New Heart English Bible
1Now there was long war between the house of Saul and the house of David: and David grew stronger and stronger, but the house of Saul grew weaker and weaker.
2To David were sons born in Hebron: and his firstborn was Amnon, of Ahinoam of Jezreel; 3and his second, Daluiah, of Abigail the Carmelite; and the third, Absalom the son of Maacah the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur; 4and the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; and the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital; 5and the sixth, Ithream, of Eglah, David's wife. These were born to David in Hebron.
6It happened, while there was war between the house of Saul and the house of David, that Abner made himself strong in the house of Saul. 7Now Saul had a concubine, named Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah. And Ishbaal son of Saul said to Abner, "Why have you gone in to my father's concubine?" 8Then Abner was very angry over the words of Ishbaal, and said, "Am I a dog's head that belongs to Judah? Until today, is it for myself that I have been doing all these things, showing loyalty 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 this day with a fault concerning this woman. 9God do so to Abner, and more also, if, as the LORD has sworn to David, I do not do even so to him; 10to transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul, and to set up the throne of David over Israel and over Judah, from Dan even to Beersheba." 11And Ishbaal could not answer Abner another word, because he feared him.
12Abner sent messengers to David on his behalf, saying, "Whose is the land?" and saying, "Make your alliance with me, and look, my hand shall be with you, to bring all Israel around to you." 13He said, "Good; I will make a treaty with you; but one thing I require of you. That is, you shall not see my face, unless you first bring Mikal, Saul's daughter, when you come to see my face." 14David sent messengers to Ishbaal, Saul's son, saying, "Give me my wife Mikal, whom I pledged to be married to me for one hundred foreskins of the Philistines." 15Ishbaal sent and took her from her husband Paltiel the son of Laish. 16Her husband went with her, weeping as he went, and followed her to Bahurim. Then Abner said to him, "Go. Return." So he returned.
17Abner advised the elders of Israel, saying, "In times past, you sought for David to be king over you. 18Now then do it; for the LORD has spoken of David, saying, 'By the hand of my servant David, I will save my people Israel out of the hand of the Philistines, and out of the hand of all their enemies.'" 19And Abner also spoke privately to the sons of Benjamin. And Abner also spoke privately to David in Hebron all that seemed good to Israel, and to the whole house of Benjamin.
20So Abner came to David to Hebron, and twenty men with him. David made Abner and the men who were with him a feast. 21Abner 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 soul desires." David sent Abner away; and he went in peace.
22Look, the servants of David and Joab were returning from a raid, and brought in a great spoil with them. But Abner was not with David in Hebron, for he had sent him away, and he had gone in peace. 23When Joab and all the army who was with him had come, they told Joab, saying, "Abner the son of Ner came to David, and he has sent him away, and he has gone in peace." 24Then Joab came to the king, and said, "What have you done? Look, Abner came to you. Why is it that you have sent him away, so that he is gone? 25You know the evil ways of Abner the son of Ner, that he came to deceive you, and to know your going out and your coming in, and to know all that you do."
26When Joab had left David, he sent messengers after Abner, and they brought him back from the well of Sirah; but David did not know it. 27When Abner returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside into the midst of the gate to speak with him quietly, and struck him there in the abdomen, so that he died, for the blood of Asahel his brother. 28Afterward, when David heard it, he said, "I and my kingdom are guiltless before the LORD now and forever of the blood of Abner the son of Ner. 29May it whirl over the head of Joab, and on all his father's house. Let there not fail from the house of Joab one who has an issue, or who is a leper, or who leans on a staff, or who falls by the sword, or who lacks bread." 30So Joab and Abishai his brother killed Abner, because he had killed their brother Asahel at Gibeon in the battle.
31David said to Joab, and to all the people who were with him, "Tear your clothes, and clothe yourselves with sackcloth, and mourn before Abner." And King David followed the coffin. 32They buried Abner in Hebron: and the king lifted up his voice, and wept at the grave of Abner; and all the people wept.
33The king lamented for Abner, and said, "Should Abner die as a fool dies?
34Your hands were not bound in chains, your feet were not put into fetters. As a man falls before the ruthless, so you fell." All the people wept again over him.
35Then all the people came to persuade 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." 36All the people took notice of it, and it pleased them; as whatever the king did pleased all the people. 37So all the people and all Israel understood that day that it was not of the king to kill Abner the son of Ner. 38The king said to his servants, "Do you not realize that a leader and a great man has fallen this day in Israel? 39I am this day weak, though anointed king; and these men the sons of Zeruiah are too brutal for me. May the LORD reward the evildoer according to his wickedness."