Day 111 (April 21): Ishbosheth accuses Abner, Abner joins David, Joab takes revenge on Abner, David sings at Abner’s funeral, Ishbosheth murdered, Murderers killed

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

2 Samuel 3:6-4:12

Questions & Observations

Q. (2 Samuel 3:6-21): I am surprised that Abner is aligning with David after being at Saul’s right hand for so many years.  Being at the helm with Saul, Abner should know everything that went on between Saul and David.  He should know both of their motives.  Maybe he could see that David was the more righteous and Ishbosheth’s accusation of Abner sleeping with one of Saul’s concubines was the last straw?  It’s nice to see Michal back, but it would be nice if she could choose whom she wants to call her husband.  No. 2 obviously cared for her deeply.

A. We can certainly read into the story that tensions between Ishbosheth and Abner rose, and this was a breaking point.  Ishbosheth accusation is a strong one: it would have been a great insult to Saul’s memory for one of his generals/leaders to sleep with one of his wives/concubines.  So it is unsurprising that Abner reacts the way he does.  Regarding Michal, we don’t know much about her situation, but I can tell you the next time she appears on the scene, it will not be a pleasant encounter with David.  Perhaps she really did miss hubby #2.

Q. (3:30): So, all is fair in war, but killing someone after the fact is not?  Sounds good to me, but I’m sure that Joab still felt a lot of anger toward Abner for killing his brother.

A. Joab is acting as a family avenger for his brother, which was the reality of the world that the ancient Israelites lived in.  David obviously does not approve of this action, even though Joab is acting in what would have been seen as a proper incidence of the taking of vengeance.  It was a brutal world, and in many places, it still is.

Q. (3:31): David is called king now?

A. David has been king of Judah for some time; we saw reference to it in our reading from yesterday (2 Samuel 2:4).  And though God has declared him king of all Israel, it is clear that the entire nation is not ready to follow him yet, but it won’t take long.

Q. (4:1-3): I don’t know what “paralyzed with fear” means.

A. Oftentimes the writer of these volumes — and ancient societies in general — will use actions of one person — in this case the king — to describe the situation for an entire group of people (Israel).  So basically, the writer is referring to Ishbosheth’s fear and using the image as a representation of the mindset of the entire people.  Ishbosheth is greatly fearful after Abner’s death — don’t forget it was Abner who put him on his throne — and like his father, Ishbosheth appears to be succumbing to fear-based decision making — in this case, making no decisions.  Ishbosheth was so fearful that he could not decide how to act, so in this sense he was “paralyzed” with fear.

Q. (4:5-12): And we think Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are bad.  I think David needs to make an order that there will be no more killing out of vengeance.  I’ve read about enough decapitations for a while.

A. Um, don’t hold your breath that the killing will stop.  David’s rule will be peaceful for a while, but will quickly turn bloody, even within his own house.

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