Personal Vendettas Or Kingdom Goals – 2 Samuel 3

This is a story about self-will; about revenge; about personal vendettas; about putting one’s own personal interests ahead of the interests of God’s program; about effective leadership exercising damage control to stay on course; about diplomacy in the most delicate of situations.



  1. (:1) David Gaining Ground in Civil War: "Now there was a long war between the house of Saul and the house of David; and David grew steadily stronger, but the house of Saul grew weaker continually."
    1. Civil war is a sad state of affairs in a nation (or in a church or in a denomination)
    2. Blaikie: The war does not seem to have been carried on by pitched battles, but rather by a long series of those fretting and worrying little skirmishes which a state of civil war breeds, even when the volcano is comparatively quiet.
  2. (:2-5) Siring of the Royal Family: "Sons were born to David at Hebron"
    1. Amnon: "his first-born was Amnon, by Ahinoam the Jezreelitess"
    2. Chileab: "and his second, Chileab, by Abigail the widow of Nabai the Carmelite"
    3. Absalom: "and the third, Absalom the son of Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur"
      1. Davis: son of a foreign princess; implications regarding his later rebellion
    4. Adonijah: "and the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith"
    5. Shephatiah: "and the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital"
    6. Ithream: "and the sixth, Ithream, by David’s wife Eglah"
  3. "These were born to David at Hebron."


  1. (:6) Abner Solidifies His Significant Leadership Role: "And it came about while there was war between the house of Saul and the house of David that Abner was making himself strong in the house of Saul"
  2. (:7-8) Abner Accused of Treasonous Sexual Liaison
    1. (:7) Accusation by Ishbosheth: "Now Saul had a concubine whose name was Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah; and Ishbosheth said to Abner, ‘Why have you gone in to my father’s concubine?’"
      1. Don’t bring the accusation if you are not prepared to follow through.
      2. Ryrie: Having intercourse with a king’s concubine was a treasonous act, for it was in essence making a claim to the throne (cf. 16:20-21).
    2. (:8) Indignant Response by Abner – He never actually answers the accusation; instead argues that he is above the law and should never be questioned because of his importance to the kingdom.
      1. Lashing out in Anger – Violent Outburst: "Then Abner was very angry over the words of Ishbosheth"
      2. Demanding Unquestioned Respect and Honor – Sarcastic Analogy: "and said, ‘Am I a dog’s head that belongs to Judah?’"
      3. Pleading His Track Record of Shoring up the Kingdom of Saul ?
        1. History of Loyalty: "Today I show kindness to the house of Saul your father, to his brothers and to his friends, and have not delivered you into the hands of David"
      4. Minimizing the Charge Leveled Against Him ? Diplomatic Immunity: "and yet today you charge me with a guilt concerning the woman."
  3. (:9-10) Abner Swears to Unite the Kingdom under Davidic Rule
    1. (:9) Invoking the Davidic Covenant in his Oath: "May God do so to Abner, and more also, if as the Lord has sworn to David, I do not accomplish this for him"
    2. (:10) Promising to Unite the Kingdom under Davidic Rule: "to transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul, and to establish the throne of David over Israel and over Judah, from Dan even to Beersheba."
  4. (:11) Abner Shuts the Mouth of Fearful Ishbosheth: "And he could no longer answer Abner a word, because he was afraid of him."


  1. (:12-16) Preliminary Negotiations with David
    1. (:12) Attractive Proposal from Abner to David: "Then Abner sent messengers to David in his place, saying, ‘Whose is the land? Make your covenant with me, and behold, my hand shall be with you to bring all Israel over to you.’"
    2. (:13) Agreement from David Based on One Condition: "And he said, ‘Good! I will make a covenant with you, but I demand one thing of you, namely, you shall not see my face unless you first bring Michal, Saul’s daughter, when you come to see me.’"
    3. (:14-15) Acquiescence of Ishbosheth to Demand of David: "So David sent messengers to Ishbosheth, Saul’s son, saying, ‘Give me my wife Michal, to whom I was betrothed for a hundred foreskins of the Philistines.’ And Ishbosheth sent and took her from her husband, from Paltiel the son of Laish."
    4. (:16) Anguish of Michal’s Husband Over the Separation: "But her husband went with her, weeping as he went, and followed her as far as Bahurim. Then Abner said to him, ‘Go, return.’ So he returned."
  2. (:17-19) Political Persuasion of Key Leaders in Israel
    1. (:17-18) Political Persuasion of Elders of Israel: "Now Abner had consultation with the elders of Israel, saying, ‘In times past you were seeking for David to be king over you. Now then, do it! For the Lord has spoken of 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.’"
    2. (:19) Political Persuasion of Leaders of House of Benjamin: "And Abner also spoke in the hearing of Benjamin; and in addition Abner went to speak in the hearing of David in Hebron all that seemed good to Israel and to the whole house of Benjamin."
  3. (:20-21) Closing the Deal
    1. (:20) David Entertains Delegation of Abner (in Absence of Joab): "Then Abner and twenty men with him came to David at Hebron. And David made a feast for Abner and the men who were with him."
    2. (:21) Abner Commits to Executing the Covenant: "And Abner said to David, ‘Let me arise and go, and gather all Israel to my lord the king that they may make a covenant with you, and that you may be king over all that your soul desires.’ So David sent Abner away, and he went in peace.."


  1. (:22-25) Joab Criticizes
    David for Not Executing Abner as an Assumed Spy

    1. (:22-23) Joab Shocked at Peace Treaty with Abner
      1. (:22) The Situation ? Abner has come and gone in Joab’s absence: "And behold, the servants of David and Joab came from a raid and brought much spoil with them; but Abner was not with David in Hebron, for he had sent him away, and he had gone in peace."
      2. (:23) The Explanation ? David made a peace treaty with him: "When Joab and all the army that was with him arrived, they told Joab, saying, ‘Abner the son of Ner came to the king, and he has sent him away, and he has gone in peace.’"
    2. (:24-25) David Criticized for Letting Abner Return Home
      1. (:24) Joab Demands Answers: "Then Joab came to the king and said, ‘What have you done? Behold, Abner came to you; why then have you sent him away and he is already gone?’"
      2. (:25) Joab Upbraids King David for being Naive: "‘You know Abner the son of Ner, that he came to deceive you and to learn of your going out and coming in, and to find out all that you are doing."
  2. (:26-30) Joab Takes Matters Into His Own Hands and Assassinates Abner
    1. (:26) Joab Lures Abner Back to Hebron ? without David’s Knowledge: "When Joab came out from David, he sent messengers after Abner; and they brought him back from the well of Sirah; but David did not know it."
    2. (:27) Joab Takes His Revenge on Abner: "So when Abner returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside into the middle of the gate to speak with him privately, and there he struck him in the belly so that he died on account of the blood of Asahel his brother."
    3. (:28-29) David Proclaims His Innocence and Curses Joab’s Family
      1. (:28) David Proclaims His Innocence: "And afterward when David heard it, he said, ‘I and my kingdom are innocent before the Lord forever of the blood of Abner the son of Ner."
      2. (:29) David Curses Joab’s Family – 5 Family Blights: "May it fall on the head of Joab and on all his father’s house; may there not fail from the house of Joab:
        1. Physically Cursed and Ceremonially Unclean: "one who has a discharge"
        2. Physically Cursed and Socially Ostracized: "or who is a leper"
        3. Emasculated: "or who takes hold of a distaff"
          1. Ryrie: one fit for women’s work; effeminate
        4. Defeated and Killed in Battle: "or who falls by the sword"
        5. Impoverished: "or who lacks bread."


  1. (:31-32) David Commands Joab and All the People to Properly Mourn the Untimely Assassination of Abner
    1. (:31a) Instructions to Joab and His Troops to Honor Abner: "Then David said to Joab and to all the people who were with him, ‘Tear your clothes and gird on sackcloth and lament before Abner.’"
    2. (:31b) David Leads By Example in Honoring Abner: "And King David walked behind the bier."
    3. (:32) David’s Kingdom Unified in Mourning for Abner: "Thus they buried Abner in Hebron; and the king lifted up his voice and wept at the grave of Abner, and all the people wept."
  2. (:33-34) David Offers Lament of Regret for the Undeserving Circumstances of Abner’s Death – not a death befitting a valiant warrior: "And the king chanted a lament for Abner and said, ‘Should Abner die as a fool dies? Your hands were not bound, nor your feet put in fetters; As one falls before the wicked, you have fallen.’ And all the people wept again over him."
    1. Davis: It should be remembered that Abner had slain Asahel in battle unwillingly and in self-defense. It should also be noted that Hebron was a city of refuge (Josh. 21:13) and in such a city not even the avenger of blood might slay the murderer without a trial (cf. Num. 35:22-25). Thus Joab violated basic laws established within Israel.
  3. (:35-37) David Extends His Fasting to Confirm His Claim of Innocence
    1. (:35) Fasting Continues Even After the Burial of Abner: "Then all the people came to persuade David to eat bread while it was still day; but David vowed, saying, ‘May God do so to me, and more also; if I taste bread or anything else before the sun goes down."
    2. (:36) Wise and Appropriate Behavior: "Now all the people took note of it, and it pleased them, just as everything the king did pleased all the people."
    3. (:37) Persuasive Regarding David’s Innocence: "So all the people and all Israel understood that day that it had not been the will of the king to put Abner the son of Ner to death."
  4. (:38-39) Final Lament of David
    1. (:38) Praise for Abner: "Then the king said to his servants, ‘Do you not know that a prince and a great man has fallen this day in Israel?"
    2. (:39) Vengeance is the Lord’s: "And I am weak today, though anointed king; and these men the sons of Zeruiah are too difficult for me. May the Lord repay the evildoer according to his evil."