They were finally mere steps from Saul’s camp when David asked, “Who will go down with me to Saul?”
Abishai knew this moment would come and immediately he volunteered, trying not to stir suspicion in the dark. With each step Abishai’s heart beat faster. Each step felt the weight of the thousands before, marching to this moment. There is Saul, sleeping with a spear at his feet.
“The Lord hath delivered thine enemy; let me smite him!” said Abishai, ready to strike down the king.
“Destroy him not! Only the Lord may take the life of a man in his sleep.” David replied. “Never stretch forth thy hand against the Lord.”
Abishai stood staring at the sleeping king, while David plucked the spear from the ground. They left swiftly, not alerting a single soul to their presence. Not even Abner, the commander sleeping steps from Saul. If Abishai knew what Abner had done, he would not have obeyed David’s command of mercy.
Upon their return, Abishai’s brother Joab looked strange. He usually greeted Abishai with open arms and cheers, but this time he simply sat alone. “What ails you brother?” Abishai asked.
“Asahel rests with the Lord, Abishai.” Joab said, staring at the ground. “It was Abner, Saul’s commander.”
“This can’t be true. Asahel is too strong.” Abishai said.
Joab shook his head, not looking to face his brother.
“I’ve just returned from Saul’s camp. Abner must be there. We will kill him in his sleep.” Abishai said.
Joab said, “Brother, we can’t kill him, especially not in his sleep. What would Asahel think? We are warriors, not rats that sneak in the night.”
“I’ll kill him in the sight of the morning sun!” Abishai said.
“We must stick by David and follow his guidance for the Lord.” Joab said.
Abishai walked away, his fist clenched around his bow.
The next morning, Abner came to see David with a band of 20 men. David’s invitation to Abner came as a surprise to Abishai and Joab. David even prepared a feast for Abner. When Abishai heard, his grip snapped his bow in two. He couldn’t harm Abner without David’s blessing. David would never allow a murder within his camp. David would never allow Abishai to honor Asahel.
“Joab we will slay him. We have to, for Asahel.” Abishai said. “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. The foul stench of his death will delight my nostrils.”
Joab said, “Abishai, warriors fight in battle for the Lord. We do not fight for selfish vengeance. Think about what you’re saying.”
Abishai simply paced forward, ignoring Joab’s reasoning and pleading. He marched toward the housing for David’s most honored guests. He knew a bush, just outside the gate, that would be the ideal place to spy his prey.
Upon reaching the bush, Abishai crouched behind it, followed by Joab.
“Brother, what would David think? You are interfering with the work of the Lord!” said Joab.
“And he, Abner, he dared to strike down our brother. The Lord’s work, Asahel, is destroyed,” said Abishai.
Moments passed in silence. It seemed maybe hours passed before Abner walked outside the gate of the guest quarters. He walked without his armor, and seemed smaller than his previous descriptions. He looked rugged and aged beyond the stories of his valiance.
Abishai and Joab watched Abner standing outside the gate. They saw a man enjoying his final breaths on this Earth alone. They saw a man. Joab stood up.
“Brother, you cannot do this.”.” Abishai said, reaching for Joab’s arm.
Joab simply paced forward toward Abner. Abner, with his back turned, felt nothing but the blade. Abishai watched in horror as his brother damned himself and the memory of Asahel.