The following commentary covers Chapters 3 and 4.
and Abner: nature and its pretended rights
Alas! the history of this
period plunges us into the ways of man. It is no longer
merely David walking in the path of faith. It is Joab, a
clever, ambitious, bloody-minded, and heartless man. It
is Abner, a man morally superior to Joab, but who fights
on fleshly principles as a party man against the king
whom God has chosen. Abner is related to Ishbosheth as
Joab is to David. When his pride has been wounded, he
throws himself into David's interests, and Joab kills him
as much from jealousy as to avenge his brother's death.
And wherein is the prowess and valour of the chiefs of
Benjamin and Judah now manifested in this "field of
strong men"? In slaying each other. The Philistines
were forgotten. But the family of Saul were entirely in
the wrong. It was nature which, with its pretended rights,
would not submit to God and to His will.
As David now begins to do,
so will Christ, the King of Judah, bring all around into
subjection to Himself after He has taken the throne.
It is well however to
observe, that David does not appear in all this. Joab is
the actor; and it appears to me, from the details given,
that evil had already begun. I do not see that David had
sought counsel of Jehovah; and Joab had certainly not
done so, for he was nothing more than an ungodly man, who
understood that it was more prudent to honour God, and
not to depart too far from Him merely to gratify one's
passions; but this did not preserve him from being at
length ensnared in his own calculations. And, after all,
it is not the energy of Joab which puts the kingdom into
David's hands but the wounded pride of Abner, the chief
of Ishbosheth's party, who ends by reaping from men that
which he had sown. But all this is very sad.
typifies Christ: historically he exhibits the weakness of
By providential means God
accomplishes His purposes, and David is successful.
Generally also, in his combats at this period, and in his
exaltation, he typifies the Lord Jesus. And I doubt not
that the establishment of Christ's kingdom will be
accomplished in detail after His appearing; the
prophecies of Zechariah and Micah 5 prove this; but, as a
history, we are, as I have said, in the midst of men. In
the matter of Ishbosheth's death David maintains his
integrity; and with respect to Abner's assassination he
manifests the sentiments which become a man of God.
Nevertheless chapter 3: 39 exhibits the weakness of man
as the instrument of God's government. David appeals to
the God of judgment.
The election of one in
whom God's counsels are accomplished must necessarily
take place before his establishment in the place which
Jehovah had appointed. It is still more evident that this
election precedes the rest of the chosen one, and this is
true as to Christ Himself; only He came down into it in