2 Samuel 3:17
And Abner had communication with the elders of Israel, saying, You sought for David in times past to be king over you:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17) Ye sought for David.1Samuel 18:6-7; 1Samuel 18:16; 1Samuel 18:30; 1Chronicles 11:1-3 (comp. 2Samuel 3:36), sufficiently testify to the great popularity of David throughout the nation, and its confidence in his prowess and wisdom. It was the influence and activity of Abner that had hitherto prevented his general recognition as king.

2 Samuel 3:17. And Abner — Having seen David, and given him assurance of his fidelity, as David had him of his friendship; had communication with the elders of Israel — He went back to persuade all to do as he had done. And by bringing over the great men to David, he doubted not the multitude would follow. Saying, Ye sought for David in times past — For, after the slaughter of Goliath, he was much beloved by all the people. And when he was forced to flee, a great many of Israel came over to him while he dwelt at Ziklag. And it is highly probable that, as soon as Saul and Jonathan were dead, they all generally would have inclined to make David their king, if Abner, by his great authority, had not set up one of the family of Saul.3:7-21 Many, like Abner, are not above committing base crimes, who are too proud to bear reproof, or even the suspicion of being guilty. While men go on in sin, and apparently without concern, they are often conscious that they are fighting against God. Many mean to serve their own purposes; and will betray those who trust them, when they can get any advantage. Yet the Lord serves his own designs, even by those who are thus actuated by revenge, ambition, or lust; but as they intend not to honour him, in the end they will be thrown aside with contempt. There was real generosity both to Michal and to the memory of Saul, in David's receiving the former, remembering probably how once he owed his life to her affection, and knowing that she was separated from him partly by her father's authority. Let no man set his heart on that which he is not entitled to. If any disagreement has separated husband and wife, as they expect the blessing of God, let them be reconciled, and live together in love.Ye sought for David ... - Compare 1 Samuel 18:5. It was only by Abner's great influence that the elders of Israel had been restrained hitherto from declaring for David, and this accounts for Ish-bosheth's helpless submission to his uncle's dictation. 17-21. Abner had communication with the elders of Israel—He spoke the truth in impressing their minds with the well-known fact of David's divine designation to the kingdom. But he acted a base and hypocritical part in pretending that his present movement was prompted by religious motives, when it sprang entirely from malice and revenge against Ish-bosheth. The particular appeal of the Benjamites was a necessary policy; their tribe enjoyed the honor of giving birth to the royal dynasty of Saul; they would naturally be disinclined to lose that prestige. They were, besides, a determined people, whose contiguity to Judah might render them troublesome and dangerous. The enlistment of their interest, therefore, in the scheme, would smooth the way for the adhesion of the other tribes; and Abner enjoyed the most convenient opportunity of using his great influence in gaining over that tribe while escorting Michal to David with a suitable equipage. The mission enabled him to cover his treacherous designs against his master—to draw the attention of the elders and people to David as uniting in himself the double recommendation of being the nominee of Jehovah, no less than a connection of the royal house of Saul, and, without suspicion of any dishonorable motives, to advocate policy of terminating the civil discord, by bestowing the sovereignty on the husband of Michal. In the same character of public ambassador, he was received and feted by David; and while, ostensibly, the restoration of Michal was the sole object of his visit, he busily employed himself in making private overtures to David for bringing over to his cause those tribes which he had artfully seduced. Abner pursued a course unworthy of an honorable man and though his offer was accepted by David, the guilt and infamy of the transaction were exclusively his. Even in Saul’s time you highly honoured him, and prized his conduct, and wished that the power were in his hands; and great numbers of you went to him when he was in the hold, 1Ch 12. And after Saul’s death you would gladly have advanced him to the crown, if your respect to Saul’s family, together with my authority and influence, had not diverted you. And Abner had communication with the elders of Israel,.... Had a conference with the chiefs of the several tribes about the affairs of the kingdom:

saying, ye sought for David in time past to be king over you; that is, at the death of Saul, and not before; for it was pretty generally known throughout the kingdom that David was anointed by Samuel and Saul himself had declared that he knew the kingdom would come to him; so that upon his death it was the general expectation and desire of the people that the government would devolve upon him, as it doubtless would, if Abner had not set up one of Saul's house, and persuaded the Israelites to own him their king.

And Abner had {f} communication with the elders of Israel, saying, Ye sought for David in times past to be king over you:

(f) Rather for malice that he bore toward Ishbosheth, than for love he bore to David.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
17. And Abner had communication] Better, Now Abner had had communication, previously to the occurrence related in 2 Samuel 3:15-16. The journey of 2 Samuel 3:16 to escort Michal terminates in the visit to Hebron of 2 Samuel 3:20.

with the elders of Israel] The authorities of the northern tribes as distinct from Judah. The elders were consulted as the representatives of the people. Cp. 1 Samuel 8:4, where see note on their various functions.

Ye sought for David, &c.] It appears from this that there had been from the first even among the northern tribes a party favourable to David, whose opposition had only been overcome by Abner’s strong will and vigorous efforts. This agrees with what we should naturally expect from the account of his popularity during Saul’s reign (1 Samuel 18:5).Verse 17. - And Abner had communication with the elders of Israel. Most probably this had taken place before Abner escorted Michal to Hebron, and that he paid David but one visit - that recorded in ver. 20. He would probably not take so decided a step as the surrender of Michal without sounding the elders, that is, the local sheikhs, and finding out how far they were inclined to support David as king of all Israel. When everything was ready he would take Michal to Hebron, and so have the opportunity of arranging with David for future action; and though Ishbosheth would dislike the matter and suspect Abner of ulterior purposes, yet he could not refuse so specious a plea as the escorting of his sister. His previous failure, too, had taught him that Abner was master. We may further be sure that David had everywhere many adherents. All Israel knew that he was marked out by prophecy to be their king, and, moreover, "all Israel and Judah loved him" (1 Samuel 18:16). But when Abner says, Ye sought for David in times past to be king over you, he makes it probable that, at some time after the defeat at Gilboa, the attempt had even been made to elect David king. But Abner had then opposed it, and his success in resisting the Philistines, and David's unfortunate entanglement with those inveterate enemies of Israel, had made the attempt fail. And now Abner's attempt was to be equally unsuccessful. Ishbosheth could make no reply to these words of Abner, "because he was afraid of him."
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