1 There was a long war between Saul’s party and that of David, but David grew stronger while Saul’s party grew weaker.
2 Sons were born to David at Hebron: his firstborn, Amnon, of Ahinoam of Jezreel; 3 his second, Chileab, of Abigail, widow of Nabal of Carmel; the third, Absalom, son of Maacah the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur; 4 the fourth, Adonijah, the son of Haggith; the fifth, She phatiah, the son of Abital; 5 and the sixth, Ithream, of David’s wife Eglah. These were born to David in Hebron.
6 While war was going on between the party of Saul and that of David, Abner was strengthening his position in Saul’s family. 7 Now Saul had a concubine named Rizpah, daughter of Aiah, on whose account Ishbaal chided Abner, “Why have you slept with my father’s con cubine?” 8 Abner was very angry because of Ishbaal’s remark and ex claimed, “Am I a dog’s head? Up to now I have been loyal to the family of Saul your father, to his brothers and friends, and have not delivered you into the hands of David, and you come accusing me because of this woman. 9 May God deal with me severely if I do not do for David what Yahweh swore to him – 10 to transfer the kingdom from the family of Saul to that of David and make him king of Israel and Judah to rule over all the land from Dan to Beersheba.” 11 Ishbaal could no longer say a word to Abner for he feared him.
12 Abner then sent messengers to David at Hebron saying, “To whom does the land belong? Enter into an agreement with me and I shall help you obtain all Israel.” 13 David replied, “I will make an agreement with you, but on one condition: you may appear before me when you bring me Saul’s daughter, Michal.”
14 Then David sent messengers to Ishbaal, Saul’s son, to tell him, “Give me my wife Michal whom I married for the price of a hundred Philistine foreskins.” 15 Ishbaal sent for her and took her away from her husband Paltiel, son of Laish, 16 who followed her weeping all the way to Bahurim. There Ab ner said to him, “Go back!” and he turned back.
17 Abner conferred with the elders of Israel and told them, “You have long wanted to have David as your king. 18 Well, make it come true; for Yahweh made a promise to David and said: By my servant David, I will save my people Israel from the Philistines and from all their enemies.” 19 Abner also spoke to the people of Benjamin; then he went to tell David at Hebron the proposals of Israel and the Benjaminites.
Joab murders Abner
20 When Abner came to David at Hebron, David prepared a feast for him and the twenty men who were with him. 21 Then Abner said to Da vid, “I will now go and assemble all Israel for my master the king, that they may enter into an agreement with you, and that you may reign over all those you want to rule.”
22 Just then, David’s men and Joab arrived from a raid taking along with them a great deal of booty. Abner was no longer with David at Hebron for he had departed quietly after David had dismissed him. 23 When Joab arrived with his troops he was told, “Abner, son of Ner, came to see the king; then the king sent him on his way and he went in peace.” 24 Joab then went to the king and said, “What did you do? When Abner came to you, why did you allow him to leave? 25 You know what Abner, son of Ner, is like; he came to you deceitfully to observe and find out what you are doing.”
26 Joab left David and sent messengers to go after Abner and they had him brought back from the cistern of Sirah. But David did not know of that. 27 When Abner arrived at Hebron, Joab took him aside within the city gate as though to speak with him, privately. There he stabbed him in the belly and he died. Joab did so in revenge for the murder of his brother, Asahel.
28 Later on, David heard about this. Then he said, “Yahweh will not punish me and my kingdom for the blood of Abner, son of Ner. 29 May justice for his blood fall on Joab and on all his father’s family, and may there be forever among them some member who has discharge, or is sick with leprosy, or who is only fit to hold a spindle, or who falls by the sword or hungers!”
30 Joab and his brother Abishai slew Abner because he had killed their broth er Asahel in the battle at Gibeon.
31 David then told Joab and those who were with him, “Tear off your clothes, put on sackcloth and mourn before Abner.” King David himself followed the corpse. 32 They buried Abner at Hebron; there the king wept aloud over his grave and all the people joined in the lamentation.
33 The king began the mourning song for Abner with these words, “Should Abner die as a fool dies? 34 Your hands were not bound, your feet were not fettered; as one falls at the hands of the wicked, so you have fallen.” And all the people again wept over him.
35 Then the people tried to persuade David to take some food while it was still day, but David swore, “May God do so to me and more if I touch food before sundown!” 36 The people heeded this and it pleased them; in fact, they were pleased at whatever the king said. 37 This day they realized, as did all the people of Israel, that the king had no part in the murder of Abner, son of Ner. 38 Then the king said to his servants, “Do you realize that a general and valiant warrior passed away today in Israel? 39 Although I am the anointed king, today I feel helpless to control the sons of Zeruiah. May Yahweh repay the one who did evil.”