God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1
Abner had just negotiated a peace accord with David paving the way for him to become ruler over all of Israel, but this didn’t sit well with Joab. We would recall that Abner had killed Joab’s brother Asahel in the civil war that preceded this episode.
However, he refused to turn aside. Therefore Abner struck him in the stomach with the blunt end of the spear, so that the spear came out of his back; and he fell down there and died on the spot. 2 Samuel 2:23
So working behind his Uncle David’s back, Joab lures Abner back to Hebron. Abner likely thinks nothing of it since he had made peace with King David, so he meets Joab outside the city gate. It was there we are told that Joab took him aside privately and killed him so that he would die for the blood of Asahel.
King David is enraged by Joab’s deed, but he is also grieved by Abner’s death, so much so he composes a funeral dirge for him. Odd as it may seem, in the lament King David implies that Abner, this man he loved, honored, and respected, died as a fool dies. Why would David insinuate such a thing? I submit to you that David did so as a warning for us!
“Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Appoint for yourselves cities of refuge…And when he flees to one of those cities, and stands at the entrance of the gate of the city, and declares his case in the hearing of the elders of that city, they shall take him into the city as one of them, and give him a place, that he may dwell among them. Then if the avenger of blood pursues him, they shall not deliver the slayer into his hand, because he struck his neighbor unintentionally, but did not hate him beforehand. And he shall dwell in that city until he stands before the congregation for judgment, and until the death of the one who is high priest in those days. Then the slayer may return and come to his own city and his own house, to the city from which he fled.’ ” Joshua 20:2a, 4-6
Why was Abner a fool? He was a fool because Hebron was a city of refuge and the moment he left the confines of the city wall, he was fair game to any avenger of blood; in this case Joab. David’s hands were tied: Joab had the right to avenge and Abner forfeited his protection. In that respect, Abner was indeed a fool.
The Question is, “Are You a Fool?”
What we need to know is that in typology these cities of refuge illustrate the safety and security that is afforded the Christian when they abide in Christ Jesus. When we choose to step outside of this sphere of protection, we run the risk of subjecting ourselves to satan’s fury. Clearly stated, Christian’s who step out-of-bounds are fools.
C. H. Spurgeon wrote,
“By nature I am in myself, and in sin and I am, therefore, condemned; but when the grace of God awakens me up to know my ruined state, then I fly to Christ. I trust alone in His blood and righteousness, and He becomes to me the cleft of the rock, whereas I hide myself from the storm of vengeance justly due to me for my many offences. The Lord Jesus is typified by the city of refuge.”
The question that often arises is, “If a Christian steps outside Christ’s loving arms and dies as a result, is that foolish person now doomed?”
We can only answer that question by first proclaiming that only God know if a person was or is truly saved. However, if a true born-again believer wanders beyond Christ’s refuge, and dies, his or her salvation is not necessarily lost. I will tell you what does occur—that person now becomes an example for the rest of us of what not to do. In essence, dying a fool becomes that person’s ministry and we can all thank them when we get to Heaven.