Including Part 2…

 

 

Video Sermons: Abner, the Kingmaker (Parts 1 & 2) — Continuing Study in 2 Samuel

 

Speaker, Alistair Begg

Sermons were given on Sunday morning and evening services, November 8th, 2020, at Parkside Church

With complete transcripts

Video and the full transcript of Part 2 follow Part 1.

 

Abner, the Kingmaker — Part One

2 Samuel 3:1-11

Second Samuel 3 relates a story charged with ambition, sex, power, and politics. Arrogantly fancying himself the kingmaker, Saul’s army commander, Abner, defected to David’s expanding dynasty. Yet David’s imperfect, convoluted path to the throne wasn’t the result of human calculation or manipulation. Rather, God was accomplishing His plan despite, and even through, the messy circumstances. As Alistair Begg points out, only when God’s love is revealed and we believe in Jesus can we take our place on the right side of history.

http://VIDEO URL

Sermon Transcript:

I invite you to turn with me to 2 Samuel and to chapter 3 and to follow along as I read from the beginning through to verse 21. Second Samuel chapter 3, and reading from the first verse:

“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.

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

“While there was war between the house of Saul and the house of David, Abner was making himself strong in the house of Saul. 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?’ 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. God do so to Abner and more also, if I do not accomplish for David what the Lord has sworn to him, 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.’ And Ish-bosheth could not answer Abner another word, because he feared him.

“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.’ 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.’ 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.’ And Ish-bosheth sent and took her from her husband Paltiel the son of Laish. But her husband went with her, weeping after her all the way to Bahurim. Then Abner said to him, ‘Go, return.’ And he returned.

“And Abner conferred with the elders of Israel, saying, ‘For some time past you have been seeking David as [a] 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 Israel from the hand of the Philistines, and from the hand of all their enemies.”’ 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.

“When Abner came with twenty men to David at Hebron, David made a feast for Abner and the men who were with him. 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.”

Amen.

Father, we pray that as we turn now to the Bible, that we may once again find in the Lord Jesus Christ all that we need for life and for eternity and strength and security in the variety of our days. Meet with us, we pray. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Well, we’ve made it to chapter 3 of 2 Samuel, and the big question, actually, coming out of 2 and into 3 is, who is going to be the king? Who will finally come out on top as we realize what has taken place?

In the fifteenth century in England—actually, beginning on the twenty-second of May in 1445 and going for forty years—war took place in England. No surprise in that. It was referred to as the Wars of the Roses, a series of civil wars to see who would finally reign on the throne of England: the House of Lancaster versus the House of York, the House of Lancaster represented by a red rose and the House of York represented by a white rose. In the middle of all of that was a fellow by the name of Richard Neville. He was actually the sixteenth Earl of Warwick. And he was at one time on one side of the debate and then on the other side another day. And he actually proved to be instrumental in the deposition of the kings of England during that period of time.

And if you Google “kingmaker,” you will discover that Richard Neville from the fifteenth century of England is regarded as the original, the prototypical, kingmaker. And I said to myself, “I wonder if he read his Bible. And if he read his Bible, did he realize that he wasn’t the first?” Because if he read 1 Samuel, then he would know that there was somebody that preceded him by a long way by the name of Samuel. And if he had made it into 2 Samuel, as we have done, then he would have realized that Abner, if he is anything in this story, is himself now a kingmaker. And he has made Ish-bosheth the king. We saw that in 2:9: “He made him king over Gilead.” You get this impression that Abner is in charge of the affair, as it were: “Come along now, Ish-bosheth. I think you should be the king here in the north.”

Abner we’ve been following for a long time—further than many of us perhaps realize. He was actually the one who, after the victory over Goliath, brought David to Saul.[1] And if you want, as homework today, you can work your way back through that material. We know from our most recent study that Abner was also the one who was responsible for Asahel, Asahel being one of David’s nephews, along with Abishai and the other fellow, Joab. And the question as we read this, when we recognize the way the story is unfolding for us, the question is really, who is going to come out on top of this? Who will finally be Israel’s king? As we read this story, the question is before us: Will it be David in Hebron, or will it be Ish-bosheth? After all, Ish-bosheth is Saul’s son. And therefore, there is a sense in which it would only seem right that he should be the king. Furthermore, how will Abner’s political maneuvering work out? As we read this story, is Abner going to be content to be a kingmaker, or, as we read the story carefully, do we get the impression that Abner actually fancies himself of being the king?

One thing is already very clear, and it is this: that the pathway to the throne, whoever becomes the king, is not a straight line. David will not be crowned king of the nation as a result of human calculation or as a result of human manipulation.

That, I think, is of fundamental importance as we’re going through this story. Because if you think about it, all the way back to the beginning, when Samuel goes to Jesse and says, “Now, you’ve got a number of sons, I’d like to meet them,” and they’re all brought out, remember, and then eventually he says, “Is there anybody else at all?” And Jesse says, “Well, we have another boy, but he just looks after sheep. He doesn’t amount to much at all.” And he says, “Well, could you bring him out?” And, of course, as he comes out, he is anointed, and the Spirit of God rushes upon David.[2] In other words, David does not set his life out to become the king of Israel. He is going about his business, and God sets his hand upon him.

And so, the point that the storyteller is making for us is that at no point along the way—at no point along the way—can David be accused of manipulation or of calculation in terms of securing the throne for himself. And in the midst of all of that, we recognize that God is at work not only despite these messy circumstances, but God is at work through these messy circumstances. Now, let’s just pause and acknowledge that in relationship to the totality of life, to our individual lives, for our own tiny messes, for the messes of our nation. God is at work not only despite these things but through these things. He is accomplishing his purpose as year succeeds to year. And one day, the earth will be filled with the glory of God as the waters cover the sea.[3]

Now, I suggest to you that if you read this as you should read it, as we should read it, then you’ll recognize that these events, this should be 20/20. This should be Dateline. This is a perfect one for DatelineDateline believes itself to be the greatest investigative storytelling media outlet of contemporary life. I don’t watch it a lot, but that fellow always comes on: “I’m Lester Holt, and tonight on Dateline…” Can you imagine him coming up in front of this? “I’m Lester Holt, and tonight on Dateline, we’re asking: How many wives does a king require? And furthermore, we’ll be considering the case of the significance of Rizpah, the concubine. Tonight, on Dateline.”

Okay? That’s how you should read this. This is amazing! This is an amazing story. And so, what we’re going to do is simply follow the storyline. It’s a story of ambition, sex, power, politics. I love it when young people tell me, “The Bible is boring, you know.” I say, “You’ve never read the Bible.” The stories in the Bible are quite incredible. In fact, if you think about it, when people say, “Oh, you know, it’s all made up”—oh yeah? So somebody who wants to introduce us to Jesus Christ as the Lord and King and Messiah of the universe has decided to make the story leading up to Bethlehem as convoluted, messed up, difficult, and sordid as possible, just in order to convince us of the validity of the King. No, no, no, that will not do. That will not do at all.

David Grew Strong, Sons Were Born

Now, let us follow the storyline by noticing that in the first five verses, David grew strong and sons were born. David grew strong and sons were born.

Verse 28 of the second chapter told us of the truce. But that truce was only for a little time. And that truce was set in the wider context of this ongoing warfare. And as we read that he grew stronger and stronger and the house of Saul became weaker and weaker, we may say to ourselves, “In what way was he growing stronger and stronger?” Well, militarily, clearly, as we’re about to see. But also, it’s pretty obvious, isn’t it, that in consolidating his kingdom, it was important to him to add to his harem, to add to the number of wives that he had. And to anticipate, if we ever reach the eleventh chapter: you will remember how it says, “In the time when kings went out to war, David was hanging around at home.”[4] And that gives rise to the Bathsheba incident, right?

Now, as I read it this week, I said to myself—in fact, I wrote in my notes—“It would appear, as in a later time, that David was staying home quite a bit!” For the sons are appearing left, right, and center. He is establishing a dynasty. We ought not to think that this is some kind of insatiable sexual desire on the part of David, although it’s not removed from it. But it is rather something far more significant than that. How would somebody ever know that he was growing stronger and stronger? By the size of his entourage, by the reach of his kingdom, and so on. “Like arrows in the hand[s] of a warrior are … children [born] of one’s youth.”[5] And they’re all outlined for us there. We’re not going to stop on the list. But you will see that it is set there in contrast to the house of Saul. David’s deal is growing stronger, Saul weaker.

But there is caution in that list. Again, I’m not going to stop to unfold it, but let me just give you a word of warning in relationship to what I wrote down in my notes as “AAA.” AAA. I do these things to try and remember. I already forgot the name of Joab, so it doesn’t work particularly well. But this is Amnon, Absalom, and Adonijah. All right? The three of them are a real significant problem—huge problems as a result of each of these characters. And without jumping forward in the story, just make a note of that. We shouldn’t assume. Children are given to us, I think, for our sanctification. They’re given to us in order that we might learn the perversity of our own hearts, the depth of our need of Almighty God, the vital importance of raising them within the framework of the faith, and so on—and the awareness, in and through all of that, that they make their own decisions and they make their own choices.

So the story of the advance of his kingdom and the extent of his wives and the number of his children, it isn’t even finished here, incidentally. When you go further on and he gets to Jerusalem, he adds more concubines, and he adds more wives. And remember, he’s already taken two beyond Michal. “Well,” you say, “why doesn’t the narrator make a comment, a moral comment?” It’s striking in its absence, isn’t it? Because if you know your Bible at all, you find yourself saying, “Why doesn’t it say something about the problem of polygamy? Why doesn’t the narrator say, ‘Of course, this shouldn’t have been happening’?” There is no statement of moral judgment. Nor should we assume that because there is no statement of moral judgment, that it is actually a tacit endorsement on the part of the narrator.

Now, you can work these things on your own as you have time, but let me get you started, as it were—or get us started—by acknowledging that the Mosaic law, the law of Moses, at no point had prohibited polygamy. When you read the law of Moses, there is no prohibition of polygamy, nor is there an endorsement of polygamy. It’s just there. And every time that we find it, including here, we discover that it is never held up as a record of something that should be followed. It in fact appears consistently throughout the pages of the Old Testament as a warning to the people of God about getting this wrong. Walt Chantry writes of this. He says, just in a sentence or two, this event here, and these events, this “was an ugly feature of David’s domestic life.”[6] “An ugly feature of David’s domestic life.”

Some of us, you see, have a real problem, because we like David very much. I like him very much. But he’s flawed. He’s not the ultimate King who is to come. He’s just the shadow of the King. And in his shadow there are some dark shadows. His journey to the throne, as we’ve said, is not a straight line. It’s got all kinds of elements in it. And as a result of what he does here, says Chantry, “it would create family squabbles” and “bring David to the brink of ruin and to long-lasting sorrows.”[7] Now, as we go on in the story, we’ll discover that to be absolutely the case.

So, here we have it. David is growing strong, and children are being born. And let me just point out one other to you, and that is, when it says “Maacah the daughter of Talmai [the] king of Geshur,” she wasn’t even an Israelite. She wasn’t even an Israelite! So what is he doing? Well, the kingdom of Geshur was up in the north. He needs to consolidate things if he’s going to have a complete and overall capacity to rule. And so he says to himself, “It wouldn’t be bad if I married her.”

But what we do know is—having said what we’ve said about polygamy—we do know that David’s activities here were beyond the boundaries for Israel’s king. And this is Deuteronomy 17:17: “He”—that is, the king—“shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive [gold] and [silver].” In other words, nothing has changed. If sex doesn’t bring you down, money possibly will. That’s the point.

Think about the story of contemporary evangelicalism and the tragedies that are represented across the horizon of biblical churches. One speaks without any sense of judgment. Let he who stands take heed, lest he falls.[8] But that’s the warning that is contained in this. “You shall not acquire for yourself many wives.” He says, “Well, I’m gonna acquire for myself a number of wives.” Say, “Fine. You will live with the implications.”

We cannot disobey the clear instruction of God’s Word. You say, “Well, why did God allow this to be?” I don’t know. Remember when they came to him and they say, “What about divorce?” And Jesus says, “Yeah, Moses made a provision for that. But he did it on account of the hardness of your hearts.”[9] And I think that’s the only way you can possibly understand the unfolding drama that is contained in these polygamous affairs: “because of the hardness of your hearts.” And the hard heart will bear the impact, as we’ll see.

Well, that’s verses 1–5. David grew stronger, and sons were born.

Abner Switches Sides

And then, in verses 6–11, Abner switches sides. Abner switches sides.

Abner is, if you like, the classic make-it-happen fellow. I mean, he’s the kind of person who, if you have him around, he says, “Well, we can make this happen. I’ll make it happen.” Well, what has he made happen so far? Well, back in 2:9, he has made Ish-bosheth the king. Okay? So Mr. Make-It-Happen has made it happen. Here, in verse 6, he has made himself strong, or he is in the process of making himself strong. This ongoing war provided an opportunity for him to step into the vacuum. And so that’s exactly what he’s doing. If David’s strength is seen in part in the harem that he has established, then Abner’s strength and the making of himself strong is seen in his taking of this concubine by the name of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, who was from Saul’s family.

Now, once again in this, when a king died, his kingdom fell into the hands of the one who followed him. And that involved not only the houses and the lands and the donkeys and the gold and so on, but it also involved his personnel. And so it would be understandable that concubines, who were kind of like grade-two wives, if we put it in that way—we ought not to think of them as just, like, hanging around on the fringes, but they were actually included in the program. Therefore, the one who inherited the kingship would also inherit the queens and the concubines—which, of course, would be Ish-bosheth’s to enjoy, if we can put it that way. But he doesn’t. Apparently, he doesn’t. And that is why when Abner does this and goes in and sleeps with this girl, Ish-bosheth gets up on his hind legs and he says, “Why have you gone in to my father’s concubine?” That “gone in to” is just a euphemism for “had sex with.” “Why did you think you could just go ahead and do that? Why?”

Now, Ish-bosheth’s concern here we ought not to imagine as one of morality. His concern is actually the usurping of his authority: “I’m the king. Saul was my father. Who do you think you are?” To which Abner would say, “Hey, I’ll tell you who I am: I’m the kingmaker.” Because, you see, the death of Saul had, as I’ve observed, created a vacuum—a vacuum which, apparently, Ish-bosheth is unwilling or unable to fulfill. And so Abner says to himself, “If Ish-bosheth is not going to step up and take charge here, then I’ll gladly do it. And I will make sure—using him as, if you like, my puppet—that we can consolidate the power.” You see, it was Ish-bosheth’s enjoyment to assume the royal duty and to enjoy the royal privilege. Abner steps in on both, and so he’s challenged.

Now, notice Abner’s reaction in verse 8: “Abner was very angry over the words of Ish-bosheth.” He was “very angry.” Now, it leaves no doubt at all, you see, about Abner’s arrogance, his desire for power that is so strong that he is prepared actually to do just about anything in order to be seen as the very powerful character. He could switch sides if he has to—which is what he does. Because he’s consumed with the idea of being the one who makes it happen. He is the top dog. He is the kingmaker, you know. And so he’s really angry.

Do you remember how Bob Hope—this is a silly aside, but I’ll just throw it in anyway—but Bob Hope, the late Bob Hope, said that he left England when he was five years old when he discovered that he couldn’t be the king? I always thought that was very funny. Obviously, you don’t. But the idea is that Abner is consumed with this idea.

Now, you will notice—and this, I wrote in my notes, “a cautionary note for all dog lovers.” All right? “Just be careful here. There’s a lot of people who love their dogs out there, Alistair.” Because dogs don’t do well in the Bible. Don’t think pets. Don’t think very nice little King Charles spaniel or a big golden retriever. Think wild scavengers. That’s what he’s saying here: “Am I a dog’s head …?” You get the same thing, remember, when David goes against Goliath, and Goliath says, “Am I a dog, that you would come out to me with a stick?”[10] And actually, we found it again when the question is asked, “Am I a dead dog after whom you have come out?”[11] And not only that: “Am I a dead dog of Judah?” See what he’s saying? “Ish-bosheth, whose side do you think I’m on? Whose side do you think I’m on? No. Am I a dog’s head of Judah? Am I a scavenger on the side of those who oppose you?”

He says, “[Listen.] To this day I keep showing steadfast love.” The word that he uses, actually, is hesed, of covenant love, the love that we know about in relationship to David and Jonathan. It’s a powerful word. “Listen,” he says, “I’ve been showing steadfast love to the house of Saul, who’s your father, to his brothers and to his friends, and I have not given you into the hand of David.” You see again? “I’ve got ultimate power. If I had wanted to, I could have just given you into the hand of David. But I haven’t done it.” In other words, “My loyalty has been the key to your security.” And so he says, “In light of all of that, you want to find fault with me for sleeping with a woman? In the vast scheme of things, does this really matter?” That’s what he’s saying.

Well, of course, we know that it wasn’t just any woman. It was Rizpah, who belonged to the family of Saul. And so his frustration—and frustration it is—and his animosity leads to retaliation. And he’s going to retaliate in verse 10. He says, “If I do not accomplish for David what the Lord has sworn to him…” In other words, he calls down an oath upon himself in the threat of punishment to accomplish for David, to make it happen for David, what the Lord has promised: “to transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul,” to “set up the throne of David over Israel … over Judah, from Dan to Beersheba.”

Now, what do we know? We know this: that Abner knew what his boss knew. Abner knew what his boss knew. Abner was at the right hand, if you like, of Saul through thick and through thin. He was present back in chapter 24 of 1 Samuel, when Saul himself says, “I know,” he says to David, “I know that you shall surely be [the] king [of Israel], and that the kingdom … [will] be established in your hand.”[12]

Now, think about this for just a moment. Abner is really infuriated by the reaction of Ish-bosheth, whom he does not really hold in very high regard at all, clearly. And he is able in an instant to be able to switch sides. How is he able to do so? Well, because he actually knows what the plan of God is in terms of the kingdom. You remember that that event—back in, what was it, 24 or 26? Twenty-four of 1 Samuel. You remember, where Saul is taking a bathroom break, and David has the opportunity to take him out right there and then. And he doesn’t take him out. And in the conversation that follows, Saul then says, “I know—I know—that God has set you to be the king.”

So here’s my question: If Abner knew that was the case, why is Abner on the wrong side of history? If Abner knew that David is established to be the king of the totality of Israel, why is he on the wrong side of history? Although he knew it to be true, he did not want to believe it. Although he knew it to be true, he did not want to believe it.

Remember, incidentally, that in one of the last encounters, back in 26, it is—in that same toilet break incident—where David had been calling out, remember, across the valley, at one point he had called out to Abner himself. And he says—“David said to Abner, ‘Are you not a man? Who is like you in Israel?’”[13] In other words, “You’re the big guy, aren’t you? You’re the big kingmaker.” David calls across to him, “Are you not a man? Are you not a tough guy? Are you not the kingmaker? Why then have you not kept watch over your king?”[14] And then he says to him, “This thing that you have done is not good. As the Lord lives, you deserve to die, because you have not kept watch over your lord, the Lord’s anointed.”[15] And he says, “And if you want to doubt that, you will see that I have his spear and I have his water jar right here beside me.”[16] In other words, “I could have taken him out if I wanted to. And you think you’re in charge?”

Now, can you track with me on this? Why was he on the wrong side of history? Because he knew that it was true, but he didn’t want to believe it. Now, we probably have to stop here at this point this morning. The time goes by so very quickly. But let’s notice this. And let me speak to somebody who fits the Abner bill here in this respect: Why are you on the wrong side of history? Why have you not submitted to Jesus Christ as King? Deep inside of you, you know that it is true, but you do not choose to believe it.

And it may well be—and I come across this with relative frequency—it may well be that in your life, at some point, there was an encounter with the King, as it were, along the lines of that which we have just read in 1 Samuel 26: and David says to Abner, “The thing that you have done is not good, and you deserve to die.” And you were listening to somebody explaining the gospel. And the message that came from the King, from King Jesus, was essentially that message: “The thing that you have done is not good. And the wages of sin is death”[17]—that the message that came from the Shepherd King was “All of us like sheep have gone astray. Every one of us has turned to his own way.”[18] And you know that’s true. But you’re on the wrong side of history, because you do not want it to be true.

And so what do you do? Well, you convince yourself that there is probably, out there somewhere a nicer, kinder, more accessible, nonjudgmental king—somebody who can be “my lord” but whom I control, so that I can make my king, I can make my lord, I can establish my prerogatives, I can make the rules. And like Abner, you say to yourself, “You know, deep down inside, I believe that what my Sunday school teacher told me is true. Deep down inside, when I read the Bible, I believe that that is true. But I do not want to believe it.”

And in Abner’s case—in Abner’s case—his arrogance extends to suggesting that actually, he is the key to setting up whoever’s throne he wants: “I can transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul and set up the throne of David. I can do it from Dan to Beersheba, from top to bottom.” And Ish-Bosheth, he recognizes that he’s got nothing at all to say. And so he’s silenced by his fear.

Well, as I say, I think we should and must leave it here. And the Ish-bosheth plan, Abner realizes, is unworkable. He sees the possibility of the other side of the fence. He’s a kingmaker. Power, position, is all that really ultimately matters to him.

Now, as we go on—and I guess we’ll go on into it in the evening, some of us at least—what we’re really discovering in this is that God is working out his plan in history through imperfect people and in less-than-ideal circumstances. I think that’s a good place to stop. God is working out his plan in history through imperfect people and through less-than-ideal circumstances.

I say to you again, think about your own life. Think about your own family history. Think about the foolish decisions that each of us has made along the way. Think about the things that we would go back and repair and redo and put back in place, if only we could. People say to us, “Oh, you’re stuck now. You must just live with the implications of that forever.” No! No. Because this King, Jesus, he’s not only righteous; he’s faithful, and he’s gentle.

As I was driving in the car, I was thinking of that hymn—which we’re not going to sing—but I was thinking of the hymn, “Just as I am, without one plea,” and the line that goes, “Just as I am, your love unknown has broken every barrier down.”[19]

You see, until the love of God, revealed to us in Jesus the King as the one who bears our punishment in order that we might be set free from ourselves to live for him,[20] until the manifest love of God comes into our hard, stony, rebellious, self-oriented hearts, we will continue to say, “Yeah, I know I’m on the wrong side of history. But I don’t believe it, because I don’t want it to be true.” Has the love of God, in all of the mystery of his purposes, come and broken into your heart? Well, may it be so.

Father, thank you that your love, expressed to us in Christ, is like no other love in all the world—that while we were still rebellious, on the wrong side of history, Christ died for us. O Lord, there’s so much of Abner in all of us. We want to be the ones in control: control of ourselves, our destiny, our sexuality, our everything. We’ll decide who we are and what we are. And in your love and in your mercy, you come and show us, in the picture of your dearly beloved Son, the immensity of your design for us, and desire for us, and your willingness to make us all your own. How we’re glad this morning that you are working your plan in circumstances that are clearly not the best and among people who are less than ideal. Otherwise, none of us would have a chance. And we pray in Christ’s name. Amen.


[1] See 1 Samuel 17:57.

[2] 1 Sam 16:4–13 (paraphrased).

[3] See Habakkuk 2:14.

[4] 2 Samuel 11:1 (paraphrased).

[5] Psalm 127:4 (ESV).

[6] Walter J. Chantry, David: Man of Prayer, Man of War (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2007), 142.

[7] Chantry, 142.

[8] See 1 Corinthians 10:12.

[9] Matthew 19:3, 7–8 (paraphrased).

[10] 1 Samuel 17:43 (paraphrased).

[11] 1 Samuel 24:14 (paraphrased).

[12] 1 Samuel 24:20 (ESV).

[13] 1 Samuel 26:15 (ESV).

[14] 1 Samuel 26:15 (paraphrased).

[15] 1 Samuel 26:16 (ESV).

[16] 1 Samuel 26:16 (paraphrased).

[17] See Romans 6:23.

[18] Isaiah 53:6 (paraphrased).

[19] Charlotte Elliott, “Just as I Am” (1835). Language modernized.

[20] See 1 Peter 2:24.

 

Abner, the Kingmaker — Part Two

2 Samuel 3:12-21

The Lord’s ways are undeniably mysterious. Even so, they are sure, and He accomplishes all He sets out to do. As King Saul’s dynasty waned, Abner, once David’s enemy, negotiated and consulted to shift his allegiance to the rising king. Behind it all, though, God continued to work out His plan through imperfect people in less-than-ideal circumstances. Alistair Begg examines 2 Samuel 3, pointing out that David’s grace toward this unsavory character prefigures the peace offered to us through Christ Jesus.

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Sermon Transcript:

I invite you to turn with me to 2 Samuel and to chapter 3. My plan this morning, at least, as I set out in the day, was that we would get all the way to verse 21. Those of you who were present this morning know that that was a goal that I was unable to meet, and so we’re going to continue from verse 12 tonight. But in order that we have a sense of the context—at least the preceding context—we’ll read the 21 verses again. At least I will, as you follow along. So:

“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.

“And sons were born to David at Hebron: his firstborn was Amnon, of Ahinoam of Jezreel; 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; and the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; and the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital; and the sixth, Ithream, of Eglah, David’s wife. These were born to David in Hebron.

“While there was war between the house of Saul and the house of David, Abner was making himself strong in the house of Saul. 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?’ 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. God do so to Abner and more also, if I do not accomplish for David what the Lord has sworn to him, 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.’ And Ish-bosheth could not answer Abner another word, because he feared him.

“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.’ 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.’ 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.’ And Ish-bosheth sent and took her from her husband Paltiel the son of Laish. But her husband went with her, weeping after her all the way to Bahurim. Then Abner said to him, ‘Go, return.’ And he returned.

“And Abner conferred with the elders of Israel, saying, ‘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 Israel from the hand of the Philistines, and from the hand of all their enemies.”’ 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.

“When Abner came with twenty men to David at Hebron, David made a feast for Abner and the men who were with him. 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.”

Thanks be to God for his Word.

Father, as we turn once again to the Bible now, our humble cry is that you will speak to us through your Word, beyond the voice of a mere man, that we might have an encounter, a living encounter, with you, the author of this book, and that you will set forward your purposes in each of our lives in accordance with your truth. For we pray in Christ’s name. Amen.

Well, we resume essentially at the point where we departed in the morning hour. We saw that David had become strong, that he had become the father of a number of sons as a result of the wives that he took to himself, including one of the wives who was not even an Israelite herself. We then saw that as David was growing strong and the house of Saul was growing weak, that in that weak environment, this character Abner was growing very strong himself. And we sought to follow that line all the way through, and it wouldn’t be fair for those who were present this morning for me to work my way back through that.

What we did discover, though, was that Abner regarded himself essentially as a kingmaker, that he was the man of the moment, that he was the man who was able to make things happen. And the extent of his arrogance reaches to the point where he’s able to suggest that the key to accomplishing all that will mean for David to be established on the throne all the way, as you see in the text, “from Dan to Beersheba”—from the top, if you like, to the bottom of the kingdom—all of that may be owed to Abner himself.

Now, the thing that is important for us to recognize, or one of the aspects that is important, is that we should not imagine that Abner’s shift of allegiance—which he has announced, you will remember, in verses 6–11—his shift of allegiance is not on account of a theological discovery. His shift in allegiance has to do, if you like, with a political strategy. The Ish-bosheth plan, which he had begun to work—namely, setting him up as the king in the north and perhaps seeking to establish the rule throughout the entire area, including Judah—that has proved to be an unworkable plan. And so Abner sees possibilities in moving, as it were, to the other side of the fence. He is consumed with power and with position, and that is what matters to him. And the rather sad and sorry state of Ish-bosheth himself is there just in the sentence that concludes verse 11: “And Ish-bosheth could not answer Abner another word, because he feared him.” And you have this rather impotent character, his impotence being confirmed by his silence—a silence that is born of fear.

Abner’s Negotiations

Now, it is at that point that Abner then begins his negotiations. And the negotiation—at least part one—is recorded for us beginning in verse 12, and we can follow it through to verse 16. You will notice that Abner does not immediately appear to David himself, but he sends messengers to David on his behalf. He was powerful, and he was able to order people around, as we’ve seen, and he is seeking to make things happen by taking the initiative.

And it’s an interesting opening gambit that he puts on the lips of these messengers. He sent the messengers to say, or to ask the question, “To whom does the land belong?” “To whom does the land belong?” And since he didn’t have the advantage of knowing the lyrics of Woody Guthrie’s famous folk song—in which case he would have been able to sing, “This land is your land, this land is my land”[1]—since he was unaware of that, the question that he puts on the lips of the messengers is tantalizingly ambiguous. Is this, in a sense, a deference to David? Or is it, on his part, an attempt to actually say, “You know, if the land belongs to anyone in this equation, then it belongs to me”?

I think it is fair to assume that, because you will notice that he then goes on to say, “My hand shall be with you to bring over all Israel to you.” “I can make this happen,” he says. “I’m sending the messengers so that you might have a solid grasp of this. My hand shall be with you.” How proud. How dangerous a position. And how unlike David himself! David, as we said this morning, knew himself to be where he was as a result of the intervention of God. It wasn’t because he was the biggest, the tallest, the fittest, the finest. In fact, he’d been picked out essentially as the runt of the litter. He had come at the end of the line, when everyone else who stood forward as a possibility had been set aside by Samuel.[2] And even when he goes against Goliath, he goes to say to Goliath, “This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down.”[3]

That, you see, is the missing element in Abner. Abner immediately says, “My hand will do this for you.” David says, “It is the Lord’s hand that matters. And when the Lord exercises his prerogative, then it will be my humble privilege,” he essentially says, “to do for you, Goliath, what needs to be done—namely, to strike you down and use your own sword to cut off your head.” There’s not a modicum of arrogance in David in that statement. Because he’s going against a giant with five stones in his sling. And unless the hand of the Lord shows up for him, there’s no saying what’s going to happen to him. But now the messengers come from Abner. And he said, “If you would be happy with this, then we could establish a covenant together.”

Now, when you’re reading this, you’re expecting that David is going to say, “You’ve got to be kidding!” And here it is surprising to me: “And he said, ‘Good; I will make a covenant with you.’” But he makes a covenant on his own terms, so that although in the negotiations here the initiative has rested with Abner, very skillfully David, in accepting what he is suggesting, turns it around, at least in some measure, to put Abner now on the back foot by saying, “But I have a condition for this covenant being established.” And so, David now is the one to send messengers. And he has told the messengers that unless they bring to him, unless Abner himself brings his wife to them, Michal, then the whole deal is off.

And then, interestingly, we read that “David sent messengers to Ish-bosheth.” It’s kind of like he understands the protocol. He knows that Abner was a kingmaker. He knows that Abner really fancies his chances. He knows that Abner is pulling the strings behind Ish-bosheth. But Ish-bosheth is still Saul’s son, and Michal is Ish-bosheth’s sister. And so he sends his word “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.’”

You remember when we studied that evening, we said we often say to one another, “It would be wonderful if we had a video of these kind of things,” and yet when we came to this we said, “Thank goodness we don’t have a video of this kind of thing!” And you remember that David exceeded the expectations by a hundred percent on that occasion. And he very humbly here says, “I met the requirement”—but actually, he more than met the requirement—“and I would like my wife back.” That’s what he’s saying.

Now, let’s just go back. If you have your Bible open, let’s just go back and remind ourselves of what’s going on. Now, you can go back to chapter 18 of 1 Samuel. And you remember this interchange between Saul and David: “Here is my elder daughter Merab,” and then “David said to Saul, ‘Who am I, … who are my relatives, my father’s clan in Israel, that I should be son-in-law to the king?’” And then, “At [that] time when Merab, Saul’s daughter, should have been given to David, she was given to Adriel the Meholathite for a wife.”[4] No explanation for this, but there’s a switch.

And then we read here in verse 20: “Now Saul’s daughter Michal loved David. And they told Saul, and the thing pleased him.” So, he’s the father, and he has his daughter. And the word comes that “there’s a fellow here, David, and he actually loves your daughter.” Well, every father wants to make sure that if he’s giving his daughter away, he’s going to give her away to someone who really, really loves her. And so it would appear that that’s the case. But no: “Saul thought, ‘Let me give her to him, that she may be a snare for him and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him.’”

Now, it’s important that we remind ourselves of this. “You shall now be my son-in-law,” and then he says to his servants,

“Speak to David in private and say, ‘Behold, the king has delight in you, and all his servants love you. Now then become the king’s son-in-law.’” And Saul’s servants spoke those words in the ears of David. And David said [again], “Does it seem to you a little thing to become the king’s son-in-law [and so on], since I am a poor man …?”[5]

And you follow the story all the way down. You must read it for yourself. “But when Saul saw and knew that the Lord was with David, and that Michal, Saul’s daughter, loved him,” “Saul gave him his daughter Michal for a wife.”[6] “For a wife.”

Now, here he says he would like Michal back. He already, remember, has married Ahinoam, he’s married Abigail, and he’s just added six others to the list. But he wants Michal back.

Now, the commentators all say this is clearly an attempt on his part to consolidate his kingdom. And it may well be the case. After all, she is Saul’s daughter. It was a dreadful embarrassment when Saul had removed her when he was out fighting on behalf of Saul. We remember, he had gone to fight on behalf of Saul, and Saul took her and gave her to Paltiel.[7] That’s not a very nice thing to do! And that’s a hard thing to deal with. That’s humiliating. And now, after all this time has elapsed and he is about to ascend to the throne, he says, “And I’d like the daughter of Saul, please, back again.” And so they say you can see that it’s just consolidation. And that may be. But the romantic in me does not want to believe that that is all it is. And the romantic in you will not either.

I imagine David, you know, in this strange mechanism that works in my mind, that you can play songs, even though the songs weren’t there. But you know who the first lady of song was: Ella Fitzgerald. So I imagine him, and he’s playing in the background:

Do I love you, do I?
Doesn’t one and one make two?
Do I love you, do I?
Does July need a [day] of blue?

Would I miss you, would I,
If you ever should go away?
If the sun should desert the day,
What would life be?

Do I love you, do I?
Oh, my dear, it’s so easy to see
Don’t you know I do?
Don’t I show you I do,
Just as you love me?[8]

“He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.”[9] I refuse to accept the idea that this is simply a political move on the part of David, but rather that he would love to have her back. And he makes it a commitment on the part of Abner if there’s going to be any kind of covenant. But I think it’s fair to acknowledge that he is a shrewd character. And if he gets her back again, then it will make his move for the throne even stronger.

But then we’re forced to ask the question: Is David, then, simply doing what Saul did? Because what did he do? He used his daughter as a pawn in his political strategy. And now, if we remove the romance, David has descended to the same sorry spot, to be prepared to take this lady who loved him. You say, “Well, you’re gonna have to do better than that.” Well, I don’t have to justify my position. It’s merely an observation. But you will notice that later on, when we get further on, he actually responds to Michal in a very unhusbandly way, in a very bad way. And in just a sentence it says, “And Michal had no children all of her life.”[10] So, it is complex. It is complex.

And what about our man here, Paltiel? Spare a thought for this character! How did this happen? Saul takes Michal away from David’s jurisdiction, and he gives her to Paltiel. What was Paltiel doing? Was he out working in the field? Was he having a coffee? And somebody came and rang the doorbell and said, “I’m here on behalf of Saul—you know, King Saul. This is his daughter Michal, and Saul would like you to have her.” Paltiel says, “Well, okay. That sounds like a deal to me.” And so they set off. Well, now he’s singing: “Would I miss you, would I, if ever you should go away?”

Look at this picture. Her husband went with her. Some big soldier comes to the house and says, “Hey, excuse me. Michal? We’re going over to Hebron.”

“Why, what do you mean?”

“Well, I’m taking you back to David.”

“Well, what about Paltiel?”

“Don’t you worry about Paltiel. He’ll take care of himself.”

And you view the picture as he goes down the street, walking, trailing behind, until eventually Abner—who’s obviously involved in this process, because he’s going to be the one who comes to David—and Abner says to him, “Go, return.” And he returned.

And all of this, my friends—all of this—set in motion by Saul’s fearful jealousy. Because he could not stand the fact that the people in the streets were singing the praise of David in a way that they did not sing his praise. And that jealousy consumed him to the point that he was prepared to turn his own daughter into a pawn and send her away in order that she might become a snare, first as a married person, as a snare, and then finally as a pawn in the moment.

Let’s not kid ourselves. We said this morning the story that we’re dealing with here is the story of God working out his plan in history through imperfect people and in circumstances that are less than ideal—through imperfect people and in less than ideal circumstances. Don’t kid yourself that decisions that you’ve made in your past that were bad decisions will not have ramifications for your family in the future. God forgives. God forgets. We don’t forget. And the implications are there. And so the justification for it is nowhere to be found. And the warning is everywhere to be heard.

You see, the fact that we’re able to look at this and say, “You know, God works in a mess,” is not in order that we might be able to say, “Oh, good! I’ll just get it as messy as I possibly can!”—along the lines of, you know, “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?”[11] And Paul says, “God forbid! That would be ridiculous.”[12] So God works in a mess, with imperfect people and in less-than-ideal circumstances. We say, “Well, good. Because my circumstances are less than ideal, and I am an imperfect person. And it’s okay, because I read 1 and 2 Samuel.” No, we’ve got it absolutely wrong. The fact that God works in this way is not to induce us to tolerate the chaos that we create in our own lives but is to recognize the grace of God in the midst of the chaos that has ensued in our lives.

And Paltiel, trudging down the street, is the picture of many a man whose wife, for whatever reason, has been taken from him, as if somehow or another it can all be cleared up in the court of law, it can all be ratified with a new covenant, it can all be changed. Spare a thought for Paltiel as he went behind her, weeping all the way to Bahurim.

You see, my friends, this is how we must read these stories. This is a real event in real time involving real people with real emotions.

Those are the negotiations, in 12–16.

Abner Consults with the Elders

And then, in 17–19, you have, essentially, the negotiations part two—or, if you like, the consultation that Abner then has with the elders.

Now, if we assume, incidentally, that Abner was accompanied by Michal when he met David face-to-face, which is coming up, then verses 17, 18, and 19 describe the work that he had to do in order to get things to the position where he was able to take Michal to meet David face-to-face. And he’s consummate in this, isn’t he? He’s quite remarkable, Mr. Make-It-Happen. Those of you who follow the negotiations as we move towards December with the European Union and Britain and Brexit and everything that goes along with it, you will see this man Michel Barnier, who represents the entire European Union in these negotiations, and all that goes on day by day and week by week, and the consummate skill of being able to consult in such a way and to negotiate in such a way and so on. Abner is very, very good.

And notice how good he is: “Abner conferred with the elders of Israel, saying…” Number one: “Now, listen, fellows. All along you have been looking for David to be your king, haven’t you?” So, he introduces the notion. And, of course, there is truth to that. The fact that they were now under the kingship of Ish-bosheth, that they had been serving with Saul, is set within a wider context where the word that was out into the streets concerned David. So he says, “I’m not here to introduce something new to you. I’m not here to give you a new idea. No, for some time you’ve been seeking David as your king. Now, I suggest to you,” he says, “that we bring it about. Because after all, this is the will of God.” You see how clever this is? “For the Lord has promised David, saying…” And then he quotes this.

Now, don’t you think somebody in the group would at least have put up their hand and said, “Excuse me? What about Ish-bosheth? Is anybody giving any thought… I mean, we got this guy here that… I mean, fifteen minutes ago, Abner, you were really big on Ish-bosheth. I mean, you were going to take him and see if you couldn’t take over Judah at the same time. What happened to Ish-bosheth?” You can imagine Abner saying, “Don’t you worry about Ish-bosheth. My name is Mr. Make-It-Happen. He’ll be fine. Don’t you worry.”

And so, with consummate ease, as someone who clearly has read The Art of the Deal, he manages to secure, through consultation, the preparation of these individuals for what is about to ensue. And with great skill, you will notice, it says, “And he also spoke to the whole house of Benjamin.” He “spoke to Benjamin,” verse 19. And you don’t need me to go back on that: “There was a man of Benjamin,” all the way back to 1 Samuel 9. Remember when we came to that, the excitement that at least I felt in it: “There was a man of Benjamin … and he had a son.”[13] Dum-da-dum-dum-da! All the future that was before them. So, Benjamin is Saul’s tribe. So he says, “I’m gonna square it away with Benjamin as well, and then we’ll proceed.”

Now, one final point, and then we’ll be through. But notice, there is a lot of Abner in this. There is a lot of Abner in it, isn’t there? There’s not even a hint from his lips that he acknowledges his equivocation. And this is a certain kind of personality, who’s able to bluster their way through things, to bypass things. He invokes the will of God only as it suits him. Or as Dale Ralph Davis says in just a sentence, “Abner only quotes Scripture when it supports a pro-Abner move.”[14] That’s good. That really drives it home, doesn’t it? So with all of his ducks in a row, he heads to Hebron with a small company of twenty men who, as it will turn out, did not prove to be a very competent security detail.

David’s Feast and Abner’s Promise

Now we come, then, to this final section, where David made a feast and Abner made a promise. Verse 20: “When Abner came with twenty men to David at Hebron, David made a feast.”

David’s quite a remarkable character, isn’t he? First, that he would even be interested in this covenant. And incidentally, where’s Michal? She doesn’t even get a mention. Hm. So maybe he’s not the romantic I want him to be. And he “made a feast for Abner and [all] the men who were with him.” David, who wrote the poem of the one who “prepare[s] a table before me in the presence of my enemies,”[15] now essentially does the same thing. He displays royal hospitality. And he displays hospitality for one who by any standard is undeserving.

And he then is on the receiving end of a generosity that is quite unparalleled. And you would think that perhaps, given such a generous expression of grace and kindness, if we might put it that way, he would have just sat quietly at the table for a wee while. But oh, no, no. No, no. No, he uses it as an opportunity to blow his trumpet again. He’s the kingmaker. Verse 21: “And Abner said to David, ‘I will arise and go and … 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.’” Sounds fantastic, doesn’t it?

Well, he’s gonna get his own comeuppance here in a moment or two—not this evening, but it will be there for us next Sunday, all being well. “I will go. I will gather. I will make it possible for you to be the king. I’m the kingmaker! I’m the sixteenth Earl of Warwick, you know, in the Wars of the Roses. I’m the one who was on this side with Lancaster and switched to this side to be with York. I was with Ish-bosheth ’cause it suited me, and I’m now with David because it suits me. And if you just let me go, I can take care of the whole thing for you.”

And then, just in a sentence: “So David sent Abner away.” I like that, actually, because I think, once again, although Abner thinks that he’s in the, you know, the driving seat… You know, he wants the covenant. On David’s terms, there will be a covenant. He says, “I’m gonna do this, and that, and the next thing.” And it doesn’t say, “So Abner left.” No, it says, “So David sent Abner away.” “Well, thank you very much, Abner. Why don’t you slip off?” But he doesn’t say it in unkindness, does he? Notice that he “sent Abner away, and he went in peace.”

And when we come back next time, if we’re spared to come back next time, we will discover that this shalom—this genuine shalom on the part of David towards this character, who is an unsavory character on his best day, actually—his shalom towards him is so magnanimous, it is so magnificent, that when Joab, his commander-in-chief, shows up and hears about it, he can’t believe that David would do this.

Isn’t that what people say? They say, “You mean to tell me that Jesus died for all my sins? That Jesus will speak peace into my life? The peace that comes through the shedding of his blood on the cross?” Yes! “But I can’t believe it. That shouldn’t happen. He should have took his head off instead of sending him away in peace.” But that’s what the king does. And if you squeeze your eyes together tightly enough, you will find that all of this is pointing to the King who is “gentle and lowly in heart”[16] and in whom one will find rest, peace, shalom, for their souls.

“Just then the servants of David arrived with Joab.”[17] I’m Alistair Begg, for Dateline.

The Lord’s ways—the Lord’s ways—are undeniably odd. But they’re sure. And he accomplishes all that he sets out to do. Nothing takes him by surprise. Nothing. Well, how wonderful is that?

You know, I was thinking this morning, actually, when I walked away, as we sang in the morning hour about, you know, “I cannot tell why he, whom angels worship, should set his love,” and then “I cannot tell how he will win the nations, how he will [win] his earthly heritage.”[18] And you know, when you read this thing here, you say to yourself, “I don’t know how David is going to actually win the nation.” But he does. Because although God’s ways are undeniably odd, they are absolutely sure. He can be trusted with all of the mess, all of the details, all the disruption. And what a wonder it is that this very same God is able to restore even the years that have eaten into our lives like locusts.[19] How magnificent is the gospel! And it is this gospel that we are to take as a whole church to the whole world. And tomorrow is the beginning of the rest of our lives.

So, let us pause to pray, and then stand to sing:

Lord our God and King, we thank you for the story that we read here that points us unrelentingly to the Lord Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. We thank you that he does not treat us in the way that we might anticipate, but his love is an amazing love. How deep your love, Father, for us, that you would give your Son. How good is this news. How unlike anything else in the whole world—not a story about “Clean yourself up and see if God will like you,” but “Come as you are, with all your righteous rags and all the stuff that’s a mess, and cast yourself unreservedly on his grace. And then, on your feet, and take this message to the world.”

Well, help us, Lord, in the time that we have, the time that you leave to us, however short or long, to recognize that the task is yet unfinished. And we pray in Christ’s name. Amen.


[1] Woody Guthrie, “This Land Is Your Land” (1945).

[2] See 1 Samuel 16:6–13.

[3] 1 Samuel 17:46 (ESV).

[4] 1 Samuel 18:17–19 (ESV).

[5] 1 Samuel 18:21–23.

[6] 1 Samuel 18:28, 27.

[7] See 1 Samuel 25:44.

[8] Cole Porter, “Do I Love You?” (1939).

[9] Proverbs 18:22 (NIV).

[10] 2 Samuel 6:23 (paraphrased).

[11] Romans 6:1 (KJV).

[12] Romans 6:2 (paraphrased).

[13] 1 Samuel 9:1–2 (ESV).

[14] Dale Ralph Davis, 2 Samuel: Out of Every Adversity (Fearn: Christian Focus, 1999), 43.

[15] Psalm 23:5 (ESV).

[16] Matthew 11:29 (ESV).

[17] 2 Samuel 3:22 (ESV).

[18] William Young Fullerton, “I Cannot Tell Why He, Whom Angels Worship” (c. 1920).

[19] See Joel 2:25.