Lesser known characters :: Abner

Abner, was the uncle of king Saul (1 Samuel 14:50). He sat by the king’s side (1 Samuel 20:25). In his allegiance to the Saul, after Saul’s death (2 Samuel 1), when David is anointed king over Judah (2 Samuel 2:1-7), Abner makes Saul’s son, Ish-bosheth the king over Israel (2 Samuel 2:8-11) which results in a long war between the servants of David and the house of Saul (2 Samuel 3:1). During one of the wars, Abner kills one of David’s nephew, Asahel, the brother of Joab and Abishai. Abner warned Asahel twice to turn away and not pursue him, but when Asahel does not heed, Abner kills Asahel piercing him with a spear under the fifth rib. Abner grew strong in the house of Saul (2 Samuel 3:6), but when Ish-bosheth, whom Abner had made king over Israel, questioned Abner’s sexual fidelity to the house of Saul, accusing him of fault concerning Saul’s concubine Rizpah (2 Samuel 3:7), Abner was angered and sought to make a league with king David, recognizing that the Lord was with David (2 Samuel 3:9-18). He was willing to turn over the kingdom of Israel to the house of David and David agrees to be at peace with Abner, sending him away. But Joab and Abishai, hear of this truce and call Abner back to where David was and Joab takes Abner aside, when he comes,  and smites him under the fifth rib and murders Abner, without David’s knowledge. At Abner’s funeral, David laments for Abner and refers to Abner as prince and a great man who had fallen in Israel (2 Samuel 3:38).
David called Abner a prince and a great man when Abner was dead and when he was alive, David had called out to Abner referring to him as a valiant man, and expressed that there was no one like Abner in Israel. But, at that point, David also stated that Abner was worthy of death. (1 Samuel 26:16). This is because, Abner, whose responsibility it was to guard the LORD’s anointed Saul was sleeping on his job and this endangered the life of Saul, since David and Abishai entered Saul’s camp and could have easily killed Saul.

What can we learn from Abner?
When we are assigned the responsibility to keep God’s anointed (people or possession), we cannot be sleeping on the job! Doing so is worthy of death.


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