Joab, the hotheaded commander of King David’s army, had been out on a raid when Abner came to visit David. When Joab returned and learned that David had received Abner with grace, he was furious, for Abner had led a rebellion against David and killed Joab’s very own brother. So Joab went to the king and said, “What have you done?” (2 Samuel 3:24).
Joab is convinced that Abner came as a spy, so he decides to take the law into his own hands. He sends messengers after Abner, presumably in David’s name, calling on Abner to come back to Hebron. David knew nothing about this. Joab did it behind his back (v. 26).
Abner has been shown grace in Hebron so he has no hesitation in returning. But when Abner does return, we read: “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” (v. 27).
This was a brutal revenge killing, a cold-blooded murder, a murder committed by the man who holds the highest position in the land—the commander of David’s own army! It was an outrageous scandal in David’s kingdom.
How did David deal with it?
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