Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

2 Samuel 3:31

Then David said to Joab and to all the people who were with him, "Tear your clothes and gird on sackcloth and lament before Abner." And King David walked behind the bier.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Abner;   Bier;   Burial;   Chiding;   Mourning;   Rending;   Tact;   Thompson Chain Reference - Dead, the;   Joy-Sorrow;   Mourning;   Sackcloth;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Burial;   Dead, the;   Garments;   Sackcloth;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Burial;   Mourning;   Sack, Sackcloth;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Dress;   Funeral;   Joab;   Sackcloth;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Funeral;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Mourn;   Sackcloth;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Bed;   King;   Nathan;   Sackcloth;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Bier;   Grief and Mourning;   Rending of Garments;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Abner;   Ancestor-Worship;   Mourning Customs;   Sackcloth;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Bier;   Burial;   Staff;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Bier;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Burial;   David;   Dwelling;   Mourning;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Sackcloth;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Hebrew Monarchy, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Bier;   Joab;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Abner;   Burial and sepulchers;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Ancestor Worship;   Burial;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

David said to Joab - He commanded him to take on him the part of a principal mourner.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 3:31". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/2-samuel-3.html. 1832.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

DAVID; THE CHIEF MOURNER AT ABNER'S FUNERAL

"Then David said to Joab and to all the people who were with him, "Rend your clothes, and gird on sackcloth, and mourn before Abner." And King David followed the bier. They buried Abner at Hebron; and the king lifted up his voice and wept at the grave of Abner; and all the people wept. And the king lamented for Abner, saying,

Should Abner die as a fool dies?

Your hands were not bound,

Your feet were not fettered;

As one falls before the wicked

you have fallen.

And all the people wept again over him. Then all the people came to persuade David to eat bread while it was yet day; but David swore, `God do so to me and more also, if I taste bread or anything else until the sun goes down.' And all the people took notice of it, and it pleased them, as everything that the king did pleased all the people. So all the people and all Israel understood that day that it had not been the king's will to slay Abner the son of Ner. And the king said to his servants, `Do you not know that a prince and a great man has fallen this day in Israel? And I am this day weak, though anointed king; these men, the sons of Zeruiah are too hard for me. The Lord requite the evildoer according to his wickedness.'"

Here David exerted himself mightily to dissociate himself from the crime of Abner's treacherous assassination; and Willis was of the opinion that, "The north Israelites were convinced of David's sincerity."[30] However, we have some reservations in agreeing with this. There was some reason why it took an additional five years to unite all Israel under David's authority. And it seems to us, that had Abner lived, that objective might have been achieved much sooner. Some reluctance on the part of northern Israel must surely have followed the death of Abner.

"These sons of Zeruiah are too hard for me" (2 Samuel 3:39). Young noted that, "Although David dealt harshly with the Amalekites, put to death the Amalekite who claimed to have killed Saul, and ordered the execution of the men who murdered Ishbosheth, David failed to act in the case of the misdeeds of Joab. He washed his hands and left the family of Joab to the judgment of God."[31]

"I am this day weak, though anointed king" (2 Samuel 3:39). This is the sad truth with many a man in high office. He is bound by the prejudices, vices, and ambitions of his subordinates, upon whom, in many instances, he is dependent for the continuation of his authority. So it was with David here. He could not afford to order the execution of Joab to whom the army most certainly was loyal. Furthermore, without the ability and loyalty of Joab, David's kingship might have been endangered. Only the providence of God could have brought out of this situation the glorious Israel that later developed.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 3:31". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/2-samuel-3.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And David said to Joab, and to all the people that were with him,.... To his whole court, Joab being present: for he did not flee, nor was he laid hold on in order to be brought to justice; which shows how great his power was, and that he was too hard for David, as in 2 Samuel 3:39; however this he did, he enjoined his whole court, and Joab also, to express public mourning on this account:

rend your clothes and gird you with sackcloth; which were expressions of mourning used on various occasions, and on account of the dead, and which with the Heathens were carried to a greater excess, even to the tearing of their flesh:

and mourn before Abner; before his corpse, as carried to the grave, when it was usual to make great lamentations: see Acts 8:2,

and King David himself followed the bier; or "bed"F12המטה της κλινης, Sept. "lectum", Piscator. on which his body was laid, and carried to the grave. On these the rich and noble among the Greeks and Romans were carried, and those of the meaner sort on biersF14Salmuth. ad Pancirol. par. 1. tit. 62. p. 343. Kirchman. de Funer. Roman. l. 2. c. 9. p. 375. ; and so with the Jews; See Gill on Luke 7:14; some of which were gilded with gold, and were made of ivory, and had ivory feetF15Alstorph. de lect. vet. c. 19. p. 149. ; that of Herod's was all of gold, inlaid with precious stones, and the body covered with purple, and followed by his sons and kindred, the soldiers going before armed, and their leaders followingF16Joseph. de Bello Jud. l. 1. c. 33. sect. 9. ; the bier or bed with the Romans was sometimes carried by six persons, sometimes by eight or moreF17Kirchman. ut supra. (de Funer. Roman. l. 2. c. 9. p. 375.) . It was not usual for kings, as the Jews sayF18Misn. Sanhedrin, c. 2. sect. 3. Maimon in Hilchot Ebel. c. 7. sect. 7. David de Pomis, Lexic. fol. 119. 4. , to attend a funeral, to go out of the doors of their palace after their own dead, and much less others; but David did this to satisfy the people, and to root out of their mind all suspicion of his having any hand in Abner's death; and to show that he was not slain by his will, and with his consent.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 3:31". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/2-samuel-3.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And David said to Joab, and to all the people that [were] with him, Rend your clothes, and gird you with sackcloth, and mourn m before Abner. And king David [himself] followed the bier.

(m) Meaning before the corpse.
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Bibliographical Information
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 3:31". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/2-samuel-3.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

David said to Joab, and to all the people that were with him, Rend your clothes, and gird you with sackcloth — David‘s sorrow was sincere and profound, and he took occasion to give it public expression by the funeral honors he appointed for Abner.

King David himself followed the bier — a sort of wooden frame, partly resembling a coffin, and partly a hand-barrow.

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 3:31". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/2-samuel-3.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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.

Joab — Him he especially obliged to it, to bring him to repentance for his sin, and to expose him to public shame.

Followed — That is, attending upon his corps, and paying him that respect which was due to his quality. Though this was against the usage of kings, and might seem below David's dignity; yet it was now expedient to vindicate himself from all suspicion of concurrence in this action.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 3:31". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/2-samuel-3.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

2 Samuel 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, [Isaiah 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.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 3:31". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/2-samuel-3.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

David said to Joab; him he especially obliged to it; partly to bring him to repentance for his sin; partly to expose him to public shame, and to the contempt and hatred of all the people, with whom he had too great an interest, which hereby David designed to diminish.

Mourn before Abner, i.e. attending upon his corpse, and paying him that respect and honour which was due to his quality.

King David himself followed the bier; which was against the usage of kings, and might seem below David’s dignity; but it was now expedient, to vindicate himself from all suspicion and contrivance or concurrence in this action.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Samuel 3:31". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/2-samuel-3.html. 1685.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

2 Samuel 3:31. David said to Joab and all the people, &c. — The command was especially given to Joab, to bring him to repentance for his sin, and to expose him to public shame. Rend your clothes and gird you with sackcloth, &c. — These were all outward expressions of very great sorrow, which Joab himself was forced, however reluctant, to make a show of. And King David himself followed the bier — Was the chief mourner, attending upon the corpse, and paying Abner that respect which was due to his quality. Though this was contrary to the usage of kings, and might seem below David’s dignity; yet it was now expedient to vindicate himself from all suspicion of concurrence in this action. The word המשׂה, hammittah, here rendered the bier, properly means the bed. It was that on which persons of quality were wont to be carried forth to their graves, as ordinary people were upon what we call a bier.

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Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 3:31". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/2-samuel-3.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Joab. Requiring him to make some reparation, at least, for the offence, and to render the funeral pomp more solemn. All were obliged to rend their garments, and to put on sackcloth, on such occasions. It was very rough, and consisted chiefly of goat and camel's hair. --- Bier, contrary to the custom of kings. Some copies of the Septuagint say, he "went before the bier," (Calmet) where women commonly were placed. (Grotius)

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Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 3:31". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/2-samuel-3.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

bier. Hebrew. mittah, a bed; See 2 Samuel 4:7, and compare Exodus 8:3. The poor man"s couch by day was his bed by night, and sometimes his bier.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 3:31". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/2-samuel-3.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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.

Rend your clothes, and gird you with sackcloth - an outer garment of coarse haircloth, worn by mourners. It was commonly nothing more than a large square piece of cloth wrapped round the person, and fastened at the waist by a girdle. David's sorrow was sincere and profound; and he took occasion to give it public expression by the funeral honours he appointed for Abner.

King David himself followed the bier - a sort of wooden frame, partly resembling a coffin and partly a hand-barrow.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 3:31". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/2-samuel-3.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(31) Rend your clothes.—David commands a public mourning with the usual signs of rent clothes and sackcloth, and lays this command especially upon Joab, who is thus required, as it were, to do public penance for his act. David himself followed the bier as chief mourner.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 3:31". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/2-samuel-3.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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 David
David, intending no doubt to punish Joab, and to lessen his authority with the people, commanded him to take upon him the office of chief mourner; but, as his revenge was gratified, his rival removed, and no heavier punishment inflicted, it is probable his hardened mind would feel but little objection to the ceremony.
Rend
1:2,11; Genesis 37:29,34; Joshua 7:6; Judges 11:35; 2 Kings 19:1
bier
Heb. bed.
Luke 7:14
Reciprocal: Numbers 14:6 - rent their clothes;  2 Samuel 11:26 - she mourned;  2 Samuel 13:31 - all his servants;  1 Kings 20:31 - put sackcloth;  2 Kings 5:8 - rent his clothes;  Ecclesiastes 3:7 - time to rend;  Isaiah 15:3 - their streets;  Acts 8:2 - made

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Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 3:31". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/2-samuel-3.html.