Abner Took Advantage

February 9, 2019: 1 Chronicles 10; 2 Samuel 1-3.

We were finally able to take my mother-in-law, Jane out for her January birthday. It has been bitterly cold and we’ve endured many storms. We picked her up on Saturday evening when it was a balmy 25°.

We surprised her by having David’s sister, Melinda join us. We caught up, laughed, and ate pizza because it was “National Pizza Day.” It is good to get together with our family. I know they always have our back.

King Saul wasn’t so lucky.

1 Chronicles 10:3, “The battle went hard against Saul…” The Message

Where was his general, Abner? Did his cousin abandon him?

1 Samuel 14:51, “Kish, Saul’s father, and Ner, Abner’s father, were the sons of Abiel.” The Message

Abner was King Saul’s general and chief bodyguard.

1 Samuel 26:14-16, “He shouted across to the army and Abner the son of Ner, ‘Hey, Abner! How long do I have to wait for you to wake up and answer me?’ Abner said, ‘Who’s calling?’ (15) ‘Aren’t you in charge there?’ said David. ‘Why aren’t you minding the store? Why weren’t you standing guard over your master the king, when a soldier came to kill the king your master? (16) Bad form! As God lives, your life should be forfeit, you and the entire bodyguard. …’ ” The Message

* * * * * * *

2 Samuel 3:6, “Abner took advantage of the continuing war between the house of Saul and the house of David to gain power for himself.” The Message

* * * * * * *

“Most ancient Near Eastern Kingdoms had established dynasties in which successive rulers came from the same family. …The exceptions were those rather frequent cases when a powerful general seized control for himself. …

When Israel’s first king died, the question of succession became crucial. Some favored a dynastic succession, placing Saul’s son Ish-Bosheth on the throne (2 Samuel 2:8-10). Others, perhaps remembering the pattern of the judges, preferred to crown the man who had shown himself most able, David (2 Samuel 2:10, 11).

In addition, both Ish-Bosheth and David had ambitious generals. Abner, who was commander of Saul’s army, as well as a cousin of Saul, naturally support Ish-Bosheth to succeed his father as king. In the same way, Joab, commander of David’s army and the son of David’s sister Zeruiah, was a powerful element in David’s campaign for the throne. …” Chronological Study Bible Notes

* * * * * * *

2 Samuel 3:7, “Saul had a concubine, Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah. One day Ish-Bosheth confronted Abner: ‘What business do you have sleeping with my father’s concubine?’ ” The Message

* * * * * * *

“…a concubine was a woman who had legal status within a family, and who shared the sexual attentions of the husband, while having somewhat lesser authority than a wife. …For one to take another man’s concubine was seen as usurping the husband’s authority. This was especially true of a king’s concubines. To gain possession of a king’s harem was to gain title to the king’s throne. …” Chronological Study Bible Notes

Abner already saw himself as king. He took one of the privileges of the king – a woman in his harem. When reprimanded, he switched loyalties.

2 Samuel 3:12, “Abner went ahead and sent personal messengers to David: ‘Make a deal with me and I’ll help bring the whole country of Israel over to you.’ ” The Message

While feigning allegiance to Ish-Bosheth, Abner worked behind the scenes;

  1. He got the elders of Israel together, 3:17.
  2. He took the Benjaminites aside and spoke to them, 3:18.
  3. He met with David, 3:20.
  4. He promised to rally everyone in Israel for David, 3:21.

Joab was not fooled.

2 Samuel 3:25, “You know Abner son of Ner better than that. This was no friendly visit. He was here to spy on you, figure out your comings and goings, find out what you’re up to.” The Message

David knew Abner’s character. He fought many battles with him. He knew Abner looked out for Abner. He betrayed the son of his cousin. Yet, David chose to remember him in a positive light.

2 Samuel 3:38, “The king spoke to his servants. ‘You realize, don’t you, that today a prince and hero fell victim of foul play in Israel?’ ” The Message

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