"Let the young men arise and compete before us” (v14). Joab was the head of David’s army, while Abner led the opposition (under Saul’s son Ish-bosheth). Without any urgent reason for battle, the two leaders decided to order their young soldiers to compete to the death in hand-to-hand combat. Soon, bodies were everywhere, and Abner had killed Joab’s younger brother Asahel. Recognizing the pointless loss of life, Abner asked for a cease-fire (v26).
“Shall the sword devour forever?” (v26). Abner’s challenge (v14) quickly grew into a bloody conflict that had far-reaching consequences (ch 2). Life is precious, and Jesus calls us to peace-making (Matthew 5:9).