David’s military general was Joab. Joab was also David’s nephew and the brother of Abishai and Asahel. These three boys were the sons of David’s older sister Zeruiah (1 Chron. 2:16).
Saul’s military general had been Abner. Abner was Saul’s cousin (1 Samuel 14:50). After Saul’s death and the death of the heir apparent, Prince Jonathan, it appears that Abner may have begun to make a series of political moves towards putting himself on the throne of Israel. Atleast, that is what Ish-Bosheth, one of Saul’s surviving sons accuses Abner of planning.
One of the strategies Abner is accused of using to secure the throne was to sleep with Rizpah (whose name means “hot stone”), one of Saul’s concubines. This was an act equivalent to usurping the throne. Abner had publicly put himself forward as having successfully ascended the throne of Saul. In the ancient Near Eastern culture sleeping with the king’s wife or concubine was exactly that – the usurping of the throne. This is seen in 2 Samuel 16:21-22 when David’s son Absolom is adviced to sleep with David’s concubines on the roof of the palace in the sight of all Israel. Even Adonijah’s mere request to marry Abishag, the young woman who had cared for his aged father, King David, was considered an act of treason by King Solomon. Solomon ordered the death of Adonijah that very day (1 Kings 2:22-27).
Abner is clearly offended by Ish-Bosheth’s accusation, which as far as we can tell from the text could have been a false accusation as easily as it could have been a true accusation. If it was a false accusation by Ish-Bosheth then it could have been the result of Ish-Bosheth’s paranoia and insecurity. Ish-Bosheth could be accusing his leading man and most loyal supporter in the same way that Saul had accused his leading man David. It is safe to assume there were many other’s (including Jonathan at times) that Saul had driven away because of his insecurity and paranoia.
This conversation is enough to send Abner over to David and Judah’s side. It may be that after having served Saul all those years while he hunted innocent David like a criminal that Abner is not willing to go on that ride again with Saul’s son who is showing signs of the same obsessive paranoia.
Abner vowed to Ish-Bosheth’s face that he would hand the kingdom of Israel over to David. Ish-Bosheth was left powerless. He had no words and no counter maneuver.