God tells David to go to Hebron, where the men of Judah anoint David king. This is where David learns of the kindness of the people of Jabesh Gilead toward Saul and his sons. David then sends a message of thanks, but it’s also sort of an invitation to recognize him as king as the men of Judah had done.
Meanwhile, up north…
8 Meanwhile, Abner son of Ner, the commander of Saul’s army, had taken Ish-Bosheth son of Saul and brought him over to Mahanaim. 9 He made him king over Gilead, Ashuri and Jezreel, and also over Ephraim, Benjamin and all Israel. 2nd Samuel 2:8-9 niv 2011
Abner is the commander of Saul’s army, he is also Saul’s cousin. He took Isbosheth (verse 9) and he made him king.
Whoa…Abner must have quite an opinion of himself! Only through God can a king be anointed, and David had already been anointed. Abner not only usurped Ishbosheth’s independence, but he sought to act against the power and authority of God.
Abner, in this instance, represents the devil.
When Christ comes into our hearts, Abner is going to fight it with everything he has. He will find a king, (which will be something or someone appealing), and place whatever that is on a throne in our hearts – hopefully taking our focus away from the true King. And oftentimes, Abner will be sneaky. Jesus warned us about this:
24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’
28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.
“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’” Matthew 13:24-29 niv 2011
Abner is a big ole weed and we have to watch out for this character.
David was the true king – Ish-Bosheth was NOT the king. He was merely the son of the late king. It appears that he was a fairly quiet, perhaps even a sweet and compassionate character – obviously passive – and it looks as if the Benjamites accepted him, but the statement all of Israel (verse 9) is more of a declaration, rather than a fact – because the Philistines were in control of everything else north of Judah, and David ruled over Judah.
It was only the people of Judah who’d submitted to David. These folks were in the trenches for their king. I’m sure they couldn’t understand what in the world had gone wrong with the rest of Israel. Why on earth would they follow a false king?
Well, it was Israel’s way. They had a history of having a fickle heart…and, unfortunately, so do we.
This fickleness comes from the lust of our eyes – of which Abner represents very well.
Have you ever read Erma Bombeck’s book The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank? Well, I have a septic tank…and the grass does grow a lot greener in that part of the yard than anywhere else. And though the grass is green and lush, what lies beneath it is a stinking mess.
This lust of the eyes that we have: lust for power, riches, influence, sex, food, drugs – whatever your weakness – it can be boiled down to that one saying: the grass is always greener over the septic tank. Sure, it looks good out there, the most beautiful shade of green you’ve ever seen – it’s the best looking yard on the street. But it is all appearances. What lies below the good looks will kill you. It’s poison, make no mistake.
Some great advice from Paul goes like this:
13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. Romans 13:13-14 niv 2011
Paul said don’t even think about it!
15Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For everything in the world – the cravings of the sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world. 17The world and its desires will pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. 1st John 2:15-17 niv 1984
But then, when we see that awesome, beautiful, green, lush lawn, we think: I want that. And we go to war, fighting for that which we think we need, striking down one another in the process.
12 Abner son of Ner, together with the men of Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, left Mahanaim and went to Gibeon. 13 Joab son of Zeruiah and David’s men went out and met them at the pool of Gibeon. One group sat down on one side of the pool and one group on the other side.
14 Then Abner said to Joab, “Let’s have some of the young men get up and fight hand to hand in front of us.”
“All right, let them do it,” Joab said.
15 So they stood up and were counted off—twelve men for Benjamin and Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, and twelve for David. 16 Then each man grabbed his opponent by the head and thrust his dagger into his opponent’s side, and they fell down together. So that place in Gibeon was called Helkath Hazzurim.
17 The battle that day was very fierce, and Abner and the Israelites were defeated by David’s men. 2nd Samuel 2:12-17 niv 2011
Helkath Hazzurim means Field of Sharp Swords.
George Williams made an observation here:
The sharp swords which mutually destroyed the young men should have been used against the Philistine, and not against one another. The destructive energy which rival groups within the Christian Church employ against each other would accomplish great things if used against national evils.
—George Williams, The Complete Bible Commentary
18 The three sons of Zeruiah were there: Joab, Abishai and Asahel. Now Asahel was as fleet-footed as a wild gazelle. 19 He chased Abner, turning neither to the right nor to the left as he pursued him. 20 Abner looked behind him and asked, “Is that you, Asahel?”
“It is,” he answered.
21 Then Abner said to him, “Turn aside to the right or to the left; take on one of the young men and strip him of his weapons.” But Asahel would not stop chasing him.
22 Again Abner warned Asahel, “Stop chasing me! Why should I strike you down? How could I look your brother Joab in the face?”
23 But Asahel refused to give up the pursuit; so Abner thrust the butt of his spear into Asahel’s stomach, and the spear came out through his back. He fell there and died on the spot. And every man stopped when he came to the place where Asahel had fallen and died.
24 But Joab and Abishai pursued Abner, and as the sun was setting, they came to the hill of Ammah, near Giah on the way to the wasteland of Gibeon. 25 Then the men of Benjamin rallied behind Abner. They formed themselves into a group and took their stand on top of a hill.
26 Abner called out to Joab, “Must the sword devour forever? Don’t you realize that this will end in bitterness? How long before you order your men to stop pursuing their fellow Israelites?” 2nd Samuel 2:18-26 niv 2011
What was that he said? Suddenly Abner is the voice of reason? Why on earth is he so concerned about a civil war?
Rest assured, he’s not – he’s just seen the writing on the wall. He knows that the remaining sons of Zuriah will be gunning for him and that they will beat him – Even David will eventually admit that the sons of Zuriah are too harsh. (2nd Samuel 3) It’s time for Abner to make a new plan. Let’s call this thing off and perhaps we can all be friends again.
I loved the movie, Tombstone. In one scene Doc Holliday is gambling with a man named Ed Bailey – and he beats him bad. They exchange unpleasantries and Doc taps the ivory handles of his pistols and says, “We cross?”
Ed Bailey, stupidly answers, “Those guns don’t scare me – cuz without ’em you’re nothing but a skinny lunger.”
Eventually Ed Bailey reaches for his gun, but Doc is quicker. What’s surprising, however is that Doc lays his guns on the table instead of blowing away Ed Bailey, and says, “There, now we can be friends again.”
Doc’s led Ed Bailey to believe that he’s safe – as if there’s a truce – but Doc’s got an alternate plan. When Ed Bailey rushes at Doc, Doc pulls out a knife and fillets Ed Bailey right on the spot. The authentic, historical account of that event is horrific. Just because Doc Holliday didn’t haven’t his guns drawn didn’t mean that he wasn’t lethal. Doc Holliday was quick with his hidden knives as well – a fact that Ed Bailey wasn’t aware of…until it was too late.
Abner has some hidden knives – he just needs the opportunity to pull them out. So he seemingly lays down his weapons and calls for a truce… But it’s going to backfire on him.
Please come back next week for The Grass is Always Greener Part 3 in our series: The Lion of Judah.
If you’re interested in my fiction, please visit www.TaMaraHanscomBooks.com for a free download of the first 4 chapters of The Pretender.
© 2018, Ta`Mara Hanscom