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2Sa 3:1 Now there was long war between the house of Saul and the house of David: but David waxed stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul waxed weaker and weaker.
Ver. 1. Now there was long war. ] Continuo iteratis proeliis: there was constant opposition, and continual skirmishing: so there is still betwixt Christ and Antichrist, betwixt the spirit and the flesh: and these will be bickering, whilst the world shall be standing.
And the house of Saul waxed weaker and weaker. ] So do and shall do daily the eastern and western Antichrist. That stone cut out of the mountains without hands, shall bring down those golden images with a powder.
2Sa 3:2 And unto David were sons born in Hebron: and his firstborn was Amnon, of Ahinoam the Jezreelitess;
Ver. 2. And unto David were sons born in Hebron. ] None born during his exile: a sweet providence.
And his firstborn was Amnon. ] Who was none of the best; as was neither Absalom, Adoniah, &c. Heroum filii noxae. The white halcyons hatch black young ones.
2Sa 3:3 And his second, Chileab, of Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite; and the third, Absalom the son of Maacah the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur;
Ver. 3. And his second, Chileab, ] alias Daniel. 1Ch 3:1 By his name he should be like his father: he died early. ‘ Oν φιλει Yεος θνησκειιεος
And the third, Absalom the son of Maacah. ] More like his mother. Partus fere seqitur ventrem. Ingenium atque indoles plerunque matrissat. His name signifieth, The father’s peace: but he proved like the sea called Pacific, which is troublous above measure.
2Sa 3:4 And the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; and the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital;
Ver. 4. And the fourth, Adonijah. ] This also was one of David’s tres vomicae, tria carcinomata, imposthumated ulcers, as Augustus called his three untoward daughters.
And the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital. ] By six wives he had but six sons. God was not pleased with his polygamy. Erasmus a telleth of one Combe, a woman of Eubaea, who brought her husband a hundred children: and of another, an English woman, who, being blind, and married to a poor cripple, was blessed with twelve lusty sons, no way deformed or defective. b
a Eras. Chil.
b De Instit. Matr.
2Sa 3:5 And the sixth, Ithream, by Eglah David’s wife. These were born to David in Hebron.
Ver. 5. Eglah David’s wife.] His wife by a specialty: most dearly beloved. a Some make her to be Michel, and her son to be Nathan: but that is not very likely.
a Praecipua et prima, ac prae aliis dilecta. - Lap.
2Sa 3:6 And it came to pass, while there was war between the house of Saul and the house of David, that Abner made himself strong for the house of Saul.
Ver. 6. Abner made himself strong. ] See 2 Samuel 2:8-9 .
2Sa 3:7 And Saul had a concubine, whose name [was] Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah: and [Ishbosheth] said to Abner, Wherefore hast thou gone in unto my father’s concubine?
Ver. 7. Wherefore hast thou gone in, &c. ] Whether this charge were true or false, it appeareth not. But Ishbosheth, belike, suspected that Abner aspired to the kingdom. Compare 1 Kings 2:17 2 Samuel 16:21 .
2Sa 3:8 Then was Abner very wroth for the words of Ishbosheth, and said, [Am] I a dog’s head, which against Judah do shew kindness this day unto the house of Saul thy father, to his brethren, and to his friends, and have not delivered thee into the hand of David, that thou chargest me to day with a fault concerning this woman?
Ver. 8. Am I a dog’s head?] An persona canina sum? Am I so worthless and abject? as some sense it; what! a dog, or a dog-keeper? Others, Am I so given to lust and lasciviousness, as dogs are? Thus Deuteronomy 23:18 , the price of a bitch, that is, of a whore, which, as a suit-bitch, is followed up and down by her libidinous lecherous paramours. Aristogiton, an Athenian orator, was for this cause called Dog: and it was not permitted to a dog to enter into the Acropolis or tower at Athens, for his heat in venery, and for his ill favour. Goats likewise came not there, saith Varro, unless for necessary sacrifice. a
2Sa 3:9 So do God to Abner, and more also, except, as the LORD hath sworn to David, even so I do to him;
Ver. 9. Except, as the Lord hath sworn to David. ] What Abner did, then, hitherto for Ishbosheth, he did against his conscience: and now they fall out. Sinful leagues last not long; thieves falling out, true men come by their goods. But who ever heard Abner godly till now? Neither had he been so at this time, if he had not intended a revengeful departure from Ishbosheth. Nothing is more odious than to make religion a stalking horse to policy. If Abner be a means of doing David right, yet because he doth it with an ill mind, and out of self-respects, he loseth his reward with God.
2Sa 3:10 To translate the kingdom from the house of Saul, and to set up the throne of David over Israel and over Judah, from Dan even to Beersheba.
Ver. 10. To translate the kingdom ] This was Abner’s arrogance to boast such great things of himself, as if he had carried a king in his pocket, as that great Earl of Warwick in Edward IV’s time was said to have done.
2Sa 3:11 And he could not answer Abner a word again, because he feared him.
Ver. 11. And he could not answer Abner a word. ] Wherein he showed himself to be no less timorous than timerarious. And the truth is he was overpowered and overawed by Abner.
2Sa 3:12 And Abner sent messengers to David on his behalf, saying, Whose [is] the land? saying [also], Make thy league with me, and, behold, my hand [shall be] with thee, to bring about all Israel unto thee.
Ver. 12. Whose is the land? ] q.d., Whose but thine, by God’s own designation
Make thy league with me, ] viz., That thou wilt both pardon me, and prefer me to the same place of honour that I had been in with Saul for so Josephus understandeth him.
2Sa 3:13 And he said, Well; I will make a league with thee: but one thing I require of thee, that is, Thou shalt not see my face, except thou first bring Michal Saul’s daughter, when thou comest to see my face.
Ver. 13. Except thou first bring Michal. ] David’s first love, and rightful wife; though wrongfully she had been detained from him, against her will haply, by the authority and importunity of her father. God seemeth to say the same to us concerning our hearts, so long held from him by the devil.
2Sa 3:14 And David sent messengers to Ishbosheth Saul’s son, saying, Deliver [me] my wife Michal, which I espoused to me for an hundred foreskins of the Philistines.
Ver. 14. For a hundred foreskins. ] He might have said two hundred; but he thought better to speak with the least. In maxima sui mole se minimum ostendunt stellae.
2Sa 3:15 And Ishbosheth sent, and took her from [her] husband, [even] from Phaltiel the son of Laish.
Ver. 15. And Ishbosheth sent, and took her from her husband. ] By his regal authority he rescindeth that unlawful matrimony of Phaltiel with Michal. This was better than that of Leicester in Queen Elizabeth’s reign, a who by his greatness bore out the marriage of Julio, an Italian physician, with another man’s wife; or that of some bishops in King James’s days, and by his appointment, in the business of Essex and Somerset; b or that of Philip, Landgrave of Hesse, who took another wife before his former wife was dead, not without the advice of Luther and other Dutch divines, who shamefully misled him. c
a Camden’s Elisab.
c Zanch’s Misc.
2Sa 3:16 And her husband went with her along weeping behind her to Bahurim. Then said Abner unto him, Go, return. And he returned.
Ver. 16. And her husband went with her along weeping. ] Heb., Going and weeping, as having still a month’s mind - as we say - to a wife so noble and beautiful. So have many to their sweet sins, which yet, for some inconveniences, they are forced to leave, but cannot be drawn to loath. Phaltiel might have taken up that for his motto - Nocet empta dolore voluptas, and so shall all sinners at length,
“ Habet omnis hoc voluptas,
Stimulis agit fruentes:
Apiumque par volantum
Ubi greta mella fudit,
Fugit et nimis tenaci
Ferit icta corda morsu. ”
- Boet., lib. iii. metr. 7.
2Sa 3:17 And Abner had communication with the elders of Israel, saying, Ye sought for David in times past [to be] king over you:
Ver. 17. And Abner had communication, ] i.e., He had had communication with them before that he went toward David with Michal.
Ye sought for David. ] And David they had crowned ere this, but that Abner overruled them for Ishbosheth. All his care was to have a stake in store, howsoever the dice chanced to turn. Politicians are all for their own ends.
2Sa 3:18 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.
Ver. 18. For the Lord hath spoken of David, saying, ] Sententias loquitur carnifex. Hypocrites make use of God for their own purposes: and care only to make divine authority a colour for their own designs.
By the hand of my servant David. ] We read not that God had so said in express terms: but either Abner had heard of such a promise made at the anointing of David by Samuel, or else he feigned it of his own head for his own ends.
2Sa 3:19 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.
Ver. 19. And Abner also spake in the ears of Benjamin. ] Who were Saul’s own kindred, and much addicted to his family. And although Abner thus spake to them, yet by 1 Chronicles 12:29 , it appeareth that the greatest part of Benjamin did yet follow Ishbosheth.
To the whole house of Benjamin. ] If Abner may be believed.
2Sa 3:20 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.
Ver. 20. And David made Abner … a feast] Which some think was not so well done, and the end of this transaction was tragic. a
a Pellican. Martyr.
2Sa 3:21 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.
Ver. 21. I will arise and go, and will gather. ] He doubted not but to do all this, as if the whole matter had lain in his hand. God is not in all his thoughts.
2Sa 3:22 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.
Ver. 22. Joab came from pursuing a troop. ] Of foragers and brigands; Philistines likely. Spoilers shall be spoiled. Isa 33:1
2Sa 3:23 When Joab and all the host that [was] 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.
Ver. 23. They told Joab, saying. ] The courtiers; to curry favour.
2Sa 3:24 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?
Ver. 24. What hast thou done? ] q.d., Thou hast done indiscreetly. Joab was ever too bold, blunt, and boisterous with David, which cost him at length the loss of his place. 2Sa 19:13
2Sa 3:25 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.
Ver. 25. That he came to deceive thee. ] As a spy and a traitor; so he interpreteth Abner’s league, according to his own exulcerate spirit, full of ambition and revenge.
2Sa 3:26 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.
Ver. 26. And when Joab was come out from David ] In a great heat, flinging out from his presence: as did likewise Robert, Earl of Essex, once from Queen Elizabeth; who followed him at the heels, and fetched him again with a cuff on the ear. a But so durst not David deal by General Joab.
He sent messengers. ] In the king’s name, saith Josephus.
From the well of Sirah. ] The Vulgate hath it, the cistern Syra; Tremellius, the cistern of Sisera. But Piscator thinketh that Sisera was there mendose scripture pro Sira, the fault of the scribe, for Sira writing Sisera.
a Camden’s Elisab.
2Sa 3:27 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.
Ver. 27. To speak with him quietly. ] Or, Peaceably, or privately. Tremellius rendereth it imprudeutem, unwitting: the LXX, εν παραλογισμω , by a fallacy.
And smote him under the fifth rib. ] Basely and treacherously, but not without divine providence: that David might come a fairer way to the kingdom, than by Abner’s perfidy.
For the blood of Asahel his brother. ] This was the pretext, and might be some cause; but the main reason was, lest Abner should by David be promoted above him.
2Sa 3:28 And afterward 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:
Ver. 28. From the blood of Abner. ] Heb., Bloods: from every drop of his blood shed when he was slain. David cleareth himself and his kingdom of this crying crime. But what a deal hath France to answer for the Parisian massacre, whereby a hundred thousand, some say more, innocents perished in one year in various parts of the realm! besides the many civil dissensions there, to the effusion of much Christian blood, and six thousand gentlemen slain in private quarrels within the space of ten years! as it appears by the king’s pardons. a
a See "Les Ombres des Defunts Seiures de Vilemor et de Fountains," p. 46.
2Sa 3:29 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.
Ver. 29. Let there not fail from the house of Joab. ] This lamentable legacy Joab left his children. So do all these peremptores potius quam parentes, that bequeath their sins and punishments to their wretched posterity.
One that hath an issue. ] The gonorrhea, or running of the reins, as the Septuagint hath it.
Or that leaneth on a staff. ] Weak, gouty, or consumptive. Aquila rendereth it, That is blind.
2Sa 3:30 So Joab and Abishai his brother slew Abner, because he had slain their brother Asahel at Gibeon in the battle.
Ver. 30. So Joab and Abishai his brother slew Abner. ] Joab did, but not without the privity and consent of his brother Abishai. Now there is little difference, faveasve sceleri, an illud facias; to hold the bag is as bad as to fill it.
2Sa 3:31 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.
Ver. 31. And David said to Joab. ] As a part of his punishment. So the Pope forced our Henry II to kneel and pray to Becket’s shrine, yea, to go barefoot a great way in pilgrinmge thereunto for a penance. Joab might hereby be possibly brought to some sight of his foul sin. So could Henry hardly, for one Roger, a Norman doctor, maintained publicly that Becket had justly deserved death, for rebelling against his sovereign: and though the Pope sainted him, yet it was disputed among the doctors of Paris whether he were damned or saved, saith the French chronicler. a
And king David himself followed the bier. ] Heb., The bed. So the grave is called a bed, Isa 57:2 and the burying place, κοιυητηριον , a sleeping place. It was not usual for princes to attend upon funerals; - there was a veil laid between Tiberius, who counterfeited grief at the funeral of Drusus, and the dead corps, for state’s sake; - but David would do it in honour of Abner, and to clear his own innocency.
a Dan., Hist., fol. 99.
2Sa 3:32 And they buried Abner in Hebron: and the king lifted up his voice, and wept at the grave of Abner; and all the people wept.
Ver. 32. And they buried Abner in Hebron. ] The burial place of the patriarchs. The wicked may be with the saints in area, sed non in horreo; in the floor, but not in the garner.
2Sa 3:33 And the king lamented over Abner, and said, Died Abner as a fool dieth?
Ver. 33. Died Abner as a fool dieth? ] Sept., As Nabal died? Was this a fit death for so gallant a man, to be thus basely butchered? Est interrogatio indignantis.
2Sa 3:34 Thy hands [were] not bound, nor thy feet put into fetters: as a man falleth before wicked men, [so] fellest thou. And all the people wept again over him.
Ver. 34. Thy hands were not bound. ] As one either conquered or condemned. Hadst thou not been treacherously surprised and assassinated, manibus pedibusque obnixe omnia fecisses, thou wouldst have made thy party good with the stoutest he, and have stood with Joab in a trial of manhood.
So fellest thou. ] Before this wicked Joab. And this perhaps was the elegy appointed to be sung at Abner’s funeral, to the reproach of Joab, whom David durst not as yet otherwise punish: but that he deferred it so long, when he had power in his hand, was an oversight.
2Sa 3:35 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 ought else, till the sun be down.
Ver. 35. To cause David to eat meat. ] They had feasts at funerals, and cups of consolation. Jer 16:7 Eze 24:17
If I taste bread. ] He not only mourned, but fasted; to testify his unfeigned grief. This was a point of prudence.
2Sa 3:36 And all the people took notice [of it], and it pleased them: as whatsoever the king did pleased all the people.
Ver. 36. Pleased all the people. ] This was both hard and happy: a great contentment doubtless to good David.
“ Eργμασιν εν μεγαλοις πασιν αδειν, χαλεπον .” - Theog.
2Sa 3:37 For all the people and all Israel understood that day that it was not of the king to slay Abner the son of Ner.
Ver. 37. That it was not of the king. ] This was the end that David aimed at, and attained unto, in the carriage of the whole business. Prudence is usually prosperous.
2Sa 3:38 And the king said unto his servants, Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel?
Ver. 38. And the king said unto his servants. ] His courtiers and counsellors.
Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen? ] Lords and losels scoundrels die alike: and the mortal scythe is master of the royal sceptre. But whereas his servants might hereupon demand, Why punishest not thou the murderer? David answereth:
2Sa 3:39 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.
Ver. 39. And I am this day weak. ] Heb., Tender; a weak he was in force, but weaker in faith, for he had God’s promise: and as Hezekiah afterwards trusted in God, and pulled down the brazen serpent, so should David have done justice upon Joab whatever had come of it. Gen 9:6 Fiat iustitia, ruat caelum.
Be too hard for me. ] If I provoke them, being so potent with the army, they may serve me as Abner did Ishbosheth in a displeasure, - thus carnal reason argued, b - I shall with the right hand cut off the left, as Honorius did when he destroyed Stillico: and as the Lord Protector did when he cut off his brother the admiral here in King Edward VI’s reign.
a Metaph. a puero tenero et imbelli: or from a young plant easily plucked up. - Jun.
b Mussitanda igitur ad tempus haec iniuria est. - Jun.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 3". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany