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November 15, 2023

Second Samuel Part 2

Last week when we discussed David’s harsh treatment of the Amalekite messenger who testified to killing King Saul on the battlefield, I sensed some uneasiness by some of you.


Second Samuel


SECOND SAMUEL 3:1 to 4:12

Last week when we discussed David’s harsh treatment of the Amalekite messenger who testified to killing King Saul on the battlefield, I sensed some uneasiness by some of you. Did David act appropriately or not? My contention is that he did because David viewed the king, the Lord’s anointed, as a sacred position established by God. The arrogance of a man who thinks he can go against God and then conclude that what he did was a good thing really angered David. Some of you might argue that David overreacted, that he didn’t have all the facts, etc. As I studied this incident further, trying to fully grasp what motivated David to act as he did, I found myself back in 1 Samuel 24 and the story where David spared Saul’s life the first time (he would spare him again in Ch 26). David delivered the following statement to King Saul explaining why he had spared him – and it shows us David’s heart (a godly perspective):

READ 1 Sam 24:10-12

Bottom line – David viewed any action that sought to harm the king as an act of treason. And as you all know the punishment for treason then and now is death. So hopefully that will help to settle in your mind that David was acting appropriately. David executed the Amalekite on the basis of his own testimony, not the truthfulness of his story. At this point the only thing David has to go on are the words of this one man. That’s why he declares, “Your blood be on your head!”

Last week we left off with David following God’s direction – he goes up to Hebron where he is soon anointed king of Judah. David is aware from the testimonies of Samuel to Saul (1 Sam 13), Samuel to David and his family (1 Sam 16); Jonathan (1 Sam 20:13, 23:17); King Saul himself (1 Sam 24:20); and Abigail (1 Sam 25:29-30) that he will be the future king of all Israel. But for now he is content to be the king of one tribe, the tribe of Judah, and over the next 7 years God will work out all the little details that lead David to become king over all 12 tribes of Israel.

But in the meantime there is resistance to David and to God’s will for the nation of Israel. And what is the origin of anything that goes against God? Satan. Ever since the Garden of Eden Satan has sought to disrupt God’s plan. And at this time in history Satan has his man at work thwarting God’s plan to put David on the throne of Israel. The man’s name is Abner. About 5 years into David’s reign over Judah, the nation of Israel (the other 11 tribes) finally select their king. It is Saul’s son Ish-bosheth. Basically he’s nothing more than a puppet king who can be controlled by Abner. Abner is the power broker. He’s the one pulling all the strings. Abner is the servant of Satan out to thwart God’s plan. Abner knows – yes, he is well aware – that it is David who God wants to be king over all of Israel, not Ish-bosheth. But does Abner care? No. He blocks David from being king because of his own selfish ambitions (Satan uses our pride and selfish desires for his purposes). Abner wants to be in control. By the way, how do we know that Abner is aware that it is God’s will for David to be king? Because he says so later on with his own mouth…

READ 2 Sam 3:9-10

These are Abner’s own words. He knows God’s will, but, despite this, he goes against it anyway. This is, of course, what Satan does all the way thru scripture as he seeks to hinder God’s will from being accomplished in this world. Satan always has an anti-God, anti-Christ person operating. We see this throughout history. And at this time that person is Abner.

In Ch 2 and 3 there are several bizarre events mentioned which we will talk about. When we read these we ask, “Why?” We just scratch your head. There seems to be no point to these at all. But there is a reason why they’re mentioned here in scripture and we’ll talk about this later.

Event #1, 2 Sam 2:12-17 – You have two opposing generals who come up with a boneheaded plan. Abner, who had been Saul’s general and Joab, David’s general, decide to settle the conflict between David and Saul’s family with a little contest. Twelve men from each side are selected and the idea is that they will face off in a mini-battle and whoever wins it will be their king, either David or Ish-bosheth, who rules the nation. So, what happens? Who wins? The battle is so fierce that all 24 combatants kill each other off. No survivors. Nothing decided. It all seems rather bizarre and pointless!

Event #2, 2 Sam 2:18-24 – Abner is riding along either in his chariot or on horseback and he is being pursued on foot rather aggressively by a man named Asahel, who by the way is Joab’s brother. Asahel is a track star, a very fast runner. He’s described in v 18 as “swift of foot as a wild gazelle.” Abner becomes a bit irritated with this guy following him and he warns Asahel to back off. But Asahel refuses. So Abner ends up striking Asahel in the stomach with his spear and kills him. I’m not sure he meant to kill him, but that’s what happened. As you might expect Joab becomes quite upset at what Abner did to his brother. He wants revenge. Joab pursues Abner and tries to kill him.

Event #3, 2 Sam 2:25-3:1 – As a result of the personal tensions between Abner and Joab hundreds of Israelite men end up dying in battle, a civil war of sorts. Ch 3 opens with these words…

READ 2 Sam 3:1a

Most of this was precipitated by the the self-serving actions of both Abner and Joab. V 1 of Ch 3 goes on to say…

READ 2 Sam 3:1b

So there is this approximately 2-yr long civil war in which a lot of men die. Little by little David gains power while the house of Saul gets weaker.

Event #4, 2 Sam 3:6-11 Abner, who pretty well does as he pleases within the puppet kingdom of Israel, exercises free reign with no constraints. Abner takes one of Saul’s concubines for himself. Her name is Rizpah. Because Ish-bosheth is the king by rights this concubine is part of his royal harem. She belongs to him. So Ish-bosheth confronts Abner about it. “What do you think you’re doing?” The two men have a falling out and in anger Abner parts ways on not-such-good terms with Ish-bosheth.

Event #5, 2 Sam 3:12-16 – Abner decides that he is going to join David’s side. As we will see this proves to an unwise decision. As part of David’s peace agreement with Abner, David demands that Michal, Saul’s daughter (David’s former wife) be brought to him to become another one of his wives. Remember, years before when Saul had taken Michal away from David and he had given her to be another man. So David’s terms are agreed to and Michal is taken away from her husband and given to David and she becomes one of David’s wives. Why was this done? There is no indication in scripture that this was God-directed. In fact God had instructed the nation that their kings were not to have multiple wives.

READ Deuteronomy 17:14-20 (emphasize v 17)

So here in our passage David appears to act on his own for political expediency. He is not motivated by any long lost love he has for Michal. I would argue that it was not in her best interests to be with David and undoubtedly she resented David because of it. There’s a disturbing scene in Ch 3, v 15-16…

READ 2 Sam 3:15-16

This is not a good scene. It doesn’t make David look particularly good.

Event #6, 2 Sam 3:17-25 – Abner shows up in Hebron with 20 of his men and meets with David. “I’ll help you to rise to power throughout all of Israel.” David and Abner come to peaceful terms and Abner leaves. Joab returns from one of his raids and converses with David, “Hey what’s going on? Was that Abner I just saw?” Actually what Joab says to David is “What have you done?” Well, at this point David has a problem. He has these two strong-willed, self-serving rival generals vying for power. And Joab is still looking for an opportunity to kill Abner over a personal matter.

Event #7, 2 Sam 3:26-30 – Abner hangs around Hebron. He doesn’t leave. Why not? Because Hebron is one of the 6 designated cities of refuge set up by God in Joshua 20:7-8. Hebron is a safe zone from the avenging wrath of Joab. But Joab, just like Abner, demonstrates he could care less about what God wants. In the guise of having a private, peaceful conversation with Abner, Joab kills Abner. This violates God’s directive and when David finds out about it he is incensed. Even though Abner was not a good guy at all, his death was nothing more than a selfish act of revenge by Joab.

Event #8, 2 Sam 3:31-35 – David and all the people mourn Abner’s death. The king of Judah, a long time enemy of Abner’s, joins the funeral procession and weeps for Abner. David even writes a song of lament for Abner.

READ 2 Sam 3:36-39

The people of Israel take notice of David’s actions. This turns the tide of public opinion in David’s favor. One last thing, David pronounces a curse on Joab and his descendants and turns him over to God for punishment. At this point in time Joab is the commanding general over all his army so David doesn’t kill him, but curses him. Was the curse effective. Well, later on we are told that Joab himself "falls by the sword" in 1 Kings 2:34 at the orders of King Solomon. So, while for a while he gets to continue living by the sword for David' sake, he dies by it as well. It looks like God is confirming the curse by mentioning that in scripture. Then Joab's line drops off the narrative altogether, further confirming the curse. It looks like God took intentional steps in the narrative to tell us that David’s curse of Joab's was real.

Finally, in Ch 4, Ish-bosheth, the king of Israel set up by Abner, is murdered by the two sons of Rimmon while he is resting in his own bed. These 2 guys kill him and then cut off his head. They then travel to Hebron and report to David what they have done. Well, knowing how David handled the Amalekite after his report in Ch 1, how do you think David reacts to these 2 guys who claim they killed Ish-bosheth?

READ 2 Sam 4:9-12

David views Ish-bosheth’s position as king of Israel as a sacred position and reacts the same way as he had reacted before. David even declares that Ish-bosheth was a “righteous man” in the sense that he was innocent of any wrongdoing deserving of death.

Well Ch 5 opens with David being anointed as the king over all Israel. We’ll talk about that next week.

So to wrap up our thoughts this morning –

Just take a look at all the mess in Israel here in the passage we covered this morning. You have one selfish act after another. There are hurt feelings, senseless deaths, consistently ignoring God and His desires – on both sides, even by David – just a lot of bad things going on all over the place. Yet, in spite of the poor choices and mess of things that all these people makes – in spite of all this crazy stuff, you need to understand something very important…

Ultimately God’s will and kingdom desires will be accomplished according to His timetable. Satan’s attempts at thwarting God’s plans failed then and they will fail in the future. After 7 years David becomes the king of all Israel.

Application: Even when everything in our lives seems to go wrong and everywhere we look there’s chaos; even when we have made a great big mess of things, God is still in charge. He’s in control. He’s sovereign – in all matters. And God can use and frequently does use imperfect and improbable people to accomplish His perfect will. I don’t know about you, but given what’s going on in our world today, I find a great assurance and comfort in that fact.

Well, a different kind of lesson today, not heavy on doctrine, mostly just a narrative of some crazy events. But we can take away some truths about God for our own lives. We need to seek Him first in all we do. It doesn’t mean we don’t have our owns plans and desires. But they must be in line with God’s will. In Ps 37:4 David tells us: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Jesus said, “ Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things (our desires) will be added to you.” So let’s sing that chorus…

SECOND SAMUEL 3:1 to 4:12

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