regret it.

Look how David has characterized Saul –
1:12 – They mourned and wept over Saul and Jonathan (not just Jonathan) – 1:12
1:14 – David still considered Saul the Lord’s anointed
1:19 – Saul is called the “beauty of Israel”
1:19 – Saul is called the “mighty”
1:21 – David curses Gilboa because it was the place of Saul’s death
1:22 – David sees Saul as a mighty warrior
1:24 – David reminds Israel of how good Saul has been to them
Jesus said,
(Mat 5:44-48 KJV)  But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; {45} That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. {46} For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? {47} And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? {48} Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

:26  thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.

There are people who would like to take this and make this into something perverted, but that is not what David is talking about.

David is saying that his friendship with Jonathan was better than what he knew about loving women.


Good friends

eron - agape - phileo
In classic Greek culture, the word eron was used to describe a one-way, dependant kind of love, like the love that a baby has for it’s mother.  A baby is totally dependant upon it’s mother for everything.  It’s a “give-me” kind of love.  This is the word that eventually became known as eros, or sexual love.  It is a selfish, self-centered kind of love.
The word agape was originally used to describe the love that a parent has for a child in response to eron.  It was just the opposite, a self-less, giving kind of love.  It was a love focused on meeting the need of the other person.  This is the word that became adopted as “Christian love”, the kind of love that God has for us.
The third word, phileo, is a word that is often used to describe friendship.  It is having affection, liking some one.
As Christians, we are taught that we are to have agape towards one another.  This is how God loves us, and this is how we are to love one another.
(John 13:34 KJV)  A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
But as Christians, when we learn to have agape towards one another, there is an extra added bonus – phileo.  Phileo is the reward we receive for learning to selflessly love others.
Paul wrote to the Thessalonians:

(1 Th 4:9 KJV)  But as touching brotherly love (phileo) ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love (agape) one another.

Here’s the point – do you want friends?  Then learn to love others without expecting anything in return.  Don’t be a person who expects to receive anything from others.  Instead, learn to give yourself unconditionally.  As a result, you will find others, other “Jonathans” who will return your agape with their own agape, and the result is friendship, phileo.

2Samuel 2

:1-7  David becomes king over Judah

:1 And it came to pass after this, that

:1  David inquired of the LORD …Unto Hebron.

HebronChebrown – “association”.  This was the city that was given to Caleb.  It seems to have been a sort of “capitol” of the tribe of Judah.  see map

David is now back in the habit of asking God for directions in his life.

:4 there they anointed David king over the house of Judah

David had already been anointed by the prophet Samuel to one day be king (1Sam. 16:13).  But it has taken quite a few years for this to take place.  It has taken a few years for men to realize what God had already done.

:4  That the men of Jabeshgilead were they that buried Saul.

The men of Jabeshgilead had found out about Saul’s death and that the Philistines had hung Saul’s body on the wall of the city of Bethshan (1Sam. 31).  They took some of their best fighters and raided Bethshan, taking Saul’s body back.  Then they cremated Saul and buried his body.  They had done this because Saul was the one who had rescued them when Nahash the Ammonite had surrounded their city and threatened to either kill them or gouge out their eyes (1Sam. 11).

:8-17  Playing at Gibeon

:8 But Abner the son of Ner, captain of Saul's host, took Ishbosheth the son of Saul, and brought him over to Mahanaim;

Ishbosheth‘Iysh-Bosheth – “man of shame”.  Apparently not all of Saul’s sons had gone into battle on Gilboa.

MahanaimMachanayim – “two camps; a place east of the Jordan, named from Jacob’s encounter with angels  see map

Apparently Mahanaim will serve as Ishbosheth’s capital or home base.

Abner ‘Abner – “my father is a lamp”. Abner was in charge of Saul’s army.  Abner was from the tribe of Benjamin.  He was Saul’s cousin.

(1 Sam 14:50-51 NLT)  Saul's wife was Ahinoam, the daughter of Ahimaaz. The commander of Saul's army was his cousin Abner, his uncle Ner's son. {51} Abner's father, Ner, and Saul's father, Kish, were brothers; both were sons of Abiel.

Abner seems to be the real person in charge of the nation.  Being in charge of the army, he takes it upon himself to see that a son of Saul becomes king.


What does God want?

Abner making the choice of king probably seems to be the natural thing to do, yet there’s something missing.  What does God want?  Who does God want to be king?
Nobody bothers to go to the priests or the prophets to find out what God wants.
Abner seems to me to be a good, honorable man.  But it would seem to me that he’s operating on his own human wisdom and not on the wisdom of God.

:9 And made him king over Gilead, and over the Ashurites, and over Jezreel, and over Ephraim, and over Benjamin, and over all Israel.

Gilead – the land on the eastern side of the Jordan.   see map

Ashurites ‘Ashuwriy – “guided: blessed”.  Perhaps a reference to the tribe of Asher.   see map

Jezreel – the land in the north where many battles were fought.   see map

Ephraim – the tribe  see map

Benjamin – the tribe  see map

Abner has the entire nation of Israel make Ishbosheth king, except for the tribe of Judah.

:10 Ishbosheth Saul's son was forty years old when he began to reign over Israel, and reigned two years.

forty years old – In contrast, David is thirty years old at this time.

(2 Sam 5:4 KJV)  David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years.

reigned two years – in contrast, David will reign 7 ½ years (vs.11) before the entire nation makes him king.  What happened to the other 5 ½ years?  Suggestions:

1.  David may have been able to rule Judah immediately, while Ishbosheth may have needed to regain the northern territory from the Philistines.

2.  When Ishbosheth dies, perhaps it took 5 years before the rest of the nation decided to come to David and make him king.  There is no direct time correlation with Ishbosheth’s death and the nation making David king (2Sam. 4:8; 5:1).

3.  Perhaps the seven year reign of David was how long he ruled in Hebron (2Sam. 5:5) as opposed to ruling in Jerusalem.  Could he have ruled 2 years in Hebron over just Judah and then 5 ½ years over Israel from Hebron?

4.  Best yet – this isn’t the total length of Ishbosheth’s reign.  It is only the length of time before the following things began to take place.

:12 And Abner the son of Ner, and the servants of Ishbosheth the son of Saul, went out from Mahanaim to Gibeon.

MahanaimMachanayim – “two camps; a place east of the Jordan, named from Jacob’s encounter with angels  see map

GibeonGib‘own – “hill city”.  This is not the same as “Gibeah” where Saul lived (located 5 miles to the east).  see map

Gibeon had an interesting history.

This was the city where the inhabitants had sent messengers dressed up as travelers from a distant land to make a peace treaty with Joshua during his conquest of the land (Josh 9).  Though they deceived Joshua, they were not wiped out and became a part of the nation.
This was also where a battle took place in Joshua’s day where the inhabitants of Gibeon were being attacked and because of Joshua’s treaty with them, he came to their aid.  This was where Joshua prayed that the sun would stand still, and the day was an extra 24 hours long so Joshua could complete the battle (Josh 10).
This was also the place where apparently Saul had gone a little wild and had slaughtered some of the people of Gibeon when he shouldn’t have.  This sin had brought about a famine in the time of David (2Sam. 21).
There was apparently a well-known “high place” there, a place to sacrifice (1Chron. 16:39), and apparently at one time the Tabernacle of Moses had been kept there, separately from the Ark (1Chr. 21:29).
This was a place where in David’s latter reign a man named Sheba tried to revolt from David and then hide in Gibeon. (2Sam. 20)
This was where Solomon would go to offer sacrifices at a high place and where God met him in a dream and asked him to ask for whatever he wanted.  Solomon asked for wisdom (1Ki. 3).

Holman’s:  Beginning in 1956, excavations led by James B. Pritchard gave proof that the modern city of el-Jib was the site of ancient Gibeon. Lying eight miles northwest of Jerusalem, Gibeon was in an area of moderate climate, ample rainfall, with a wine-led economy. With an elevation of about 2400 feet Gibeon towered above most other cities, making it easily defended. Dating to about 3000 B.C., Gibeon served as the fortress city at the head of the valley of Ajalon which provided the principal access from the coastal plain into the hill country. Gibeon’s power was strong as archaeology has found no sign of the city’s destruction.

An overview of the hill of Gibeon, Israel, as seen from the nearby mosque Nebi Samwil.

:13 And Joab the son of Zeruiah…met together by the pool of Gibeon

Joab the son of Zeruiah – this is David’s nephew, the son of his sister Zeruiah.  Joab will function as the general in charge of David’s army.

pool of Gibeon – Archaeologists have discovered a winding staircase that led down to a pool.  This allowed the city to maintain a supply of water even when under siege.  Could this be the pool referred to here?  Possibly.

Pool of Gibeon

:14  Let the young men now arise, and play before us.

playsachaq – (Piel)  to make sport; to jest; to play (including instrumental music, singing, dancing)

It seems that this might have been intended to be a sort of contest to see who should be king over Israel, Ishbosheth or David.  It has been suggested that this was to start off as a wrestling match.

:16 that place was called Helkathhazzurim

HelkathhazzurimChelqath hats-Tsuriym – “field of swords”.  The wrestling match gets out of hand and turns into swordplay and death.

I can’t help but think about how some kinds of “fun” can get out of hand. Boys like to wrestle.  Yet it seems that somebody always gets hurt.

:18-24 Abner kills Asahel

:18 Asahel was as light of foot as a wild roe.

Three of David’s nephews were there that day.

Asahel ‘Asah’el – “God-made”.

wild roe – a gazelle.  Apparently Asahel had a reputation for being fast on his feet.

:19 in going he turned not to the right hand nor to the left from following Abner.

As the game had turned deadly, Asahel gets an idea that he’s going to pursue – he’s going to kill Abner, and nothing is going to stop him.

:21 thee hold on one of the young men, and take thee his armour

Abner thinks that Asahel is out to get some new “stuff”.  Perhaps Asahel wants Abner’s armor.  Perhaps he just wants Abner.

:22 how then should I hold up my face to Joab thy brother?

Abner doesn’t want to kill Asahel.  Abner apparently knows Joab, the head of David’s army.  Perhaps they served together at some time in Saul’s army.

:23 smote him under the fifth rib

fifth rib – the human skeleton has twelve pairs of ribs.  It’s under the fifth rib that the ribcage begins to open up in the front of the human skeleton.  This is how you get into the major internal organs, right below the sternum, including the heart, lungs, liver, etc.

(2 Sam 2:23 NLT)  so Abner thrust the butt end of his spear through Asahel's stomach, and the spear came out through his back.

Joab will kill Abner by putting a sword in the same place.

(2 Sam 3:27 KJV)  And when Abner was returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside in the gate to speak with him quietly, and smote him there under the fifth rib, that he died, for the blood of Asahel his brother.

The men who will kill Ishbosheth will kill him in the same place.

(2 Sam 4:6 KJV)  And they came thither into the midst of the house, as though they would have fetched wheat; and they smote him under the fifth rib: and Rechab and Baanah his brother escaped.

Joab will kill another general, Amasa, with a sword in the same place.

(2 Sam 20:10 KJV)  But Amasa took no heed to the sword that was in Joab's hand: so he smote him therewith in the fifth rib, and shed out his bowels to the ground, and struck him not again; and he died. So Joab and Abishai his brother pursued after Sheba the son of Bichri.

Abner’s spear apparently had a point in the bottom of it, perhaps so it could be stuck in the ground.


Don’t run ahead of your brains.

Asahel is pretty fast on his feet.  Too fast.
He’s running ahead of common sense.  He doesn’t listen to the warning of Abner.  And he dies because of it.
This last week I was privileged to play chaperone to a group of eighth graders for a couple of days out at Joshua Tree.  I remember one time we were on a hike, and were heading for a place where we were going to climb on some rocks.  Some of the kids got ahead of the adults, and before we could catch up to them, they had all scattered and were climbing up the rocks.  Huge rocks.  When you’re fourteen and have a boys’ amount of experience in a grown man’s body, and you’ve watched a few Hollywood action flicks, you can get the idea that you’re “invincible”.  It’s scary to watch.
I think that sometimes we aren’t much different.  We get too far ahead of common sense and end up getting hurt.

:24 the sun went down when they were come to the hill of Ammah

Ammah -  northwest of Gibeon.  see map

:25-32 Abner stops the conflict

:25 Benjamin gathered themselves together after Abner

Abner is a cousin of Saul, of the tribe of Benjamin.

:26 Shall the sword devour for ever?

Abner is trying to reason with Joab and his followers to stop the fighting.  They are all Israel.  They shouldn’t be fighting each other.

(2 Sam 2:26 NLT)  Abner shouted down to Joab, "Must we always solve our differences with swords? Don't you realize the only thing we will gain is bitterness toward each other? When will you call off your men from chasing their Israelite brothers?"


Who’s your enemy?

Sometimes we find ourselves fighting with the wrong people.
We can end up hurting each other.

(Gal 5:14-15 KJV)  For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. {15} But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.

Husbands and wives – too often we get into difficulty and find ourselves fighting each other.  We shouldn’t be against each other, we should be on the same side.
Our real fight is with Satan.
(Eph 6:12 KJV)  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

:27 As God liveth, unless thou hadst spoken …

 (2 Sam 2:27 NLT)  Then Joab said, "God only knows what would have happened if you hadn't spoken, for we would have chased you all night if necessary."

:28 So Joab blew a trumpet

blew a trumpet – trumpets were used to control the troops, a communication tool (Num. 10).

This particular battle was over.

:29 And Abner and his men walked all that night through the plain …

plain  ‘arabah – desert plain, steppe, desert, wilderness  see map

BithronBithrown – “division” or “cleft” or “ravine”; a territory or district in the Jordan valley east of the Jordan  see map

MahanaimMachanayim – “two camps; a place east of the Jordan, named from Jacob’s encounter with angels  see map

From Ammah to Mahanaim is 36 miles.  A long, hard walk.  see map

Looking up the Wadi Arabah from Jericho.

:30 there lacked of David's servants nineteen men and Asahel.

David lost a total of twenty men that day.

:31 three hundred and threescore men died.

Abner lost three hundred and sixty men.

:32 buried him in …Bethlehem… Joab …came to Hebron

Bethlehem – the birth place of David and David’s family.  Asahel is David’s nephew.  see map

The march from Ammah to Bethlehem is 18 miles.  From Bethlehem to Hebron is another fourteen miles.

2Samuel 3

:1-5 David’s Hebron family

:2 And unto David were sons born in Hebron: and his firstborn was Amnon, of Ahinoam the Jezreelitess;

Amnon ‘Amnown – “faithful”; this was David’s “crown prince”, the oldest son of David.  He would rape his half sister Tamar, and be killed by Tamar’s brother, Absalom.

: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;

ChileabKil’ab – “like his father”; the writer of Chronicles gives another name this child was known as, Daniel.  We know nothing about this son.  Considering what we know of the other oldest sons, some think he died at an early age.

Absalom ‘Abiyshalowm = “my father is peace”.  This was the son who took revenge on Amnon for the rape of his sister Tamar.  He would eventually rebel against David, trying to have his father killed, running David out of town, and for a brief while ruled in his father’s place until David’s army conquered Absalom’s.  He would be killed by Joab. 

His mother’s (Maacah) father was a king of Geshur, a city to the east of the Sea of Galilee.  Apparently David was following the practice of ancient kings of marrying his neighbor’s daughters for political purposes.  This would keep your kingdom safe because daddy wouldn’t want to invade and kill his daughter’s husband.

MaacahMa‘akah – “oppression”

:4 And the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; and the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital;

Adonijah ‘Adoniyah – “my lord is Jehovah”.  David had planned that his son Solomon would become king in his place, but when he was very old, Adonijah thought that he was the rightful heir to the throne.  He tried to have himself declared king, but when David found out about it, he made Solomon king instead.  Adonijah would eventually be put to death by Solomon when he would try to pull a power play on his younger brother.

HaggithChaggiyith – “festive”.  We know nothing about her other than she was Adonijah’s mom.

ShephatiahSh@phatyah – “Jehovah has judged”.  We know nothing more about him.

Abital ‘Abiytal – “my father is (the) dew”.  We know nothing more about her.

:5 And the sixth, Ithream, by Eglah David's wife. These were born to David in Hebron.

IthreamYithr@‘am – “profit of the people”. We know nothing more about him.

Eglah‘Eglah – “a heifer”.  We know nothing more about her.

Apparently David now has six wives.  Seven if you include his very first wife, Michal, the daughter of Saul.


One wife is enough

I don’t mean this in a funny or demeaning way at all.  God’s original plan for marriage was one man and one woman.
God warned future kings:
(Deu 17:15-17 KJV)  Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the LORD thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother. {16} But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the LORD hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way. {17} Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.

David was setting a dangerous precedent that his son Solomon would follow recklessly.

Learn satisfaction in your mate.
(Prov 5:18 KJV)  Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.
If you learn to follow God’s ways, marriage only gets better and better.

:6-21 Abner turns to David

:6  Abner made himself strong for the house of Saul.

(NIV) Abner had been strengthening his own position in the house of Saul

:7 And Saul had a concubine, whose name was Rizpah

concubine – not a full wife, something between a wife and a slave.

RizpahRitspah – “pavement”

:7  Wherefore hast thou gone in unto my father's concubine?

Ishbosheth is doing more than just accusing Abner of sleeping with his father’s wife.  If Abner had been doing this, it was as if he was making a play to take Saul’s place.  Women were often tied to the rule of a country.  If you were able to marry a dead king’s wife, it was as if you were going to take his place.

Ishbosheth is apparently feeling pretty threatened by the power that Abner has been accumulating, so he comes up with an accusation that might destroy Abner.

:8  Am I a dog's head, which against Judah do show kindness this day unto the house of Saul

dog’s head – the idea is of a head of a worthless animal that has been cut off.

I think Abner is saying something like this – “Why have I been so stupid to be showing kindness to such a jerk like you when I should have been handing the kingdom over to David?”

:10 To translate the kingdom from the house of Saul, and to set up the throne of David

translate ‘abar – (Hiphil) to cause to pass over, cause to bring over, cause to cross over, make over to, dedicate, devote

Abner is promising to hand the entire kingdom of Israel over to David.  He realizes now that David should have been king.

:11 And he could not answer Abner a word again, because he feared him.

Ishbosheth is afraid of Abner.

:12 And Abner sent messengers to David

Abner is claiming to David to be in control of “the land”.  He promises that if David will make a treaty with Abner, then Abner will make David king of all Israel.

:13  Thou shalt not see my face, except thou first bring Michal Saul's daughter

David wants his first wife Michal back before he makes a treaty with Abner.

This may not necessarily be a “love” kind of thing.  Since Michal was Saul’s daughter, David’s marriage to Michal is a step in the direction of David taking the place of Saul.

:14 David sent messengers to Ishbosheth …saying, Deliver me my wife Michal

Saul had originally promised that whoever killed the giant Goliath would be given his daughter in marriage.  After David killed Goliath, he refused Saul’s first daughter, Merab (1Sam. 18).  David felt he didn’t deserve to be Saul’s son-in-law.  He also was a poor man and couldn’t provide the proper dowry, the “price” to marry the girl.  When Saul came up with the idea of having the dowry for his second daugher Michal be a hundred Philistine foreskins, David went out and killed two hundred Philistines, and married Michal.  Later, after Saul tried to kill David and David had to flee, Michal was given to another man to be his wife (1Sam. 25:44).

:15 And Ishbosheth sent, and took her from her husband, even from Phaltiel the son of Laish.

I find it interesting that David makes this request of Ishbosheth, not Abner.  I find it even more amazing that Ishbosheth gives Michal to David.  If he is feeling threatened by Abner, he should really be threatened by David.

:16 her husband went with her along weeping behind her to Bahurim

BahurimBachuriym – “young men’s village; a town in Benjamin between Jerusalem and Jericho beyond the Mount of Olives on the way to Jericho.  see map

:18 for the LORD hath spoken of David, saying …

I find it interesting that Abner is able to quote a prophecy about David, and yet he had acted to make Ishbosheth king.


Save yourself some trouble – follow God’s directions.

:19 And Abner also spake in the ears of Benjamin

Apparently Abner goes to speak to the elders of his own tribe, Benjamin.

:21 I will arise and go, and will gather all Israel unto my lord the king

Abner had been fighting against David becoming king, and now he’s totally turned around, even calling David “my lord”.

:22-39 Abner’s death

:22 the servants of David and Joab came from pursuing a troop

Joab and some of his men had been out on patrol while David had been meeting with Abner.  When they come back, Abner has already left.  Joab has missed all that has happened between Abner and David.

:25 Thou knowest Abner the son of Ner, that he came to deceive thee, and to know thy going out and thy coming in, and to know all that thou doest.

Joab accuses Abner of treachery.  But keep in mind two things:

Joab wasn’t at the meeting.  He doesn’t have a clue what transpired between David and Abner.

Joab hates Abner because Abner killed his brother Asahel (2Sam. 2:23)

:26 And when Joab was come out from David, he sent messengers after Abner, which brought him again from the well of Sirah: but David knew it not.

SirahCirah – “the turning”.  Only about a mile west of Hebron.  see map

Joab sends messengers to bring Abner back.

:27 … for the blood of Asahel his brother.

(NLT) Joab took him aside at the gateway as if to speak with him privately.

for the blood of Asahel – Joab is taking revenge.  This is a little window into the world of the “blood feud”.  Joab feels that it is his duty to revenge the death of his brother Asahel.  He is acting as an “avenger of blood”.

This was one of the reasons why God set up the system of “cities of refuge”.

There were supposed to be six cities set up throughout Israel, where a person could run to for safety in case they had killed another person (Num. 35).
A trial was to be conducted in the city of refuge to determine if the person was guilty of murder or not.

If the person had only been guilty of manslaughter, not premeditated murder, then they would be safe in the city of refuge.  They would be protected from the “avenger of blood”.

If the person was guilty of murder, then they were to be put to death.

What is extremely interesting here is that Hebron was one of the “cities of refuge”.

(Josh 20:7 KJV)  And they appointed Kedesh in Galilee in mount Naphtali, and Shechem in mount Ephraim, and Kirjatharba, which is Hebron, in the mountain of Judah.
If Joab wanted revenge for his brother’s death, he could have called for a trial in Hebron.  But he doesn’t do that, instead he takes revenge.
Abner should have been safest in Hebron, but instead he died there.



Joab isn’t really acting to protect David like he’s been talking about.  He’s really only out for revenge for his brother Asahel, whom Abner had slain earlier.

:29 let there not fail from the house of Joab one that hath an issue…

I would say that David is a little ticked off at Joab right about now.  This is quite a heavy curse.


Don’t go too far ahead of your boss

Sometimes we can get to thinking that our boss, or a person in authority over us, doesn’t have a clue what is right, and we do.
And we can jump out ahead and get into trouble.
David was on the verge of having Abner peacefully turn the kingdom of Israel over to him, yet Joab blows it by killing the very person who could help his “boss” the most.
Sometimes the “boss” knows more about what is important than you do.

:30 So Joab and Abishai his brother slew Abner

It seems that Abishai must have played a part in Abner’s death as well.

:31 And David said to Joab…Rend your clothes…

David commands Joab to mourn for Abner.

:33 And the king lamented over Abner

(NLT) Then the king sang this funeral song for Abner …

David writes a song for this occasion.

:39 And I am this day weak, though anointed king; and these men the sons of Zeruiah be too hard for me: the LORD shall reward the doer of evil according to his wickedness.

David sounds as if he would like to get rid of Joab and Abishai, but is afraid to.  Joab will continue to be David’s chief general for thirty or more years.

At the end of his life, David will give instructions to Solomon concerning Joab:

(1 Ki 2:5-6 KJV)  Moreover thou knowest also what Joab the son of Zeruiah did to me, and what he did to the two captains of the hosts of Israel, unto Abner the son of Ner, and unto Amasa the son of Jether, whom he slew, and shed the blood of war in peace, and put the blood of war upon his girdle that was about his loins, and in his shoes that were on his feet. {6} Do therefore according to thy wisdom, and let not his hoar head go down to the grave in peace.

Solomon would have Joab put to death (1Ki. 2:34).