II Samuel 2:12-3:21 War And Peace.
Neither Judah and their king David, or Israel, primarily focused on the tribe of Benjamin, with their king Saul, were going to back down. After 12 from each group grasp and kill each other with their swords, David and Judah pursue the Israelites, “and Abner and the men of Israel were beaten before the servants of David” (v. 17). Joab was David’s right hand man, as Abner was to Saul, and his brother Asahel with very swift and pursued Abner, and despite a warning from Abner to stop, he did not, and Abner killed him. However, in the end, even though Israel greatly outnumbered the tribe of Judah, “there were missing of David’s servants nineteen men and Asahel. But the servants of David had struck down, of Benjamin and Abner’s men, three hundred and sixty men who died” (30-31). This history of the divide between these two evolving kingdoms is summarized by the author at 3:1. “Now there was a long war between the house of Saul and the house of David. But David grew stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul grew weaker and weaker.”
While this protracted battle was being waged, “Abner was strengthening his hold on the house of Saul” (v. 6). Abner also took one of Saul’s concubines, Rizpah. When Ishbosheth asked Abner about this he became very angry, and at that point had decided that he would hand the kingdom of Israel over to David (v. 10). To this end Abner proposed that he and David make a covenant, with one condition from David, that his first wife Michal, Saul’s daughter, be returned to him. Peace and unification came via the covenantal bond. “Returning David’s wife Michal to him (1 Sam. 18:27) would not only make right Saul’s wrong of having given her to another in David’s absence (1 Sam. 25:44), but would also strengthen David’s claim to the throne over Saul’s former realm. The restrictions of Deut. 24:1-4 do not apply in this situation, since David’s separation from Michal was involuntary.” (NGSB. 430) Abner’s commitment was based, as he said himself, on the LORD having spoken to David, “saying, ‘By the hand of my servant David, I will save My people Israel’” (v. 18).