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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

2 Samuel 3

Verse 1

CONTINUED WAR BETWEEN THE HOUSE OF SAUL AND THAT OF DAVID, 2 Samuel 3:1-6.

1. Long war A struggle and bitter hostility continued for two years or more. See note on 2 Samuel 2:10.

Verse 2

2. Unto David were sons born This was one important way in which the house of David was made stronger, and to show this is manifestly the purpose of the writer in introducing here this list of David’s sons. Compare the list in 1 Chronicles 3:1-4.

Verse 3

3. Daughter of Talmai When and how David came to meet Talmai, and to form this alliance with the king of Geshur, history nowhere informs us, and speculation about it is useless.

Verse 6

6. Abner made himself strong for the house of Saul Rather, in the house of Saul. He used his high official position in Saul’s court for purposes of self-aggrandizement and power. He seems to have regarded Ishbosheth as an incompetent ruler, and actually reigned in his name. By thus strengthening himself in the kingdom he was, perhaps designedly, paving his own way to the throne.

Verse 7

ABNER’S REVOLT, 2 Samuel 3:7-21.

7. Wherefore hast thou… my father’s concubine Whether or not Abner was guilty of this charge is not clear, but at least King Ishbosheth’s suspicion was aroused, and he made the charge. Such an act, according to eastern notions, would have been one of shameless disrespect to the memory of Saul, and indicate a design to gain the crown. Compare 2 Samuel 16:21-22; 1 Kings 2:19-25.

Verse 8

8. A dog’s head A thing utterly contemptible, to be despised and cast aside as vile and mean. He shows the king that he must not lightly treat the man to whom he owes the kingdom.

Verse 9

9. As the Lord hath sworn to David It seems to have been generally understood in Israel, even before the death of Saul, that David was divinely destined to be king, (1 Samuel 23:17; 1 Samuel 24:20,) and this confession of Abner convicts him of knowingly opposing the will of God. By strengthening himself in the house of Saul he knew that he was acting against the will of the God of Israel. See on 2 Samuel 3:18.

Verse 11

11. He could not answer Abner “Miserable,” says Clarke, “is the lot of the king who is governed by the general of his army.” Ishbosheth was silenced and terrified at the fierce wrath of Abner, and his solemn oath to revolt and go over to David.

Verse 12

12. Whose is the land Who has dominion over the land of Israel? No one, properly, for the nation is divided, a part adhering to the house of Saul, and a part to David. Let us therefore make a covenant and unite the kingdom under one head. Abner doubtless expected a high position and honours in the new kingdom.

Verse 13

13. First bring Michal She was his own proper wife, and he had a right to demand her. With her restored to him he would stand before the nation as the son in law of Saul. “No doubt it was of great importance to David, on every account, to maintain this matrimonial connexion with the house of Saul as long as possible, in order to preserve the sort of claim to the succession which his alliance gave him; but an additional motive, which urged him to demand her restoration, was the prudential desire of possessing in her a pledge against possible treachery on Abner’s side.” Ewald.

Verse 14

14. David sent… to Ishbosheth For the settlement of this matter properly belonged to him who assumed to be Saul’s successor. By giving her to Phaltiel, Saul had wronged David, and now it is Ishbosheth’s place to rectify that wrong.

Verse 16

16. Weeping behind her “There has been much idle talk about the cruelty of taking her away from a man with whom she had lived some years, and who, for all that appears, was a good husband, seeing that he followed her weeping and lamenting, until he was compelled to desist by those who bore her from him. But this was the fruit of his own wrong, which a man always reaps in the long run. He had coveted another man’s wife, and had wrongfully possessed himself of her, knowing well that she belonged to another; and Phaltiel was not the first man, nor the last, who has lamented to be deprived of that which did not belong to him.” Kitto.

Bahurim A place a little east or northeast of Jerusalem, beyond the mount of Olives, (compare 2 Samuel 16:1-5,) but its site has not been determined.

Verse 17

17. Ye sought for David in times past As was shown by the multitudes from all the tribes that revolted from Saul and went over to David while yet at Ziklag. See 1 Chronicles 12:0.

Verse 18

18. The Lord hath spoken of David From the many intimations we have that it was generally understood in Israel that David was destined to be king. ( 2Sa 3:9 ; 1 Samuel 23:17; 1 Samuel 24:20,) we can hardly be wrong in affirming that Samuel, or some member of his school of prophets, had uttered open oracles to this effect, though the prophecy recorded in this verse is nowhere else referred to.

Verse 19

19. Spake in the ears of Benjamin He took special care to secure this tribe to his purposes, for he had reason to fear that they would be tenacious in their adherence to the house of Saul.

Verse 20

20. Twenty men with him To guard his person and confirm his words. What was the basis of the league between them, and what it all comprehended and provided for, we are not told.

Verse 22

22. From pursuing a troop Literally, from the troop; that is, a troop or band of select warriors that had been out fighting with hostile tribes of the desert. From one of those marauding expeditions in which David and his men in time past had been wont to engage. 1 Samuel 27:8.

Verses 22-39

ASSASSINATION OF ABNER BY JOAB, AND DAVID’S GRIEF, 2 Samuel 3:22-39.

“When David had sent Abner away, Joab, the general of his army, came immediately to Hebron; and when he had understood that Abner had been with David, and had parted with him a little before under leagues and agreements that the government should be delivered up to David, he feared lest David should place Abner, who had assisted him to gain the kingdom, in the first rank of dignity, especially since he was a shrewd man in other respects, in understanding affairs, and in managing them artfully, as proper seasons should require; and that he himself should be put lower, and deprived of the command of the army; so he took a knavish and wicked course.” Josephus.

Verse 24

24. What hast thou done Words of astonishment and rebuke that David should have lost from his grasp the man who had done so much against him.

Verse 25

25. He came to deceive thee Joab could not believe that the mighty captain of Saul’s hosts meant thus easily to yield before David. He suspected treachery. David seems not to have answered a word.

Verse 26

26. Well of Sirah Evidently a place well known at the time of the writer, and apparently on the northern road from Hebron. There is said to be a spring and reservoir called Ain Sara on this road about a mile north of Hebron, and this would seem still to mark the ancient spot GROVE, in Smith’s Dictionary.

Verse 27

27. For the blood of Asahel This ostensibly, but doubtless another reason, was a jealous fear lest Abner should supersede him in office and power with David.

Verse 29

29. Let there not fail from the house of Joab Let that house always be afflicted by having constantly among its members those distressed with an issue, that is, gonorrhea, (Leviticus 15:2.) or leprosy, or lameness, or poverty, or those that suffer assassination or some similarly violent death.

Verse 30

30. Joab and Abishai Joab’s sword and Abishai’s ready consent and counsel accomplished Abner’s fall.

Verse 32

32. The people wept The grief of David and the people produced a profound impression, and convinced the entire nation that the king had no hand in the death of Abner.

Verse 33

33. The king lamented A beautiful and touching dirge, which should be rendered thus:

As dies a fool should Abner die?

Thy hands not bound,

And thy feet unto double fetters were not brought nigh.

As one falls before the sons of wickedness thou hast fallen.

As a fool In Scripture the impious, dissolute, and profane are called fools. Compare 2 Samuel 13:12-13; Psalms 14:1. Such a one might perish in any foul way whatever, and no one would care.

Verse 34

34. Thy hands… not bound Thou wast not delivered up to death bound hand and foot, like a convicted malefactor, for thou wast guilty of no crime that called for such penalty. Some think that here is an allusion to a custom of delivering up, bound hand and foot, to the avenger of blood, the person who had fled for safety to one of the cities of refuge.

Numbers 35:6.

As a man falleth before wicked men The victim of jealous and desperate passions.

Verse 39

39. Weak though anointed king I needed the co-operation and influence of Abner to strengthen me in the kingdom.

Too hard for me Rather, too strong for me; that is, too strong in authority and too well defended by the ancient law of blood-revenge. The murder of Asahel in battle, after repeated warnings, (2 Samuel 2:22,) was not a crime sufficient to justify Joab’s deliberate and dastardly revenge; but Abner’s words, “How then should I hold up my face to Joab?” show that he felt that the murder of Asahel would expose him to a bloody feud with his brother. Had the congregation judged between Abner and Joab according tothe Israelitish laws on murder, (Numbers 35:24,) they would doubtless have decided that Joab had not sufficient ground to take blood revenge on Abner. But the deed having been done without the gate of the city, and the sons of Zeruiah acknowledging it as their act of revenge for Asahel, David saw and felt his impotence to punish the assassins, and left the matter for a future judgment. 1 Kings 2:5.

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 3". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/2-samuel-3.html. 1874-1909.