2 Samuel 3:22-39
22 Just then David’s men and Joab came back from attacking their enemies. They brought with them the large amount of goods they had taken. But Abner wasn’t with David in Hebron anymore. That’s because David had sent him away, and he had gone in peace. 23 Joab and all the soldiers with him arrived. Then he was told that Abner, the son of Ner, had come to see the king. He was told that the king had sent Abner away. He was also told that Abner had gone in peace. 24 So Joab went to the king. He said, “What have you done? Abner came to you. Why did you let him get away? Now he’s gone! 25 You know what Abner, the son of Ner, is like. He came to trick you. He wanted to watch your every move. He came to find out everything you are doing.” 26 Then Joab left David. He sent messengers to get Abner. They brought Abner back from the well of Sirah. But David didn’t know about it. 27 When Abner returned to Hebron, Joab took him to one side. He brought him into an inside room. Joab acted as if he wanted to speak to him in private. But he really wanted to get even with him. That’s because Abner had spilled the blood of Joab’s brother Asahel. So Joab stabbed Abner in the stomach, and he died. 28 Later on, David heard about it. He said, “I and the people of my kingdom aren’t guilty of spilling the blood of Abner, the son of Ner. We are free of blame forever in the sight of the Lord. 29 May Joab and his whole family line be held accountable for spilling Abner’s blood! May Joab’s family never be without someone who has an open sore or skin disease. May his family never be without someone who has to use a crutch to walk. May his family never be without someone who gets killed by a sword. And may his family never be without someone who doesn’t have enough to eat.” 30 Joab and his brother Abishai murdered Abner. They did it because he had killed their brother Asahel in the battle at Gibeon. 31 David spoke to Joab and all the people with him. He said, “Tear your clothes. Put on the rough clothing people wear when they’re sad. Mourn when you walk in front of Abner’s body.” King David himself walked behind it. 32 Abner’s body was buried in Hebron. The king wept out loud at Abner’s tomb. So did the rest of the people. 33 King David sang a song of sadness over Abner. He said, “Should Abner have died as sinful people do? 34 His hands were not tied. His feet were not chained. He died as if he had been killed by evil people.” All the people mourned over Abner again. 35 Then all of them came and begged David to eat something. They wanted him to eat while it was still day. But David made a promise. He said, “I won’t taste bread or anything else before the sun goes down. If I do, may God punish me greatly!” 36 All the people heard his promise and were pleased. In fact, everything the king did pleased them. 37 So on that day all the people there and all the Israelites understood. They knew that the king didn’t have anything to do with the murder of Abner, the son of Ner. 38 The king spoke to his men. He said, “Don’t you realize that a great commander has died in Israel today? 39 I’m the anointed king. But today I’m weak. These sons of Zeruiah are too powerful for me. May the Lord pay back the one who killed Abner! May he pay him back for the evil thing he has done!”
Abner had been the commander of Saul’s army after David had fled from Saul’s house. For many years, Abner showed loyalty to Saul and as a result, he had fought David and his men and on occasions he had killed some of David’s men.
Abner’s ability to change the position of his heart and lead his men towards unity is beautifully matched with David’s ability to forgive. It looks like things have finally resolved for David and the whole Kingdom of Israel.
But there is a problem. One man with revenge in his heart threatens to ruin this beautiful outcome. Only the powerfully sensitive leadership of David is able to bring peace and ultimate resolution.
Such is the power of resentment and forgiveness. I have experienced within myself justified bitterness and resentment. Someone I knew owed me a large sum of money and effectively refused to repay it. I knew in my head that unforgiveness was not healthy, but my heart kept wanting to seek revenge.
In the end, I needed to take the conscious decision to forgive and let go of my resentment towards this person.
Lord thankyou that your word contains such great narrative and example on how to live. Help me to continue to dive in deep and learn your ways.
Written by Ps Justin Ware