2 Samuel 2:22
And Abner said again to Asahel, Turn thee aside from following me: wherefore should I smite thee to the ground? how then should I hold up my face to Joab thy brother?
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2:18-24 Death often comes by ways we least suspect. We are often betrayed by the accomplishments we are proud of! Asahel's swiftness, which he presumed so much upon, did him no service, but hastened his end.His armour - Rather, as in the margin; i. e. content thyself with the spoil of some inferior soldier for a trophy. 2Sa 2:19-32. Asahel Slain.

19-32. Asahel pursued after Abner—To gain the general's armor was deemed the grandest trophy. Asahel, ambitious of securing Abner's, had outstripped all other pursuers, and was fast gaining on the retreating commander. Abner, conscious of possessing more physical power, and unwilling that there should be "blood" between himself and Joab, Asahel's brother, twice urged him to desist. The impetuous young soldier being deaf to the generous remonstrance, the veteran raised the pointed butt of his lance, as the modern Arabs do when pursued, and, with a sudden back thrust, transfixed him on the spot, so that he fell, and lay weltering in his blood. But Joab and Abishai continued the pursuit by another route till sunset. On reaching a rising ground, and receiving a fresh reinforcement of some Benjamites, Abner rallied his scattered troops and earnestly appealed to Joab's better feelings to stop the further effusion of blood, which, if continued, would lead to more serious consequences—a destructive civil war. Joab, while upbraiding his opponent as the sole cause of the fray, felt the force of the appeal and led off his men; while Abner probably dreading a renewal of the attack when Joab should learn his brother's fate, and vow fierce revenge, endeavored, by a forced march, to cross the Jordan that night. On David's side the loss was only nineteen men, besides Asahel. But of Ish-bosheth's party there fell three hundred and sixty. This skirmish is exactly similar to the battles of the Homeric warriors, among whom, in the flight of one, the pursuit by another, and the dialogue held between them, there is vividly represented the style of ancient warfare.

He was loth to enrage Joab too much against him, because his guilty conscience told him that his cause was bad, and herefore he presaged ill success, and that he might need such a friend as Joab to make his peace with David.

And Abner said again to Asahel,.... Being loath to dispatch him:

turn thee aside from following me, wherefore should I smite thee to the ground? which was giving him fair warning, and letting him know what he must expect, if he did not desist from his pursuit:

how then should I hold up my face to Joab thy brother? the general of David's army, a stout valiant commander, a man of spirit and resentment, whom Abner knew full well, and that should he slay his brother, he would never be friendly with him, or look pleasantly on him; he would never forgive him, but seek ways and means to avenge his blood on him and by this it seems as if Abner was conscious to himself that he was in a wrong cause, that the kingdom was of right David's, and would be his, and he must be obliged to make peace with him; when he should stand in need of Joab as his friend, which he could not expect, if he slew his brother, nor to live in favour and friendship with him hereafter.

And Abner said again to Asahel, Turn thee aside from following me: {l} wherefore should I smite thee to the ground? how then should I hold up my face to Joab thy brother?

(l) Why do you provoke me to kill you?

22. Turn thee aside] Asahel was probably a mere stripling, and no match for Abner, who, wishing to avoid a feud with Joab and an obstacle to making favourable terms with David on the fall of Saul’s house, again exhorted Asahel to abandon the pursuit.

hold up my face to Joab] Meet him with the steady gaze which is the index of a clear conscience, the opposite of the downcast look which betokens shame and guilt. Cp. Job 11:15.

2 Samuel 2:22Then Abner turned round, asked him whether he was Asahel, and said to him, "Turn to thy right hand or to thy left, and seize one of the young men and take his armour for thyself," i.e., slay one of the common soldiers, and take his accoutrements as booty, if thou art seeking for that kind of fame. But Asahel would not turn back from Abner. Then he repeated his command that he would depart, and added, "Why should I smite thee to the ground, and how could I then lift up my face to Joab thy brother?" from which we may see that Abner did not want to put the young hero to death, out of regard for Joab and their former friendship.
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