When You Think You’ve Got Everything Worked Out

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.

Hello readers, today we are going to be talking about Abner. When you think you’ve got everything worked out… well Abner sure did. This blog is primarily taken from 2 Samuel 2 and 3. It’d be best to read it for yourself as the Bible tells it infinitely better than I can tell it. Abner was the captain of Saul’s army. He was a man of war, he was a mighty man, he had position and power. After Saul died he installed Saul’s son Ishbosheth as the new king of Israel. At this time Israel was divided between Saul and David. Saul was the first king, but God had anointed David to be the new king after he rejected Saul… because Saul disobeyed God. So there were two sides, there was Saul’s house and David’s house. David’s house was getting stronger, while Saul’s side was getting weaker. Hopefully in your life, it is your spiritual man who waxes stronger and stronger, while your flesh gets weaker and weaker. For so many Christians David’s house never gets stronger, they never grow as a Christian, they never get victory over their sin, they never live a life of abiding in Christ.

In amongst this struggle was Abner. And Abner sensed the tide was turning. He was no idiot, but yet David would say died Abner as a fool dieth? For all his might, and prestige, and position, and power and all his scheming and planning and devising… Abner died a fool. There are a lot of fools in this world. You reject Jesus Christ, you are a fool, make no mistake about that. You’ll die like a fool rejecting Jesus Christ, rejecting the free gift of salvation he offered you. You’ll die like a fool, when for all your wisdom and intellect and wherewithal, for all your life’s work… you go to hell.

Abner was the real leader of Saul’s army. He put Ishbosheth in charge because he could control him. He was a guy who was constantly positioning himself. We live in a world where everyone is positioning themselves to get ahead. Everyone’s trying to get ahead, yet for all his getting ahead, he died like a fool. How stupid it is to spend an entire life trying to advance yourself and your causes, to lose your own soul for eternity? If you care about yourself so much here and nourishing your flesh which perishes… why don’t you care what happens to you when you die? You see, your flesh is actually not your friend. It’s against you, it’ll destroy you. That’s the folly of feeding your flesh and following your flesh, because it’ll produce death in every sphere of your life.

Abner liked to be in charge. And we really like to be in charge don’t we. We say we are saved, we say we believe, but we are really the people in charge of our life. There’s no humility, there’s no submission, there’s no brokenness, there’s no repentance. All these things were completely missing from Abner’s life. You know, I had never realized that Abner died at the gates of a city of refuge. He died at the gates of Herbon, which was one of the cities of refuge. It was a city designated where you could go and plead for mercy, plead for judgement, plead for safety and rescuing for someone who was after you. But not Abner, he was too proud for that, he thought he had life by the tail, but Satan had him by the tail. You see, we think we are in charge, we think we’ve got life worked out, we’ve got everything sorted in our lives… but we don’t.

Abner had killed Joab’s brother. You see, while Abner was captain of Saul’s army, Joab was captain of David’s army. And in battle, Abner had killed Asahel, who was Joab’s brother. Furthermore, Abner had been rebuked by Ishbosheth when he took one of Saul’s concubines. Abner got so mad he was like, I’m taking the army and I’m making David king. David can be king of all of us. Boy we like to negotiate the terms of our salvation. We live in a Christianity where instead of brokenness, humility and surrender, we are negotiating with God. We’re bringing something to David’s table, we’re cutting a deal, we’re laying out the terms and conditions to God. But the truth is, God doesn’t accept you on your terms… ever. We are only accepted by God coming to him on his terms… and that’s us bringing nothing.

Abner organized a meeting with David, and David showed him grace. Hey this guy is much better to be with than old Ishbosheth. You know, lost sinners really benefit of the goodness and grace of Jesus Christ. He sends rain on the just and the unjust. God is good to people that hate him, people that are unsaved. We all breathe the air of God’s goodness, grace, mercy and longsuffering. And many people may like the idea of being a Christian. Many people like things like love, forgiveness, humility… virtues associated with being a Christian. But they want them without there ever being a resolution to sin, without repentance. Hey, most are just playing the religious game like Abner was. Abner was jumping ship to keep his position and be on the winning side.

When Abner left the presence of David, he didn’t realize that day he’d be in hell. Many people hear the gospel, many people think of getting saved, many people know they should be, many people are in the process of investigating Christianity… it’s all a joke… but they leave the goodness and grace of Jesus Christ without having ever been saved, without ever having been born again. You see, there was a guy long on his trail. Joab was had been on Abner’s trail ever since he killed Asahel. Joab wanted revenge, and truth be told, Abner was entitled to it.

You know what’s staggering. Abner met David in Hebron. You know, he could’ve stayed in Hebron and been safe. Hebron was a position of safety. But he went out of there. The law was, if you left the city of refuge with blood on your hands… you were fair game. He got enticed out by Joab, and he got stabbed in his heart. You know, many people die at the very gates of salvation. They’re at the place of refuge, they’re at a place that has an altar you can take hold on, they’re at a place where the king is, the king who can save your life… and yet they die and go to hell. What a fool!

There’d never been a resolution of what happened with Abner and Asahel. Thing had never been made right. So often people become Christians… but their sin isn’t right. And they go out of Hebron, they leave the place of fellowship, communion, alliance… they leave out thinking they’ve worked it all out. Many people try benefiting out of Christianity. Many people think they’ve got life by the tail… but the only one got by the tail is them… and Satan’s got them. If your sin hasn’t been dealt with, if you haven’t pleaded for mercy, if you haven’t repented of your sin, if you haven’t place your faith in Jesus Christ… things are not ok. You may think you’ve cut a deal with God, but you haven’t. You’re only in it for what you can get out of it. Isn’t that the truth? You’re a Christian not because you ever repented of your sin and got saved, you’re a Christian because you’re playing the religious game to advance yourself, you’re using religion to serve your interests. That’s all Abner was doing, he’s a picture of a lost sinner dying in his sins thinking he’s ok.

He left the refuge and he got his guts cut out by Joab. Joab wants to talk to me! I’ll go and see him! He didn’t even see the sword in Joab’s hand. Why are Christians so stupid. We need wisdom to live the Christian life. Why can’t we see who and what people truly are? What a dummy to go up to a guy that wanted him dead, all because Joab didn’t show open hostility in saying hey come out and let’s have a chat. You know, the worst enemies are those that kill you drawing you close in one hand … but you don’t see the other hand holding a sword that they’re gonna run you through with behind their back.

Abner was a guy that hadn’t ever been able to take rebuke. Is that what you’re like? Nobody’s gonna make your repent of nothing. Nobody’s gonna make you sorry. He did wrong when he took Saul’s concubine, and when he got rebuked, he bucked up with pride. Hey Ishbosheth I’m the one with all the power, I’m the one who’s served your dad, I’m the one getting things done, you owe me! Who are you to say not to do this. Notice this when you get rebuked of sin, you instantly go to justification mode. But I did this, this and that right. Is that what you’re going to tell God when your life is reduced to ash in his presence? Abner made Ishbosheth the bad guy, how often when a sinner is rebuked of his sin, he makes the preacher, he makes the man of God the bad guy. How often the unrepentant sinner says hey I did this right… like it legitimizes your sin. You may have done a lot right, and that’s just reasonable service, God doesn’t owe you… but that doesn’t make your sin alright. Hey David did a lot right but his sin with Bathsheba was wicked sin. The fact he’d done good didn’t make up for what he had done wrong.

Abner is a picture of someone hopping around in Christianity. Going from one church to another, from one denomination to another… never settled, never faithful somewhere, just using Christianity to advance him or herself. So many people are completely deluded about themselves, about how good they are, about who and what they are. They are deluded about their standing with God. They’re not right with God, but they think they’re pretty good. Abner was pretty confident in himself, after he had achievements, he had power, but he was nothing. We’re nothing people, we’re just dead dogs that God has had mercy on. Abner’s pride fooled him into thinking he was ok when he was not even nearly.

When David heard that Abner was dead, David was very upset. The people knew that it was not of the king to slay him. The Bible says God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3). You see, it’s not of God for you to die a lost sinner and go to hell. That’s not what God wants for your life. But God isn’t going to force you to get saved, yes he’s been good to you, but it’s up to you to get to and stay in the refuge he has provided. You can’t cut a deal with God, why would you ever leave the presence of the king without everything being sorted? Abner came on his own terms, and he thought he was safe enough to stroll out to have a chat with his mortal enemy. You know, death is an enemy that is chasing us all, our sin chases us all the way to hell if we are not saved in Christ.

Abner thought he had it all worked out. His scheming, his plans, his effortlessly transitioning teams to his advantage. But he had forgotten about the avenger of blood on his trail. He thought he’d negotiated terms with David, but he was a fool. Abner thought he was going to give the kingdom to David, he thought he was that big a deal. You know you can be doing a good thing, you can be living religious, you can even be serving God… and go to hell. It’s not enough to be good. Saul was a goodly man, but he wasn’t godly. I noticed something in 2 Timothy about the mystery of godliness. Godliness isn’t an act we put on, it’s what we believe, and the life that results from having taken ownership of who Jesus Christ and what he’s done by faith. Godliness is just a function of believing the doctrine of Jesus Christ, who he is and what he’s done. It’s not enough to play religion, and to jockey around in religion. Your sin must be dealt with. The blood demand much be paid that comes with sin. There is no forgiveness without repentance, sin must be atoned for, a resolution must be come to. And it’s not by negotiation, it’s by surrender, it’s in humility not in proud.

Hey David, I’m going to make this happen. We try to make our Christian life happen. Rather than Christ raising us from the dead, raising us up out of a life of sin… we raise ourselves. Rather than his will, it’s my will. Rather than his way… it’s my way. Hey, we can put a religious veil to it, but really we are the ones with the reins to our life. Really our Christianity is all about ourselves. It’s self serving, it’s self medication and it’s self willed. You’re not going to make what only God can do happen. Our lives have to go beyond our ability, Abner didn’t even have the ability to see his death coming. He didn’t have basic wisdom to see through Joab’s little plot to kill him. He died at the gates of his very salvation. That’s the scariest thing about this story, he did at the gates of the place of his refuge.

Abner could’ve been safe in Hebron. You can be safe in Christ today, you can be safe from the sin that’s following you all the way to a Christless eternity, you can have a refuge from the wrath of God and the reward of iniquity, but hey you think you’ve got it all figured out, you’ve sorted it out. We are so deluded about ourselves. We are so confident in ourselves… but the Bible says we should put no confidence in our flesh. Abner really thought he had worked everything out, and we can be like that. We’ve got life sorted, we think we know what we are doing. He thought he knew what he was doing when he leaned forward to hear what Joab had to say… and he got a sword through his heart which he never saw coming. He died like a fool. You don’t need to die like a fool, but you will if you reject Jesus Christ, if you choose deception and lies over truth and light. We think we know what’s going on, we think we know what we are doing, we think we’ve got it made. But we don’t. We are just fooling ourselves, we think we’re ahead of everyone else, but we’re the only one behind. Your confidence and pride and confidence in yourself is going to be your undoing.

We need to flee to Christ, we need to get to Christ, who is our refuge. And when there, stay there, abide in him, trust in him, walk by faith in him. Jesus Christ is the only one who has things worked out, we are just lost sinners who have been got some crumbs off the table. You know, most people calling themselves Christians even, they have no interest in God’s word, in the Lord Jesus Christ, in obeying him, in following him in repentance and faith. To them Christianity is about how they feel. He defected to David because of his feelings. It wasn’t about truth or righteousness, it was all about him. Christians live like they do, Christianity is like it is… because people really have no interest in the God they claim to serve. Jesus ran into a whole bunch of people who not only claimed to serve God, but sincerely thought they were! That’s how deceived and fooled we can be about who and what we are. And if that wasn’t enough, they then crucified Christ, they made Jesus the bad guy, they persecuted him, so many Christians so called are against the Bible, they’re against someone following Jesus Christ. They have no interest in God and the things and ways of God at all beyond what they can use God stuff for and get out of it, they’re just using religion, they’re playing the game… but they’re the ones getting played by the devil. They get their place, they position and advance themselves, they think they’ve got it all worked out… but Satan’s just worked them out.

People have no interest in repentance, they have no interest in what God’s word says, they have no interest in humbling themselves and submitting to God. All they’ve got is a religion and a false Jesus that’s all about me, myself and I. And the only one really fooled is them. They’re the fools… do you want to die a fool? Do you want to die at the gates of your own salvation? You can live a whole life and walk in and out of the place of your salvation. There were many people who saw Jesus, who heard him preach, who saw the miracles… who went to hell. True salvation is life changing, and with true salvation your sins are confessed and paid for, and you’re safe in Hebron. There’s no “league” to be had with Jesus Christ on your terms, it’s on the terms of humility, repentance and faith. Hey you may have got a good deal out of your little alliance with Christianity, but you’re going to die a fool. To die so close to salvation and spend eternity in hell… that’s foolish isn’t it? It’s time to forsake the scheming, the confidence in yourself, it’s time to stop embracing the delusion you are in, its time to stop the rubbish and foolishness, it’s time to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.


Joseph View All →

Hi, my name is Joseph Zadow. I am a 32 y/o Bible Blogger. I was new to blogging once! God’s word is the best thing that we can be given, and once we have it and know it for ourselves it is both a privilege and responsibility to bring it to others! We are blessed to be a blessing! I am a sinner (for sure!) saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ and I am a Lord Jesus Christ follower. He is faithful even though I rarely am to him. I believe the Bible is the word of God, and stake my life on it. My destination is heaven. As they say, I’m just a passin’ through this world… although most of the time it’s more like hangin’ by a thread in Jericho! I love playing sports – particularly cricket… I currently work on an orchard and a side hobby business of mine is growing vegetables etc – they are good for you! I love writing. Always happy to talk, so feel free to leave a comment. You can read more about me and my blog here – kjvbibletruth.com/about :)

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