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David's success and sons, ver. 1 - 5.
Abner's quarrel with Isbosheth, ver. 6 - 11.
His treaty with David, ver. 12 - 16.
He undertakes to bring Israel over to David, ver. 17 - 21.
Joab murders Abner, ver. 22 - 27.
David's concern and mourning over him, ver. 28 - 39.
1: Long war - For five years longer: for it is probable,
Isbosheth was made king presently upon Saul's death; and the
other tribes did not submit to David before seven years were expired.
3: Geshur - A part of Syria, northward from the land of
Israel. Her he married, as it may seem, in policy, that he might have a
powerful friend and ally to assist him against Ishbosheth's party in the
north, whilst himself opposed him in the southern parts. But he paid dear
for making piety give place to policy, as the history of Absolom sheweth.
5: Eglah - This is added, either because she was of obscure
parentage, and was known by no other title but her relation to David:
or, because this was his first and most proper wife, best known by her
other name of Michal, who, though she had no child by David after
she scoffed at him for dancing before the ark, (2Sa 6:23), yet might
have one before that time. And she might be named the last, because she
was given away from David, and married to another man. Six sons in
seven years. Some have had as numerous an offspring, and with much more
honour and comfort, by one wife. And we know not that any of the six were
famous: but three were very infamous.
6: Strong - He used all his endeavours to support Saul's house:
which is mentioned, to shew the reason of his deep resentment of the
12: Messengers - Who in his name might treat with David
concerning his reconciliation with him. Thus God over - rules the passions
of wicked men, to accomplish his own wise and holy purposes. And who then
dare contend with that God who makes even his enemies to do his work, and
destroy themselves? Whose, &c. - To whom doth this whole land belong,
but to thee? Is it not thine by Divine right?
14: Ishbosheth - Whose consent was necessary, both to take her away
from her present husband, and to persuade her to return to David.
Hereby also David opened to him a door of hope for his reconciliation,
lest being desperate he should hinder Abner in his present design.
My wife - Who, though she was taken from me by force, and constrained to
marry another, yet is my rightful wife. David demands her, both for
the affection he still retained to her, and upon a political consideration
that she might strengthen his title to the kingdom.
19: Benjamin - To these he particularly applies himself, because they
might be thought most kind to Saul and his house, and most loath to let
the kingdom go out of their own tribe; and therefore it was necessary that
he should use all his art and power with them, to persuade them to a
compliance with his design; and besides, they were a valiant tribe, and
bordering upon Judah, and situate between them and the other tribes; and
therefore the winning of them, would be of mighty concernment to bring in
all the rest.
22: A troop - Of robbers, or Philistines, who taking advantage of
the discord between the houses of Saul and David, made inroads into
29: Let it, &c. - But would not a resolute punishment of the murderer
himself have become David better, than this passionate imprecation on
30: Abishai - For though Joab only committed the murder, yet
Abishai was guilty of it, because it was done with his consent, and
counsel, and approbation. In battle - Which he did for his own necessary
defence; and therefore it was no justification of this treacherous murder.
31: Joab - Him he especially obliged to it, to bring him to
repentance for his sin, and to expose him to public shame.
Followed - That is, attending upon his corps, and paying him that respect
which was due to his quality. Though this was against the usage of kings,
and might seem below David's dignity; yet it was now expedient to
vindicate himself from all suspicion of concurrence in this action.
33: As a fool - That is, as a wicked man. Was he cut off by the hand
of justice for his crimes? Nothing less; but by Joab's malice and
treachery. It is a sad thing to die as a fool dieth, as they do that
any way shorten their own days: and indeed all they that make no provision
for another world.
34: Not bound - Thou didst not tamely yield up thyself to Joab,
to be bound hand and foot at his pleasure. Joab did not overcome thee
in an equal combat, nor durst he attempt thee in that way, as a general or
soldier of any worth would have done. Wicked men - By the hands of
froward, or perverse, or crooked men, by hypocrisy and
perfidiousness, whereby the vilest coward may kill the most valiant person.
36: Pleased them - They were satisfied concerning David's
38: Know ye not, &c. - But how little, how mean are they made by
death, who were the terror of the mighty in the land of the living.
39: Weak - In the infancy of my kingdom, not well settled in it.
The metaphor is taken from a young and tender child or plant.
These men - Joab and Abishai, the sons of thy sister Zeruiah.
Too hard - That is, too powerful. They have so great a command over all
the soldiers, and so great favour with the people, that I cannot punish them
without apparent hazard to my person and kingdom; especially, now when all
the tribes, except Judah, are in a state of opposition against me.
But although this might give some colour to the delay of their punishment,
yet it was a fault that he did not do it within some reasonable time, both
because this indulgence proceeded from a distrust of God's power and
faithfulness; as if God could not make good his promise to him, against
Joab and all his confederates; and because it was contrary to God's law,
which severally requires the punishment of willful murderers.
It was therefore carnal wicked policy, yea cruel pity that spared him.
If the law had had its course against Joab, it is probable the murder of
Ishbosheth, Ammon, and others, had been prevented. So truly was he in
these, and some other respects, a bloody man, which may be observed to
the glory of the Divine grace, in his forgiveness and conversion.