1 There was a long war between the royal families of Saul and David. Davids family became stronger and stronger. Sauls family became weaker and weaker.
2 Sons were born to David while he was in Hebron. His first son was Amnon, born to Ahinoam from Jezreel.
3 The second was Chileab, whose mother was Abigail, Nabals widow from Carmel. The third was Absalom, whose mother was Maacah daughter of King Talmai of Geshur.
4 The fourth son was Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith. The fifth was Shephatiah, whose mother was Abital.
5 The sixth was Ithream, whose mother was Eglah. All of these sons were born in Hebron.
6 The fighting continued between Davids forces and the forces loyal to Sauls family. Abner became more and more powerful among Sauls followers.
7 Saul had a concubine named Rizpah. She was Aiahs daughter. Ishbosheth asked Abner: »Why did you have sex with my fathers concubine?«
8 Ishbosheths question made Abner very angry. »Am I a dog that belongs to Judea?« He asked. »Until now I have been faithful to your father Sauls family, to his relatives and friends. I did not hand you over to David. But now you charge me with a crime because of this woman.
9 »May God deal with me harshly if I do not help David get all that Jehovah promised him when he said:
10 »I Jehovah will transfer the kingship from Sauls family and establish Davids throne over Israel and Judah from Dan to Beersheba.«
11 Ishbosheth could not respond to a single word for he was afraid of Abner.
12 Abner sent messengers to David to speak on his behalf. »Who owns this country?« He asked. »Make an agreement with me,« he said. »Then I will support you and bring all Israel to you.«
13 »Good!« David answered. »I will make an agreement with you. But there is one condition: You may not come to see me unless you bring Michal, Sauls daughter, when you come.«
14 David sent messengers to Ishbosheth to give him this message: »Give me back my wife Michal! I bought her for the price of a hundred Philistine foreskins.«
15 Ishbosheth sent some of his men to take Michal away from her new husband, Paltiel son of Laish.
16 Paltiel followed Michal and the men all the way to Bahurim. He cried all the way. But he went back home after Abner ordered him to leave.
17 Meanwhile, Abner communicated with the leaders of Israel: »For some time now you wanted to make David your king.
18 »Do it now! This is what Jehovah said about David: I will save my people Israel from the Philistines and all their other enemies through my servant David.«
19 Abner also spoke to the people of Benjamin. Then Abner went directly to David in Hebron. He told him everything Israel and the entire tribe of Benjamin had approved.
20 Twenty men accompanied Abner to see David at Hebron. David had a feast for Abner and his men.
21 Abner told David: »I must go now so that I can gather all Israel for you, Your Majesty. They will make an agreement with you. You will rule over all that your heart desires.« Then David dismissed Abner, who left peacefully.
22 Just then Davids men and Joab came home from a raid with a lot of plunder. Abner had been dismissed, so he was no longer with David in Hebron.
23 Joab came back with the whole army. He was told: »Ners son Abner came to the king. However David dismissed him and Abner left peacefully.«
24 Joab went to the king and asked: »What have you done? Abner came to see you. Why did you send him away?
25 »Surely you know that he came to deceive you. He came to find out everything you do and everywhere you go.«
26 Joab left David. Then he sent messengers to get Abner, and they brought him back from Sirah Well. David knew nothing about it.
27 Abner arrived in Hebron. Joab took him aside at the gate, as though he wanted to speak privately with him. There he stabbed him in the stomach. So Abner was murdered because he had killed Joabs brother Asahel.
28 When David heard the news, he said: »Jehovah knows that my subjects and I are completely innocent of the murder of Abner.
29 »Let the punishment for it fall on Joab and all his family! In every generation may there be some man in his family who has gonorrhea or a dreaded skin disease or is fit only to do a womans work or is killed in battle or does not have enough to eat!«
30 Joab and his brother Abishai took revenge and murdered Abner for killing their brother Asahel in the battle at Gibeon.
31 David told Joab and everyone with him: »Show your sorrow by tearing your clothes and wearing sackcloth! Walk in front of Abners body and cry!« David walked behind the coffin on which Abners body was being carried.
32 Abner was buried in Hebron. David and everyone else stood at the tomb and cried loudly.
33 The king sang a funeral song for Abner: »Should Abner die like a godless fool?«
34 »Your hands were not bound. Your feet were not in fetters. You fell as one falls in front of wicked men. And all the people continued to cry for him.«
35 David refused to eat anything the day of the funeral even though people tried to persuade him to eat. David vowed: »May God strike me dead if I taste any food or anything else before the sun goes down.«
36 All the people understood and approved of everything the king did.
37 That day all the people of Israel knew the king was not responsible for killing Ners son Abner.
38 The king told his officers: »Do you not know that today a leader, a great man, has fallen in Israel?
39 »Today, even though I am the anointed king, these men, Zeruiahs sons, are too strong for me to control. May Jehovah repay these wicked men, as their evil deed deserves.«