Later on, when David heard what happened, he said, "Before God I and my kingdom are totally innocent of this murder of Abner son of Ner.
Joab and his entire family will always be under the curse of this bloodguilt. May they forever be victims of crippling diseases, violence, and famine."
(Joab and his brother, Abishai, murdered Abner because he had killed their brother Asahel at the battle of Gibeon.)
David ordered Joab and all the men under him, "Rip your cloaks into rags! Wear mourning clothes! Lead Abner's funeral procession with loud lament!" King David followed the coffin.
They buried Abner in Hebron. The king's voice was loud in lament as he wept at the side of Abner's grave. All the people wept, too.
Then the king sang this tribute to Abner: Can this be? Abner dead like a nameless bum?
You were a free man, free to go and do as you wished - Yet you fell as a victim in a street brawl. And all the people wept - a crescendo of crying!
They all came then to David, trying to get him to eat something before dark. But David solemnly swore, "I'll not so much as taste a piece of bread, or anything else for that matter, before sunset, so help me God!"
Everyone at the funeral took notice - and liked what they saw. In fact everything the king did was applauded by the people.
It was clear to everyone that day, including all Israel, that the king had nothing to do with the death of Abner son of Ner.
The king spoke to his servants: "You realize, don't you, that today a prince and hero fell victim of foul play in Israel?
And I, though anointed king, was helpless to do anything about it. These sons of Zeruiah are too much for me. God, requite the criminal for his crime!"
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)