From 2 Samuel 1-3
Second Samuel recounts David’s reign as king of Israel (about 1010–970 B.C.). As promised to Abraham, during David’s reign Israel’s borders were extended roughly from Egypt to the Euphrates. While David had many successes, after his sin against Bathsheba and Uriah (ch. 11) both his kingdom and his own family fell into chaos. His son Absalom led a bloody rebellion against him. Nevertheless David, author of many of the Psalms, was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), a model of deep, heartfelt prayer and repentance. The Davidic Covenant of chapter 7 establishes the eternal rule of David’s line, with its ultimate fulfillment in the coming of Jesus Christ. The author of 2 Samuel is unknown. (The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (2 Sa). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.)
Today’s passage is about betrayal. Abner betrays Saul’s son Ish-bosheth in 2what looks like an attempt to claim his rule for himself. In the gospel Jesus was betrayed by Judas. But this was according to God’s plan.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
First and second Samuel are really the same book. To this point Saul has been defeated in battle against the Philistines and has killed himself. An Amalekite from Saul’s camp thought it might please David if he said he killed him and brought him Saul’s crown. But, David condemned the man’s actions and had him killed (2 Sam 1.1-16). David then creates a lament for Saul and Jonathan (2 Sam 1.17-27).
David seeks the LORD’s advice if he should go into the cities of Judah. The LORD instructs him to go to Hebron and there they anoint him king over Judah. David finds out who buried Saul and he commends their actions, blessing them in the name of the LORD (2 Sam 2.1-7).
Meanwhile, Saul’s son Ish-bosheth is made king of Israel. In Saul’s household, Ish-bosheth (King) and Abner (his General) pose the only threats to David’s rule (2 Sam 2.8-11).
David and Saul’s household increase hostilities and start a series of skirmishes. In David’s camp are three sons of a man named Zeruiah – Joab (General), Abishai, and Asahel. Asahel pursues Abner in battle. Abner warns him to stop, but Asahel continues. Abner kills Asahel with a spear. Joab and Abishai pursue Abner seeking revenge, but he rallies his men and argues that hostilities may cease. The fighting stops. 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 (2 Sam 2.12-3.1).
Our passage picks up from this point and describes what is happening in Saul’s household.
6 While there was war between the house of Saul and the house of David, Abner was making himself strong in the house of Saul. 7 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?” (2 Sam 3.6-7)
Abner it seems has ambitions of his own to be the ruler of Saul’s household. By having sex with Saul’s concubine, he is putting himself in position to make a claim for his throne. When Ish-bosheth finds out he is legitimately concerned. Abner’s actions speak volumes about his loyalty towards Ish-bosheth.
8 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. 9 God do so to Abner and more also, if I do not accomplish for David what the LORD has sworn to him, 10 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.” 11 And Ish-bosheth could not answer Abner another word, because he feared him. (2 Sam 3.8-11)
Abner is angry for being confronted like this. He professes loyalty to Saul’s house, but then says he will transfer allegiance of the house to David. This will be good for uniting the kingdom and for David, but bad for Ish-bosheth. Ish-bosheth is now to afraid to respond. Abner has effectively betrayed Ish-bosheth.
12 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.” 13 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.” 14 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.” 15 And Ish-bosheth sent and took her from her husband Paltiel the son of Laish. 16 But her husband went with her, weeping after her all the way to Bahurim. Then Abner said to him, “Go, return.” And he returned. (2 Sam 3.12-16)
Abner goes through with his plan and starts making arrangements with David. They make a covenant. Covenants can be made by conquering kings over a people. The king sets the terms by with they will live under his rule, the people are assured of peace with the king and his forces. The king is obligated to protect the people he is in covenant with. David wants his wife Michal back (cf. 1 Sam 18.20-29; 25.44).
17 And Abner conferred with the elders of Israel, saying, “For some time past you have been seeking David as king over you. 18 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.’ ” 19 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. (2 Sam 3.17-19)
I wonder what Abners motives are in all this, he betrays Ish-bosheth. Is he doing it because he;
- wants a place of leadership for himself?
- does not like the house of Saul or Ish-bosheth?
- wants to unite the kingdom under David as the LORD promised?
Whatever the case Abner, liases with the whole house of Benjamin (not just Saul’s) and they think it a good thing to transfer their allegiance to David.
20 When Abner came with twenty men to David at Hebron, David made a feast for Abner and the men who were with him. 21 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. (2 Sam 3.20-21)
Abner eventually goes to David and they seal the deal with a feast. Generally eating food together is a positive sign of fellowship. Abner then leaves to gather all Israel so they also may make a covenant with King David. However someone who hates Abner has been away from these proceedings.
Abner trusts Joab way more than he should and accepts an invitation from him to speak ‘privately’. Joab pulls him aside and stabs him in the stomach. Abner dies. When David hears of it he condemns Joab and curses his family line (2 Sam 3.26-30). David creates a lament for Abner and the people recognise he had no involvement in the murder (2 Sam 3.31-39).
Story of Israel
Abner’s betrayal is not the first or the last of betrayals the elders and kings of Israel will experience. Several were killed so that another may take their place. In this case the LORD’s promise was realised through Abners betrayal of Ish-bosheth and the kingdom was united under David.
Story of Jesus
Jesus was betrayed by Judas. This also fit right into the plans of God to bring about his kingdom under King Jesus.
14 And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. 15 And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”
17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. 21 But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table.
22 For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” (Lk 22:14–22)
Judas betrays Jesus and he goes to the cross. On the cross Jesus won the decisive battle against sin, death and ushered in his kingdom.
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2014. All Rights Reserved.