2 Samuel 3:31
And David said to Joab, and to all the people that were with him, Rend your clothes, and gird you with sackcloth, and mourn before Abner. And king David himself followed the bier.
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(31) Rend your clothes.—David commands a public mourning with the usual signs of rent clothes and sackcloth, and lays this command especially upon Joab, who is thus required, as it were, to do public penance for his act. David himself followed the bier as chief mourner.

2 Samuel 3:31. David said to Joab and all the people, &c. — The command was especially given to Joab, to bring him to repentance for his sin, and to expose him to public shame. Rend your clothes and gird you with sackcloth, &c. — These were all outward expressions of very great sorrow, which Joab himself was forced, however reluctant, to make a show of. And King David himself followed the bier — Was the chief mourner, attending upon the corpse, and paying Abner that respect which was due to his quality. Though this was contrary to 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. The word המשׂה, hammittah, here rendered the bier, properly means the bed. It was that on which persons of quality were wont to be carried forth to their graves, as ordinary people were upon what we call a bier.

3:22-39 Judgments are prepared for such scorners as Abner; but Joab, in what he did, acted wickedly. David laid Abner's murder deeply to heart, and in many ways expressed his detestation of it. The guilt of blood brings a curse upon families: if men do not avenge it, God will. It is a sad thing to die like a fool, as they do that any way shorten their own days, and those who make no provision for another world. Who would be fond of power, when a man may have the name of it, and must be accountable for it, yet is hampered in the use of it? David ought to have done his duty, and then trusted God with the issue. Carnal policy spared Joab. The Son of David may long delay, but never fails to punish impenitent sinners. He who now reigns upon the throne of David, has a kingdom of a nobler kind. Whatever He doeth, is noticed by all his willing people, and is pleasing to them.The curse of David proves that Joab was not justified as blood-revenger or Goel 2 Samuel 3:27 in taking away Abner's life.

That leaneth on a staff - Rather, a crutch. The phrase denotes one lame or infirm. For similar instances of hereditary disease and poverty as a punishment of great sin, see 1 Samuel 2:31-33, 1 Samuel 2:36; 2 Kings 5:27; John 9:2.

31. David said to Joab, and to all the people that were with him, Rend your clothes, and gird you with sackcloth—David's sorrow was sincere and profound, and he took occasion to give it public expression by the funeral honors he appointed for Abner.

King David himself followed the bier—a sort of wooden frame, partly resembling a coffin, and partly a hand-barrow.

David said to Joab; him he especially obliged to it; partly to bring him to repentance for his sin; partly to expose him to public shame, and to the contempt and hatred of all the people, with whom he had too great an interest, which hereby David designed to diminish.

Mourn before Abner, i.e. attending upon his corpse, and paying him that respect and honour which was due to his quality.

King David himself followed the bier; which was against the usage of kings, and might seem below David’s dignity; but it was now expedient, to vindicate himself from all suspicion and contrivance or concurrence in this action.

And David said to Joab, and to all the people that were with him,.... To his whole court, Joab being present: for he did not flee, nor was he laid hold on in order to be brought to justice; which shows how great his power was, and that he was too hard for David, as in 2 Samuel 3:39; however this he did, he enjoined his whole court, and Joab also, to express public mourning on this account:

rend your clothes and gird you with sackcloth; which were expressions of mourning used on various occasions, and on account of the dead, and which with the Heathens were carried to a greater excess, even to the tearing of their flesh:

and mourn before Abner; before his corpse, as carried to the grave, when it was usual to make great lamentations: see Acts 8:2,

and King David himself followed the bier; or "bed" (l) on which his body was laid, and carried to the grave. On these the rich and noble among the Greeks and Romans were carried, and those of the meaner sort on biers (n); and so with the Jews; See Gill on Luke 7:14; some of which were gilded with gold, and were made of ivory, and had ivory feet (o); that of Herod's was all of gold, inlaid with precious stones, and the body covered with purple, and followed by his sons and kindred, the soldiers going before armed, and their leaders following (p); the bier or bed with the Romans was sometimes carried by six persons, sometimes by eight or more (q). It was not usual for kings, as the Jews say (r), to attend a funeral, to go out of the doors of their palace after their own dead, and much less others; but David did this to satisfy the people, and to root out of their mind all suspicion of his having any hand in Abner's death; and to show that he was not slain by his will, and with his consent.

(l) , Sept. "lectum", Piscator. (n) Salmuth. ad Pancirol. par. 1. tit. 62. p. 343. Kirchman. de Funer. Roman. l. 2. c. 9. p. 375. (o) Alstorph. de lect. vet. c. 19. p. 149. (p) Joseph. de Bello Jud. l. 1. c. 33. sect. 9. (q) Kirchman. ut supra. (de Funer. Roman. l. 2. c. 9. p. 375.) (r) Misn. Sanhedrin, c. 2. sect. 3. Maimon in Hilchot Ebel. c. 7. sect. 7. David de Pomis, Lexic. fol. 119. 4.

And David said to Joab, and to all the people that were with him, Rend your clothes, and gird you with sackcloth, and mourn {m} before Abner. And king David himself followed the bier.

(m) Meaning before the corpse.

31–39. David’s lamentation for Abner

31. gird you with sackcloth] The practice of wearing garments of the coarse dark hair-cloth used for making sacks as a sign of mourning was very ancient (Genesis 37:34). In cases of extreme grief or humiliation they were worn next the skin, but ordinarily outside the usual tunic.

mourn before Abner] Preceding the bier in the funeral procession.

Verse 31. - David said to Joab. The excuse of the blood feud made it impossible for David to punish Joab further than by depriving him of his command; but he made him condemn his own deed by taking part in the public mourning for the man he had murdered. This mourning consisted in going in solemn procession, clad in sackcloth, before Abner's body, carried on a bier to the grave, while David followed as chief mourner; and the emphatic way in which he is called King David suggests the thought that he went in royal state, so as to give all possible dignity to the funeral. His tears and lamentations with uplifted voice were so genuine and hearty as to move the people to a similar outburst of grief. But while all those at Hebron had proof that David was innocent, the people generally would know only that, when Abner was escorting the king's wife back to him, and arranging for his election to rule over all Israel, he was treacherously murdered at the gate of Hebron by one who was chief over David's army and also his nephew. 2 Samuel 3:31David's mourning for Abner's death. - 2 Samuel 3:31, 2 Samuel 3:32. To give a public proof of his grief at this murder, and his displeasure at the crime in the sight of all the nation, David commanded Joab, and all the people with him (David), i.e., all his courtiers, and the warriors who returned with Joab, to institute a public mourning for the deceased, by tearing their clothes, putting on sackcloth, i.e., coarse hairy mourning and penitential clothes, and by a funeral dirge for Abner; i.e., he commanded them to walk in front of Abner's bier mourning and in funeral costume, and to accompany the deceased to his resting-place, whilst David as king followed the bier.
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