7 LESSONS ON HOW NOT TO LIVE: THE STORY OF ABNER (I)

Intro:
There are many characters in the Bible whose life stories are meant to serve as cautionary tales for us. We can spare ourselves from suffering the disastrous consequences of bad behaviour by taking note of their misdeeds and avoiding them. This teaching focuses on one such person: Abner, who headed the Israeli army under the kingship of Saul and his son, Ish-bosheth.

The teaching is in two parts. We have deduced seven lessons on how not to live for this part while the second part will present five such lessons. Read and be blessed!

Abner's life provides us with a cautionary tale on selfish and arrogant living. Click To Tweet

7 LESSONS ON HOW NOT TO LIVE: THE STORY OF ABNER (I)

“I’m such a big man,” Abner must have thought. “I can do pretty much what I like.” This notion could have rolled around his mind not just once, but over and over till it became his philosophy. Some of the building blocks of this warped life construct were, “Hold nothing sacred” and “Look out for number one.”

Abner was a privileged adult Israeli, an experienced army officer and cousin to the king, Saul son of Kish, when he was introduced in 1 Samuel 14:50. Saul had made him commander of the army. That appointment may be considered well deserved or another instance of nepotism, which has been rife in politics through the ages, depending on how you choose to see it. Saul must have picked Abner to ensure loyalty. Having a close relative in such a sensitive and high position would ensure his personal safety and prevent anxiety about possible insurrection.

Abner was in a position to advise Saul on his military strategies and campaigns. For over a decade, Saul was hunting David down to kill him and obviate the possibility of the young man succeeding him. David was a distinguished Israeli army officer. He had killed Goliath, the Philistine giant who had been poised to humiliate Israel. He also led successful military campaigns against the nation’s enemies, thus endearing himself to the citizens. In addition, he was Saul’s son-in-law. (1 Samuel chapter 17; 18:6-16)

The king’s obsession with exterminating David was unjust and unwarranted but Abner was never reported to have attempted to dissuade him. Rather, he accompanied Saul on his ill-advised expeditions against the young man who was widely known to have been anointed by God to replace him. It was Jonathan, the first son of Saul, whom the king hoped would be his successor, who spoke up to defend David. Furthermore, David’s wife, Saul’s second daughter, Michal, helped him escape when Saul sent men to kill him at home. (1 Samuel chapters 24 & 26; 20:30-34)

Lesson 1: Do not join anyone to do evil.

Lesson 2: Never ignore or oppose the express will of God.

Lesson 3: Do not keep quiet in the face of injustice.

Lesson 4: Do not fail to give godly advice and be a positive influence to people around you whenever possible.

Ignoring or opposing the express will of God is a hopeless and dangerous course. Click To Tweet

Unfortunately, Saul continued his murderous pursuit of David and had a whole city of priests slaughtered because he claimed David had risen up against him and Ahimelech “had helped him escape”. This charge resulted when David fled to the tent of God and Ahimelech consulted God for him, then furnished him with a weapon and provisions because he claimed he was on a mission for the king. (1 Samuel 21:1-9; 22:6-19) The priest’s response to Saul’s charge before he was executed was profound:

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“14. Then Ahimelech answered the king, “And who among all your servants is so faithful as David, who is the king’s son-in-law, and captain over your bodyguard, and honored in your house?
15. Is today the first time that I have inquired of God for him? No! Let not the king impute anything to his servant or to all the house of my father, for your servant has known nothing of all this, much or little.” – (1 Samuel 22:14-15 – ESV)

In spite of all this, Abner was not troubled enough to disagree with Saul on the matter.

Perhaps, Abner was concerned about the security of his own position which he may have felt at the time could not be guaranteed if David became king.

In another instance, Saul committed genocide against the Gibeonites whom the elders of Israel had vowed to spare during the time of Joshua. Again, Abner’s stand against this carnage which later brought God’s judgment on Israel was not recorded. (Joshua 9:3-19; 2 Samuel 21:1-2)

It is good to obey our bosses but we need to draw the line when they pursue an evil agenda.

Fast forward to the battle with the Philistines on the Mount of Gilboa. The army of Israel is soundly defeated, Saul and his three sons – Jonathan, Abinadab and Malkishua – killed in the process. Abner has an opportunity to redeem himself by aligning with David right away and helping to bring about the promise of God to make him the shepherd of his people, Israel.

But he chooses the opposite course by making Saul’s survivng son, Ish-bosheth, king and “strengthening his own position in the house of Saul” (2 Samuel 2:8-9, 2 Samuel 3:6 – NIV).

Lesson 5: Do not feel obligated to obey ungodly commands from your superiors.

Lesson 6: Do not allow your personal agenda or interest to prevent you from doing right.

Always strive to do right even if it means setting aside your personal interests. Click To Tweet

The course Abner chose meant that Saul’s and David’s armies were pitched against each other and the resulting skirmishes led to the loss of many lives. A particularly reprehensible instance of mindless violence instigated by Abner during this time is recorded in 2 Samuel 2:12-17.

12. And Abner the son of Ner, and the servants of Ish–bosheth the son of Saul, went out from Mahanaim to Gibeon.
13. And Joab the son of Zeruiah, and the servants of David, went out, and met together by the pool of Gibeon: and they sat down, the one on the one side of the pool, and the other on the other side of the pool.
14. And Abner said to Joab, Let the young men now arise, and play before us. And Joab said, Let them arise.
15. Then there arose and went over by number twelve of Benjamin, which pertained to Ish–bosheth the son of Saul, and twelve of the servants of David.
16. And they caught every one his fellow by the head, and thrust his sword in his fellow’s side; so they fell down together: wherefore that place was called Helkath–hazzurim, which is in Gibeon.
17. And there was a very sore battle that day; and Abner was beaten, and the men of Israel, before the servants of David.

These were soldiers under Abner’s command. They were young men who had enlisted to serve their country, who had parents, wives and children waiting for them at home. Abner placed no value on their lives but sought macabre entertainment by calling for a duel in which they were meant to kill each other.

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Lesson 7: Do not toy with human lives. Always remember that life is sacred and do not shed blood lightly.

From that point, negative events that ultimately led to Abner’s murder were set in motion. These will be discussed in Part II of this teaching which, by God’s grace, will present more lessons for us from Abner’s life.

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The scriptures in this post are from the King James Version of the Holy Bible except where otherwise stated.
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I am a university lecturer. I teach Mass Communication, mostly writing courses like Feature and Interpretative Writing, Magazine Article Writing and News Writing, and let’s just say I’ve been doing this for a long time. As you have probably guessed, I am a born-again Christian.

52 thoughts on “7 LESSONS ON HOW NOT TO LIVE: THE STORY OF ABNER (I)

  1. Edith, I as well, have missed time at my computer recently. What a blessing and pleasure to find THIS. Thank you for sharing, and bringing some old testament scriptures to modern life application. You are an inspiration to me in more ways than one. Hugs to you sister.

    • So glad to hear from you, Tammy! Praise God for the post. Your writing brings me some strong inspiration and encouragement too. The Lord is your strength and provider at this time. I’ll be visiting my favourite blogs in due course and hope to catch up with yours. Cheers! ❤️

  2. I have learnt that adherence to the will of God is very very important and shouldn’t be jeopardized no matter what and also that doing evil or being an accomplice is not of God and therefore should be avoided by all means as children of God. Thank you ma.

    • Praise the Lord! May God help us to apply these lessons in our daily lives in Jesus’ name. Have a great September in Jesus’ name.

  3. This is superbly great.. I’ve gone through this story a good number of times in the past but never in anyway saw these lessons from this exquisite perspective. Aunty, you did a great justice to this by simplifying it. I’ve learned a great deal from this. Very helpful. Especially, the lessons of No 2, 3, 6&7.

    • Glory to God! It doesn’t matter how often we read the Bible, God by His Spirit continues to show us new things in it. That is why it is such a joy to study it. I pray your light shines bright for the Lord wherever you are in Jesus’ name.

    • Sycophancy is a big problem in politics, especially in this part of the world where accountability is hardly expected. God bless you, my dear!

  4. I think I’ve read this passage in the bible before but I never quite understood it this way ..this is an eye opener for me not to stand even near those committing the evil just like in psalms 1 verse 1 Thank you Ma for spelling it out this simply for me

  5. To be honest, I didn’t know the part Abner played in the downfall of Saul. His name was mentioned as an army officer but my attention was on Saul. This is an eye opener and I really will not want to live to please someone even when the person is wrong like Abner did.

  6. This is is a nice piece and quite interesting. Your references to Bible verses are wonderful too. The story is a life-changing one and I learnt a lot.

  7. The Piece adds very vivid robustness and life to the Biblical story of David’s ascension to the throne with Abner in the scene. It brings much lessons to be learnt. The systematic citation of scripture is also apt, concise and strategic. Thank You Ma

    • We should ensure that we do or say what is right even though it would affect our personal interest and endeavor to give the right advice especially when we in a position to do so.

  8. I like lesson 7 more. It seems these days people don’t take life as anything with much killing going around and the annoying part is that we humans kill each other. I pray God help us to learn from Abner before it’s too late

  9. Fear God and not man,always do the right thing without looking at faces,we should always stand bold in the face of truth and justice cause our God is a God of truth he fears no man

  10. In the bid to preserve one’s life or interest without God, we take ungodly decisions and take ungodly actions but at the end we lose everything and that directs us to Matthew 6:33,seek ye first the kingdom of God… rather Abner sought for the kingdom of the earth. I believe if Abner had done the right thing by being in alliance with David, God will definitely have rewarded him because He is the rewarder of those that diligently seek Him.

  11. the story of Abner goes to emphasize on the fact that no matter what the enemy may do or say, the plan of God will still prevail in the end. I have never really studied the story of Abner but Ma, i appreciate you for drawing our attention to it. all in our bid to obtain the favour of our fellow man, we go to the extent of selling our souls to the devil and thwarting God’s plan. yet, His plans still prevail at the end as we can see in the promise made to Judah and which can be seen manifested in David and finally in Jesus.

  12. Lesson 5: Do not feel obligated to obey ungodly commands from your superiors.
    I like this one in particular. A lot of us youths fall into such situations where we feel like we really need to do something even when we know its wrong, all because the person with the instruction is our superior.
    Lesson learnt.

  13. Top executives and advisers shouldn’t forget that they were hired because they possess a power of influence. You have what your employer does not have. So why not make the impact positive with this rare power? Life is such that what you give is what you get. Abner should have created happiness to stay happy all his life.

  14. This article is an admonishing one. We can become accomplices of sins either passively or actively. It is passive when we are aware of an unjust act and we fail to oppose it. It is active when we give in our consent and even allow ourselves to be used as instruments for the perpetration of the act. The former is a sin of omission while the latter is a sin of commission. In this case, Abner was an active agent used by King Saul to commit evil. Maybe, he had to consent because he feared men rather than God. One of the major reasons why we partake in sins with their initiators especially passively, is because our lives are always threatened when we fail oppose them. Jesus exhorts us not to fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather we should fear Him who can destroy both the soul and body in hell (Mathew 10:28). If only we can be always conscious of these words and pray fervently for the grace to adhere to them, then we shall conquer the temptation of partaking in sins with their initiators.

  15. God is a God of truth and we his children should also exhibit such qualities at all times. We should be fair in all our dealings not siding one person because of what we stand to gain from them but always treat every issue rightly.

  16. You cannot deviate from God’s plan because His plan is supreme and no matter what the enemy does, His will stands firm. I love this piece.

  17. I might describe Abner as a selfish fellow who puts himself first. no wonder i’ve not heard anyone bearing the name, Abner. his attitude is nothing to write home about. he is exactly the type of friend you should look out for and avoid. there are so many Abners in the world today, roaming about and looking for who to instigate. flee fom them. implicating people. i learnt a lot from this piece, although i’m late. God bless you abundantly, ma

  18. I learnt a lot from this passage, one should never get jealous over somebody because it stops you from identifying yours, Saul was jealous over David even though David served him faithfully but the jealousy in Saul did not allow him to identify David loyalty towards him but instead he find a way to kill him.
    The people he keeps as friends could not even tell him that his motive was wrong e.g Abner who is even not a stranger but a cousin to Saul who would have been in the right position to correct Saul, it tells us that we should be careful of the kinds of friends we keep.
    We should also put our trust and reliability on God, what we don’t have he will definitely give it to us because he said in Mathew 7:7, Ask and it shall be given, Knock and the door shall be open, seek and you will find…
    The Lord is our shield everyone has his or her own talent which is unique and special so we should try to appreciate and be contented with what we have.
    ALWAYS doing good maam, thank you for this great piece.

  19. I remember reading this particular chapter in the Bible. Abner was a man who was selfish and just wanted power and recognition. He went along with every bad deeds of Saul without trying to advise him. As one of the closest men to Saul, Abner was supposed to advise him against some certain things. However, he had refused the spirit of God so an evil spirit dwelt in him. He met his death eventually. We should all seek the face of God in everything we do. I love this story.

  20. Abner’s life is soo disappointing. It didn’t at all reflect good Christian living. Just look at him,doing nothing to stop all these evil things. He practically aided Saul in accomplishing every evil agenda. These seven lessons are good to know. Christians should know where to draw the line in doing some things that would only call down God’s wrath. A very memorable post this is aunty. Thank you

  21. Lesson picked; Dont join others to do evil.
    Be it loyalists, relatives, friends etc, we are to caution them not to take on their evil plans, not join them on a train. Had Abner cautioned Saul, he wouldn’t have lost favour in the sight of God. God help us erode Abners in our life. Amen

  22. Evil deeds are not of the lord but of the devil, imagine us disobeying or going contrary to what our earthly fathers told us not to do how the after effect is going to be, talk more of disobeying our maker who can crush us with a snap of his fingers, this story has a moral lesson in short many of them, God has given us a law to abide in so why do we move out of those laws knowing that God will be unhappy and at the end of our journey we’ll give accounts of how we spent our lives. I pray that God gives us the grace to move in his path and not go astray Amen.

  23. We all have that one person who is a boss over us. In the course of obeying orders from above, we should learn to also do the right thing. I really learnt a lot from the story of Abner… The simplicity of it’s narration made it more understandabe.

  24. This is a revelation…I believe it will help believers define the boundaries of their loyalty to their bosses and strengthen their resolve to honor God above men.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • Delighted you visited, Janene! God help us to lead as our Saviour did in our spheres of influence in Jesus’ name.

  25. A true lesson. We shouldn’t do wrong things because our boss or manager ordered us to. Say no to wrong even if it is your boss. We shouldn’t allow our selfish desires allow us to do wrong things

  26. As a Christian it’s very important to live in Gods direction, many people want to do better, but because they are afraid of losing their jobs they turn to sycophants

  27. All these lessons are connected. One leads to the other or one breeds the other. “Do not feel obligated to obey ungodly commands from your superiors”. But this is particularly intriguing to me. I wonder what people think when following blind orders in the name of loyalty or obligation. Let it be known that for what so ever action we take, we’re responsible for it. This concurs to the law of corporate social responsibility and the law of being a moral agent which entails that for every action enacted willingly and knowingly the moral agent is solely responsible for it. The law of corporate social responsibility which talk about the relationship in action in an organization, a state or a nation emphasizes the fact that individuals who obey the ill order of the Masters are also responsible for those actions, as well as the Masters. So one can see that no one is left out in the corporate action. We should then try to be reasonable when obeying the orders of our superiors bearing in mind that we are also responsible for those actions. Thanks ma for that wonderful write up.

  28. Ma, this is beautiful. I mean the way the story of Abner came out in this post makes it feel I was there. Thank you for this deep insight.

    I think that the major trouble is even in the face of the things that are not right, we still keep silent and let evil perpetuate and this is a serious problem. God will help us.

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