Abner is the son of Ner and the grandson of Abiel as well as being the father of Jaasiel. But most importantly he is the uncle of Saul (1 Sam. 9:1; 14:50-51).1


Abner is the captain of Saul’s army (1 Sam. 14:50). He is seen in 1 Chr. 26:27, 28 dedicating spoils to the house of the Lord. After David’s slaying of Goliath, Abner brings David to Saul (1 Sam. 17:57). In 1 Samuel 26:5-15 David comes to the place where Saul is camped and comes into it when Saul and the army are sleeping. David sneaks so close to the sleeping king that he stole his spear and water jug but he didn’t touch the Lord’s anointed. He then crosses the ravine on the opposite side and yells to Abner, taunting him for being so close to Saul when Abner supposedly guarded him.1

Abner & Ish-bosheth

After the death of Saul, Abner takes Ish-bosheth the son of Saul and sets him up as “king” over Israel and attempts to establish a capital at Mahanaim (2 Sam. 2:8-10). He then goes out with the servants of Ish-bosheth and meets Joab and the servants of David by the pool of Gibeon. They sat one on one side of the pool and one on the other. Abner proposes that they have twelve “champions” on each side fight to decide who wins. However each of them grabs the other and stabs them and kills them and they all die, setting off the ensuing battle and chase (2 Sam. 2:12-16).2, 3

Abner & Asahel

During this battle and chase that happened after the battle at the pool of Gibeon, the swift-footed Asahel begins to chase Abner. Abner turns and asks Asahel to “turn aside” and stop pursuing him but Asahel would not. He asks him a second time and again he refuses and Abner strikes him in the belly with the butt end of his spear and Asahel dies (2 Sam. 2:18-23). Eventually they come to the hill of Ammah and Abner calls out to Joab and the Israelites that they should stop fighting. Abner and his men continued through the Arabah all night, cross the Jordan, walk all morning, and come to Mahanaim (2 Sam. 2:24-29).

Incident with Rizpah

Ish-bosheth accuses Abner of essentially making a claim to the throne by sleeping with one of Saul’s former concubines named Rizpah. Abner reacts angrily at the accusation and promises to move his allegiances to David.2

Death & Burial

Joab summons Abner from the well of Sirah to Hebron and Joab takes him aside in the middle of the gate to speak with him privately. Once there, Joab stabs Abner in the stomach and he dies—thus avenging the death of Asahel (2 Sam. 3:27). He was then buried at Hebron and mourned by David (2 Sam. 3:32).2, 3

1. Anon. 1996. New Bible Dictionary. 3rd ed. Leicester, England: InterVarsity Press.
2. Miller, Madeleine S. 1956. Harper's Bible Dictionary. New York: Harper.
3. E. M Blaiklock, Today's Handbook of Bible Characters (Minneapolis, Minn: Bethany House, 1987).