God Will Prevail
Proclaim the power of God, whose majesty is over Israel, whose power is in the skies. You are awesome, O God, in your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people. Psalm 68:34-35
Abner was King Saul’s cousin and the general of Israel’s army. Like Saul, he knew that God had anointed David as Saul’s successor (see 2 Samuel 3:9, 17-18). When Saul and three of his sons died in battle, Abner should have immediately declared his allegiance to David.
But Abner didn’t do that. Instead, he used his powerful position to crown Ishbosheth, one of Saul’s sons, as king of Israel (2 Samuel 2:8-9). That decision led to at least seven years of civil war in which hundreds of Israelites died.
2 Samuel 3:6 reveals that Abner ignored God’s plan in order to strengthen his own influence. He wanted to be in control. He may have also resented the fact that the kingdom was being taken away from his extended family and given to a poor shepherd’s family. Perhaps he feared that David destroy everyone who could challenge his claim to the throne even though David had promised to spare Saul’s family (1Samuel 24:16-22).
Abner’s story illustrates the far-reaching effects of selfish desires that result in willful disobedience. By using his influence to establish Ishbosheth as king instead of David, Abner gained seven years of power. But in the end, Abner’s obstinacy brought misery to hundreds of Israelite families and ended in his own death.
God had clearly chosen David, and no matter what Abner or anyone else did, eventually God’s will would be done. Abner didn’t align his desires with God’s will, and that attitude brought him nothing but grief.
One name for God that appears often in the Old Testament is Elohi Israel—the God of Israel—which literally means “God will prevail.” If the desire of our heart is to please God, we’ll be comforted by the truth that He always prevails. If the desire of our heart is to please ourselves, that truth will frustrate or even anger us.
What is the desire of our hearts? Do we willfully pursue our own agenda or do we align our will with God’s?
To learn more about Abner, read 2 Samuel 3:6-27. What do you learn about his character? How does he respond to difficulty?
Elohi Israel appears 200 times in the Bible. To understand more thoroughly what that name signified to Israel study some of these passages: Ruth 2:12, 1 Samuel 10:17-18, Psalm 68:34-35, Psalm 72:18-19, Matthew 15:31, and Luke 1:68.
Read Joshua 24:2-24. Joshua based his farewell address to the Israelites on what the Elohi Israel had done for them. What was their response? How should we respond to Elohi Israel?
Read Genesis 32:22-30. Why was Jacob’s name was changed to Israel? What does this episode in Jacob’s life teach us about the God who always prevails?
Denise K. Loock
*Hebrew transliterations and their definitions are taken from the lexicon provided by www.blueletterbible.com.