2 Samuel 2:8
Meanwhile, Abner son of Ner, the commander of Saul's army, took Saul's son Ish-bosheth, moved him to Mahanaim,
Isbosheth and AbnerA. Maclaren, D. D.2 Samuel 2:8
Strength and WeaknessH. E. Stone.2 Samuel 2:1-32
Attempts At Conciliation DefeatedW. G. Blaikie, M. A.2 Samuel 2:5-32
Opposition to the Divine PurposeB. Dale 2 Samuel 2:8-12
2 Samuel 2:8-12. - (MAHANAIM.)
The purpose of God, to make David king over his people, was as yet only in part accomplished; and its fulfilment was opposed by Abner (1 Samuel 14:50; 1 Samuel 17:55; 1 Samuel 20:25; 1 Samuel 26:5) on behalf of "the house of Saul." Having escaped from the battle of Gilboa, he "took Ishbosheth, the son of Saul" (a man of feeble character, and fitted to become a tool in his hands), "and brought him over to Mahanaim, and made him king over Gilead," etc. After five years of great exertions (while David reigned peacefully at Hebron) he drove the Philistines out of the country, openly proclaimed Ishbosheth (now forty years old) "king over all Israel," and "went out from Mahanaim to Gibeon" with the view of subjecting Judah to his sway. His principal motive was the desire of maintaining and increasing his own power. "He was angry that this tribe had set up David for their king" (Josephus). His conduct was "not only a continuation of the hostility of Saul towards David, but also an open act of rebellion against Jehovah" (Keil), whose purpose, as well as the wish of the elders of Israel, he well knew, as he afterwards acknowledged (2 Samuel 3:17, 18). His opposition represents and illustrates that of men to the purposes of God generally, and more especially to his purpose, that Christ shall reign over them and all mankind; of which observe that -

I. IT IS PLAINLY REVEALED. By the testimony of:

1. The Divine Word (1 Samuel 16:1). "To him give all the prophets witness," etc. (Acts 10:43; 1 Peter 1:11).

2. Significant events, in confirmation of the Word; the overthrow of adversaries, the exaltation of "his Chosen," the growth of his power (Acts 2:22-24).

3. The irresistible convictions of reason and conscience, and the confessions which even opponents have been constrained to make. Abner was present when Saul said, "Thou shalt both do great things and shalt also still prevail" (1 Samuel 26:25). His opposition was therefore inexcusable. "While men go on in their sins, apparently without concern, they are often conscious that they are fighting against God" (Scott).

II. IT MAY BE WICKEDLY OPPOSED (in virtue of the freedom which, within certain limits, men possess) because of:

1. The delusions of unbelief. The tempter whispers as of old, "Yea, hath God said?" (Genesis 3:1); they "wilfully forget" what has taken place (2 Peter 3:5); "neither will they be persuaded" of the truth and obligation of the Word of God (Luke 16:31).

2. The plea of present expediency, and the expectation that, if they must submit, there will come a "more convenient season" for doing so. Abner thought "that he might be able, upon better terms, to make his peace with David when the time should come that the Lord was to advance him to be ruler over all Israel" (Chandler).

3. Selfishness, pride, and ambition; the love of pleasure and power, the habit of self-will, the self-confidence engendered by success, "the mind of the flesh," which "is enmity against God. Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost" (Acts 7:51).

III. IT CANNOT BE EFFECTUALLY DEFEATED. "He must reign," in fulfilment of the Divine decree (Psalm 2:7; Psalm 110:1), which:

1. Changes not. "The Strength of Israel will not lie, nor repent" (1 Samuel 15:29).

2. Is effected by infinite wisdom and might, against which the skill and strength of men contend in vain.

3. Comes to pass either with or without their will, in mercy or in judgment, in the salvation of the penitent or the destruction of the persistently rebellious "These mine enemies which would not that I should reign over them bring hither and slay them before me" (Luke 19:27). - D.

Saul's son was a poor, weak creature, who would never have thought of resisting David but for the stronger will behind him. To be weak is, in this world full of tempters, to drift into being wicked. We have to learn betimes to say "No," and to stick to it. Moral weakness attracts tempters as surely as a camel fallen by the caravan track draws vultures from every corner of the sky. The fierce soldier who fought for his own hand while professing to be moved by loyalty to the dead king, may stand as a type of the self-deception with which we gloss over our ugliest selfishness with fine names, and for an instance of the madness which leads men to set themselves against God's plans, and therefore to be dashed in pieces, as some slim barrier reared across the track of a train would be. To "rush against the thick bosses of the Almighty's buckler" does no harm to the buckler, but kills the insane assailant.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

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