2 Samuel 3:22-30 (Part 1) – Cheap Grace vs. The Full Meaning of Grace in the Law

Posted: May 21, 2018 in 10-2 Samuel

2 Samuel 3:22-30 (Part 1 of 2)
Joab Murders Abner

We often hear those who wish to live life according to their own desires say that the Old Testament is no longer applicable and should be disregarded. They quote the Apostle Paul, particularly Romans 6:14, frequently in support of their claim that the law is invalid to us in the post-crucifixion era.

Certainly there are ceremonial aspects of the law that were laid out at the beginning of the civilization that we know as the Israelite nation that were only applicable to them. God had to set them apart from the pagan rituals and belief systems that they had grown up in so those aspects of the law were Israelite-specific. Those aspects of the law are not applicable to us in a day to day living sense of things but we are to understand the spirit of those laws for Israel. Again, they were meant to set Israel apart, to make them more orderly, less savage or chaotic, more holy, less unholy, more focused on God, less focused on selfish desires, more cleanly, less susceptible to the diseases of the day. Those laws, we must study what God was trying to accomplish for the Israelite nation. It was to draw them out as different, set apart, a holy nation that stood as a beacon for the rest of humanity. They were to be set apart, different, and holy to draw the attention of the world to them for it was to be threw them that Jesus Christ would come to save the world.

When I hear people completely discount the law in the Old Testament and fall full throttle into grace without concern for God’s law, I want to ask them if murder is OK now since it was one of the laws. I want to ask them if adultery is OK since it was one of the laws. I want to ask them if worshiping idols is OK since the prohibition of worshiping them was one of the laws. This is why it is important for us not to take Bible verses out of context. If you read the whole body of thought of the Apostle Paul in his various letters, it is clear that what he meant in Romans 6:14 is that we are freed from the judgment, the penalty of the law, that we rightfully deserve, through the work that Jesus Christ did on our behalf on the cross. All of us are condemned by the law by our first sin and are more than amply sentenced to hell by the lifetimes of sins that we commit to follow up on that first sin. We deserve condemnation but Jesus sets us free from the rightful and justified verdict of the law. The law is written in our hearts (Romans 2:14-15) when we are created, even when we do not recognize Jesus as Savior and Lord. We know right from wrong even as non-believers. That’s the law. We are free from the penalty of the law which is death and sentencing to hell. It is only through Jesus Christ that we are freed from its penalty. That makes Jesus even more important when we view the law correctly in this way. Through Jesus and the freedom he gave us, we should embrace the spirit of God’s law and study them to see what their general spirit can tell us for our lives today – even the ceremonial stuff, but definitely the moral aspects of the law given to God’s people Israel. By doing so, we fall more in love with what Jesus has done for us. When we realize the gravity of the penalty under the law that we deserve, it makes us fall in love with Jesus all the more.

With that idea of the law still being alive and a body of work from which we can learn much to apply to our lives in the 21st century, let us read this passage, 2 Samuel 3:22-30:


22 But just after David had sent Abner away in safety, Joab and some of David’s troops returned from a raid, bringing much plunder with them. 23 When Joab arrived, he was told that Abner had just been there visiting the king and had been sent away in safety.

24 Joab rushed to the king and demanded, “What have you done? What do you mean by letting Abner get away? 25 You know perfectly well that he came to spy on you and find out everything you’re doing!”

26 Joab then left David and sent messengers to catch up with Abner, asking him to return. They found him at the well of Sirah and brought him back, though David knew nothing about it. 27 When Abner arrived back at Hebron, Joab took him aside at the gateway as if to speak with him privately. But then he stabbed Abner in the stomach and killed him in revenge for killing his brother Asahel.

28 When David heard about it, he declared, “I vow by the Lord that I and my kingdom are forever innocent of this crime against Abner son of Ner. 29 Joab and his family are the guilty ones. May the family of Joab be cursed in every generation with a man who has open sores or leprosy[a] or who walks on crutches[b] or dies by the sword or begs for food!”

30 So Joab and his brother Abishai killed Abner because Abner had killed their brother Asahel at the battle of Gibeon.

In this passage, we see that Joab took revenge for the death of his brother instead of leaving justice to God, but that act of revenge will later backfire on him (see 1 Kings 2:31-34). God will repay those who deserve it (Romans 12:19). Refuse to rejoice when you enemies suffer, and don’t try to get revenge. Seeking revenge will ruin your own peace of mind and increase the chances of further retaliation. Here, in this passage, too, it should be noted that Abner had killed Joab’s brother in self-defense. Joab then killed Abner to avenge his brother’s death. There was selfish motivation too to save his position of military leadership. If you remember, God declared that there would be cities of refuge for people who killed someone else accidentally or in self-defense (see Numbers 35:22-25). The cities of refuge were to allow for a hearing of the circumstances of the case by the religious leaders of the city of refuge. Joab show disrespect to God’s law by killing Abner out of revenge ironically IN a city of refuge, Hebron.

God’s law here provides for an orderly society by establishing a system of justice that hears out issues concerning the law and requires objective third parties (the religious leaders of the cities of refuge) to hear the case of murder and make a fair and just ruling according to God’s law. In the absence of God’s law, anything goes. That is what we have here. Joab ignoring God’s law and taking matters into his own hands. It creates chaos. Too often today, we take matters into our hands instead of trusting them to God. We want what we want and we think we are the best determiner of what that is. Then, we use God as the backup validation for our own desires.

Let us see the lesson of this passage. Let us learn from God’s law not throw it away and take matters in our own hands. Let us trust God. Let us honor the law for it is without the law that we do not know how great of sinners that we are. The law is our mirror of our sinfulness. The law points us to Jesus Christ. The makes us love Jesus Christ even more and appreciate what He did for us even more. Thus, I thank God for the law.

Amen and Amen.

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