Prayer- Lord, Open our hearts and open our minds and help us learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
2 Samuel 2:12-32 (New International Version)
12 Abner son of Ner, together with the men of Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, left Mahanaim and went to Gibeon. 13 Joab son of Zeruiah and David's men went out and met them at the pool of Gibeon. One group sat down on one side of the pool and one group on the other side.
14 Then Abner said to Joab, "Let's have some of the young men get up and fight hand to hand in front of us."
"All right, let them do it," Joab said.
15 So they stood up and were counted off—twelve men for Benjamin and Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, and twelve for David. 16 Then each man grabbed his opponent by the head and thrust his dagger into his opponent's side, and they fell down together. So that place in Gibeon was called Helkath Hazzurim. a]'>[a]
17 The battle that day was very fierce, and Abner and the men of Israel were defeated by David's men.
18 The three sons of Zeruiah were there: Joab, Abishai and Asahel. Now Asahel was as fleet-footed as a wild gazelle. 19 He chased Abner, turning neither to the right nor to the left as he pursued him. 20 Abner looked behind him and asked, "Is that you, Asahel?"
"It is," he answered.
21 Then Abner said to him, "Turn aside to the right or to the left; take on one of the young men and strip him of his weapons." But Asahel would not stop chasing him.
22 Again Abner warned Asahel, "Stop chasing me! Why should I strike you down? How could I look your brother Joab in the face?"
23 But Asahel refused to give up the pursuit; so Abner thrust the butt of his spear into Asahel's stomach, and the spear came out through his back. He fell there and died on the spot. And every man stopped when he came to the place where Asahel had fallen and died.
24 But Joab and Abishai pursued Abner, and as the sun was setting, they came to the hill of Ammah, near Giah on the way to the wasteland of Gibeon. 25 Then the men of Benjamin rallied behind Abner. They formed themselves into a group and took their stand on top of a hill.
26 Abner called out to Joab, "Must the sword devour forever? Don't you realize that this will end in bitterness? How long before you order your men to stop pursuing their brothers?"
27 Joab answered, "As surely as God lives, if you had not spoken, the men would have continued the pursuit of their brothers until morning. b]'>[b] "
28 So Joab blew the trumpet, and all the men came to a halt; they no longer pursued Israel, nor did they fight anymore.
29 All that night Abner and his men marched through the Arabah. They crossed the Jordan, continued through the whole Bithron c]'>[c] and came to Mahanaim.
30 Then Joab returned from pursuing Abner and assembled all his men. Besides Asahel, nineteen of David's men were found missing. 31 But David's men had killed three hundred and sixty Benjamites who were with Abner. 32 They took Asahel and buried him in his father's tomb at Bethlehem. Then Joab and his men marched all night and arrived at Hebron by daybreak.
This is the start of hostilities and civil war. Abner was Saul's nephew and his commander. Even though he knew David was destined to rule over Israel, he fought to keep Saul's bloodline ruling. The two faction met at Gibeon, which was an important strategic area, and squared off. It started with a contest or duel between the best young fighters and ended up in full fledged battle.
After things broke down Abner fled, but Joab's (David's commander) brother Asahel chased him. Abner told him to stop twice, probably because he didn't want to upset Joab, but Asahel keep coming so Abner kills him. (At least Abner can use his spear, unlike his Uncle Saul.) This action starts a feud between Abner and Joab.
1. What was the contest all about? If I read the scripture correctly- each contestant started with a dagger in one hand and his opponents hair in the other. Why would anyone want to compete in this game?
2. Abner was with Saul after David took his spear and water jug. He knew what Saul had said about David and being king. Why did Abner participate in the civil war?
3. Why didn't Asahel stop?