2 Samuel 3:25
Surely you realize that Abner son of Ner came to deceive you and to track your movements and all that you are doing."
A Long WarC. M. Fleury, A. M.2 Samuel 3:1-39
Perpetual WarJ. Irons.2 Samuel 3:1-39
Progress and Termination of the Civil WarW. G. Blaikie, M. A.2 Samuel 3:1-39
The Vengeance of JoabB. Dale 2 Samuel 3:22-30

2 Samuel 3:22-30. - (HEBRON.)

(1) Early life (1 Samuel 22:1);

(2) conflict with Abner (2 Samuel 2:13, 24, 30);

(3) capture of the stronghold of Zion (1 Chronicles 11:6);

(4) captain of the host (2 Samuel 8:16; 2 Samuel 20:23);

(5) conflicts with the Ammonites and Syrians (2 Samuel 10:7);

(6) reduction of the Edomites (1 Kings 11:15, 16);

(7) complicity in the murder of Uriah (2 Samuel 11:14);

(8) capture of Rabbah (2 Samuel 11:1; 2 Samuel 12:26);

(9) relations with Absalom (2 Samuel 14:1, 29);

(10) defeat and murder of Absalom (2 Samuel 18:2, 14);

(11) upbraiding the king (2 Samuel 19:5);

(12) replaced by Amasa (2 Samuel 20:4);

(13) murder of Amasa (2 Samuel 20:10);

(14) defeat of Sheba (2 Samuel 20:22);

(15) remonstrance with David (2 Samuel 24:3);

(16) defection to Adonijah (1 Kings 1:7);

(17) denounced by David (1 Kings 2:5);

(18) put to death by Benaiah at the command of Solomon (1 Kings 2:28, 34).]

1. Among those who played a prominent part in David's reign the foremost man was his nephew Joab. He was possessed of great physical strength and daring, clear judgment and strong will, eminent military skill, and immense power over others; "a bold captain in bad times." With the ruder qualities of activity, courage, and implacable revenge, "he combined something of a more statesmanlike character, which brings him more nearly to a level with his youthful uncle; and unquestionably gives him the second place in the whole history of David's reign. In consequence of his successful attempt at the siege of Jebus, he became commander-in-chief, the highest office in the state after the king. In this post he was content, and served the king with undeviating fidelity. In the wide range of wars which David undertook, Joab was the acting general, and he therefore may be considered as the founder, as far as military prowess was concerned, the Marlborough, the Belisarius, of the Jewish empire" (Stanley). His patriotism was unquestionable; nor was he without piety (2 Samuel 10:12).

2. His natural gifts, good qualities, and invaluable services were more than counterbalanced by his moral defects and numerous vices. "He ever appears wily, politic, and uuscrupulous" ('Speaker's Commentary'). "He is the impersonation of worldly policy, secular expediency, and temporal ambition, eager for his own personal aggrandizement, and especially for the maintenance of his own political ascendency, and practising on the weaknesses of princes for his own interests; but at last the victim of his own Machiavellian shrewdness" (Wordsworth).

3. "Joab was a type of the national aspect of Judaism. He was intensely Jewish, in the tribal meaning of the word, not in its higher, world wide bearing; only Judaean in everything that outwardly marked Judaism, though not regarded in its inward and spiritual reality. Nor is it without deep symbolical meaning, as we have the higher teaching of history, that Joab, the typical Eastern Judaean - may we not say, the type of Israel after the flesh? - should, in carrying out his own purposes and views, have at last compassed his own destruction" (Edersheim).

I. EVIL DEEDS ARE SELDOM WROUGHT WITHOUT PLAUSIBLE PRETEXTS. It is uncertain whether Joab was aware of former negotiations between David and Abner; but on returning to Hebron from a military expedition (against marauding troops, ch. 4:2), being informed of the league that had just been made, his suspicion was aroused; he hastened to the king with the view of inducing him to share it, probably believing that Abner was not to be trusted; and finding the result doubtful or contrary to his expectation, resolved to take the matter into his own hands, on the ground of:

1. Guilt incurred by a public enemy.

2. Zeal inspired for the king's safety (ver. 25).

3. Obligation imposed by personal injury, according to the custom of blood revenge (Exodus 21:13; Numbers 35:9-35; Deuteronomy 19:1-13). This is twice mentioned by the historian (vers. 27, 30) as the ostensible ground, and was perhaps popularly regarded as a sufficient justification of his deed. "The act of Abner was justifiable homicide; but it was precisely to such cases that the rule applied, not to those of murder, against the penalties of which no sanctuary afforded protection. Besides, unless the right of avengement for blood did apply to such cases as this, whence the deep necessity of Abner to avoid slaying Asahel (2 Samuel 2:22)? It may be admitted that a case of this nature may have involved some doubt as to the application of the rule to it, and very likely it was not in such cases often enforced. But where any room for doubt existed, Joab and Abishai might interpret it in their own favour as their justification for an act the true motives of which durst not be alleged, and as a ground, on which they might claim exemption from the punishment due to murder (Kitto, 'Daily Bible Illus.').

II. PLAUSIBLE PRETEXTS OFTEN COVER THE BASEST MOTIVES, though they cannot entirely conceal them.

1. Vindictiveness. Joab's act, even if it fell within the letter of the Law, which allowed punishment for homicide under certain circumstances (Numbers 35:22), was shown, by the place, the time, and the manner of it, to have been done, not from regard for justice, but from deliberate, unwarrantable, malicious revenge. So David regarded it (ver. 28); denouncing it as the "shedding of the blood of war in peace" (1 Kings 2:5), and joining it with the murder of Amasa.

2. Jealousy and ambition (1 Samuel 18:6-16). This was his main motive. He was "afraid of losing his command of the army and his dignity with the king, and lest he should be deprived of those advantages and Abner should obtain the first rank in David's court" (Josephus). Hence his suspicion and slander of Abner (ver. 25). "Through envy of the devil came death into the world" (Wisd. of Sol. 2:24).

"Envy at others' good is evermore
Malignant poison setting on the soul;
A double woe to him infected by it -
Of inward pain the heavy load he bears,
At sight of joy without he ever mourns."


3. Presumption. He rudely remonstrated with the king (ver. 24), presuming upon his position; and afterwards, without the king's authority, whilst seeming to act under it, recalled the man who had been sent away under the king's protection; and gratified his private revenge, regardless of the effect of his conduct on the king's dignity and reputation.

4. Treachery. Under the pretence of speaking with him in a friendly and confidential manner, he drew his victim aside in the middle of the gate, and smote him there. Possibly Abishai alone was witness of the act. "Cursed be he that smiteth his neighbour secretly. And all the people shall say, Amen" (Deuteronomy 27:24).

III. IMPUNITY IN CRIME IS COMMONLY PRODUCTIVE OF DISASTROUS EFFECTS. Under the circumstances, it would hardly have been possible for David to punish Joab and Abishai. "Probably public feeling would not have supported the king, nor could he, at this crisis of his affairs, have afforded the loss of such generals, or brave the people and the army" (Edersheim). Great men often owe their exemption from punishment to their position. But crime, although unpunished by man:

1. Incurs the righteous displeasure of God. (Vers. 29, 39.) Human punishment does not and cannot always accord with the Divine. Although David could not punish, he durst not forgive. His words "express his moral horror at this evil deed, and at the same time the everlasting law of God's recruiting justice." "The extension of the curse to the descendants clearly refers to the threatenings of the Law; and in both cases the offensive character disappears if we only remember that whoever by true repentance freed himself from connection with the guilt, was also exempted from participation in the punishment" (Hengstenberg).

2. Incites other men to similar crimes. It is not improbable that Baanah and Rechab were induced to assassinate Ishbosheth (2 Samuel 4:6) by the unavenged death of Abner.

3. Encourages the criminal to continue his evil course, increases his obduracy, and causes him to "wax worse and worse." "Joab prospered even after his sin. God gave him time for repentance. But he hardened his heart by sin. And in the end he was cut off. Successful crime is splendid misery."

4. Escapes not forever the retribution which it deserves. "Evil pursueth sinners" (Proverbs 13:21; Proverbs 29:1). Joab sinned with a strong and violent hand, and by a strong and violent hand he at length perished (1 Kings 2:34; Psalm 58:11).

"O Blind lust!
O foolish wrath! who so dost goad us on
In the brief life, and in the eternal then
Thus miserably overwhelm us!"

(Dante, 'Purg.,' 12.) D.

Now then do it.

1. The character and frequency of those impulses have varied greatly in different individuals.

2. These impulses have been usual in you at certain times, and these find a parallel in the case of Israel. These Israelites, perhaps, in their hearts sought for David to be king when they saw the joy upon the face of David's men. His troopers often had spoil to share, and they always spake well of their captain, and whenever a David's man was seen anywhere about Judah or Israel, the people said, "Those warriors have a goodly heritage in being under such a noble leader," and they wished they had such a king themselves. I do not doubt but sometimes when you hear Christ preached in all His sweetness, your mouths begin to water after him. "Is he so good, is he so pleasant? Oh, that we knew Him!" And when you see Christians so happy, and especially when you see them in times of trouble so cheerful and joyous under all their trials, I know you have had an inward wish that you knew their secret and could share their peace.

3. These seekings after David were sometimes with the Israelites vivid and strong; and so, too, impulses with undecided people are occasionally very powerful.

4. Nothing has come of all the seekings of your youth and your after days.

II. RECOMMEND DECIDED ACTION. "Ye sought for David in times past to be king over you, now then do it."

1. Note the business on hand — it is that Jesus should be king over you.

2. Next notice that if Christ is to be your king, it must be by your own act and deed. So saith the text concerning king David "Now then do it."

3. And here is the point, if Jesus is to reign the old king must go down. It is of no use trying to have Ishbosheth and David on the throne at the same time. It is impossible to serve sin and to serve Christ. Dream not of believing to-morrow or next year, nor even in half-an-hour's time; but cast your guilty soul on Christ at once. Now then do it.


( C. H. Spurgeon.)

John Ruskin took for his great life-motto the simple word "To-day." He had it engraved on his watch, and before him in his library, so that he could always see it as he sat at his desk, the text, "Work, while it is yet called to-day." To-day let us repent, believe, love. pray, toil, so that to-day we may bring the kingdom to pass, by doing His will as it is done in heaven.

(H. O. Mackey.)

Perhaps there is now a "shy, solitary serious thought," in your heart about becoming a Christian. If you let it alone, it may fly away like a bird through a cage-door left open, and may never come back. Or else a crowd of business cares and plans, or perhaps a host of social invitations will flock in, and the good thought be smothered to death. You have smothered just such blessed thoughts before. The thought in your heart is to become a Christian now, and the great bells ring out, "Now is the accepted time: behold, now is the day of salvation." No soul was ever yet saved, and no good deed was ever done to-morrow. Be careful lest tomorrow shall find you beyond the world of probation!

(Theodore L. Cuyler, D. D.)

Soon after the death of Carlyle two friends met. "And so Carlyle is dead," said one. "Yes," said the other, "he is gone; but he did me a very good turn once." "How was that?" asked the first speaker. "Did you ever see him or hear him?" "No," came the answer, "I never saw him nor heard him. But when I was beginning life, almost through my apprenticeship, I lost all interest in everything and everyone. I felt as if I had no duty of importance to discharge; that it did not matter whether I lived or not; that the world would do as well without me as with me. This condition continued more than a year. I should have been glad to die. One gloomy night, feeling that I could stand my darkness no longer, I went into a library, and lifting a book I found lying upon a table, I opened it. It was 'Sartor Resartus,' by Thomas Carlyle. My eye fell upon one sentence, marked in italics, 'Do the duty which lies nearest to thee, which thou knowest to be a duty! The second duty will already have become clearer.' That sentence," continued the speaker, "was a flash of lightning striking into my dark soul. It gave me a new glimpse of human existence. It made a changed man of me. Carlyle, under God, saved me. He put content and purpose and power-into my life."

Abigail, Abishai, Abital, Abner, Absalom, Adonijah, Ahinoam, Aiah, Amnon, Asahel, Benjamin, Benjamites, Chileab, Dan, David, Eglah, Gibeon, Haggith, Ishbosheth, Ithream, Jezreel, Jezreelitess, Jizreelitess, Joab, Laish, Maacah, Maachah, Michal, Nabal, Ner, Paltiel, Phaltiel, Rizpah, Saul, Shephatiah, Talmai, Zeruiah
Bahurim, Beersheba, Bethlehem, Carmel, Dan, Geshur, Gibeon, Hebron
Abner, Clear, Coming-in, Deceit, Deceive, Doest, Going-out, Hast, Learn, Movements, Ner, Observe
1. During the war David becomes stronger
2. Six sons are born to him in Hebron
6. Abner, displeased with Ishbosheth
7. revolts to David
13. David requires as a condition to bring him his wife Michal
17. Abner confers with the Israelites, feasted by David, and dismissed
22. Joab returning from battle, is displeased with the king, and kills Abner
28. David curses Joab
31. and mourns for Abner

Dictionary of Bible Themes
2 Samuel 3:22-27

     8720   double-mindedness

The King --Continued.
The years thus well begun are, in the historical books, characterized mainly by three events, namely, the bringing up of the ark to the newly won city of David, Nathan's prophecy of the perpetual dominion of his house, and his victories over the surrounding nations. These three hinges of the narrative are all abundantly illustrated in the psalms. As to the first, we have relics of the joyful ceremonial connected with it in two psalms, the fifteenth and twenty-fourth, which are singularly alike not
Alexander Maclaren—The Life of David

The King.
We have now to turn and see the sudden change of fortune which lifted the exile to a throne. The heavy cloud which had brooded so long over the doomed king broke in lightning crash on the disastrous field of Gilboa. Where is there a sadder and more solemn story of the fate of a soul which makes shipwreck "of faith and of a good conscience," than that awful page which tells how, godless, wretched, mad with despair and measureless pride, he flung himself on his bloody sword, and died a suicide's death,
Alexander Maclaren—The Life of David

Of a Private Fast.
That we may rightly perform a private fast, four things are to be observed:--First, The author; Secondly, The time and occasion; Thirdly, The manner; Fourthly, The ends of private fasting. 1. Of the Author. The first that ordained fasting was God himself in paradise; and it was the first law that God made, in commanding Adam to abstain from eating the forbidden fruit. God would not pronounce nor write his law without fasting (Lev. xxiii), and in his law commands all his people to fast. So does our
Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety

A Believer's Privilege at Death
'For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.' Phil 1:1I. Hope is a Christian's anchor, which he casts within the veil. Rejoicing in hope.' Rom 12:12. A Christian's hope is not in this life, but he hash hope in his death.' Prov 14:42. The best of a saint's comfort begins when his life ends; but the wicked have all their heaven here. Woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.' Luke 6:64. You may make your acquittance, and write Received in full payment.' Son, remember that
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity

The Morning of Good Friday.
The pale grey light had passed into that of early morning, when the Sanhedrists once more assembled in the Palace of Caiaphas. [5969] A comparison with the terms in which they who had formed the gathering of the previous night are described will convey the impression, that the number of those present was now increased, and that they who now came belonged to the wisest and most influential of the Council. It is not unreasonable to suppose, that some who would not take part in deliberations which were
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

Growth in Grace
'But grow in grace.' 2 Pet 3:38. True grace is progressive, of a spreading and growing nature. It is with grace as with light; first, there is the crepusculum, or daybreak; then it shines brighter to the full meridian. A good Christian is like the crocodile. Quamdiu vivet crescit; he has never done growing. The saints are not only compared to stars for their light, but to trees for their growth. Isa 61:1, and Hos 14:4. A good Christian is not like Hezekiah's sun that went backwards, nor Joshua's
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity

Alike from the literary and the historical point of view, the book[1] of Samuel stands midway between the book of Judges and the book of Kings. As we have already seen, the Deuteronomic book of Judges in all probability ran into Samuel and ended in ch. xii.; while the story of David, begun in Samuel, embraces the first two chapters of the first book of Kings. The book of Samuel is not very happily named, as much of it is devoted to Saul and the greater part to David; yet it is not altogether inappropriate,
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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