2 Samuel 3:1-20: What is going on here?

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Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
I'm having a difficult time trying to understand what these verses are doing in the bigger context.

The bigger context is that Abner is leading Ish-bosheth's men and they have been fighting against Joab and the men he was leading for David (David's men continue to get stronger, Ish-bosheth's men continue to grow weaker).

And then here at the beginning of the chapter (3), the author gives a list of David's sons and his multiple wives (they are underlined), then Abner begins to like one of Saul's old concubines. And it is this disagreement that occurs between Abner and Ish-bosheth that leads to Abner's basic repentance before David, helping him receive the rest of Israel, so David can be king. (THIS IS MY MESSAGE VERSION/TRANSLATION, thank you!). What is this doing in the larger context? What is the author attempting to communicate to the reader?

1Now there was a long war between the house of Saul and the house of David; and David grew steadily stronger, but the house of Saul grew weaker continually. 2Sons were born to David at Hebron: his firstborn was Amnon, by Ahinoam the Jezreelitess; 3and his second, Chileab, by Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite; and the third, Absalom the son of Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur; 4and the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; and the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital; 5and the sixth, Ithream, by David's wife Eglah. These were born to David at Hebron. 6It came about while there was war between the house of Saul and the house of David that Abner was making himself strong in the house of Saul. 7Now Saul had a concubine whose name was Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah; and Ish-bosheth said to Abner, ‘Why have you gone in to my father’s concubine?’ 8Then Abner was very angry over the words of Ish-bosheth and said, ‘Am I a dog’s head that belongs to Judah? Today I show kindness to the house of Saul your father, to his brothers and to his friends, and have not delivered you into the hands of David; and yet today you charge me with a guilt concerning the woman. 9May God do so to Abner, and more also, if as the LORD has sworn to David, I do not accomplish this for him, 10to transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul and to establish the throne of David over Israel and over Judah, from Dan even to Beersheba.’ 11And he could no longer answer Abner a word, because he was afraid of him. 12Then Abner sent messengers to David in his place, saying, ‘Whose is the land? Make your covenant with me, and behold, my hand shall be with you to bring all Israel over to you.’ 13He said, ‘Good! I will make a covenant with you, but I demand one thing of you, namely, you shall not see my face unless you first bring Michal, Saul’s daughter, when you come to see me.’ 14So David sent messengers to Ish-bosheth, Saul’s son, saying, ‘Give me my wife Michal, to whom I was betrothed for a hundred foreskins of the Philistines.’ 15Ish-bosheth sent and took her from her husband, from Paltiel the son of Laish. 16But her husband went with her, weeping as he went, and followed her as far as Bahurim. Then Abner said to him, ‘Go, return.’ So he returned. 17Now Abner had consultation with the elders of Israel, saying, ‘In times past you were seeking for David to be king over you. 18Now then, do it! For the LORD has spoken of David, saying, ‘By the hand of My servant David I will save My people Israel from the hand of the Philistines and from the hand of all their enemies.’ 19Abner also spoke in the hearing of Benjamin; and in addition Abner went to speak in the hearing of David in Hebron all that seemed good to Israel and to the whole house of Benjamin. 20Then Abner and twenty men with him came to David at Hebron. And David made a feast for Abner and the men who were with him.
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
I think the narrative is simply setting out the circumstances that led Abner to leave Ishboseth and join with David (it was over a woman). It also gives an insight into the chaotic lives of the principle characters.
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
I can see that. That's what I thought as well, but there is something in the back of my mind (sinful or not???) that wonders if there is more. So I am probing some of Christ's body through internet means. And reading Calvin. :)
 

Ask Mr. Religion

Flatly Unflappable
- David's house increased, while that of Saul's decreased and the unification of the kingdom proceeded. David laid claim to the kingdom (as commissioned in v. 3:18) by claiming Saul's daughter. Abner breaks with Saul demonstrating his alliance with David by being the negotiator.
- Note the issues David had to contend with by having so many wives. ;)
- Was not Saul hoping for David's demise in his attempt to secure the price for Michal (1 Sam 18:17-27)?

AMR
 

Skyler

Puritan Board Graduate
The thing that has puzzled me is that Abner broke off with Ish-Bosheth after Ish-Bosheth accused him of lying with his father's concubine. That doesn't seem like a very good reason in and of itself to completely switch sides.
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
The thing that has puzzled me is that Abner broke off with Ish-Bosheth after Ish-Bosheth accused him of lying with his father's concubine. That doesn't seem like a very good reason in and of itself to completely switch sides.

What some commentators suggest concerning this is that maybe Abner, seeing that David was increasing and Ish-bosheth's side was decreasing, he might have switched on over, to secure a high position for himself in David's court. It doesn't seem beyond him (abner seems very similar in character to Joab), however this would be speculation, the text doesn't make this clear. So we don't need to know I guess.
 
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