During the war between the house of Saul and the house of David, Abner had continued to strengthen his position in the house of Saul.
I. MUCH OF OUR WEAKNESS ARISES FROM WANT OF FAITH IN THE LOVINGKINDNESS OF GOD. Now, many of us think that unless we have money and health and friends, God does not trouble about us. And this want of faith in His love and care makes us weak in every step of life. Instead of being cheerful, we are full of anxiety, and instead of being joyous as a lark we mope like a chained dog that has no dinner.
2 Samuel 3:6. - (MAHANAIM.)1 Samuel 14:50), and contributed greatly to his early successes. He introduced David to the king after his victory over Goliath, sat at the royal table (1 Samuel 20:25), was well acquainted with their relations to each other, took part in the persecution (1 Samuel 26:14), and, after the battle of Gilbea, became the main support of the house of Saul (2 Samuel 2:8). "'Abner made himself strong for the house of Saul,' but God strengthened David, whom Abner knew to have been designed for the kingdom by God" (Wordsworth). Notice:
1. His eminent abilities - military skill, prudence, energy, courage, and perseverance; as shown by the honourable position he so long held in the service of Saul, and his successful efforts after his death (2 Samuel 2:8-12). "Abner's act was not an ordinary act of rebellion against the person of David and his rightful claim to the throne; because Jehovah had not yet caused David to be set before the nation as its king by Samuel or any other prophet, and David had not yet asserted the right to reign over all Israel, which had been secured to him by the Lord, and guaranteed by his anointing as one whom the nation was bound to recognize" (Keil). Nor was he destitute of generous sentiments. If he could not be called a good man, he was "a prince and a great man" (ver. 38).
2. His worldly ambition and carnal selfishness. This was probably the main, if not the only, motive of his opposition to the Divine purpose; and to it Ishbesheth evidently attributed the conduct with which he charged him, regarding his act as an assertion of royal rights (ver. 7). His pride and self-esteem are also apparent in his haughty answer (ver. 8).
"Ambition's like a circle on the water,
3. His passionate resentment, which, as is commonly the case, was an indication of the truth of the charge brought against him; nor did he deny it, but contemptuously declared that he was too great a man and had rendered too many services to be accused of such a "fault;" and then took an oath to avenge the insult by translating the kingdom to David, "as the Lord had sworn" to him (vers. 9, 10). "This was Abner's arrogancy to beast such great things of himself, as if he had carried a king in his pocket, as that great Earl of Warwick in Edward IV.'s time, is said to have done" (Trapp). "No man ever heard Abner godly till now; neither had he been so at this time if he had not intended a revengeful departure from Ishbosheth. Nothing is more odious than to make religion a stalking horse to policy" (Hall).
4. His altered purposes. The change, although right and good in itself, was due to a passionate impulse and probably the desire of personal advantage; and, in its announcement, Abner betrayed his previous ungodliness and present hypocrisy. "Alas! how eloquently can hypocrites employ the Name of God, and take the sanction of religion, when by such means they think to advance their present interests!" (Lindsay). But, on the other hand, it may be said that his sudden wrath was only the occasion of his open avowal of an irrepressible and growing conviction of duty, and of his taking the decisive step which he had been long contemplating; and that he henceforth faithfully endeavoured to make amends for his former errors and sincerely sought the welfare of the nation. "When an opposer of God's Word honestly turns, we should, without reluctance, give him the hand, without undertaking to pass judgment on the motives that are hidden in his heart" (Erdmann). David, unlike Joab (ver. 25), put the best construction on Abner's conduct.
5. His energetic action and extensive influence. He sent messengers "immediately" (LXX.) to David, recognizing his authority, etc. (ver. 12); had communication with the elders of Israel (ver. 18); spake in the ears of Benjamin (ver. 19), who might be jealous of the transfer of sovereignty to Judah; and, having obtained their consent, came himself to Hebron with twenty men, "representatives of Israel, to confirm his overtures by their presence," partook of an entertainment "of the nature of a league," and went away in peace. "David believed that in this offer of Abner a Divine providence was to be observed which would make, as he hoped, a full end to the unhappy civil war" (Krummacher).
6. His cruel fate. "Now is Ishbosheth's wrong avenged by an enemy" (Hall). Even though his present course was in fulfilment of the Divine purpose, it averted not the consequences of his former conduct; and retribution came upon him suddenly, unexpectedly, and by a wicked hand. "One wicked man is made to be another's scourge." "Human sin must serve the purposes of God's kingdom" (Psalm 76:10). "David's kingdom is not promoted by Abner's treason, as David so expected, but rather by the taking away of Abner; thus the Lord, in the promotion of his kingdom, chooseth not the instruments nor alloweth even the means which appear good to men; but, by the contrary, he taketh away the same instruments and means in which men have most confidence, and by others more unlikely, and without men's expectation, he advanceth the cause of the Church and worketh great things" (Guild). - D.
I am this day weak, though anointed king.
I. SOME DISAPPOINTMENT IS SURE TO FOLLOW UPON THE ATTAINMENT OF OUR HOPES AND TO INTERMINGLE WITH OUR JOYS. Men struggle for riches all life long, and when they have gained them, oft have no power of enjoyment left. The argosy of food is just coming into port, but somehow is caught by the tide, driven behind the pier, and wrecked on the rugged rocks outside. The topmost step of the throne is reached, the sceptre grasped, the crown placed on the head, when the thorn is felt pressing into the tender brow and the paean of joy is toned by the minor note of sorrow. This is not the invariable experience, but general. One might say that the exceptions establish the rule.
II. THESE BALANCINGS IN LIFE ARE INTENDED BY THE AUTHOR OF ALL LIFE. God has not promised that ease shall always follow on effort, nor full peace come immediately a victory is won. It is of the Divine appointment that those who have wealth, powers, or high position shall often have also strong jealousies, bitter annoyances, severe domestic troubles, great losses, unfulfilled expectations, and harsh regrets over unrealized ideas. That man of genteel manners and calm exterior has a very Vesuvius in his breast. You see not the throes that disturb his soul. So poverty and weakness, sickness and solitude, as well as strength and riches, have their balancings. Power can grow out of privation, and strength out of suffering, while ennui may be the offspring of pleasurable ease and satiety of constant satisfaction. All happiness has its alloy and all sorrow its surcease. This is by Divine arrangement. These thoughts should teach us —
1. To find all our joy and strength in God.
2. To be thankful for any balancings that may develop being and life.
3. To see to it that we so live that no painful counterbalancing may follow upon this life in the future; to be careful lest the very greatness of the glory and richness of the reward should only make us feel how meagre was our earth-life and unpardonable our spiritual coldness.
4. That we should never let despondency seize us, remembering these balancings in life.
5. Many are weak and know it not. They are anointed heirs of God, kings and priests, but through sin they are weak every day. David knew what he had lost when Abner was taken; but many so live that they ignore the loss they suffer by their wilful ignorance of Christ, through whom alone any can be really strong and kingly in spirit.
1. Let me remark that David at this special time felt his weakness, more particularly because he was in a new position. He has come into a new place — nations are at his feet — men bow before him; it is a new position, and he says, "I am this day weak, though anointed king." Whenever you make a change in life; whenever God calls you to another set of duties, you will surely find out what perhaps you do not now believe — that you are weak, though anointed king.
2. Here, too, David had come into new temptation. The arrows had been shot at him before, from one direction alone, now the storm caeses on one side, and begins on the other. If men knew that the storm would always ,come to one side of the house they would repair and strengthen it, and then they would not fear the blast; but if on a sudden it whirled round and took the other corner, how would they be prepared for that? Where there is the honey of royalty, there will surely be the wasps of temptations. High places and God's praise do seldom well agree; a full cup is not easily carried without spilling, and he that stands on a pinnacle needs a clear head and much grace.
3. And then further, David had now come into new duties. It was his duty to have taken Joab and have made him suffer the full penalty of the law for having killed Abner. A king must defend the oppressed and avenge the murdered, but David fails to perform the new duty, for he feels that he is too weak.
II. IT WAS BUT LITTLE WONDERFUL THAT DAVID'S KINGDOM WAS WEAK, FOR IT WAS BUT NEWLY GAINED; and. it is but little marvel if we also are very weak in the beginning of our spiritual life. When a king has had time to set himself down upon his throne, and to sweep away before him this party and that, either by politics or by the power of the sword, and so to put down every rival, then his throne becomes confirmed. Young Christian, it is no wonder that you are weak, when the good work has only lately begun with you. See the lambs in the fold: it is well that they have been shorn in good weather, for what would become of the shorn lamb in the untempered wind? Shall we suppose that the young sapling shall stand as firmly as the oak with its gnarled roots and its hoary branches, which have been twisted together by many a storm? What! Shall a babe fight a battle? Shall a new-born infant go forth to war? Do you wonder because the new creature is weak? Wonder rather at its power, than at its weakness.
III. DAVID WAS WEAK ONLY IN THE FLESH, and that the Christian truly is only weak there. Why was David weak? "Because," said he, "the sons of Zeruiah are too hard for me. I cannot subdue them; I cannot keep them under; I cannot manage any kingdom whilst such turbulent spirits as these interfere and intermeddle with everything."
IV. IT IS WHERE THE FLESH IS STRONG THAT WE ARE WEAK. Why was not David strong? Why, because of the sons of Zeruiah, yet these sons of Zeruiah were his greatest strength. What could he have done without Joab and Abishai — Joab the man who smote the garrison of Jebus, and Abishai who slew three hundred men in single-handed fight. What could he do without these? These were David's mighty men, those who always led the van, and with a tremendous shout dashed among the Philistines, and scattered the uncircumcised. So it is with us. Whatever is our strength in the flesh is sure to be our weakness in the spirit. Remember that your sons of Zeruiah will be hard to manage. I believe the strength of God, s ministers generally lies in the points where they are the weakest, and their weakness usually lies in their strength. That is to say, natural strength will be toned down by a spiritual weakness, and a natural weakness will be exalted and be made the vehicle and channel for spiritual strength. It has often been so. The very physical appearance of Paul, his personal presence which was said to be weak and contemptible, becomes to him the subject of glorying. He glories in his infirmity, for it is the means of giving honour to God. "This is strange logic," says one. It is; God's logic is strange. Gideon fears the Midianites because of the slender number of his soldiers, but the Lord says, "the people are yet too many for me." The king of Judah on another occasion hires for himself with so many hundred thousand talents a number of mercenary troops from the king of Israel. "Now," says he, "I shall win the battle"; but before the battle begins the prophet bids him send these men back. God can do better without means than he can with means that are audacious enough to think themselves necessary. The Lord will always throw the sword away from his hand when that sword begins to boast itself. Assyria is his axe to cut down the cedars, but if you set down any good thing you have ever done to yourself, God will bring you down.
V. OUR WEAKNESS SHALL NOT PREVENT OUR REIGNING BY-AND-BY. David's kingdom did not shake, even when his heart failed him; and it would have stood just as fast if he had knocked away Joab and Abishai, who seemed to be the props that supported it. It was David's business to believe that come what may God's purpose must stand, and God will do all His pleasure. It is just the same with you, Christian, to-day. However weak you may be, and whatever means may have failed you, remember God hath said it — you shall be saved; He has promised that you shall be glorified with Christ; and so you must be, come fair, come foul.
(C . H. Spurgeon.)
1. Let us have sincere faith in God.
2. Hold on to faith in another world. Let no man wrest that faith from you.
3. Hold on to this faith, and it will make you strong to bear burdens, to resist temptations, to endure sufferings, and to die in peace.
II. Another thing that weakens us is WHEN WE PERMIT OURSELVES TO BE SOURED IN TEMPER BECAUSE OF DEFEAT OR OPPOSITION IN LIFE. We ought to feel ashamed of ourselves when we complain of our surroundings. Be cheerful in heart, trusting God. Don't be soured by the so-called "evils" of life; but sing joyfully as you go along.
III. Another cause of our weakness is that WHILE SOME OF US PUT OFF THE DEVIL'S REGIMENTALS, WE OMIT TO PUT ON CHRISTIAN ARMOUR. The Lord Jesus tells of a man who cleansed his house. He turned out the big devils and made his house beautiful. After awhile, one Of the devils returned, and seeing the house garnished but empty — not filled with angels in place of the devils — he entered and brought with him ten Other devils worse than himself. It is so, alas I with many professors. They turn out the big, ugly devils, but they forget to take in the angels. If your heart be empty of a great and powerful love for God and mankind, sin will enter in, and show itself very soon in your life.
Christian Weekly.If an electric car stands motionless on the tracks, it is nothing against the power of electricity. If an invalid has no appetite, and cannot go out of doors at night, it is no argument against things good to eat and the joy of starlit air. If a man does not know a flower by name. nor a poem by heart, it is no indictment of the beauty of a rose or the charm of some poem. If we bear the name of Christ, but give no other sign of Him, if we go through the forms of godliness but live powerless lives, it is a thousand reproaches to us. To be powerless when Christ has all power, and we can have all we want, is an arraignment to which we can make no answer that is not self-incriminating.
(A. F. Kirkpatrick, M. A.)
"In the corrupted currents of this world,
Offence's gilded hand may shove by justice,
And oft 'tis seen, the wicked prize itself
Buys out the law: but 'tis not so above;
There is no shuffling, there the action lies
In his true nature; and we ourselves compell'd,
Even to the teeth and forehead of our faults,
To give in evidence."
(Alex. Whyte, D. D.).
PeopleAbigail, 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
PlacesBahurim, Beersheba, Bethlehem, Carmel, Dan, Geshur, Gibeon, Hebron
TopicsAbner, David, David's, Making, Pass, Position, Saul, Saul's, Showed, Strengthening, Strong, Supporters, War
Outline1. 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 Themes2 Samuel 3:1-5
LibraryThe 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
Of a Private Fast.
A Believer's Privilege at Death
The Morning of Good Friday.
Growth in Grace
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