The Death Of A Fool


2 Samuel 3:31b “…. And king David himself followed the bier.
32. And they buried Abner in Hebron: and the king lifted up his voice, and wept at the grave of Abner; and all the people wept.
33. And the king lamented over Abner, and said, Died Abner as a fool dieth?
34. Thy hands were not bound, nor thy feet put into fetters: as a man falleth before wicked men, so fellest thou. And all the people wept again over him.”

Actually, David at this time was King of Judah—his home part of the nation. Saul had been dead three to four years, after being slain on Mt. Gilboah. The scripture says there was “A long war between the house of Saul and the house of David:” (2 Samuel 3:1).

The complete transition of government lasted seven and a half years. The incident we are looking at (the death of Abner) caused three or four years delay. Abner was a cousin of King Saul and also captain of his army. Abner was also Saul’s bodyguard and responsible for his protection (1 Samuel 26:15).

It was Abner who brought David before King Saul immediately after he had slain Goliath. David was received by Saul with great enthusiasm into his house. The soul of David and the soul of Jonathan, Saul’s son, was knit together that day (1 Samuel 18:1). That was fourteen years ago and much had transpired since then. Trouble was not long in coming to David.

It was not long after David became a part of King Saul’s household that Saul became very angry and jealous of David’s popularity. The women, on David’s return from battle, sang, “Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousand.” “And Saul eyed David from that day and forward.” Life became so intolerable in the Palace that David had to flee to the wilderness to save his life from Saul.

1 Samuel 22:1. “David, therefore, departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brethren and all his father’s house heard it, they went down thither to him.
2. And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men.”

In a few days many others were joined with David where he was hiding in a cave, until about 400 men along with their wives and children. This was a considerable number to care for, but they became an army. David sent his father and mother to Moab, David’s ancestral home (Ruth 4:21-22), for safety from the rage of Saul.

Remember David had 7 brothers, Eliab, Abinadab, Shammah, and 4 more unnamed (1 Samuel 16:6-10), and his sister, Zeruiah, had 3 sons, Joab, Abishai, and Asahel (2 Samuel 2:18). These 7 brothers and 3 nephews that joined David were to become a lifetime asset and also burden to David.

They were an asset in battle, because some are named in 2 Samuel 23 as one of the 37 mighty men who fought for David. A burden because of the many problems they caused.

Juab, as a result of great exploits in battle, became the captain of David’s host of men and the most influential person in he kingdom. After Saul’s death, Abner, Captain of Saul’s army, joined David’s forces and united the kingdom behind David. That leads us to the subject we want to bring to you attention. The story is told in 2 Samuel 2 & 3.

The Death Of A Fool:
In 2 Samuel 2, a battle took place in which David’s men led by Joab defeated the armies lead by Abner, Saul’s former captain. As Abner was leaving the scene of the battle Asahel, Joab’s brother, for some unexplained reason, pursued after him.

Abner knew that Asahel was not armed and was not a match for him in a fight. So Abner tried to persuade him to turn back but Asahel would not but kept coming on. Two or three times Abner told Asahel to turn back.

2 Samuel 2:23. “Howbeit he refused to turn aside: wherefore Abner with the hinder end of the spear smote him under the fifth rib, that the spear came out behind him; and he fell down there, and died in the same place: and it came to pass, that as many as came to the place where Asahel fell down and died stood still.
24. Joab also and Abishai pursued after Abner: and the sun went down.”

Asahel, swift of foot, heedless of warning, headstrong, overconfident, rushed blindly to his fate. He was struck down in youthful prime with the promise of great future extinguished. If he had lived another year or two he no doubt would have had a great part in David’s kingdom.

After Asahel was slain by Abner, even though he would rather not have done it, Joab and Abishai became the avengers of blood. These two brothers, who came forth from the same household as David, left behind a legacy—not of peace and good-will, but of wrath and revenge.

God, in his great mercy, had provided a refuge. 6 cities had been set aside as a city of refuge into which one such as Abner could run, and live and be safe from the avenger of blood. As long as Abner abides in the city of refuge he is under the protection of the powers that be.

Abner, Knowing the law and also the wrath of Joab, fled to Hebron. Now Hebron was one of the Cities of Refuge which Joshua had set aside (Joshua 20:7). Abner was safe in Hebron. As long as Abner stayed inside the city walls he was safe from the avenger of blood, Joab.

Abner was a good man and during the time he was hiding from Joab he communed with David to try to consolidate the entire kingdom under David (2 Samuel 3:12-21).

But time has a way of causing a person to not be so fearful of some things. After two or three years Joab came to Hebron.

2 Samuel 3:27. “And when Abner was returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside in the gate to speak with him quietly, and smote him there under the fifth rib, that he died, for the blood of Asahel his brother.”

Let us notice the treachery of Joab. Joab lured Abner to come outside the city gate under the pretence of having a private conversation with him. “I want to talk to you.” Abner perhaps thought that time had cooled Joab’s anger and he went out to talk to Joab.

Abner should have immediately known something was wrong here. Abner knew the law. “Stay inside the city.” But Abner took one step too many in the wrong direction and Joab stabbed him to death.

David’s Reaction To The Tragedy:
David heard about what happened and how it came to pass. And our opening scripture tells us his reaction.

2 Samuel 3:31b. “And king David himself followed the bier.
32. And they buried Abner in Hebron: and the king lifted up his voice, and wept at the grave of Abner; and all the people wept.
33. And the king lamented over Abner, and said, Died Abner as a fool dieth?
34. Thy hands were not bound, nor thy feet put into fetters: as a man falleth before wicked men, so fellest thou. And all the people wept again over him.

The Death Of A Fool:
David’s lament is so true and people are still dying ‘as a fool dieth’ both naturally and spiritually. We could bring you many cases of people die naturally because of their own, or someone else’s carelessness or neglect. But we want to drive home a point in this study of spiritual carelessness and neglect.

Abner was a fugitive from the avenger of blood. He had fled to a safe haven in Hebron. As long as he stayed in Hebron he was safe from all harm by the avenger. But through his own neglect and carelessness, he was lured to his death. David summed it up by saying, “Abner died as a fool dieth.”

What David said is so true. No one bound Abner and dragged him out of the city. “Thy hands were not bound, nor thy feet put into fetters:” “You came out of your own will.” What took place was a very subtle, luring, deceptive outside pressure.

The same thing happens every day in the lives of good Christian people. There is a spirit of compromise on the inside of his heart. The ‘outside’ pressure that says, “Come I have something to tell you.”

The inside begins the compromise saying,
“I will just this one time.”
“It won’t hurt to go once.”
“I don’t believe there is any harm in it.”
“After all Joab looks like my friend.”

Remember the days you were fleeing from the avenger? He was very close to laying hold upon you. You fled to the refuge who took you into a place of safety. He surrounded you with friends and gave you peace of mind. You found your place in the Church worshipping and praising your redeemer.

Psalms 91:2. “I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.”

Proverbs 18:10. “The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.”

All the powers in the hell cannot touch you if you abide in Him. Satan cannot bind your hands either can he put your feet in fetters. God put a hedge around Job—and Satan could not get to him.

The only way Satan can get to us—we must come out of the city of refuge. This is the way of the fool. Let us look into the Song of Solomon for a picture of neglect and headlines of the appeal of the Spirit of God.

Song of Solomon 5:1. “I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.
2. I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew and my locks with the drops of the night.”

This is a picture of Jesus’ call to awaken his Church. He has come with many good things including the fruit and wine (Holy Spirit) of His garden and wants to have fellowship.

But His beloved is asleep. She stirs herself as He calls again for her to open, calls with love notes as He stands just outside the door. He waits to share His love with her.

The Church is in slumber, like Peter, James, And John in the Garden as Jesus pleads for them to pray with Him. But slumber has overcome them. Today Jesus would have us rise from our slumber and have fellowship with Him. But there are so many hindrances.

Song of Solomon 5:3. “I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?”

All kinds of excuses come to us, but the main reason is we have been lulled to sleep and it is hard to shake ourselves.

Song of Solomon 5:4. “My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him.
5. I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock.”

If you will notice the great picture of Jesus knocking on the door that there is no doorknob or latch on the outside of the door. The doors and we had one when I was small, had a hole and a string which was put out from the inside to raise up a crude latch when the string was pulled to unlatch the door. To keep someone out, the string was pulled out of the hole from the inside, and the hole was left but no way to unlatch the door.

This is the picture that is portrayed here in this verse. The Lord has come and the door is latched from the inside, He reaches out and puts his hand that is dripping with myrrh and sweet smelling fragrance, to the hole in the door but it is latched on the inside.

The Church begins to stir and rouse herself, she slowly rises, she reaches out to the hole in the door and her hand comes away dripping with sweet smelling fragrance from the handles of the locked door.

Song of Solomon 5:6. “I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer.”

Do we see the picture, it is so sad? The sleeping beloved aroused from slumber and flung the door open, but her Beloved had withdrawn himself and was gone. All that was left was the memory of His voice and the fragrance of His person.

“I sought Him,”
“But I could not find Him,”
“I called Him,”
“But He gave me no answer.”
“He gave me no answer.”

“He gave me no answer.”

“My beloved was gone.”

Is That Going To Be Our Demise?

Are we, The Church, going to die as a fool dieth? Are we going on in our slumber while the Lord Jesus pleads with us to open the door of our heart and let Him come in and have full fellowship with us?

I personally know some people that are left with only a memory of what it used to be. They remember the good time they had in the worship of their Beloved. But something happened and now they are left with only a fragrance, only a memory because their Beloved has slipped away.

I want to record the next two verses to show what happens when we lose contact with our Beloved. She ran out into the street looking for him she called out, she asked about His whereabouts, but all she got was a beaten.

Song of Solomon 5:7. “The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me.
8. I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him, that I am sick of love.”

2 Samuel 3:33. “And the king lamented over Abner, and said, Died Abner as a fool dieth?
34. Thy hands were not bound, nor thy feet put into fetters: as a man falleth before wicked men, so fellest thou. And all the people wept again over him.”

No One Can Force Us To Leave The Shelter Of The Refuge (Jesus):
We leave on our own even as He pleads with us. We sleep and slumber with the door of our hearts latched on the inside. Arise and shake your self before He withdraws completely from you and you are left with only the memory of Him.


By, James L. Thornton

About the author

James Thornton

I am a retired pastor currently living in the Nashville, TN area. We attend First Church, Bro. Ron Becton pastor. We've been putting our sermons and Bible studies online for more than five years in an effort to continue our ministry.