- The Explore the Bible lesson for June 10 focuses on 2 Samuel 3:8-21.
Being anointed, as we saw in chapter 2, is no insignificant act. Yet, when it comes to the rivalries we produce on earth, being anointed may only be seen as a threat, and not always respected as a divine action. Leading to our text today, we see a jealous rivalry that continues to grow worse.
Robert Chisholm labels the section of 2 Samuel 2:1-5:5 as “The Road to the Throne is Covered with Blood” (Robert B. Chisholm Jr. 1 & 2 Samuel, 200). Rightfully so, because murder and struggle litter the Scripture in this section, as David’s throne becomes more and more established over Saul’s remaining blood.
What tends to create such bitter and messy rivalry? Honestly, jealousy would be one potential answer. Our text shows more jealousy on Saul’s side, yet there must have been some also on David’s side. How do we see jealousy and rivalry collide in our lives, today?
A New Ally (2 Samuel 3:8-11)
To understand the changing of loyalty in Abner, notice verses 6-7, which sets the stage. Like his father Saul who was constantly unsure of himself and suspecting of others, Ish-Bosheth questioned Abner over his father’s concubine. He literally challenged the loyalty of one of Saul’s most loyal officers.
In the heat of this situation, we see Abner crack with anger, admitting that David had a right to the throne. This is a tense scene that shows Saul’s camp even less secure. Abner made a legitimate oath in verses 9-10 that was no mere threat; it was a promise on his own life to establish David’s reign.
Have you every seen a change in loyalty like this, in real life or in movies? It is interesting to see how David had nothing to do with this change. Ish-Bosheth’s accusation caused his camp to begin imploding. His reply—nothing but fear, which was, in this case, the right emotion to experience.
A Restored Relationship (2 Samuel 3:12-16)
We get to a very salty piece of the story. For Abner to prove his newfound loyalty to David, it required a test. Michal, Saul’s daughter, originally was David’s rightful wife, but she had been taken from David many chapters back in the story. This was a difficult request for David to make, yet it would prove Abner’s loyalty should he come through.
If I may be so bold, I would not be quick to label this section, “A Restored Relationship,” as that was not the focus, nor the reality. However, this was a “making things right” situation, restoring to David his rightful wife. One could see this as one more empowering opportunity for David’s throne.
Today, we view this transaction negatively. Michal later would loathe David for how he danced, and here we see Paltiel mourn Michal’s return to David. This may not seem just to our 21st century eyes. But looking through their eyes, we see rightful justice and restoring to the new king what had been stolen from him.
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A Consolidated Kingdom (2 Samuel 3:17-21)
In the short span of the text, we see the great amount of good Abner completed on behalf of David. He spoke with the elders, pushed for a compact, and also spoke to the Benjamites in person. This latter piece was significant as Saul was a Benjamite, and their loyalty would remove any remaining energy for Saul’s house.
In verse 20, we see David returning favor to Abner and his men, but instead of basking in this, Abner wanted to keep doing the work to establish David’s kingdom, thus living up to his oath in verses 9-10. Truly, Abner is proving himself admirable!
Being sent away “in peace” by David is no small choice of words. These two men, who once were divided and in rival camps against one another, now are close enough to offer wholeness and peace to one another. If there is any restored relationship in the story, this is it. How have you seen rivals become restored friends? How does Abner’s change give you hope for this story?
Our text for next week skips us over the continued bloodshed that marked David’s ultimate reign. To prepare yourself for next week, consider picking up the story where we left it and continue through the end of chapter 4. You will see the tumultuous scenarios that were necessary and those that were not.
Even though we can celebrate what God does to make his will a reality, we also shrink back at the acts of injustice humans do in the name of justice. But mark this: God’s justice will take place based on his will.
Which parts of the story show you God’s just work? Which parts of the story make you wish for God’s justice to show up against those who do wrong? As we continue to see David’s rise to power, let us be patient for how God will work.
Heath A. Kirkwood is lead pastor of First Baptist Church in Lorena.