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The Rift between Ish-bosheth and Abner

II Samuel 3:1-21

Victor M. Eskew


1.     Outline the text


i.                    DAVID’S STRENGTH AND SAULS’ WEAKNESS (II Sam. 3:1)

ii.                  DAVID’S SONS BORN IN HEBRON (II Sam. 3:2-5)

iii.                ABNER’S STRIFE WITH ISH-BOSHETH (II Sam. 3:6-11)

iv.                ABNER’S SETTLEMENT WITH DAVID (II Sam. 3:12-16)

v.                  ABNER’S SUPPLICATION TO THE FACTIONS (II Sam. 3:17-21)


2.    There was a long war between which two houses? (II Sam. 3:1)


Now there was long war between the house of Saul and the house of David…


A.    The house of Saul, headed by Abner and Ish-bosheth


B.      The house of David, headed by David and Joab


3.    Whose house waxed stronger? (II Sam. 3:1)


…but David waxed strong and stronger, and the house of Saul waxed weaker and weaker.


A.    David waxed stronger


B.      LESSON:  Regardless of man’s desires, plans, and actions God will bring His will to pass.


4.    In what city were the first six sons of David born? (II Sam. 3:2)


And unto David were sons were born in Hebron…


A.    Hebron


5.    Who was born to Ahinoam the Jezreelitess? (II Sam. 3:2)


…and his firstborn was Amnon, of Ahinoam the Jezreelitess.


A.    Amnon


B.      This is the oldest son of David.  Later, he will have a major incident involving Tamar and Absalom.


6.    Which son was born to Abigail? (II Sam. 3:3)


And his second, Chileab, of Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite…


A.    Chileab


B.      According to I Chronicles 3:1, he was also called Daniel.


7.    Absalom’s mother was Maacah.  Who was she the daughter of? (II Sam. 3:3)


…and the third, Absalom the son of Maacah the daughter of Almai king of Geshur.

A.    The daughter of Almai king of Geshur.


B.      Geshur is located in the territory of Manasseh in the Trans-jordan region.  The Geshurites were not driven out of the land when the land was conquered (Josh. 13:13).  Thus, they kept a very small kingdom of people.


C.     Absalom will retreat to Almai’s protection later.


8.    Who was Adonijah’s mother? (II Sam. 3:4)


And the fourth, Adonijloh the son of Haggith…


A.    He was the son of Haggith.


B.      We do not know anything about Haggith. 


C.     Later, Adonijah will become involved in a negative manner in the kingdom of David.


9.    What son was born to Abital? (II Sam. 3:4)


…and the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital.


1.        Shephatiah


2.       There is nothing further known about this son. 


3.       Too, we know nothing further of Abital.


10.  Who was Ithream’s mother? (II Sam. 3:5)


And the sixth, Ithream, by Eglah David’s wife.  These were born to David in Hebron.


A.    Ithream’s mother was Eglah.


B.      We know nothing more about these two individuals either.


11.   While there was war between the house of Saul and the house of David, who made himself strong for the house of Saul? (II Sam. 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.


A.    Abner made himself strong for the house of Saul.


B.      Abner was doing all he could in order to acquire power and authority for himself.

1.        He definitely had charge of the army.

2.       He may have been making alliances with various ones in Israel.

3.       There may have been ways he was accumulating wealth as well.


12.  Who had gone in unto Saul’s concubine, Rizpah? (II Sam. 3:7)


And Saul had a concubine, whose name was Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah:  and Ish-bosheth said to Abner, Wherefore hast thou gone in unto my father’s concubine?


A.    A concubine:  “A concubine was much more than a mistress.  In a sense, she was a secondary ‘wife’ (Exo. 21:8-10; Deut. 21:11-13).  She was a member of the royal household, took her position by an official ceremony of appointment, and had the rights of a married woman.  Unlike a true wife, concubines were usually acquired by purchase or were captives taken in war.  She could be ‘divorced’ summarily and then released, but never to be a slave (Gen. 16:2, 3, 21:10: Ex. 21:7, 8; Duet. 21:10-14; Mal. 2:14-16)” (Footnote on II Samuel 3:7 in The Hebrew-Greek Study Bible by Spiros Zodhiates, p. 421)


B.      Abner went in unto her.


C.     The words “gone in unto her” indicate that he had a sexual relationship with her.


D.    Keil and Delitzsch:  “It was the exclusive right of the successor to the throne to cohabit with the concubines of the deceased king, who came down to him as part of the property which he inherited” (e-sword).


13.  Who confronted Abner about Saul’s concubine? (II Sam. 3:7)


…and Ish-bosheth said to Abner, Wherefore hast thou gone in unto my father’s concubine?


A.    Ish-bosheth


B.      It was he who was the appointed king.  If anyone had a right to the concubines, it would have been Ish-bosheth. 


14.  T – F  Abner was kind when he was confronted by Ish-bosheth. (II Sam. 3:8)


Then was Abner very wroth for the words of Ish-bosheth…


A.    False


B.      Very wroth

1.        Strong (2734):  to glow or grow warm, to blaze up in anger

2.       BDB:  to be hot, furious, burn, become angry, be kindled


15.  “Then was Abner wroth for the words of Ish-bosheth, and said, Am I a dog’s  head” (II Sam. 3:8).


A.    A dog’s head is something that is thoroughly contemptible.


16.  To whom had Abner shown kindness when he opposed Judah? (II Sam. 3:8)


…which against Judah do show kindness this day unto the house of Saul thy father, to his brethren, and to his friends…


A.    To the house of Saul


B.      To his brethren


C.     To his friends.


D.    NOTE:  These are usually the ones who are killed when a new ruler occupies the throne.


17.  What had Abner not done to Ish-bosheth that he could have done? (II Sam. 3:8)


…and have not delivered thee into the hand of David, that thou chargest me today with a fault concerning this woman?


A.    Abner tells Ish-bosheth that he could have delivered him into the hand of David.


B.      Abner knows that he is the reason the kingdom of Israel exists at this time.  Ish-bosheth did not have the power or skills to do this by himself.


C.     Ish-bosheth was basically confronting the hand that fed him and provided him with the opportunities he was enjoying.  Who was he to confront Abner?


18.  What is the meaning of II Samuel 3:9?


So do God to Abner, and more also, except, as the Lord hath sworn to David, even so I do to him.


A.    Abner now make his decision to follow God’s choice in making David king.


B.      He asks God to take vengeance on him if he does not do as the Lord had sworn to David. 


C.     This is an interesting statement.  In his words, he admits that he knew what God’s will was regarding David and the kingdom.  Up to this point, Abner had intentionally rebelled against God.


19.  T – F  Abner resolved to translate the house of Saul to David’s rule (II Sam. 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 Beer-sheba.


A.    True


B.      NOTE:  Abner again shows who has the true power in the house of Saul.  Whenever he desired, he could yield the kingdom over to David.


20.  Why didn’t Ish-bosheth respond to Abner? (II Sam. 3:11)


And he could not answer Abner a word again, because he feared him.


A.    Because he feared him


B.      Ish-bosheth knew that Abner was the true ruler of Israel.  He had power over Ish-bosheth completely.  This included Ish-bosheth’s life.


C.     Clarke:  “Miserable is the lot of a king who is governed by the general of his army, who may strip him of his power and dignity whenever he pleases!” (e-sword).


21.  What did Abner want David to make with him? (II Sam. 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.


A.    Make thy league with me


B.      When he says:  “Whose is the land?” he appeals to David’s sense of entitlement.  David knew that it was he who should be the king over all the land.


22.  Define:  league (II Sam. 3:12)


A.    Strong (1285):  a cutting, a compact (because made by passing through pieces of flesh)


B.      BDB:  covenant, alliance, a pledge

C.     Abner was a wise man.  He would not just turn over control to David.  He wanted an agreement.  This agreement would definitely insure his safety.


23.  Abner could not see David’s face until he brought what person to David? (II Sam. 3:13)


And he said, 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.


A.    Before David would make compact with Abner, he must have Michal restored as his wife.


B.      This was both a moral and political move.

1.        She was the lawful wife of David.

2.       To have the daughter of Saul restored by his side would indicate to Israel that David was not the proper ruler of the kingdom.


C.     Clarke:  “yet prudence and policy required that he should strengthen his own interest in the kingdom as much as possible; and that he should not leave a princess in the possession of a man who might, in her right, have made pretensions to the throne” (e-sword).


24.  Who did David send messengers to demanding that Michal be delivered to him? (II Sam. 3:14).


And David sent messengers to Ish-bosheth Saul’s son, saying Deliver me my wife Michal, which I espoused to me for a hundred foreskins of the Philistines.


A.    He sent messengers to Ish-bosheth.


B.      There could have been several reasons why he made his request through Ish-bosheth.

1.        This would have been the duly appointed means of making such a request.

2.       To see if Abner had the power to make a league with him since Ish-bosheth was the appointed king.

3.       “’that it might be apparent that he had dealt justly with Paltiel in the presence of his king, and that he had received his wife back again, and had not taken her by force from her husband’” (as quoted by Seb. Schmidt by Keil & Delitzsch, e-sword).


25.  T – F  Ish-bosheth refused to honor David’s request. (II Sam. 3:15).


And Ish-bosheth sent, and took her from her husband…


A.    False.


B.      Ish-bosheth is exposed as being a puppet king.  He is willing to do the bidding of Abner.


26.  Who had become the husband of Michal? (II Sam. 3:15)


… even from Phaltiel the son of Laish.


A.    Phaltiel (See I Sam. 25:44)


B.      We do not know anything about Phaliel except that he was the son of Laish of the tribe of Benjamin.  He must have had some rank in the kingdom of Saul do be given his daughter to wife.


27.  How did Phaltiel react when Michal was taken from him? (II Sam. 3:16)


And her husband went with her along weeping behind her to Bahurim…



A.    He followed her and wept all the way to Bahurim.


B.      LESSONS: 

1.        Our heart strings are tugged because we know that Phaltiel was heartbroken on this occasion.  He appears to have truly loved Michal.  In our minds, we want to say:  “This is not fair.”

2.       Michal was the legitimate wife of David.  He had paid the dowry required to receive her as his wife.  Too, he had taken Goliath in battle and she had been promised as part of the reward.  David was only doing what was legally his right to do.

3.       When man disregards God’s marriage bond, he creates hardships for many individuals.


28.  Who sent Phaltiel back home? (II Sam. 3:16)


…Then said Abner unto him, Go, return.  And he returned.


A.    Abner told Phaliel to return to his home.


29.  Who did Abner contact first about aligning Israel with David? (II Sam. 3:17)


And Abner had communication with the elders of Israel…


A.    He contacted the elders of Israel.


B.      The elders were the older, wiser men of the nation.  The tribes often looked to these men for advice.


30.  T – F  The elders of Israel had wanted David to be king over them in times past. (II Sam. 3:17)


… saying, Ye sought for David in times past to be king over you.


A.    True


B.      David had a good reputation among all those in Israel, including the servants of Saul (See I Sam. 18:5).


And David went out whithersoever Saul sent him, and behaved himself wisely:  and Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people, and also in the sight of Saul’s servants.


C.     It appears that Israel would have submitted to David’s rule had it not been for the power that Abner exerted over the kingdom of Israel. 


31.  What had the Lord spoken about David? (II Sam. 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.


A.    According to Abner, the Lord had said:  “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.”


B.      This statement is nowhere specifically recorded in the Biblical text.  However, it seemed to be well-known at some point in Saul’s reign that David would be the next king of Israel.  His function would be to save Israel out of the hand of the Philistine and out of the hand of all their enemies.


32.  Which tribe did Abner speak specifically to? (II Sam. 3:19)


And Abner also spake in the ears of Benjamin…

A.    He spoke to the tribe of Benjamin.


B.      These were his kinsmen and the kinsmen of Saul.  They were the royal tribe at the time.  They were the ones who had reaped many blessings from Saul’s kingdom.  They would most likely have the most to give up.


33.  T – F  Abner told David that all seemed good to Israel, but not to the house of Benjamin. (II Sam.



…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 house of Benjamin.


A.    False.  All was good to both Israel and Benjamin.


B.      It must be remembered that during the course of these seven and a half years, David was increasing in strength and the house of Saul was decreasing.  Take over seemed like it would come at some point in time anyway.  For them to yield peaceably would be a very wise decision.


C.     NOTE:  “All that seemed good to Israel, and that seemed good to the house of Benjamin” could have involved their terms of the league to be made with David.


34.  How many men did Abner bring with him to see David in Hebron? (II Sam. 3:20)


So Abner came to David to Hebron, and twenty men with him…


A.    Twenty men.


B.      These twenty men would have probably been top officials in the government of Ish-bosheth.


C.     Michal was probably brought to David at this time.  One noted that it is interesting that nothing is said about the meeting of Michal and David.


35.  T – F  David prepared Abner and the men a feast. (II Sam. 3:20)


And David made Abner and the men that were with him a feast.


A.    True.


36.  After the feast, what did Abner say he would do? (II Sam. 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…


A.    He said that he would gather Israel together so they could make a league with David and he would rule over them.


37.  “And David sent Abner away:  and he went in peace” (II Sam. 3:21).


A.    David did not detain Abner for his rebellion.

David did not send a detail to accompany Abner on his mission.

David did not hold any of the men who had accompanied Abner to the meeting.


B.      David seemed to trust the words of Abner completely.  Thus, he no longer had any reason to treat Abner as an enemy.





The Revenge against Abner

II Samuel 3:22-39


Victor M. Eskew


1.     Outline the text


i.                    I SAMUEL 3:22-25

ii.                  I SAMUEL 3:26-27

iii.                I SAMUEL 3:28-30

iv.                I SAMUEL 3:31-37

v.                  I SAMUEL 3:38-39


2.    T – F  Joab and David’s servants had been in the field of battle during Abner’s visit. (II Sam. 3:22)


3.    When they returned what did they bring with them? (II Sam. 3:22)


4.    Why wasn’t Abner still in Hebron? (II Sam. 3:22)


5.    When Joab came back to Hebron, what was told to him? (II Sam. 3:23).


6.    When Joab learned of Abner’s departure, who did he immediately confront? (II Sam. 3:24)


7.    What two questions did Abner ask David? (II Sam. 3:24)






8.    What did Joab believe to be the purpose of Abner’s coming to David? (II Sam. 3:25)


9.    When Joab left David, to whom did he send messengers? (II Sam. 3:26).


10.  Where did the messengers bring Abner? (II Sam. 3:26)


11.   T – F  David was aware of Joab’s actions. (II Sam. 3:26)


12.  When Joab took Abner aside to speak quietly to him, what did he to do him? (II Sam. 3:27)


13.  Why did he slay Abner? (II Sam. 3:27)


14.  “And afterward when David heard it, he said, _________ and my _____________ are ______________ before the Lord forever from the _________________ of Abner the son of Ner” (II Sam. 3:28).


15.  Where did David want the blood of Abner to rest? (II Sam. 3:29)


16.  What things did David not want to fail from Joab’s house (II Sam. 3:29)












17.  The Bible also tells us that Abishai was responsible for Abner’s death? (II Sam. 3:30)


18.  What three things did David tell Joab and all the people who were with him to do? (II Sam. 3:31)








19.  What did David follow? (II Sam. 3:31)


20.  Where was Abner buried? (II Sam. 3:32)


21.  Who wept at the grave of Abner? (II Sam. 3:32)


22.  “And the king lamented over Abner, and said, ___________ Abner as a ____________ dieth?” (II Sam. 3:33)


23.  T – F  Abner’s hands were bound and his feet were fettered when he died. (II Sam. 3:34)


24.  How did David say Abner died? (II Sam. 3:34)


25.  T – F  David would not eat until the sun went down that day. (II Sam. 3:35)


26.  T – F  When David would not eat, this displeased the people.  (II Sam. 3:36).


27.  T – F  The people understood that David did not want the death of Abner. (II Sam. 3:37)


28.  “And the king said unto his servants, Know ye not that there is a ________________ and a ________ ___________ fallen this day in Israel” (II Sam. 3:38).


29.  How did David describe his physical condition the day they buried Abner? (II Sam. 3:39)


30.  How did David describe the sons of Zeruiah? (II Sam. 3:39)


31.  What did David say the Lord would do to the doer of evil? (II Sam. 3:39)