6 During the war between the house of Saul and the house of David, Abner had been strengthening his own position in the house of Saul. 7 Now Saul had had a concubine named Rizpah daughter of Aiah. And Ish-Bosheth said to Abner, “Why did you sleep with my father’s concubine?”
8 Abner was very angry because of what Ish-Bosheth said. So he answered, “Am I a dog’s head—on Judah’s side? This very day I am loyal to the house of your father Saul and to his family and friends. I haven’t handed you over to David. Yet now you accuse me of an offense involving this woman! 9 May God deal with Abner, be it ever so severely, if I do not do for David what the Lord promised him on oath 10 and transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul and establish David’s throne over Israel and Judah from Dan to Beersheba.” 11 Ish-Bosheth did not dare to say another word to Abner, because he was afraid of him. 2nd Samuel 3:6-11 niv 2011
Rizpah belonged to Saul – and she was extremely faithful and loyal (See 2nd Samuel 21).
At this point in our Biblical history, when a king passed away, the wives and concubines were inherited by the succeeding king. Under no circumstances would Rizpah have become the property of the king’s general (Abner in this case).
Whether Abner had had relations with Rizpah is not known for certain. He disrespectfully denied the allegation. On the other hand, Ish-Bosheth was afraid of Abner (verse 11). He’d watched Abner strengthen his personal position within Saul’s kingdom. A final move to take the throne would be to establish relations within the king’s harem. So Abner may have done this, and that’s probably why Ish-Bosheth questions him about it. Poor Ish-Bosheth can see the writing on the wall – and it’s obvious to David as well.
When Abner sends messengers to tell David that he desires to leave Ish-Bosheth’s service (see 2nd Samuel 3:12), David brings the whole thing out into the open by contacting Ish-Bosheth publicly and demanding that his first wife, Michal, be returned to him. (See 2nd Samuel 3:14)
David loved Michal – and at one time she loved him. But when David fled Saul’s court she was given to another man. It’s a horrible scene in the life David. Michal’s new husband goes with her, weeping, I think hoping that David will change his mind and allow her to return to him. But David doesn’t budge. There’s another reason that David had to get Saul’s daughter back. It’s going to strengthen his claim to the throne as the son-in-law of Saul. And in a show of solidarity with the soon-to-be King David, Abner scolds Paltiel and sends him home without his beloved wife.
William McDonald wrote:
…Michal was brought to David—to the great grief of her husband, Paltiel. David’s personal life thus became further entangled, and another dark chapter was written in his biography.
—William McDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary
Sadly, David does not once ask the counsel of God. He makes moves that serve only himself.
And ole Abner continues to strengthen his position within the new kingdom:
17 Abner conferred with the elders of Israel and said, “For some time you have wanted to make David your king. 18 Now do it! For the Lord promised David, ‘By my servant David I will rescue my people Israel from the hand of the Philistines and from the hand of all their enemies.’”
19 Abner also spoke to the Benjamites in person…2nd Samuel 3:17-19(a) niv 2011
What’s apparent here is that Ish-Bosheth only had influence over the tribe of Benjamin. It seems that everybody else wanted David to be king, and there also seems to be public knowledge of God’s anointment of David.
After Abner gets the support of the northern tribes behind him he hurries back to Hebron to discuss the details with David.
David prepares this con artist a feast, and then Abner and his men go back to the northern tribes in order to organize the transfer of power.
When Joab, David’s nephew and general, returns after a raid and hears about the nonsense going on, he confronts David.
Joab and his brother, Abishai, are highly skilled soldiers. They’re filled with military might, proficiency, and a tremendous capacity for the science of war. They probably have the gift of discernment. They know exactly what Abner’s up to. If Abner retrieves the northern tribes for David, what happens to Joab’s position in David’s army? Abner would probably take Joab’s place.
And while Joab and Abishai are gifted and skilled soldiers, they lack the fruit of self-control. Keep in mind here that everyone is within the borders of a City of Refuge. But, Abner had killed their brother and they’ve got a grudge. Never mind that it happened during a legitimate battle and Abner was defending his life at the time.
30 (Joab and his brother Abishai murdered Abner because he had killed their brother Asahel in the battle at Gibeon.) 2nd Samuel 3:30 niv 2011
When David hears about it, he curses his own nephews (one of whom is his general) and carries on over Abner’s death in order to please the kingdom—but he takes no legal action against Joab and Abishai.
George Williams wrote:
Joab was clever, ambitious, bloodthirsty, and heartless. He was an ungodly man … Abner … was a traitor to his master and a rebel to his God. He had no real heart for David as God’s king, but was moved to help him by wounded pride. He reaped as he sowed.
—George Williams, The Complete Bible Commentary
7Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction… Galatians 6:7-8a niv 1984
Abner thought David’s lawn was greener than Ish-Bosheth’s – little did he know there was a massive septic tank under the thing. Had he sought from the very beginning to bring glory to God, perhaps he would have had a place of beauty within the reunification of Israel. Perhaps the battle wherein he was forced to take Asahel’s life would have never taken place, and Joab and Abishai would not have resented him.
What’s worse is that David does not punish Joab for his crime.
David failed to act in accordance with God’s Word, and it puts him on a treacherous path.
No type of Christ is perfect, only our true Savior, Jesus Christ, will act in complete accordance with the will of His Father:
28…“When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. 29The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases Him.” John 8:28-29 niv 1984
Please come back next week for A Kingdom Established Part 1 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