The House of David Strengthened
1 Now there was long warring between the house of Saul and the house of David. David grew stronger and stronger, but the house of Saul grew weaker and weaker.
2 Sons were born to David in Hebron. His firstborn was Amnon, of Ahinoam the Jezreelitess; 3 and his second, Chileab, of Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite; and the third, Absalom the son of Maacah the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur; 4 and the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; and the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital; 5 and the sixth, Ithream, of Eglah, David’s wife. These were born to David in Hebron.
Abner Joins David
6 While there was war between the house of Saul and the house of David, Abner made himself strong in the house of Saul. 7 Now Saul had a concubine, whose name was Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah, and Ishbosheth said to Abner, “Why have you gone in to my father’s concubine?”
8 Then Abner was very angry about Ishbosheth’s words and said, “Am I a dog’s head that belongs to Judah? To this very day I have shown kindness to the house of Saul, your father, to his brothers, and to his friends, and have not delivered you into the hand of David; and yet you charge me today with a fault concerning this woman! 9 The Lord do so to Abner, and more also, if I do not do for David as the Lord has sworn to him, 10 to transfer the kingdom from Saul’s house and to set up David’s throne over Israel and over Judah, from Dan to Beersheba.”
11 He could not answer Abner another word, because he was afraid of him.
12 Abner sent messengers to David on his behalf, saying, “Whose is the land?” and saying, “Make your alliance with me, and my hand will be with you, to bring all Israel around to you.”
13 He said, “Good. I will make a treaty with you, but one thing I require of you. That is, you will not see my face unless you first bring Michal, Saul’s daughter, when you come to see me.”
14 David sent messengers to Ishbosheth, Saul’s son, saying, “Deliver my wife, Michal, to me, whom I was given to marry for 100 Philistine foreskins.”
15 Ishbosheth sent for her and took her from her husband, from Paltiel the son of Laish. 16 Her husband went with her, weeping as he went, and followed her to Bahurim. Then Abner said to him, “Go! Return!” and he returned. 17 Abner had communication with the elders of Israel, saying, “In times past, you sought for David to be 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 hand of the Philistines and from the hand of all their enemies.’ ”
19 Abner also spoke in the ears of Benjamin, and Abner went also to speak in the ears of David in Hebron, all that seemed good to Israel and to the whole house of Benjamin. 20 So Abner came to David to Hebron, and twenty men with him. David gave a feast for Abner and the men who were with him. 21 Abner said to David, “I will arise and go and will gather all Israel to my lord the king, that they may make a covenant with you, and that you may reign over all that your heart desires.” David sent Abner away, and he went in peace.
Joab Murders Abner
22 David’s servants and Joab came from a raid and brought in a great plunder with them, but Abner was not with David in Hebron because David had sent him away, and he had gone in peace. 23 When Joab and all the army who was with him had come, they told Joab, “Abner the son of Ner came to the king, and he has sent him away, and he has gone in peace.”
24 Then Joab came to the king and said, “What have you done? Abner came to you. Why is it that you have sent him away, and he is already gone? 25 You know Abner the son of Ner. He came to deceive you, and to know when you come and go, and to know everything that you are doing.”
26 When Joab had come out from David, he sent messengers after Abner, and they brought him back from the well of Sirah, but David was not aware of it. 27 When Abner had returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside into the middle of the gate to speak with him quietly, and struck him there in the stomach, so that he died, for the blood of Asahel his brother. 28 Afterward, when David heard it, he said, “I and my kingdom are without guilt before the Lord forever for the blood of Abner the son of Ner. 29 Let it fall on the head of Joab and on all his father’s house. Let there not fail from the house of Joab to have one who has a discharge, or who is a leper, or who leans on a staff, or who falls by the sword, or who lacks bread.” 30 So Joab and Abishai his brother killed Abner because he had killed their brother Asahel at Gibeon in the battle.
David Mourns for Abner
31 David said to Joab and to all the people who were with him, “Tear your clothes and clothe yourselves with sackcloth and mourn in front of Abner.” King David followed the bier. 32 They buried Abner in Hebron. The king raised his voice and wept at Abner’s grave, and all the people wept.
33 The king lamented for Abner and said, “Should Abner die as a fool dies? 34 Your hands weren’t bound, and your feet weren’t put into fetters. As a man falls before the children of iniquity, so you fell.” All the people wept again over him.
35 All the people came to urge David to eat bread while it was yet day, but David swore, saying, “God do so to me, and more also, if I taste bread or anything else until the sun goes down.”
36 All the people took notice of it, and it pleased them, as whatever the king did pleased all the people. 37 So all the people and all Israel understood that day that it was not of the king to kill Abner the son of Ner. 38 The king said to his servants, “Don’t you know that a ruler and a great man has fallen today in Israel? 39 I am weak today, though anointed king. These men, the sons of Zeruiah are too hard for me. May the Lord pay back the evildoer according to his wickedness.”