War Between Israel and Judah
1 There was war for a long time between Saul’s family and David’s family. David became stronger and stronger, but Saul’s family became weaker and weaker.
David’s Six Sons Born at Hebron
2 These are David’s sons who were born at Hebron:
The first son was Amnon. Amnon’s mother was Ahinoam from Jezreel.
3 The second son was Kileab. His mother was Abigail, who had been the wife of Nabal from Carmel.
The third son was Absalom. Absalom’s mother was Maacah daughter of King Talmai of Geshur.
4 The fourth son was Adonijah. Adonijah’s mother was Haggith.
The fifth son was Shephatiah. Shephatiah’s mother was Abital.
5 The sixth son was Ithream. Ithream’s mother was David’s wife Eglah.
These sons were all born at Hebron.
Abner Decides to Join David
6 As the families of Saul and David fought each other, Abner became more and more powerful in Saul’s army. 7 Saul had a slave woman named Rizpah daughter of Aiah. Ish Bosheth said to Abner, “Why did you have sexual relations with my father’s servant woman?”
This made Abner very angry. He said, “I have been loyal to Saul and his family. I did not give you to David. I am not a traitor working for Judah.*
But now you are saying that I did this bad thing. 9-10
The LORD promised with an oath that he would take the kingdom away from Saul’s family and give it to David. And I swear I will make sure that happens. God will make David king of Judah and Israel. He will rule from Dan to Beersheba.†
Ish Bosheth was too afraid of Abner to say anything in response.
12 Abner sent messengers to David and said, “Who do you think should rule this country? Make an agreement with me, and I will help you become the ruler of all the people of Israel.”
13 David answered, “Good! I will make an agreement with you. But I ask you only one thing: I will not meet with you until you bring Saul’s daughter Michal to me.”
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.”‡
15 Then Ish Bosheth told the men to go and take Michal from a man named Paltiel son of Laish. 16 Michal’s husband, Paltiel, followed them, crying all the way to Bahurim. Finally, Abner said to him, “Go back home.” So Paltiel went back home.
17 Abner sent this message to the leaders of Israel. He said, “For a long time you have wanted to make David your king. 18 Now do it! The LORD was talking about David when he said, ‘I will save my people the Israelites from the Philistines and all their other enemies. I will do this through my servant David.’ ”
19 Abner said these things to David in Hebron, and he said these things to the people of the tribe of Benjamin. The things Abner said sounded good to the tribe of Benjamin and to all the people of Israel.
20 Then Abner came up to David at Hebron. Abner brought 20 men with him. David gave a party for Abner and for all the men who came with him.
21 Abner said to David, “My lord and king, let me go bring all the Israelites to you. Then they will make an agreement with you, and you will rule over all Israel, as you wanted.”
So David let Abner leave in peace.
22 Joab and David’s officers came back from battle. They had many valuable things that they had taken from the enemy. David had just let Abner leave in peace. So Abner was not there in Hebron with David. 23 Joab and all his army arrived at Hebron. The army said to Joab, “Abner son of Ner came to King David, and David let Abner leave in peace.”
24 Joab came to the king and said, “What have you done? Abner came to you, but you sent him away without hurting him! Why? 25 You know Abner son of Ner. He came to trick you. He came to learn all about what you are doing.”
26 Joab left David and sent messengers to Abner at the well of Sirah. The messengers brought Abner back, but David did not know this. 27 When Abner arrived at Hebron, Joab met him in the gateway, pulled him aside to talk in private, and then stabbed him in the stomach. So he got his revenge against Abner. Joab killed Abner because Abner had killed Joab’s brother Asahel.
David Cries for Abner
28 Later David heard the news and said, “My kingdom and I are innocent of the death of Abner son of Ner. The LORD knows this. 29 Joab and his family are responsible for this, and they will be cursed. Many troubles will come to his family. His people will be sick with leprosy, crippled, killed in war, and not have enough food to eat!”
30 Joab and his brother Abishai killed Abner because Abner had killed their brother Asahel in the battle at Gibeon.
31-32 David said to Joab and to all the people with Joab, “Tear your clothes and put on sackcloth. Cry for Abner.” They buried Abner in Hebron. David went to the funeral. King David and all the people cried at Abner’s grave.
33 King David sang this sad song at Abner’s funeral:
“Did Abner die like some foolish criminal?
34 Abner, your hands were not tied.
Your feet were not put in chains.
No, Abner, evil men killed you!”
Then all the people cried again for Abner. 35 All day long people came to encourage David to eat food. But David had made a special promise. He said, “May God punish me and give me many troubles if I eat bread or any other food before the sun goes down.” 36 All the people saw what happened, and they were pleased with what King David had done. 37 All the people of Judah and Israel understood that King David had not killed Abner son of Ner.
38 King David said to his officers, “You know that a very important leader died today in Israel. 39 And it was on the very same day that I was anointed to be the king. These sons of Zeruiah have caused me a lot of trouble. May the LORD give them the punishment they deserve.”