Lesser known characters :: Abishai

The middle name of our beloved son Reuben, is Abishai, meaning Gift of God the Father and this name was chosen from the account given of a man recorded in 2 Samuel 23, in the Bible. But who is this Abishai in the Bible?

Abishai was the nephew of king David. He was born to Zeruiah, David’s sister (1 Chronicles 2:16). David had other nephews and nieces, but it is Abishai who is called out and referred to as the one who was most honorable than even the mighty men of David (2 Samuel 23:19).

Abishai was a man of war; a military captain. Abishai avenged the death of his brother Asahel and killed Abner (2 Samuel 2:18-24; 2 Samuel 3:30). He killed 18000 Edomites in the valley of salt who warred against the king (1 Chronicles 18:12), and was made captain for having raised his spear and killing 300 men, who were enemies of David (2 Samuel 23:18; 1 Chronicles 11:20). Abishai was no doubt a man of war, but he was no ordinary man of war. He led the armies of David, courageously and valiantly, but what is interesting is that he recognized with his brother Joab, that the result of their battles were not because of their doing, but because the outcome was, as God would will for God’s own good (2 Samuel 10:10). In essence, he was engaged in battle, after submitting to the will of God.

He was given a third of David’s men (2 Samuel 18:2) and entrusted by David, the king himself, on some of David’s most personal conquests; not to lay hands on Absalom, David’s son, who revolted against his father and king (2 Samuel 18:5,12) and to pursue Sheba, the son of Belial, the son of Bichri, lest he escaped (2 Samuel 20:6).  He could not stand it when someone revolted against his king, for when Shimei, the Benjamite, from the house of Saul hurled curses on king David, Abishai sought to go and kill Shimei whom he refers to as a dead dog (2 Samuel 16:5-14) and even when Shimei repents of his sin of rebellion against the king, Abishai is still fervent in avenging the LORD’s anointed king, who had been shamed (2 Samuel 19:21).

It is recorded of Abishai that he was most honorable than even the mighty men of David (2 Samuel 23:19), but his claim to fame did not come as a result of his relationship association with a king, but because of his honorable service to the king. Abishai was willing to die for his king. When king David asked, “Who will go with me, into the enemy camp (the camp of Saul)?”, it was Abishai who first responded and accompanied king David, behind enemy lines, right into the camp of Saul. There Abishai is restrained of his fervor to fight and kill for his king, because David admonishes him not to raise his hand against the Lord’s anointed (1 Samuel 26:6-9).

What can we learn from Abishai?

  1. We must be willing to fight for our kin and be engaged in spiritual battle, only after submitting to the Lord, for his will to be done.
  2. We must be willing to serve the Lord, in such a manner, that God can entrust to us, the most personal of his requests; be it to protect his family or to pursue the sons of Belial.
  3. We must be fervent in stopping anything and anyone who brings shame and dishonor against God’s people and his anointed (if it has not been allowed by God himself).
  4. We must be willing to go behind enemy lines and be willing to die for our King of kings and Lord of lord; for Jesus Christ.

Can God say of you and me, “He/She is more honorable than any of the others soldiers in my army?”


  • Abishai was the nephew of king David. He was born to Zeruiah, David’s sister (1 Chronicles 2:16)
  • Abishai slew eighteen thousand Edomites who warred against his king, in the valley of salt (1 Chronicles 18:12)
  • Abishai partnered with his brother Joab, and led the armies of the king against the kings enemies (Syria and Ammon), valiantly and with good courage, submitting themselves to the will of God (2 Samuel 10:10-14; 1 Chronicles 19:11-15)
  • Abishai was a military leader who was appointed captain of David’s mighty mighty men, for with a spear, he killed 300 men who were enemies of the king (2 Samuel 23:18; 1 Chronicles 11:20)
  • Abishai was the man who offered to go behind enemy lines with his uncle David into the camp of Saul and was willing to kill Saul, in his loyalty to David (1 Samuel 26:6-9)
  • Abishai with his brother Joab, pursued Abner and avenged the death of their brother Asahel, whom Abner had killed in battle (2 Samuel 2:18-24; 2 Samuel 3:30)
  • Abishai was entrusted a third of David’s men and entrusted to deal gently and not touch Absalom (David’s son) who had revolted against king David (2 Samuel 18:2,5,12)
  • Abishai was the one who offered to go and kill Shimei, a Benjamite (from the side of Saul), when Shimei hurled curses on David (2 Samuel 16:5-14). Later Shimei repents and seeks David’s forgiveness, but Abishai had not forgotten Shimei sin against David (the Lord’s anointed) and wishes to seek revenge by killing Shimei (2 Samuel 19:21).
  • Abishai was charged by king David to pursue Sheba, the son of Bichri; a son of Belial, lest Sheba find himself fenced cities and escape them (2 Samuel 20:6)
  • Abishai was a man of whom it is said that he was more honorable than even the fighting mighty men of king David (2 Samuel 23:19)

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