1There was a long war between the people who supported Saul’s family and those who supported David’s family. The supporters of David’s family became stronger and stronger. And the supporters of Saul’s family became weaker and weaker.
2Sons were born to David at Hebron. The first son was Amnon. Amnon’s mother was Ahinoam from Jezreel. 3The second son was Kileab. Kileab’s mother was Abigail, the widow of Nabal from Carmel. The third son was Absalom. Absalom’s mother was Maacah daughter of Talmai. Talmai was king of Geshur. 4The fourth son was Adonijah. His mother was Haggith. The fifth son was Shephatiah. His mother was Abital. 5The sixth son was Ithream. His mother was Eglah, David’s wife. These sons were born to David at Hebron.
Abner Joins David
6Abner made himself a main leader among the supporters of Saul. He did this during the war between the supporters of Saul’s family and the supporters of David’s family.
7Now Saul had once had a slave woman named Rizpah. She was the daughter of Aiah. Ish-Bosheth said to Abner, “Why did you have physical relations with my father’s slave woman?”
8Abner was very angry because of what Ish-Bosheth said. Abner said, “I have been loyal to Saul and his family and friends! I didn’t hand you over to David. I am not a traitor working for Judah! But now you are saying I did something wrong with this woman! 9May God punish me terribly if I don’t help David. I will make sure that what God promised does happen! 10I will take the kingdom from the family of Saul. I will make David king of Israel and Judah! He will rule from Dan to Beersheba.”# Dan was the city farthest north in Israel. Beersheba was the city farthest south. So this means all the people of Israel.
11Ish-Bosheth couldn’t say anything to Abner. He was too afraid of Abner.
12Then Abner sent messengers to David. Abner said, “Who is going to rule the land? Make an agreement with me, and I will help you become the king of all Israel.”
13David answered, “Good! I will make an agreement with you. But I ask you one thing. I will not meet with you unless you bring Saul’s daughter Michal to me.” 14Then David sent messengers to Saul’s son Ish-Bosheth. David said, “Give me my wife Michal. She was promised to me. I killed 100 Philistines to get her.”
15So Ish-Bosheth sent men to take Michal from her husband. He was Paltiel son of Laish. 16Michal’s husband went with her, crying as he followed her to Bahurim. But Abner said to Paltiel, “Go back home.” So he went home.
17Abner sent a message to the elders of Israel. He said, “You have been wanting to make David your king. 18Now do it! The Lord has spoken about David. The Lord said, ‘I will save my people the Israelites. I will save them from the Philistines and all their enemies. I will do this through my servant David.’”
19Abner also said these things to the people of Benjamin. He then went to Hebron to tell David what the Benjaminites and Israel wanted to do. 20Abner came with 20 men to David at Hebron. There David prepared a feast for them. 21Then Abner said to David, “My master and king, I will go and bring all the Israelites to you. Then they will make an agreement with you. You will rule over all Israel as you wanted.” So David let Abner go, and he left in peace.
22Just then Joab and David’s men came from a battle. They had many valuable things they had taken from the enemy. David had let Abner leave in peace. So he was not with David at Hebron. 23Joab and all his army arrived at Hebron. The army said to Joab, “Abner son of Ner came to King David. And David let him leave in peace.”
24Joab came to the king and said, “What have you done? Abner came to you. Why did you let him go? Now he’s gone. 25You know Abner son of Ner! He came to trick you! He came to learn about everything you are doing!”
26Then Joab left David and sent messengers after Abner. They brought Abner back from the well of Sirah. But David did not know this. 27When Abner arrived at Hebron, Joab took him aside into the gateway. Joab acted as though he wanted to talk with him in private. But Joab stabbed Abner in the stomach, and Abner died. Abner had killed Joab’s brother Asahel. So Joab killed Abner to pay him back.
28Later David heard the news. He said, “My kingdom and I are innocent forever. We did not kill Abner son of Ner. The Lord knows this. 29Joab and his family are responsible for this. I hope many troubles will come to his family. May his family always have someone with sores or with a harmful skin disease. May they always have someone who must lean on a crutch. May some of his family be killed in war. May they always have someone without food to eat.”
30(Joab and his brother Abishai had killed Abner, because he had killed their brother Asahel. This was in the battle at Gibeon.)
31Then David spoke to Joab and to all the people with Joab. He said, “Tear your clothes and put on rough cloth to show how sad you are. Cry for Abner.” King David himself followed behind the body of Abner. 32So they buried Abner in Hebron. David and all the people cried at Abner’s grave.
33King David sang this funeral song for Abner.
“Did Abner die like a foolish man?
34His hands were not tied.
His feet were not in chains.
He fell as a person falls before evil men.”
Then all the people cried again for Abner. 35They came to encourage David to eat while it was still day. But he made a promise. He said, “May God punish me terribly if I eat bread or any other food before the sun sets!”
36All the people saw what happened. They agreed with what the king was doing. 37That day all the people of Judah and all the Israelites understood. They knew it was not David who had killed Abner son of Ner.
38David said to his officers, “You know that a very important leader died today in Israel. 39Even though I am the appointed king, I am weak today. These sons of Zeruiah are too strong for me. May the Lord give them the punishment they should have.”