Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

2 Samuel 3:33

The king chanted a lament for Abner and said, "Should Abner die as a fool dies?
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Abner;   Elegy;   Mourning;   Poetry;   Tact;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Burial;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Abner;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - David;   Funeral;   Joab;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Funeral;   Psalms, Theology of;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Lamentation;   Mourn;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - David;   King;   Lamentations;   Muth-Labben;   Samuel, the Books of;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Poetry;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Abner;   Mourning Customs;   Poetry;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Abner;   David;   Dwelling;   Samuel first and second books of;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Ab'ner;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Hebrew Monarchy, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Bible, the;   David;   Poetry, Hebrew;   Psalms, Book of;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Abner;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Poetry;   Samuel, Books of;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

The king lamented over Abner - This lamentation, though short, is very pathetic. It is a high strain of poetry; but the measure cannot be easily ascertained. Our own translation may be measured thus: -

Died Abner as a fool dieth?

Thy hands were not bound,

Nor thy feet put into fetters.

As a man falleth before the wicked.

So hast thou fallen!

Or thus: -

Shall Abner die a death like to a villain's?

Thy hands not bound,

Nor were the fetters to thy feet applied.

Like as one falls before the sons of guilt,

So hast thou fallen!

He was not taken away by the hand of justice, nor in battle, nor by accident: he died the death of a culprit by falling into the hands of a villain.

This song was a heavy reproof to Joab; and must have galled him extremely, being sung by all the people.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 3:33". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/2-samuel-3.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Lamented - i. e. composed and sang the funeral dirge which follows (compare 2 Samuel 1:17).

Died Abner … - i. e. The great and noble and valiant Abner had died as ignobly and as helplessly as the meanest churl!

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 3:33". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/2-samuel-3.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

2 Samuel 3:33

Died Abner as a fool dieth?

The fool’s death

There are two or three different renderings of our text. Some take it thus--“Died Abner as a wicked man?” And then the answer is, “No, he did not. He fell by the foul hand of deliberate and deceitful murder.” Others render the text--“Shall Abner die like a fool?” That is, “Shall he be unpitied? Shall his fall” be unsung? Shall his murder be unrevenged?” There is a good deal to show for this rendering; because David, directly afterward, pronounces an awful imprecation on the house of Joab. But the third rendering, which we prefer, and which we shall take, is the one which we have here in our text: “Died Abner as a fool dieth?” ‘That is, “Can it be true that such a man as Abner, with all his mental power and all his martial prowess--can it be true that Abner, of all men, died like a fool?” The next verse, you will see, explains the reference. His hands free, his feet, unfettered, and yet Abner the warrior falls down before the spear of Joab. “Died Abner as a fool dieth?” I think we may generally take for granted that in young manhood there is always a love of honest dealing. In fact, if any one who calls himself a man objects to plain, straightforward dealing, the sooner he changes his name the better. Surely no young man in his senses here will differ from us in the statement that no matter how successful a man may be in many aspects, yet his life is an utter failure if at the end he dies a fool’s death. We recognize the fact that die we must. And I take it that, a true young man would far sooner face a fact like this, and would far sooner hear the preacher boldly deal with it, than attempt the foolish task of escaping an unpleasant subject by not referring to it. What was the mark of folly about Abner’s death?

I. His strange simplicity and wonderful credulity. I do marvel at Abner--certainly David did--that he, of all men, should have been so easily “gulled,” for we know no other word that so exactly conveys the thought of our mind. Abner had been continually by the king’s side. He must have known, therefore, that the art of political speaking is to conceal your thoughts, and that nature only gives courtiers’ tongues to shroud by language the intentions of the heart. Strange that a man like Abner, who had passed through such a school as two courts, should have so readily believed the message which Joab sent him. Now, is it not marvellous how unsuspicious men are of sin’s designs? They are shrewd enough in other things. I have no doubt that many of you are sharp, keen, acute men of business. Your books will testify that you do not make very many bad debts. You can see through a man as quickly as most; yet how strange it is that often those who are shrewdest in other things are most deluded as to the nature of sin’s designs! As Homer describes in his Odyssey, there are the sirens on the rocks, who sing so sweetly that, if a Ulysses is to be kept from running his craft right on their rugged brows, the men must lash him to the mast and ply their oars with desperate earnestness, for the music of the sirens makes a deadly calm, and leaves no breath of air to fill the sails and take the vessel from her danger. And so sin seems to sing like an enchantress; and the shrewdest and the cleverest men are irresistibly, almost imperceptibly, drawn toward it; and they who would see through a deception of another sort in a moment seem, like Abner, utterly blinded in this respect, What Satan raves to accomplish is to be revenged on God through God’s creatures. Is it likely, then, that such a Joab as this can have any good intent when he says to thee by some sin, “Come, let us talk quietly in the gate?” And yet how willingly a man will turn aside with any sin! “A man is both ruined and saved through faith.” I confess that when first I heard that statement I was rather startled. I did not at first see its force, and I said, “Stay! There is a mistake. You mean that a man is saved through faith and is ruined by unbelief.” The answer I received was: “That is true; so also is it that a man is either saved or lost by faith. If the faith be in God, through Christ, then that faith saves; but, on the other hand, if it is the faith which a man places in the representations made by Satan and sin, that faith damns him.” It was our first parents’ faith in the words of the serpent that spread ruin over God’s new-made world. And so I doubt not that there are many here concerning whom it may be said, as it was of Abner: “Shall that man die as the fool dieth? So keen in everything else, shall he be credulous enough to be led by so simple a snare as that set by the enemy?” Yet so is it.

II. Now note the next thing in his folly--his unusual advantages. I think David specially thought of these when he burst out into the cry, “Died Abner as a fool died?” You glean this from the 34th verse, “Thy hands were not bound, nor thy feet put into fetters.” Abner was a prisoner to nobody but himself. No cord bound those mighty arms of his; no iron fetters were upon his feet; and yet he might us well have been born without hands or feet for all the good they were to him. Hands unused, feet unemployed, he stands still like a fool to be killed. Oh! is it not so with many? I ask you, have not your advantages been unused? Let me ask thee, if thou weft to die and be lost wouldst thou not have to acknowledge that, in this respect, thou hast certainly played the fool, for thy, hands are not bound nor thy feet in fetters? You are not bound with ignorance. It may be that there are some of you here who know the story of the gospel as well as the preacher. It may be that there are others of you here who could stand on this platform and run through all the main doctrines of the Word. What, and will you, with all this knowledge of the truth, yet die as the fool dieth--with unfettered feet and hands at liberty? I know not your history, but it would be a strange thing if there are not hundreds here who have been armed by holy precept. Your Bible may be at the bottom of your box now, just as it was thrown in three years ago, when you left your home in the country. Not a few of you have been armed by noble examples. Have you not had a holy, noble, heavenly example in her who gave you birth, and who, perhaps, is at this moment before the throne? Then let me ask you, why die as a fool? It your hands be not bound, and you know the difference between right and wrong, if you have been armed by holy precept, and if you have been blessed with a heavenly example, why shall it ever be said of you, “Died Abner as a fool dieth?” As Caesar Borgia lay dying fast he looked up, and, with clenched hands, muttered through his teeth the words, “I have provided for everything throughout life except death.” And, doubtless, there are many here who can” take up Caesar Borgia’s words as describing their own mad folly. Then, I ask you, if you die without hope, may it not be said as a requiem over you, “Died Abner as a fool dieth?”

III. Now note, next, that his very position made the folly of his death the greater. Oh, Abner, if you had refused to speak to Joab outside the city gates and insisted on entering them first, even Joab would not have dared to violate the sanctity of that citadel. Thou wouldst have been safe. I may be mistaken, but I think I am not. As far as my own feelings are concerned, the nearer a person is to safety when he dies the sadder is his death. It is sad enough for the sailor to go down in mid-Atlantic, when there are only the winds to howl his requiem, and when no eye looks down upon his struggles but that of the seagull whirling round and round upon the wings of the hurricane. It is sad enough to sink down with only the shriek of the sea-bird in your ear; but, I think, it is sadder far to go down just outside the harbour’s mouth, with a thousand eyes upon you and a thousand hands ready to help if they can. Sad enough for the traveller in the desert, parched with thirst and pinched with hunger, to lay him down in the burning dust to die, with only the vulture hovering over him in air which quivers with intensity of heat. But when we read some time back of one being literally starved to death in the great metropolis, when there were wealth all round, food in abundance and a thousand persons ready to vie with each other as to who should go to his rescue first, it seemed to me the climax of horror to die in the midst of plenty. “Died Abner as a fool dieth”--credulous, with advantages unused, and on the very threshold of safety? God save us from such folly. Shall yonder Abner, who has been the child of prayer for thirty years, die a fool’s death? Said a godly mother to a son who used to worship in this place, and is at the present time at the other end of the world, “Ah, my boy, if ever you get into perdition, it will be over ten thousand mother’s prayers that she places in front of you as barriers.” It may be that there are some here who, though most deeply sunk in sin, yet know full well that there is no night nor morning but the cry goes up to heaven, “Lord, save my boy!” And shall Abner, the child of so many prayers, die the fool’s death? (A. G. Brown.)

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "2 Samuel 3:33". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/2-samuel-3.html. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And the king lamented over Abner,.... Delivered an elegy or funeral oration, which he had composed on this occasion, as JosephusF21Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 7. c. 1. sect. 6.) suggests: for he had cried and wept before, but now he expressed something as follows:

and said, died Abner as a fool dieth? the meaning of the interrogation is, he did not; the Targum is"did Abner die as wicked men die?'no, he did not; he did not die for any wickedness he had been guilty of; he did not die as a malefactor, whose crime has been charged and proved in open court, and sentence of condemnation pronounced on him righteously for it; but he died without anything being laid to his charge, and much less proved, and without judge or jury; he was murdered in a clandestine, insidious, and deceitful manner; so the word "fool" is often taken in Scripture for a wicked man, especially in the book of Proverbs; the Septuagint version leaves the word untranslated,"died Abner according to the death of Nabal?'no; but it could hardly be thought that David would mention the name of any particular person on such an occasion.

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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.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 3:33". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/2-samuel-3.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And the king lamented over Abner, and said, Died Abner n as a fool dieth?

(n) He declares that Abner died not as a wretch or vile person, but as a valiant man might do, being traitorously deceived by the wicked.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 3:33". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/2-samuel-3.html. 1599-1645.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And the king lamented over Abner, and said, Died Abner as a fool dieth?

As a fool — That is, as a wicked man. Was he cut off by the hand of justice for his crimes? Nothing less; but by Joab's malice and treachery. It is a sad thing to die as a fool dieth, as they do that any way shorten their own days: and indeed all they that make no provision for another world.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 3:33". "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 3:33 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.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 3:33". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/2-samuel-3.html. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

2 Samuel 3:33

I. The first mark of folly about Abner's death is his strange simplicity and wonderful credulity. He had been used to court life; he had been continually by the king's side, and therefore he must have learned that the art of political speaking is to conceal your thoughts, and that courtiers' tongues shroud by language the intentions of the heart. Strange that a man like Abner, who had passed through such a school as two courts, should have believed so readily the message which Joab sent him. No man was ever more off his guard, or walked more deliberately into a trap. In the same way, it is marvellous how unsuspicious men are of sin's designs. Sin seems to sing like an enchantress, like the sirens who sang to Ulysses; and the shrewdest and the cleverest men are irresistibly, almost imperceptibly drawn toward it, and they who would see through a deception of another sort in a moment, seem, like Abner, utterly blinded in this respect.

II. Note the next thing in Abner's folly—his unused advantages. Abner was a prisoner to nobody but himself. No cord bound his arms; no iron fetters were upon his feet. Yet with hands unused and feet unemployed, he stands still like a fool to be killed.

We have had many advantages. We have the Bible, the message of the Gospel, the noble examples of parents and friends. If we die without hope, it may well be said as a requiem over us, "Died Abner as a fool dieth?"

III. Abner's very position made his folly the greater. Hebron was one of the cities of refuge. Joab spoke with him outside the gate, so Abner was within one step of safety when he was slain. Jesus Christ, the true city of Hebron—the real city of refuge—is close by us now, and if we die unsaved, like Abner. we shall die with the shadow of security lying athwart our prostrate forms.

A. G. Brown, Penny Pulpit, No. 922.

References: 2 Samuel 3:38.—J. Hiles Hitchens, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xix., p. 281; H. Grey, A Parting Memorial, p. 112. 2 Samuel 3:39.-Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. vi., No. 334; Parker, vol. vii., p. 231. 2Sam 3—Ibid., p. 86. 2 Samuel 4:1.—Ibid., p. 232. 2 Samuel 4:4.—J. Ker, Sunday Magazine, 1875, p. 279. 2 Samuel 4:9-12.—Parker, vol. vii., p. 98. 2Sam 4—Ibid., p. 106. 2 Samuel 5:1-7.—F. W. Krummacher, David the King of Israel, p. 253. 2 Samuel 5:3.—T. Coster, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxii, p. 125. 2 Samuel 5:10.—Parker, vol. vii., p. 232. 5:11-6:23.—W. M. Taylor, David King of Israel, p. 154.



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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 3:33". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/2-samuel-3.html.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

i. e. As a wicked man; for such are oft called

fools in Scripture. Was he cut off by the hands of justice for his crimes? Nothing less; but by Joab’s malice and treachery. Or did he die by his own folly, because he had not wisdom or courage to defend himself? Ah, no. The words may be thus rendered: Shall or should Abner die like a fool, or a vile contemptible person? i.e. unregarded, unpitied, unrevenged; as fools or vile persons die, for whose death none are concerned. Or, How is Abner dead like a fool! pitying his mischance. It being honourable for a great man and a soldier to fight, if met with by an enemy, and not (having his arms at liberty) stand still like a fool to be killed, without making any resistance or defence; which, by this treachery of Joab, happened to be his case.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Samuel 3:33". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/2-samuel-3.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

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.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 3:33". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/2-samuel-3.html. 1874-1909.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Died. Hebrew, "Is Abner dead, like Nabal," "a fool," (Chaldean) "like the wicked?" "Ought so brave a man to have died in this treacherous manner?"

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 3:33". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/2-samuel-3.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Died . . . ? Figure of speech Erotesis. App-6.

a fool dieth: i.e. running into needless danger.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 3:33". "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 the king lamented over Abner, and said, Died Abner as a fool dieth?

The king lamented over Abner. This brief elegy is an effusion of indignation as much as of sorrow. Since Abner had stabbed Asahel in open war, Joab did not hvae the right of the go'el; and besides, had adopted a lawless and execrable method of obtaining satisfaction (see the note at 1 Kings 2:5), not waiting for the legal formalities according to which only satisfaction could be obtained for the relatives of a slain person in the land of Israel.

Died Abner as a fool dieth?, [ hak

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 3:33". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/2-samuel-3.html. 1871-8.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And the king lamented over Abner, and said, Died Abner as a fool dieth?
as a fool dieth
That is, as a bad man, as the word frequently signifies in Scripture.
13:12,13,28,29; Proverbs 18:7; Ecclesiastes 2:15,16; Jeremiah 17:11; Luke 12:19,20
Reciprocal: 1 Samuel 26:5 - Abner;  Jeremiah 22:18 - Ah my brother;  Ezekiel 32:16 - General

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 3:33". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/2-samuel-3.html.