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And David sent messengers to Ish-bosheth Saul's son, saying, Deliver me my wife Michal, which I espoused.. And Ish-bosheth sent, and took her from her husband, even from Phaltiel the son of Laish.
And her husband went with her along weeping be.. hind her to Bahurim: then said Abner unto him, Go, return. And he returned.
And Abner had communication with the elders of Israel, saying, Ye sought for David in times past to be king over you.
Now then do it; for the LORD hath spoken of David, saying, By the hand of my servant David I will save my people Israel out of the hand of the Philistines, and out of the hand of all their enemies.
And Abner also spake in the ears of Benjamin: and Abner went also to speak in the ears of David in Hebron, all that seemed good to Israel, and that seemed good to the whole house of Benjamin.
So Abner came to David to Hebron, and twenty men with him and David made Abner, and the men that were with him a feast.
And Abner said unto David, I will arise, and go, and will gather all Israel unto my lord the king, that they may make a league with thee, and that thou mayest reign over all that thine heart desireth. And David sent Abner away; and he went in peace.
And behold the servants of David and Joab came from pursuing a troop, and brought in a great spoil with them: (but Abner was not with David in Hebron, for he had sent him away, and he was gone in peace.) When Joab and all the host that were with him, were come, they told Joab, saying, Abner the son of Ner, came to the king, and he hath sent him away, and he is gone in peace.
Then Joab came to the king, and said, What hast thou
done? behold, Abner came unto thee, why is it that thou hast sent him away, and he is quite gone? thou knowest Abner the son of Ner, that he came to deceive thee, and to know thy going out and thy coming in, and to know all that thou doest.
And when Joab was come out from David, he sent messengers after Abner, which brought him again from the well of Sirah; but David knew it not.
And when Abner was returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside in the gate to speak with him quietly: and smote him there under the fifth rib, that he died, for the blood of Asahel his brother.
And afterwards when David heard it, he said, I and my kingdom are guiltless before the LORD for ever, from the blood of Abner the son of Ner: let it rest on the head of Joab, and on all his father's house, and let there not fail from the house of Joab one that hath an issue, or that is a leper, or that leaneth on a staff, or that falleth on the sword, or that lacketh bread.
So Joab and Abishai his brother slew Abner, because he had slain their brother Asahel at Gibeon in the battle.
And David said to Joab, and to all the people that were with him, Rend your clothes, and gird you with sackcloth, and mourn before Abner. And king David himself followed the bier.
And they buried Abner in Hebron: and the king lift up his voice, and wept at the grave of Abner; and all the people wept.
And the king lamented over Abner, and said, Died Abner as a fool dieth? thy hands were not bound, nor thy feet put in fetters: as a man falleth before wicked men, so fellest thou. And all the people wept again
And when all the people came to cause David to eat meat while it was yet day, David sware, saying, So do
God to me, and more also, if I taste bread or aught else till the sun be down.
And all the people took notice of it, and it pleased them: as whatsoever the king did, pleased all the people.
For all the people, and all Israel understood that day, that it was not of the king to slay Abner the son of Ner.
And the king said unto his servants, Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel.
And I am this day weak, though anointed king; and these men the sons of Zeruiah be too hard for me: the LORD shall reward the doer of evil according to his wickedness.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
The truce which was made between Joab and Abner seems to have been of short continuance; but we do not find that David himself went forth to fight against the family of Saul, though there were frequent contests with their followers. Ish-bosheth is supposed to have been a person of mean abilities, as he did not attend his father and brethren to the field of battle; and it is imagined, that Abner thought to rule the kingdom, by dictating to Ish-bosheth; but when he found that his party declined, and David's was continually increasing, he formed a design of bringing about a revolution, which he had reason to suppose would be very agreeable to the Israelites in general; he therefore took advantage of a trifling affront which Ish-bosheth gave him, and instantly deserted his cause.
The interest of so powerful a man as Abner, was a very desirable acquisition to David: but he placed his dependence on Gon alone, and therefore would not enter into any league with him, till Michal was restored; for certainly Saul's having given her to another was a great indignity
indignity to David; and it is likely that he had a peculiar affection for her, as it was evident she had for him, by her having hazarded her own life to save his; and perhaps she might have intimated to him, by some means or other, her desire to return, which he could scarcely in honour deny, as she was the person who had made him a king's son-in-law. There is an appearance of cruelty in his distressing Phaltiel; but we must consider, that David only required him to restore what he had no right to keep, therefore he was not a proper object of pity; and his silent sorrow proves, that he knew he had no reason to complain of injustice in David's behaviour.
David certainly had a right to make a treaty with Abner, and had he declined it, he would have acted an unjust part by the Israelites in general, and the men of Judah in particular, in rejecting an opportunity of uniting those, who had been separated by the unlawful usurpation of Ish-bosheth*.
Abner's fate teaches us, how uncertain are all the purposes of man; he had formed great projects, and promised great things; but behold they were all subverted, and he died as a fool dieth! Had he acted from good motives it is likely he would have been successful; but though he knew the determination of GoD in respect to David's being king, he at first opposed him from selfish and ambitious views, and would not have joined him at all, if he had not been disappointed in them.
Joab's behaviour was treacherous in the greatest degree, and very unbecoming the character of a renowned warrior; for he shed the blood of war in peace, and in the very gate, which was the place of judgment; he did it therefore in defiance of justice. The curses which David imprecated on Joab, sound very harshly in the ear of a
* See Chandler's and Delany's Life of David.
Christian; but they proceeded from the king's love for his people, as there was cause to fear, that his suffering a murderer to go unpunished in the land of Israel, which was so peculiarly sanctified by the DIVINE PRESENCE, might bring a curse on the nation, for they were commanded not to let a murderer live amongst them; David therefore devoutly prayed, that the LORD would spare him and his people, and confine the curse to Joab, as he could not at that time do the justice which GoD in cases of murder required. The pathetic lamentation, which David uttered for the untimely fate of that great man Abner, convinced the people that he was perfectly innocent of his death.
BAANAH AND RECHAB SLAY ISH-BOSHETH.
From 2 Samuel, Chap. iv.
AND when Saul's son heard that Abner was dead in Hebron, his hands were feeble, and all the Israelites were troubled.
And Saul's son had two men that were captains of bands: the name of the one was Baanah, and the name of the other Rechab, the sons of Rimmon a Beerothite, of the children of Benjamin: (for Beeroth also was reckoned to Benjamin; and the Beerothites fled to Gittaim, and were sojourners there until this day.)
And Jonathan, Saul's son, had a son that was lame of his feet, and was five years old when the tidings came of Saul and Jonathan out of Jezreel, and his nurse took him up, and fled: and it came to pass as she made haste to flee that he fell, and became lame; and his name was Mephibosheth.
And the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, Rechab and