Seeking the Lord.
Abner makes moves to support David and bring him to leadership over Israel.
8 Then Abner was very angry over the words of Ish-bosheth and said, “Am I a dog’s head of Judah? To this day I keep showing steadfast love to the house of Saul your father, to his brothers, and to his friends, and have not given you into the hand of David. And yet you charge me today with a fault concerning a woman. 9 God do so to Abner and more also, if I do not accomplish for David what the Lord has sworn to him, 10 to transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul and set up the throne of David over Israel and over Judah, from Dan to Beersheba.” 11 And Ish-bosheth could not answer Abner another word, because he feared him.
12 And Abner sent messengers to David on his behalf, saying, “To whom does the land belong? Make your covenant with me, and behold, my hand shall be with you to bring over all Israel to you.2 Samuel 3:8-12, ESV
Had the Lord chosen David? Yes.
Joab doesn’t trust Abner.
When Joab and all the army that was with him came, it was told Joab, “Abner the son of Ner came to the king, and he has let him go, and he has gone in peace.” 24 Then Joab went to the king and said, “What have you done? Behold, Abner came to you. Why is it that you have sent him away, so that he is gone? 25 You know that Abner the son of Ner came to deceive you and to know your going out and your coming in, and to know all that you are doing.”
26 When Joab came out from David’s presence, he sent messengers after Abner, and they brought him back from the cistern of Sirah. But David did not know about it. 27 And when Abner returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside into the midst of the gate to speak with him privately, and there he struck him in the stomach, so that he died, for the blood of Asahel his brother.2 Samuel 3:23-27, ESV
Joab cared for David. He likely felt he was doing the right thing. Were his thoughts and actions toward Abner influenced by his own knowledge of Abner? Likely yes.
Abner and Joab were both seeking to do what they felt was right, whatever their parallel motives were. But neither sought the Lord. I especially notice this contrast later when David repeatedly inquires of the Lord.
17 When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over Israel, all the Philistines went up to search for David. But David heard of it and went down to the stronghold. 18 Now the Philistines had come and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim. 19 And David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will you give them into my hand?” And the Lord said to David, “Go up, for I will certainly give the Philistines into your hand.”2 Samuel 5:17-19, ESV
I think it’s very possible to want to do the right thing and go about it in the wrong way.
Lord, your word encourages me to trust in you, to lean on you, to acknowledge you–and that you will direct my path. The world applauds those who can take matters into their own hands, but you delight in those who trust the matter in yours.