1 THERE WAS a long war between the house of Saul and the house of David. But David grew stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul grew weaker and weaker.
2 Sons were born to David in Hebron: his firstborn was Amnon, by Ahinoam the Jezreelitess;
3 His second, Chileab, by Abigail widow of Nabal of Carmel; the third, Absalom the son of Maacah daughter of Talmai king of Geshur;
4 The fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital;
5 And the sixth, Ithream, by Eglah, David's wife. These were born to David in Hebron.
6 While there was war between the houses of Saul and David, Abner was making himself strong in the house of Saul.
7 Now Saul had a concubine whose name was Rizpah daughter of Aiah. And Ish-bosheth said to Abner, Why have you gone in to my father's concubine?
8 Then Abner was very angry at the words of Ish-bosheth and said, Am I a dog's head [despicable and hostile] against Judah? This day I keep showing kindness and loyalty to the house of Saul your father, to his brothers, and his friends, and have not delivered you into the hands of David; and yet you charge me today with a fault concerning this woman!
9 May God do so to Abner, and more also, if I do not do for David what the Lord has sworn to him,
10 To transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul and set the throne of David over Israel and Judah from Dan to Beersheba.
11 And Ish-bosheth could not answer Abner a word, because he feared him.
12 And Abner sent messengers to David where he was [at Hebron], saying, Whose is the land? Make your league with me, and my hand shall be with you to bring all Israel over to you.
13 And David said, Good. I will make a league with you. But I require one thing of you: that is, you shall not see my face unless you first bring Michal, Saul's daughter, when you come to see me.
14 And David sent messengers to Ish-bosheth, Saul's son, saying, Give me my wife Michal, whom I betrothed for a hundred foreskins of the Philistines.
15 And Ish-bosheth sent and took her from her [second] husband, from Paltiel son of Laish [to whom Saul had given her].
16 But her husband went with her, weeping behind her all the way to Bahurim. Then Abner said to him, Go back. And he did so.
17 Abner talked with the seniors of Israel, saying, In times past you sought to make David king over you.
18 Now then, do it! For the Lord has spoken of David, saying, By the hand of My servant David I will save My people Israel from the hands of the Philistines and of all their enemies. [I Sam. 9:16.]
19 Abner also spoke to [the men of] Benjamin. Then [he] went to Hebron to tell David all that seemed good to Israel and the whole house of Benjamin to do.
20 So Abner came to David at Hebron, and twenty men along with him. And David made Abner and the men with him a feast.
21 Abner said to David, I will go and gather all Israel to my lord the king, that they may make a league with you, and that you may reign over all that your heart desires. So David sent Abner away in peace.
22 Then the servants of David came with Joab from pursuing a troop and brought much spoil with them. But Abner was not with David in Hebron, for he had sent him away, and he had gone in peace.
23 When Joab and all the army with him had come, it was told to Joab, Abner son of Ner came to the king, and he has sent him away, and he is gone in peace.
24 Then Joab came to the king and said, What have you done? Behold, Abner came to you. Why is it you have sent him away and he is quite gone?
25 You know that Abner son of Ner came to deceive you and to know your going out and coming in and all you are doing.
26 When Joab came from seeing David, he sent messengers after Abner, and they brought him back from the well of Sirah; but David did not know it.
27 And when Abner returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside to the center of the gate to speak to him privately, and there he smote Abner in the abdomen, so that he died to avenge the blood of Asahel, Joab's brother.
28 When David heard of it, he said, I and my kingdom are guiltless before the Lord forever of the blood of Abner son of Ner.
29 Let it fall on the head of Joab and on all his father's house; and let the house of Joab never be without one who has a discharge or is a leper or walks with a crutch or is a distaff holder [unfit for war] or who falls by the sword or lacks food!
30 So Joab and Abishai his brother slew Abner because he had slain their brother Asahel at Gibeon in the battle.
31 And David said to Joab and to all the people with him, Rend your clothes, gird yourselves with sackcloth, and mourn before Abner. And King David followed the bier.
32 They buried Abner in Hebron. And the king lifted up his voice and wept at the grave of Abner, and all the people wept.
33 And the king lamented over Abner and said, Should Abner die as a fool dies?
34 Your hands were not bound or your feet put into fetters; as a man falls before wicked men, so you fell. And all the people wept again over him.
35 All the people came to urge David to eat food while it was yet day; but David took an oath, saying, May God do so to me, and more also, if I taste bread or anything else, till the sun is down.
36 And all the people took notice of it, and it pleased them, as whatever the king did pleased all the people.
37 For all the people and all Israel understood that day that it was not the king's will to slay Abner son of Ner.
38 King David said to his servants, Do you not know that a prince and a great man has fallen this day in Israel?
39 And I am this day weak, though anointed [but not crowned] king; these sons of Zeruiah are too hard for me. May the Lord repay the evildoer according to his wickedness!