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The Revenge against Abner

II Samuel 3:22-39

Victor M. Eskew


1.     Outline the text


i.                    JOAB LEARNS OF ABNER’S VISIT (II Sam. 3:22-25)

ii.                  JOAB LURES ABNER FROM SIRAH (II Sam. 3:26-27)

iii.                DAVID  LAUDS HIS INNOCENCE (II Sam 3:28-30)

iv.                DAVID LAMENTS ABNER’S DEATH (II Sam. 3:31-37)

v.                  DAVID LANGUISHES THE SITUATION (II Sam. 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)


And, behold, the servants of David and Joab came from pursuing a troop…


A.    True


B.      Nations that surrounded Israel were constantly stirring up trouble.  The armies of Israel would be discharged in order to keep from being invaded or to protect one of the cities on the boundary of Israel.


C.     Since Joab was the commander of David’s forces, he would often find himself out of the city capital.


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


…and brought in a great spoil with them…


A.    A great spoil


B.      The flocks and herds and gold and silver and prisoners would be part of the spoil that could be recovered in battle.


C.     Great

1.        Strong (7227):  abundant

2.       BDB:  much, many, great, abundant, abounding in, exceedingly


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


…But Abner was not with David in Hebron:  for he had sent him away, and he was gone in pace.


A.    Abner had been sent away in peace.


B.      He had promised to give the kingdom of Israel to David.  This was also conditioned upon the return of Michal.  David trusted Abner was going to be true to his word.


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


A.    He was told that Abner had come to David and that he had been sent away in peace.

B.      There would have been two reasons he was told about Abner’s visit.

1.        Abner was the commander of the forces of Israel.  David’s commander would need to know about such a visit.

2.       Abner was the one who had killed Joab’s brother, Asahel.  He would want to know why such a man was in the capital city.


C.     LESSON:  Who are the “they” who told Joab about Abner’s visit?  Some individual feel they have to tell everything they know to others.


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


Then Joab came to the king…


A.    He immediately came and spoke to the king.


B.      As the king’s commander, he would have had easy access to the king.


C.   LESSON:  Joab did not talk behind David’s back.  He went directly to the source of the problem and spoke to him.


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


…What hast thou done:  behold, Abner came unto thee; why it is that thou hast sent him away, and he is quite gone?


A.    What hast thou done?


B.      Why is it that thou hast sent him away, and he is quite gone?


C.     Joab already knew the “what.”  His real intent was to find out the “why.”  Why would David allow the enemy to come into his kingdom and, then, allow him to leave peaceably?


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


A.    He came to deceive David.


B.      Instead of returning the kingdom to David, he came to spy out the kingdom.

1.        He wanted to know the going out and coming in of the king.

2.       Too, he wanted to know all that David was doing.


C.     Inside information could make the king vulnerable to attacks by the enemy.

1.        Notes could be made about entrances and exits.

2.       He could find out where David posted his guards.

3.       He could look for places that were not secure.

4.       He could find out the times for the changing of the guard.

5.       He could find out where David would be at various times of the day.


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


And when Joab was come out from David, he sent messengers after Abner…


A.    He sent messengers to Abner


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


… which brought him again from the well of Sirah; but David knew it not.


A.    They brought him from the well of Sirah

1.        The words means:  “the well of Sarah”

2.       Two spots have been suggested. 

a.       Josephus says that it was about two and a half miles out of Hebron.

b.      However, the actual site in not really known.


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


…but David knew it not.


A.    False


B.      LESSON:  Powerful men can act behind their ruler’s back if they so desire.  Unless it is revealed by others, or, by God, the actions of others cannot always be known.


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


And when Abner was returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside in the gate to speak to him quietly, and smote him there under the fifth rib, that he died…


A.    He smote him under the fifth rib, that he died.


B.      This was the same way that Asahel had died by the hand of Abner (II Sam. 2:23).


…wherefore Abner with the hinder end of the spear smote him under the fifth rib…


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


...for the blood of Asahel his brother.


A.    Joab smote Abner in revenge for his brother’s blood.


B.      It is interesting that concern for David’s kingdom was not on his mind.  Some commentators say that he was concerned that Abner would take his place as commander of David’s army.  However, there is no hint of this in Scripture.


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


A.    David lauds his personal innocence in this matter.  Too, he notes that his kingdom is not involved in this matter.  This was not a political assassination of his enemy.


B.      Guiltless

1.        Strong (5355):  innocent

2.       BDB:  clean, free from exempt, clear innocent


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


Let it rest on the head of Joab, and on all his father’s house…


A.    This was an act that was committed solely by Joab. 

1.        He devised the plan.

2.       He carried it out.

3.       David had no knowledge of the deed at all.


B.      Clarke:  “All these verbs may be rendered in the future tense: it will rest on the head of Joab, etc. This was a prophetic declaration, which sufficiently showed the displeasure of God against this execrable man” (e-sword).


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


…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.


A.    One that hath an issue

1.        This is an issue of blood

2.       Most of the time this would impact the women (See Matt. 9:20)


B.      One that is a leper

1.        Leprosy was a painful disease that ultimately brought death.

2.       Those who contracted the disease were cast out of the community as unclean.


C.     One that leaneth on a staff

1.        This curse involved a person who was lame or cripple.


D.    One that falleth on the sword

1.        This could involve one who died in battle.

2.       Or, it could be one who committed suicide similar to the manner in which Saul died (See II Sam. 31:4).


E.      One that lacketh bread

1.        Having bread was a sign of prosperity and abundance.

2.       Lacking bread involved poverty and hunger.


F.      NOTE:  “The curse of David proves that Joab was not justified as a blood-revenger…” (Barnes, e-sword.


17.  T – F  The Bible also tells us that Abishai was responsible for Abner’s death? (II Sam. 3:30)


So Joab and Abishai his brother slew Abner, because he had slain their brother Asahel at Gibeon in the battle.


A.    True


B.      The fact that Asahel’s death was connected to a battle is what made this act of revenge wrong. 

1.        Abner was protecting his own life.

2.       Abner had given Asahel adequate warning.


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


And David said to Joab, and to all the people that were with him, Rend your clothes, and gird yourself with sackcloth, and mourn before Abner…


A.    Rend your clothes


B.      Gird yourself with sackcloth


C.     Mourn before Abner


D.    Comments:

1.        This was a command from the king to Joab.

2.       Can you imagine the anger and the embarrassment Joab must have experienced?

3.       I am reminded of another man who reaped what he had sown.  A man named Haman (See Esther 6:10-11; 9:25).



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


…And king David himself followed the bier.


A.    David followed the bier, or casket.


B.      This would have been a public expression of honor for Abner and point to the fact that David was not the one who authorized his death.


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


And they buried Abner in Hebron…


A.    He was buried in Hebron.


B.      Remember, Hebron was the capital city of David’s kingdom at the time. 


C.     This, too, pointed to the fact that David was innocent of Abner’s death.


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


…and the king lifted up his voice, and wept at the grave of Abner; and all the people wept.


A.    The king wept.  David’s weeping would show that he lamented Abner’s death rather than rejoicing because an enemy had been killed.


B.      All the people wept.


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


A.    Barnes “The great and noble and valiant Abner had died as ignobly and as helplessly as the meanest churl!” (e-sword).


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


Thy hands were not bound, nor they feet put into fetters…


A.    False


B.      “He was not taken by the hand of justice, nor in battle, nor by accident…”(Clarke, e-sword).


C.     Again, this gives stronger evidence to David’s innocence.


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


…as a man falleth before wicked men, so fellest thou…


A.    He said that he fell before wicked men.


B.      Other translations:

1.        Like one falls before the sons of guilt

2.       By falling into the hands of a villain

3.       As one falls before sinners


C.     Clark:  “This song was a heavy reproof to Joab; and must have galled him extremely, being sung by all the people” (e-sword).


25.  T – F  David would not eat until the sun went down that day. (II Sam. 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 aught else, till the sun be down.


A.    True


B.      Kings are surrounded by many people.  The circumstances that surrounded this event were distressing and would take its toll on the body.  Food would help to provide nourishment and strength.  Thus, David was encouraged to eat.


C.     He, however, refused to eat until the setting of the sun.  Fasting at that time was one of signs of deep mourning. 


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


And all the people too notice of it, and it pleased them:  as whatsoever the king did pleased all the people.


A.    False.


B.      David’s action of fasting pleased the people.  They understood that David was sincerely mourning the loss of Abner. 


C.     When they connected this with all of the other actions that David had taken that day, they were very pleased with the king.  He had handled a difficult manner in a kingly manner. 


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


A.    True.


B.      David had done all that he could to show that he was not involved in Abner’s death.

1.        He proclaimed his innocence (v. 28).

2.       He declared a curse on Joab’s descendants (v. 29).

3.       He made Joab participate in the mourning for Abner (v. 31).

4.       David followed the bier of Abner (v. 31)

5.       David allowed Abner to be buried in Hebron, the capital city at the time (v. 32).

6.       David wept at Abner’s grave (v. 32)

7.       David lamented that Abner had fallen by the hands of wicked men (v. 34).

8.       David would fast until the evening on the day of Abner’s burial (v.35).

9.       David proclaimed Abner to be a prince and a great man (v. 38).


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


A.    David was a man who was quick to see the good in others, even his enemies.


B.      After having spoken to Abner, he believed that Abner was honest in what he was going to do.  David could have used such a man in his army. 


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


And I am this day weak, though anointed king…


A.    David for some reason was weak.


B.      Weak

1.        Strong (7390):  tender, weak

2.       BDB:  tender, soft, delicate, weak


C.     In the context, David appears to be referring to his authority as king at that time. 

1.        David only had one tribe under this authority.

2.       His commander, Joab, had usurped authority and killed an innocent man.


D.    In this weakened condition, David chose to curse Joab and leave any retribution in the hands of God.


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


…and these men the sons of Zeruiah be too hard for me…


A.    Hard

1.        Strong (7186):  severe

2.       BDB:  hard, cruel, severe, obstinate, fierce, intense, vehement


B.      Joab and Abishai were not content to leave their brother’s death on the battle field.  They were intent on exacting revenge, even though Abner was not guilty of premeditated murder.  Their actions were cruel and fierce and came from hearts that were evil.


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


…the Lord shall reward the doer of evil according to his wickedness.


A.    At this time, David left the punishment of Joab in the hands of God. 


B.      David knew that God had the power to exact punishment in the proper way upon a man who was “the doer of evil.”


C.     LESSON:  Joab is not the only evil doer who will be punished by God for evil deeds (Rom. 2:6, 9; II Cor. 5:10).


Who will render to every man according to his deeds…tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil; of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile.













The Ruthlessness of Baanah and Rechab

II Samuel 4:1-12


Victor M. Eskew


1.     Outline the text


i.                    II SAMUEL 4:1-3

ii.                  II SAMUEL 4:4

iii.                II SAMUEL 4:5-7

iv.                II SAMUEL 4:8

v.                  II SAMUEL 4:9-12


  1. When Saul’s son heard that Abner was dead, what happened to his hands? (II Sam. 4:1).


  1. What does the text means when it says:  “…his hands were feeble”? (II Sam. 4:1).


  1. When Israel heard of Abner’s death, how did they respond? (II Sam. 4:1).


  1. Who were the two men who were captains of bands under Saul’s son? (II Sam. 4:2)


  1. Who were these two captains the son of? (II Sam. 4:2).


  1. T – F  These two men were of the children of Benjamin. (II Sam. 4:2)


  1. T – F  Beeroth was not reckoned to Benjamin. (II Sam. 4:2)


  1. To what place had the Beerothoites fled? (II Sam. 4:3)


  1. T – F  Jonathan had a son who was lame in his feet. (II Sam. 4:4)


  1. How old was he when he became lame? (II Sam. 4:5)


  1. How was he made lame in his feet? (II Sam. 4:5).


  1. What was this son’s name? (II Sam. 4:5)


  1. At what time of day did Rechab and Baanah enter into the house of Ish-bosheth? (II Sam. 4:5)


  1. Where was Ish-bosheth? (II Sam. 4:5)


  1. What was their supposed purpose for being in the house? (II Sam. 4:6)


  1. Where did they smite Ish-bosheth? (II Sam. 4:6).


  1. T – F  When they murdered Ish-bosheth they were caught? (II Sam. 4:6)


  1. T – F  After they killed Ish-bosheth, they took his head with them. (II Sam. 4:7).


  1. “…and gat them away through the plain all night” (II Sam. 4:7).


  1. To whom did they bring Ish-bosheth’s head? (II Sam. 4:8)



  1. “…and said unto the king, Behold, the head of Ish-bosheth the son of Saul thine enemy, which sought thy life …” (II Sam. 4:8).


  1. Who did they claim had avenged David of Saul and his seed?  (II Sam. 4:8).


  1. T – F  David did not answer Rechab and Baanah.  (II Sam. 4:9)


  1. Who had redeemed David’s soul out of all adversity? (II Sam. 4:9)


  1. What two things did the man who told David about Saul’s death think? (II Sam. 4:10)


  1. What did David do to this man in Ziklag? (II Sam. 4:10)


  1. “How much ________________, when _______________ men have slain a ___________________ person in his own house upon his bed?” (II Sam. 4:11).


  1. What was David going to require of Rechab and Baanah? (II Sam. 4:11)


  1. T – F  David had Rechab and Baanah slain. (II Sam. 11:12)


  1. What did they cut off of them? (II Sam. 11:12)


  1. Where did they hang them? (II Sam. 11:12)


  1. Where did they bury the head of Ish-bosheth? (II Sam. 11:12)