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The Son of Ner, Saul’s uncle; Abner was consequently Saul’s cousin (1 Sam. 14:5151And Kish was the father of Saul; and Ner the father of Abner was the son of Abiel. (1 Samuel 14:51)). He was Saul’s “captain of the host” when David slew Goliath, and he presented David to Saul (1 Sam. 17:55,5755And when Saul saw David go forth against the Philistine, he said unto Abner, the captain of the host, Abner, whose son is this youth? And Abner said, As thy soul liveth, O king, I cannot tell. (1 Samuel 17:55)
57And as David returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, Abner took him, and brought him before Saul with the head of the Philistine in his hand. (1 Samuel 17:57)
). He was with Saul when David took away the spear and cruse of water while they slept: for which David reproached him, saying he was worthy of death because he had not more faithfully guarded his master (1 Sam. 26:5-165And David arose, and came to the place where Saul had pitched: and David beheld the place where Saul lay, and Abner the son of Ner, the captain of his host: and Saul lay in the trench, and the people pitched round about him. 6Then answered David and said to Ahimelech the Hittite, and to Abishai the son of Zeruiah, brother to Joab, saying, Who will go down with me to Saul to the camp? And Abishai said, I will go down with thee. 7So David and Abishai came to the people by night: and, behold, Saul lay sleeping within the trench, and his spear stuck in the ground at his bolster: but Abner and the people lay round about him. 8Then said Abishai to David, God hath delivered thine enemy into thine hand this day: now therefore let me smite him, I pray thee, with the spear even to the earth at once, and I will not smite him the second time. 9And David said to Abishai, Destroy him not: for who can stretch forth his hand against the Lord's anointed, and be guiltless? 10David said furthermore, As the Lord liveth, the Lord shall smite him; or his day shall come to die; or he shall descend into battle, and perish. 11The Lord forbid that I should stretch forth mine hand against the Lord's anointed: but, I pray thee, take thou now the spear that is at his bolster, and the cruse of water, and let us go. 12So David took the spear and the cruse of water from Saul's bolster; and they gat them away, and no man saw it, nor knew it, neither awaked: for they were all asleep; because a deep sleep from the Lord was fallen upon them. 13Then David went over to the other side, and stood on the top of an hill afar off; a great space being between them: 14And David cried to the people, and to Abner the son of Ner, saying, Answerest thou not, Abner? Then Abner answered and said, Who art thou that criest to the king? 15And David said to Abner, Art not thou a valiant man? and who is like to thee in Israel? wherefore then hast thou not kept thy lord the king? for there came one of the people in to destroy the king thy lord. 16This thing is not good that thou hast done. As the Lord liveth, ye are worthy to die, because ye have not kept your master, the Lord's anointed. And now see where the king's spear is, and the cruse of water that was at his bolster. (1 Samuel 26:5‑16)). After the death of Saul (apparently about 5 years after), Abner made Ish-bosheth king over Israel; but this did not include Judah over which David was king (2 Sam. 2:8-108But Abner the son of Ner, captain of Saul's host, took Ish-bosheth the son of Saul, and brought him over to Mahanaim; 9And made him king over Gilead, and over the Ashurites, and over Jezreel, and over Ephraim, and over Benjamin, and over all Israel. 10Ish-bosheth Saul's son was forty years old when he began to reign over Israel, and reigned two years. But the house of Judah followed David. (2 Samuel 2:8‑10)). In one of the conflicts between the two houses Abner was overcome, and Asahel, Joab’s brother, “light of foot as a wild roe,” pursued Abner. Abner cautioned him twice, and then slew him (2 Sam. 17-23). This act of self-defense was afterward made the plea for Abner’s death. Saul had had a concubine named Rizpah, and this woman Abner took; for which he was reproached by Ish-bosheth (who probably thought it was a prelude to his seizing the kingdom). This so incensed Abner that he revolted from his master and made overtures to David. David demanded that Abner should bring with him Michal, Saul’s daughter, David’s former wife. This he accomplished, and he and the men with him were well received by David, who made a feast for them. But Joab, who was absent, was angry when he heard of it, probably jealous lest the command of the army should be divided between himself and Abner. He sent messengers for Abner’s return, and then, under the pretense of privately communing with him, smote him, professedly to avenge the death of his brother Asahel. David was much grieved at this murder, and followed the bier and fasted till the sun went down. He rehearsed on the occasion the following dirge:
“Died Abner as a fool dieth?
Thy hands were not bound,
Nor thy feet put into fetters:
As a man falleth before wicked men, so fellest thou.”
David further said that in Abner’s death a prince and a great man had fallen, and that Jehovah would avenge his death. This last was accomplished, according to David’s dying injunction, by the direction of King Solomon, and Joab was slain by Benaiah. Yet doubtless the holy government of God was fulfilled in the death of Abner. Personal pique turned him round to David, and yet he knew well, while upholding the house of Saul, that David was God’s anointed king.