vv 32-34. They buried Abner in Hebron, and the king and all the people wept at his graveside. Then the king sang this funeral song for Abner:
“Should Abner have died as fools die?
Your hands were not bound; your feet were not chained.
No, you were murdered — the victim of a wicked plot.”
All the people wept again for Abner.
Abner had been a vigorous opponent of David as we saw in yesterday’s reading. It was he who ensured the rule of Ishbosheth, Saul’s son, and kept the people of Israel divided for over 7 years. But reconciliation was in the air and once again, David’s generous and kind character shines through as he publicly mourns Abner’s death. David made it abundantly clear that he was not responsible for the death of Abner.
For a while, in 2 Samuel 4, things go from bad to worse. Two Israelite commanders murder Saul’s son, Ishbosheth, believing that they are helping David’s cause to become King of all Israel. ‘ When they arrived at Hebron, they presented Ishbosheth’s head to David. “Look!” they exclaimed to the king. “Here is the head of Ishbosheth, the son of your enemy Saul who tried to kill you. Today the Lord has given my lord the king revenge on Saul and his entire family!” ‘ David would have none of it, any more than he would have countenanced the murder of Saul himself in order to grab the throne, so the murderers themselves are executed.(v 12)
It’s a convoluted tale isn’t it! What stands out for me however is David’s honest mourning at the deaths of first Saul and Jonathan in battle, and then at the murders of Abner and Ishbosheth. It is significant that the funeral songs are recorded on two of those occasions.
For all his military skill, his record as a leader, and dispenser of summary justice, he felt keenly about the deaths of those close to him and his practice of mourning is well documented.