The People's Bible by Joseph Parker
And it came to pass after this, that David inquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah? And the LORD said unto him, Go up. And David said, Whither shall I go up? And he said, Unto Hebron.2 Samuel 2
1. And it came to pass after this, that David enquired of the Lord [through the high priest Abiathar], saying, Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah? And the Lord said unto him, Go up. And David said, Whither shall I go up? And he said, Unto Hebron [long the residence of Abraham].
2. So David went up thither, and his two wives also, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail Nabal's wife the Carmelite.
3. And his [six hundred] men that were with him did David bring up, every man with his household: and they dwelt in the cities of Hebron.
4. And the men of Judah came, and there they [publicly] anointed David king over the house of Judah. And they told David, saying, That the men of Jabesh-gilead were they that buried Saul. [Jabesh-gilead had been destroyed in the civil war against the tribe of Benjamin.]
5. ¶ And David sent messengers unto the men of Jabesh-gilead, and said unto them, Blessed be ye of the Lord, that ye have shewed this kindness unto your lord, even unto Saul, and have buried him.
6. And now the Lord shew kindness and truth unto you: and I also will requite you this kindness [lit. I also will shew you this good], because ye have done this thing.
7. Therefore now let your hands be strengthened, and be ye valiant: for your master Saul is dead, and also the house of Judah have anointed me king over them.
8. ¶ But Abner [the cousin-german of Saul] the son of Ner, captain of Saul's host, took Ish-bosheth the son of Saul, and brought him over to Mahanaim [famous in the history of Jacob: on the east of the Jordan, and not far from the brook Jabbok];
9. And made him king over Gilead, and over the Ashurites, and over Jezreel, and over Ephraim, and over Benjamin, and over all Israel.
10. Ish-bosheth Saul's son was forty years old when he began to reign over Israel, and reigned two years. But the house of Judah followed David.
11. And the time that David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months.
12. ¶ And Abner the son of Ner, and the servants of Ish-bosheth the son of Saul, went out from Mahanaim to Gibeon [five and a half miles north-west of Jerusalem].
13. And Joab the son of Zeruiah [Zeruiah was David's sister], and the servants of David, went out, and met together by the pool of Gibeon [the ruins of this tank or reservoir yet remain, about 120 feet long and 100 broad]: and they sat down, the one on the one side of the pool, and the other on the other side of the pool.
14. And Abner said to Joab, Let the young men now arise, and play before us. And Joab said, Let them arise.
15. Then there arose and went over by number twelve of Benjamin, which pertained to Ish-bosheth the son of Saul, and twelve of the servants of David.
16. And they caught every one his fellow by the head, and thrust his sword in his fellow's side; so they fell down together: wherefore that place was called Helkath-hazzurim [the field of sharp edges], which is in Gibeon.
17. And there was a very sore battle that day [nineteen slain on David's side, and 360 on the side of Israel]; and Abner was beaten, and the men of Israel, before the servants of David.
18. ¶ And there were three sons of Zeruiah there, Joab, and Abishai, and Asahel: and Asahel was as light of foot as a wild roe.
19. And Asahel pursued after Abner; and in going he turned not to the right hand nor to the left from following Abner.
20. Then Abner looked behind him, and said, Art thou Asahel? And he answered, I am.
21. And Abner said to him, Turn thee aside to thy right hand or to thy left, and lay thee hold on one of the young men, and take thee his armour. But Asahel would not turn aside from following of him.
22. And Abner said again to Asahel, Turn thee aside from following me: wherefore should I smite thee to the ground? how then should I hold up my face to Joab thy brother?
23. Howbeit he refused to turn aside: wherefore Abner with the hinder end of the spear smote him under the fifth rib [abdomen], that the spear came out behind him; and he fell down there, and died in the same place: and it came to pass, that as many as came to the place where Asahel fell down and died stood still.
24. Joab also and Abishai pursued after Abner: and the sun went down when they were come to the hill of Ammah, that lieth before Giah by the way of the wilderness of Gibeon.
25. ¶ And the children of Benjamin gathered themselves together after Abner, and became one troop, and stood on the top of an hill.
26. Then Abner called to Joab, and said, Shall the sword devour for ever? knowest thou not that it will be bitterness in the latter end? how long shall it be then, ere thou bid the people return from following their brethren?
27. And Joab said, As God liveth, unless thou hadst spoken, surely then in the morning the people had gone up every one from following his brother.
28. So Joab blew a trumpet, and all the people stood still, and pursued after Israel no more, neither fought they any more [in that campaign].
29. And Abner and his men walked all that night through the plain, and passed over Jordan, and went through all Bithron, and they came to Mahanaim.
30. And Joab returned [to Gibeon, where he rallied his men, and buried the dead] from following Abner: and when he had gathered all the people together, there lacked of David's servants nineteen men and Asahel.
31. But the servants of David had smitten of Benjamin, and of Abner's men so that three hundred and threescore men died.
32. ¶ And they took up Asahel [nearly related to David], and buried him in the sepulchre of his father, which was in Bethlehem. And Joab and his men went all night, and they came to Hebron at break of day [the distance from Bethlehem to Hebron was about thirteen miles].
But Abner the son of Ner, captain of Saul's host, took Ishbosheth the son of Saul, and brought him over to Mahanaim;"Handfuls of Purpose"
For All Gleaners
"But Abner the son of Ner."—2Samuel 2:8.
Eccentric men there will always be in society. The word "But" marks Abner as taking a course of his own, and doing that which was pleasing in his own sight. He did not take the common course. Whilst David was being made king at Hebron, Abner the son of Ner, captain of Saul's host, took Ish-bosheth and made him king over Gilead, and over the Ashurites, and over Jezreel, and over Ephraim, and over Benjamin, and over all Israel. The local limitations of the text are evident, but the moral suggestion is applicable to a large sphere of life. Eccentricity is not always to be blamed. There are some great enough, or small enough, to differ from everybody; they must always have their own course, their own idea, their own way of doing things. Let all workers go on together or separately, as may appear best to them, always remembering, however, that the judgment is at the end, and that the judgment is with God. Sometimes eccentricity is a great blessing in the Church; it destroys monotony, it stimulates inquiry, it rebukes the spirit of infallibility. In the end we shall know who is right and who is wrong. Much time is often wasted by those who differ from the general judgment, and yet that time, though lost, may not be wholly wasted. The majority should sometimes think of its own fallibility. Men are not necessarily right simply because they are parts of an overwhelming multitude. Sometimes the solitary thinker is entrusted with divine stewardship. Often, indeed, the minority has been right in history, and the majority has been wrong. Men should not be eccentric merely for the sake of singularity. That would be mere frivolity, sheer folly, and would end in mischief and disaster. No individual conscience contains the whole sense of righteousness. Conscience, like reason, is the better for friction. There is a quality of righteousness, there is a quality of wisdom, there is a quality of strength,—and this quality can only be realised by intercommunion, by frank and generous interchange of thought and feeling.
Then Abner called to Joab, and said, Shall the sword devour for ever? knowest thou not that it will be bitterness in the latter end? how long shall it be then, ere thou bid the people return from following their brethren?"Handfuls of Purpose"
For All Gleaners
"Knowest thou not that it will be bitterness in the latter end?"—2Samuel 2:26.
Here we have an inquiry which ought to be put under all circumstances that are doubtful, and especially under all circumstances that are marked by selfishness or disregard of the interests of others. The question never is, what is the present feeling, but what will be the ultimate condition. There is night as well as morning, and the darkness must be considered as certainly as the light. What do things grow to? What is the latter end? "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." If a man sow good seed he will reap good fruit. He who sows the wind will reap the whirlwind. This question may be put to every man who is pursuing evil courses:—Say to the indolent, "Knowest thou not that it will be bitterness in the latter end?"—say to the drunkard the same thing; say to the debauchee, whose whole thought is taken up with the satisfaction of his passions, the same thing; say also to the gambler, the adventurer, to the man who is boasting immediate success founded upon immoral courses, "Knowest thou not that it will be bitterness in the latter end?" Remind every one that there is a latter end; that there is a war in which there is no discharge; that there is an audit in which we must give up every account, every voucher, and undergo divine judgment. The whole of our life should be conducted under the consciousness of its latter end. This need not becloud our prospects, depress our spirits, or take the inspiration out of our action: a man may so contemplate his latter end as to know nothing of melancholy; he may rather see in it the beginning of the blessedness that is pure and immortal. We shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ. God will bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be bad. Men should always ask themselves this question—"Is it right to obey man rather than God? "Obedience to God may mean present bitterness, present disappointment, and present humiliation, but yet there will be no bitterness in the latter end, only a sweetness as of honey, yea, as of the honeycomb. O that men were wise, that they might know these things, that they would consider their latter end
And Abner and his men walked all that night through the plain, and passed over Jordan, and went through all Bithron, and they came to Mahanaim."Handfuls of Purpose"
For All Gleaners
"And Abner and his men walked all that night through the plain."—2Samuel 2:29.
We should remind ourselves of such events in order that we may see what has been accomplished by military discipline, by the subordination of merely personal whims and desires. Even conquerors have no easy time in life. We think of success, of triumph, of coronation, but we forget that before these things, and as necessary to them, there must be discipline, suffering, loss, trial of every kind. We read with glowing hearts the accounts of explorers, discoverers, adventurers, who have gone into regions unknown and undreamedof; and here, again, we forget the night watchings, the night marchings, the continual perils and difficulties of the road. The Apostle Paul makes use of all this aspect of discipline, saying, "They do it to obtain a corruptible crown," and his argument is that if men will do so much for a crown that must fade, what ought they to do who are struggling for a crown eternal? If men are so anxious to win the prizes of earth, what ought they to be to win the infinitely greater prizes of heaven? Self-denial is not confined to Christian experience. Whoever would be great in any department or relation of life must know the pain of self-mortification—must, in other words, achieve the mastery over himself—must, so to say, stand upon himself in an attitude of triumph. We cannot dream ourselves into heaven, nor can we dream ourselves into any form of greatness that is really worthy of realisation. Strait is the gate and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life,—into life of every kind, of eminence, of usefulness, of truest pleasure, and most lasting renown.