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Tag: Ishbosheth

Abner’s Quest for Power and Control

When we last left off, David was just beginning to establish his rule over Israel. In fact, at this point, he was king over just one tribe of Israel – the tribe of Judah. The rest of Israel had chosen to follow King Saul’s son, Ishbosheth. However, it wasn’t really Ishbosheth that was calling the shots. Abner, the commander of Saul’s army (who also happened to be Saul’s cousin) had established Ishbosheth as King after Saul’s death. And while Ishbosheth had the title of king, as we’re going to see today, Abner was really the one in charge. But we’ll talk more about that in a minute.

So at this point, there is a civil war within Israel: The house of Saul – led by Saul’s son Ishbosheth is at war the house of David to determine who will be the rightful king of Israel. But the story doesn’t really revolve around David or Ishbosheth as much as it revolves around their army commanders.

As I’ve already mentioned, Abner was the commander of Ishbosheth’s army and Joab was the commander of David’s army.

To make this all a bit more complicated, we read in 2 Samuel chapter 2 that Abner had killed Joab’s brother in battle! Of course, this was very much in self-defence – Abner even told Joab’s brother to go fight someone else, but he refused and so – in the end, Abner was forced to defend himself and Joab’s brother was killed! 

So Joab now holds a grudge and is seeking revenge against Abner for killing his brother. And as you might imagine, this grudge-match between these two army commanders had grown into a full blown civil war! The first verse of chapter 3 sums this up by saying:

That was the beginning of a long war between those who were loyal to Saul and those loyal to David.

2 Samuel 3:1a

That’s certainly not the kind of succession plan any kingdom wants to have! The transition from King Saul to King David was not going smoothly – and sadly, as we pointed out in our last message, Abner really was the driving force behind all this conflict. Had he accepted God’s choice of David to be King – this entire civil war could probably have been avoided! But as it was, Abner’s selfish ambition plunged the nation into a needless war that resulted in great bloodshed, and as we will see next week, ultimately his own demise.

So we’ll pick up today where we left off last time. Chapter 3, verse 1.

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The Sordid Tale of Abner

Two weeks ago we began our study of 2 Samuel – which is really just a continuation of our study of 1 Samuel which we concluded back in 2021! So in a lot of ways, we’re jumping right into the middle of the story – a story that many of us either missed the first half or have forgotten how it all started. But don’t worry – even if you don’t remember part one of this story, I’ll do my best to remind us of the key details as we go along.

For now, probably the key thing you need to know is that the nation Israel is currently in a bit of a state of civil war. In our passage today, Israel is still a very young nation – it’s had only one king thus far in it’s history and that king has just died. So now Israel is at a crucial conjuction. Who will lead Israel next?

One of the twelve tribes of Israel (Judah) has chosen David to be their new King – while all the rest of Israel has pledged their loyalties to King’s Saul’s son, Ishbosheth.

However, our passage today doesn’t really revolve around either David or Ishbosheth – but rather around their respective army commanders – Joab (the commander of David’s army) & Abner (the commander of Ishbosheth’s army).

Now before we read today’s passage, let me just re-read the last verses we looked at last week. This is kinda the setup for today’s story. 2 Samuel chapter 2, verses 8-11.

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David Waits for the Lord

So last Sunday we either started a new series or continued an old one – both statements are true – it just depends on how you think about it! We began working through the book of 2 Samuel – which is really just a continuation of 1 Samuel.

Back in 2020/2021, we worked our way through the book of 1 Samuel – looking at characters like Hannah, Eli, Samuel, Saul, eventually David. We concluded that book with the death of Saul after he was mortally wounded in a battle against the Philistines.

Now of course, years before Saul’s death, David had been chosen by God and anointed by Samuel to be the future king of Israel. That had happened when David was still a boy. But now David had grown up, had risen through the ranks of the armies of Israel (very successfully, I might add), and was now quite famous throughout the land of Israel. However, King Saul was so jealous of David’s success and popularity, that he had become determined to kill David. And so David and a band of his faithful men had been on the run from Saul that for the last several years – hiding out in Philistine territory – pretending to be allied with them so that Saul would leave them alone!

But now, the Philistines had just defeated Saul’s army at Mount Gilboa and both Saul and his three sons were killed. And that’s about where 1 Samuel concludes and 2 Samuel begins.

We read in 2 Samuel chapter 1 last Sunday how an Amalekite had brought David the news that Saul and his sons were killed in battle. This Amalekite even claimed to be the guy to put Saul out of his misery after he had been mortally wounded by the Philistines. Of course, we’re not entire sure if that was true, since 1 Samuel 31 says that Saul fell on his own sword and died – while this Amalekite claimed that he killed Saul after Saul asked him end his suffering and spare him from being captured by the Philistines.

But however it actually happened, this young Amalekite man tells David that he was the one to end the life of Saul and that he has now brought to David King Saul’s crown and royal armband.

And this is where we’re going to pick up the story today.

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