2 Samuel 3 — God-Hearted #17 — The Unstoppable God


  • Theme: Though Saul’s house attempted to thwart David’s rise, nothing could prevent it, for God are his plan is unstoppable.
    • 1 He will not be stopped by David’s imperfections.
    • 2 He will not be stopped by Abner’s evil plans.
    • 3 He will not be stopped when people rebel against his plan.
    • 4 He will not be stopped when the ugliness of humanity arises.

1 He Uses Flawed People For His Glory (1-5)

1 There was a long war between the house of Saul and the house of David. And David grew stronger and stronger, while the house of Saul became weaker and weaker.

  • 1 This next episode in David’s life has the backdrop of the seven and a half years he was only king of Judah, and not all of Israel. It was a tumultuous time, evidenced by a long war between the house of Saul and the house of David.
    • There is a war raging inside every believer, every church, and every community. Will Christ’s house grow stronger and stronger, as David’s did? Will the flesh grow weaker and weaker, as Saul’s house did?
    • Galatians 5:16–17 (ESV) — 16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

2 And sons were born to David at Hebron: his firstborn was Amnon, of Ahinoam of Jezreel; 3 and his second, Chileab, of Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel; and the third, Absalom the son of Maacah the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur; 4 and the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; and the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital; 5 and the sixth, Ithream, of Eglah, David’s wife. These were born to David in Hebron.

  • 2-5 We recall how God called David to set up his home and throne in Hebron (2 Samuel 2:1). There, the record tells us, David had at least six sons.
  • 2-5 When David came to Hebron, he brought with him two wives, Ahinoam (Amnon’s mother) and Abigail (Chileab’s mother). But once in Hebron, David acquired more wives: Maacah (Absalom’s mother), Haggith (Adonijah’s mother), Abital (Shephatiah’s mother), and Eglah (Ithream’s mother). And later in this same chapter, David will be reunited to his first wife, Michal (14-16).
    • These details are important, for the reader needs to follow the royal line.
    • But this detail is also discouraging, for it shows us that David multiplied wives for himself.
      • As king, particularly, David knew better — Deuteronomy 17:17 (ESV) — 17 And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away…
  • Polygamy in the Bible.
    • This was not normative in Scripture, as some would suggest.
      • Lamech (Genesis 4) was the first to engage in this sinful practice.
      • Not classic polygamy:
        • Abraham and Sarah and Hagar.
        • Jacob and Rachel, Leah, and their maidservants (Bilhah and Zilpah).
      • David knew better, for the word particularly forbade him, as King, from multiplying wives for himself.
        • That said, some of this might have been customary and political.
      • Solomon.
    • The biblical norm, even in the Old Testament era, was covenantal marriage between a man and woman.
      • In fact, it is never depicted in a positive light, and it is never held out as an eternal goal.
        • Christ: Matthew 22:30 (ESV) — 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.
      • But David was in sin here.

God uses flawed people for his glory.

  • We should not think of the blessings poured out on David’s reign as a response to David’s goodness, but God’s.
    • God used David, though flawed.
  • God uses flawed people for his glory.
    • He can use flawed humans.
    • He can use flawed doctrines.
    • He can use flawed methodologies.
    • He can use flawed denominations.
  • This does not mean God completely overlooked David’s trespass, for David paid dearly for this sin.
    • And it cost him dearly.
      • Amnon raped his half-sister, Tamar, and was killed by Absalom.
      • Chileab may have died before adulthood.
      • Absalom would nearly succeed in stealing the throne from David.
      • Adonijah would try to steal David’s throne when David neared death.
        • In a sense, this genealogy might be a warning about the mature content to follow, all the pain David would endure.
  • Acts 4:13 (ESV) — 13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.
  • Story: Nate the introvert, but called to pastor, spending much time on the platform.

2 He Can Turn Evil Plans For Good (6-11)

6 While there was war between the house of Saul and the house of David, Abner was making himself strong in the house of Saul. 7 Now Saul had a concubine whose name was Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah. And Ish-bosheth said to Abner, “Why have you gone in to my father’s concubine?” 8 Then Abner was very angry over the words of Ish-bosheth and said, “Am I a dog’s head of Judah? To this day I keep showing steadfast love to the house of Saul your father, to his brothers, and to his friends, and have not given you into the hand of David. And yet you charge me today with a fault concerning a woman. 9 God do so to Abner and more also, if I do not accomplish for David what the LORD has sworn to him, 10 to transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul and set up the throne of David over Israel and over Judah, from Dan to Beersheba.” 11 And Ish-bosheth could not answer Abner another word, because he feared him.

  • 6-7 During the long war between the two houses, Abner was making himself strong in the house of Saul. It appears he attempted to do this by claiming one of Saul’s concubines, a woman named Rizpah, for himself. It was common in those days to attempt to consolidate power through marriage and sexual relationships. In a later episode, we will discover this in a grotesque way, when David’s son Absalom goes into his father’s concubines in front of all Israel (see 2 Samuel 16:20-23). Ish-bosheth, Saul’s son, accused Abner of this treason by asking, ”Why have you gone in to my father’s concubine?”
  • 8-10 Abner was infuriated over the words of Ish-bosheth, claiming all he had ever given was steadfast love to Saul’s house, brothers, and friends. He also, in a veiled threat, pointed out that he had not given Ish-bosheth over to the hand of David. But now, Abner swore, he would accomplish for David what the LORD had sworn to him, to transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul to David.
  • 11 Ish-bosheth, fearing Abner greatly, could not answer Abner another word.

God can turn evil plans for good.

  • Abner’s own plan was turned on its head.
  • Romans 8:26 (ESV) — 26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
    • Earlier in Romans 8, both creation and we groan because of imperfection (the lack of glory) in us.
    • But now the Spirit intercedes for us in the Godhead as he fights for glory and maturity to come into our lives.
  • Romans 8:27 (ESV) — 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
    • God searches the seat of man’s emotions and intellect (mind). God searches and knows man. God certainly knows his own Spirit.
      • Conclusion: The Spirit is in communion with the Father about you!
  • Romans 8:28 (ESV) — 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
    • This is a result of the Spirit and Father’s intercession.
    • All things work together for good: Like a pharmacist putting in various medicines (shake the bottle), God uses the “all things” of life for the good of His children.
    • Examples in Scripture:
      • David — Saul (character) / Church — Persecution (spread of gospel) / Philip — desert calling (Ethiopian eunuch) / Naomi — when others sinned (line of Christ) / Job — suffered immensely (Job 42:10 the Lord restored)
      • Jospeh: Genesis 50:20 (ESV)—20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
      • The Cross: Acts 2:23 (ESV)—23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.
    • We don’t know how God will work all things together for good.
      • Usually a teaching on Romans 8:28 includes marvelous stories of a tragedy turning out well in the end (i.e. Beethoven losing his hearing, Louis Braille losing his sight).
      • Don’t try to explain the unexplainable. You don’t know that a better fiancé/job/house is coming…

3 He Can Bring People Into Line With His Purposes (12-19)

12 And Abner sent messengers to David on his behalf, saying, “To whom does the land belong? Make your covenant with me, and behold, my hand shall be with you to bring over all Israel to you.” 13 And he said, “Good; I will make a covenant with you. But one thing I require of you; that is, you shall not see my face unless you first bring Michal, Saul’s daughter, when you come to see my face.” 14 Then David sent messengers to Ish-bosheth, Saul’s son, saying, “Give me my wife Michal, for whom I paid the bridal price of a hundred foreskins of the Philistines.” 15 And Ish-bosheth sent and took her from her husband Paltiel the son of Laish. 16 But her husband went with her, weeping after her all the way to Bahurim. Then Abner said to him, “Go, return.” And he returned.

17 And Abner conferred with the elders of Israel, saying, “For some time past you have been seeking David as king over you. 18 Now then bring it about, for the LORD has promised David, saying, ‘By the hand of my servant David I will save my people Israel from the hand of the Philistines, and from the hand of all their enemies.’ ” 19 Abner also spoke to Benjamin. And then Abner went to tell David at Hebron all that Israel and the whole house of Benjamin thought good to do. 20 When Abner came with twenty men to David at Hebron, David made a feast for Abner and the men who were with him. 21 And Abner said to David, “I will arise and go and will gather all Israel to my lord the king, that they may make a covenant with you, and that you may reign over all that your heart desires.” So David sent Abner away, and he went in peace.

  • 12 So Abner sent messenger to David in order to arrange a covenant. He promised, through the messengers, that he would bring over all Israel to David.
  • 13-16 David, thinking this development good, made one condition, that Abner deliver Michal, Saul’s daughter back to him as his wife.
    • This might have been David’s way of gaining a right to Saul’s throne.
    • Ish-bosheth, powerless at this point, relented and took her from her current husband Paltiel. Paltiel went along weeping after her until Abner said to him, “Go, return.”
  • 17-19 Abner then conferred with the elders of Israel, and then later focused on the tribe of Benjamin. His appeal was fascinating, for he said, ”For some time past you have been seeking David as king over you. Now then bring it about, for the LORD has promised David, saying, ‘By the hand of my servant David I will save my people from…all their enemies.’” In his earlier conversation with Ish-bosheth, Abner also inferred that God had made a promise to David which he knew about (9).
  • 20-21 Finally, Abner came with twenty men to David at Hebron. David made a feast for Abner and the men who were with him where Abner told David he would gather all Israel to David as their new king. David then sent Abner away, and he went in peace.

God can bring people into line with his purpose.

  • Abner knew God’s plan, but resisted it (9-10, 18).
    • 2 Samuel 2:9–10 (ESV) — 9 and he made him king over Gilead and the Ashurites and Jezreel and Ephraim and Benjamin and all Israel. 10 Ish-bosheth, Saul’s son, was forty years old when he began to reign over Israel, and he reigned two years. But the house of Judah followed David.
    • 2 Samuel 2:18 (ESV) — 18 And the three sons of Zeruiah were there, Joab, Abishai, and Asahel. Now Asahel was as swift of foot as a wild gazelle.
  • Jesus to Pilate: John 19:10–11 (ESV) — 10 So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” 11 Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.”
  • God is persistent.
    • Example: Persistence hunters — God is persistent.
    • Story: Many of us here today. Many we know and pray for.
    • Psalm 2:1–2 (ESV) — 1 Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying,

4 He Demonstrates The Beauty Of Holiness By Contrasting It With The Ugliness Of Sin (22-39)

22 Just then the servants of David arrived with Joab from a raid, bringing much spoil with them. But Abner was not with David at Hebron, for he had sent him away, and he had gone in peace. 23 When Joab and all the army that was with him came, it was told Joab, “Abner the son of Ner came to the king, and he has let him go, and he has gone in peace.” 24 Then Joab went to the king and said, “What have you done? Behold, Abner came to you. Why is it that you have sent him away, so that he is gone? 25 You know that Abner the son of Ner came to deceive you and to know your going out and your coming in, and to know all that you are doing.”

  • 22 The story unfolds to tell us that ”just then”, right at the moment Abner departed (not an hour later or an hour earlier), the servants of David arrived with Joab from a raid.
  • 23-25 Immediately, the entire situation with Abner and David was told Joab. He rebuked the king with his line of questioning (What have you done?). He told David Abner was only their to deceive him and gather intelligence.

26 When Joab came out from David’s presence, he sent messengers after Abner, and they brought him back from the cistern of Sirah. But David did not know about it. 27 And when Abner returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside into the midst of the gate to speak with him privately, and there he struck him in the stomach, so that he died, for the blood of Asahel his brother. 28 Afterward, when David heard of it, he said, “I and my kingdom are forever guiltless before the LORD for the blood of Abner the son of Ner. 29 May it fall upon the head of Joab and upon all his father’s house, and may the house of Joab never be without one who has a discharge or who is leprous or who holds a spindle or who falls by the sword or who lacks bread!” 30 So Joab and Abishai his brother killed Abner, because he had put their brother Asahel to death in the battle at Gibeon.

  • 26-27 Joab then sent messengers after Abner, so Abner returned to Hebron for a second meeting. Privately, Joab took him aside and murdered him, striking him in the stomach, the same place Asahel had been struck by Abner. In all this David did not know about it.
  • 28-30 When David heard of it, he quickly announced his own innocence and the innocence of his kingdom. He announced that the blood of Abner would not fall upon his house, but the head of Joab and all his father’s house. Bloodguilt was a big deal to Israel, especially since Joab had killed Abner in a city of refuge, Hebron, a place he should have been safe.

31 Then David said to Joab and to all the people who were with him, “Tear your clothes and put on sackcloth and mourn before Abner.” And King David followed the bier. 32 They buried Abner at Hebron. And the king lifted up his voice and wept at the grave of Abner, and all the people wept. 33 And the king lamented for Abner, saying, “Should Abner die as a fool dies? 34 Your hands were not bound; your feet were not fettered; as one falls before the wicked you have fallen.” And all the people wept again over him. 35 Then all the people came to persuade David to eat bread while it was yet day. But David swore, saying, “God do so to me and more also, if I taste bread or anything else till the sun goes down!” 36 And all the people took notice of it, and it pleased them, as everything that the king did pleased all the people. 37 So all the people and all Israel understood that day that it had not been the king’s will to put to death Abner the son of Ner. 38 And the king said to his servants, “Do you not know that a prince and a great man has fallen this day in Israel? 39 And I was gentle today, though anointed king. These men, the sons of Zeruiah, are more severe than I. The LORD repay the evildoer according to his wickedness!”

  • 31-35 Then David initiated a public funeral with which to honor Abner.
    • Elements of Abner’s funeral:
      • 1 David commanded Joab Joab, along with all the people to tear their clothes and put on sackcloth.
      • 2 David followed the coffin.
      • 3 David buried Abner in Hebron, David’s city.
      • 4 David wept aloud.
      • 5 David authored a lamentation for Abner.
      • 6 David self-imposed a day-long fast for Abner.
  • 36-37 All the people took notice of David’s response to Abner’s death, and it pleased them, as everything that the king did pleased all the people. Everyone knew it had not been the king’s will to put to death Abner.
  • 38-39 David went further by appealing to his servants, proclaiming that a prince and a great man had fallen that day. He pointed out that he was gentle, but the sons of Zeruiah were more severe than he.

God demonstrates the beauty of holiness by contrasting it with the ugliness of sin.

  • Joab vs. David.
  • Jesus vs. Humanity!
  • The Cross!