1David's people and Saul's people continued to fight each other and there was war for a long time. David became stronger and stronger but Saul's people became weaker and weaker.
2While David was in Hebron he had several sons.
First was Amnon, son of Ahinoam from Jezreel.
3The second son was Kileab, son of Abigail, Nabal's widow from Carmel.
The third son was Absalom, son of Maacah. Maacah was the daughter of Talmai, King of Geshur.
4The fourth son was Adonijah, son of Haggith.
The fifth son was Shephatiah, son of Abital.
5The sixth son was Ithream, son of David's wife, Eglah.
David had these sons in Hebron.
Abner wants to work for David now and not for Saul's son
6Abner was trying to make himself more important to Saul's people. He did that while Saul's people were fighting against David's people. 7Saul had had among his women one woman called Rizpah, daughter of Aiah. Ish-Bosheth asked Abner, ‘Why did you sleep with my father's woman?’ #3:7 Ishbosheth was the king of the northern part of Israel.
8Abner was very angry because of what Ish-Bosheth had said. ‘You cannot think that I would leave you to become David's servant! I have always been a servant to Saul and to his family and his friends to this day. I have helped you in your fight against David. But now you think that I have turned against you because of this woman. 9Now I will help David to get what the LORD specially promised to him. If I do not do it, God should punish me very much. And I would want God to do it. 10The LORD gave his sure promise that he would cause David to be king over Israel and Judah from Dan to Beersheba. David would be king and not Saul.’
11And Ish-Bosheth was so afraid of Abner that he did not speak another word to him.
12Then Abner sent men to David with this message: ‘Who should rule this country? If you and I can agree a covenant, I will help you to win all Israel to your side.’
David tells Abner that he must bring Michal to him
13‘Good!’ said David. ‘I will agree a covenant with you. But do one thing for me. You must bring Michal, Saul's daughter with you. If you do not do that, I will not see you.’
14Then David sent men to Ish-Bosheth, son of Saul with this message: ‘Give me my wife, Michal. I paid 100 Philistine foreskins to have her as my wife.’
15So Ish-Bosheth sent men to take her from her husband, Paltiel son of Laish. 16But her husband came with her. He wept while he followed her all the way to Bahurim. Then Abner said to him, ‘Return to your home!’ So he returned.
Abner speaks with Israel's leaders
17Abner and the leaders of Israel talked together. He said, ‘You wanted David to be your king before now. 18So now do it! Remember that the LORD said about David, “I will use David to save my people, Israel from the Philistines and from all their enemies.” ’
Abner and David agree
19Abner also went himself to speak to the men from Benjamin. Then he went to Hebron. He went to tell David what Israel's people and the tribe of Benjamin had agreed to do. 20Abner came to David in Hebron and 20 men came with him. And David prepared a feast for Abner and the 20 men with him. 21Then Abner spoke to David. ‘Let me go now to bring all the people in Israel together for my lord the king’, he said. ‘Then they can make a promise that you will be their ruler. And you can have all that you wanted.’ So David sent Abner away in peace. He did not let his men hurt Abner. #3:21 Saul was from the tribe of Benjamin, but David was from the tribe of Judah. The people from the tribe of Benjamin had always been loyal to Saul.
Joab murders Abner
22David's men and Joab were attacking some of the enemy's soldiers. Then they returned. They brought with them a lot of things that they had taken from the enemy. But Abner had left Hebron because David had sent him away in peace. 23When Joab and all his soldiers arrived, they told him, ‘Abner, the son of Ner has come to the king. And he has sent him away in peace.’ 24Joab went to the king. He said, ‘I do not understand what you have done. Abner came to you. You should not have let him go. Now he is gone. 25You know what this son of Ner is like. He came to find out everything possible about what you were doing. He wanted you to think that he was your friend.’
26Then Joab left David and Joab sent men to run after Abner with a message. They brought him from the well at Sirah. But David did not know that. 27Abner returned to Hebron. Then Joab took him away from the other people. He brought him inside the gate to speak with him alone. There Joab pushed his knife into Abner's stomach. He did it to punish Abner because he killed Joab's brother, Asahel. So Abner died.
David shows that he did not want Abner to die
28After that, people told David about it. He said, ‘The LORD sees that I and my kingdom did not help at all with this murder. Joab poured out the blood of Abner, son of Ner. 29I hope that this will cause Joab and all his father's family to have trouble! There should always be someone in his family with a bleeding place on his body or leprosy or a bad leg. Or there should be someone who has no food. Or there should be someone who dies by a sword.’
30Joab and his brother Abishai killed Abner because he had killed their brother Asahel. He killed Asahel in the fight at Gibeon.
31David spoke to Joab and to all the people with him. ‘Tear your clothes and put on rough clothes. Then walk in front of Abner's dead body to show how sad you are’, he said. King David himself walked behind Abner's dead body. 32They buried Abner in Hebron. And the king wept loudly when they put Abner's dead body under the ground. And all the people wept.
33The king sang a sad song for Abner.
‘Abner should not have died like a fool.
34Nobody had tied your hands or your feet.
You have fallen like someone that wicked men have caused to fall’, he sang.
And all the people wept again for him.
35Then all the people came and they asked David to eat some food before the end of the day. But David said, ‘God should punish me if I eat bread or any food before sunset. And I would want him to do it.’
36All the people heard this, and it gave them pleasure. Like everything that the king did, it gave pleasure to all the people. 37So, on that day all the people in Israel knew that David had not caused the death of Abner. (Abner was the son of Ner.)
38The king said to his servants, ‘You must understand that a great leader has died today in Israel. 39I am the king that God has anointed. But I am weak today. These sons of Zeruiah are too strong for me. These wicked men have done evil things. And I pray that the LORD will punish them.’