The war between Saul's royal house and David's royal house lasted a long time. David grew stronger and stronger. But the royal house of Saul grew weaker and weaker.
Sons were born to David in Hebron. His first son was Amnon. Amnon's mother was Ahinoam from Jezreel.
His second son was Kileab. Kileab's mother was Abigail. She was Nabal's widow from Carmel. The third son was Absalom. His mother was Maacah. She was the daughter of Talmai, the king of Geshur.
The fourth son was Adonijah. His mother was Haggith. The fifth son was Shephatiah. His mother was Abital.
The sixth son was Ithream. His mother was David's wife Eglah. Those sons were born to David in Hebron.
The fighting continued between David's royal house and Saul's royal house. Abner gained more and more power in the royal house of Saul.
While Saul was still alive, he had a concubine named Rizpah. She was the daughter of Aiah. Ish-Bosheth said to Abner, "Why did you have sex with my father's concubine?"
Abner burned with anger because of what Ish-Bosheth said. He answered, "Do you think I'm only a dog's head? Am I on Judah's side? To this very day I've been true to the royal house of your father Saul. I've been true to his family and friends. I haven't handed you over to David. But now you claim that I've sinned with this woman!
"I will do for David what the LORD promised him with an oath. If I don't, may God punish me greatly.
I'll take the kingdom away from Saul's royal house. I'll set up the throne of David's kingdom over Israel and Judah. He will rule from Dan all the way to Beersheba."
Ish-Bosheth didn't dare to say another word to Abner. He was much too afraid of him.
Then Abner sent messengers to David to speak for him. They said, "Who will rule over this land? Make a covenant with me. Then I'll help you bring all of the people of Israel over to your side."
"Good," said David. "I will make a covenant with you. But there's one thing I want you to do. Bring Saul's daughter Michal to me. Don't come to see me unless she's with you."
Then David sent messengers to Saul's son Ish-Bosheth. He ordered them to say, "Give me my wife Michal. She was promised to me. I paid for her with the skins I cut off when I circumcised 100 Philistines."
So Ish-Bosheth gave the order. He sent men who took Michal away from her husband Paltiel. Paltiel was the son of Laish.
But her husband followed her to Bahurim. He was crying all the way. Then Abner said to him, "Go back home!" So he did.
Abner talked with the elders of Israel. He said, "For some time you have wanted to make David your king.
Now do it! The LORD made a promise to David. He said, 'I will save my people Israel from the powerful hand of the Philistines. I will also save them from all of their enemies. I will save them through my servant David.' "
Abner also spoke to the people of Benjamin in person. Then he went to Hebron to tell David everything. He told him what Israel and all of the people of Benjamin wanted to do.
Abner had 20 men with him. They came to David at Hebron. So David prepared a big dinner for Abner and his men.
Then Abner said to David, "Let me go right now. I'll gather together all of the people of Israel for you. After all, you are now my king and master. The people can make a covenant with you. Then you can rule over everyone you want to." So David sent Abner away. And he went in peace.
Just then David's men and Joab came back from attacking their enemies. They brought with them the large amount of goods they had taken. But Abner wasn't with David in Hebron anymore. That's because David had sent him away, and he had gone in peace.
Joab and all of the soldiers who were with him arrived. Then he was told that Abner, the son of Ner, had come to see the king. He was told that the king had sent Abner away. He was also told that Abner had gone in peace.
So Joab went to the king. He said, "What have you done? Abner came to you. Why did you let him get away? Now he's gone!
You know what Abner, the son of Ner, is like. He came to trick you. He wanted to watch your every move. He came to find out everything you are doing."
Then Joab left David. He sent messengers to get Abner. They brought Abner back from the well of Sirah. But David didn't know about it.
When Abner returned to Hebron, Joab took him to one side. He brought him to the entrance of the city gate. Joab acted as if he wanted to speak to him in private. But he really wanted to get even with him. That's because Abner had spilled the blood of Joab's brother Asahel. So Joab stabbed him in the stomach. And Abner died.
Later on, David heard about it. He said, "I and the people of my kingdom aren't guilty of spilling the blood of Abner, the son of Ner. We are free of blame forever in the sight of the Lord.
"May Joab and his whole family line be held accountable for spilling Abner's blood! May someone in Joab's family always have an open sore or skin disease. May someone in his family always have to use a crutch to walk. May someone in his family be killed with a sword. And may someone in his family never have enough food to eat."
Joab and his brother Abishai murdered Abner. They did it because he had killed their brother Asahel in the battle at Gibeon.
David spoke to Joab and all of the people who were with him. He said, "Tear your clothes. Put on black clothes. Sob when you walk in front of Abner's body." King David himself walked behind it.
Abner's body was buried in Hebron. The king sobbed out loud at Abner's tomb. So did the rest of the people.
King David sang a song of sadness over Abner. He said, "Should Abner have died as sinful people do?
His hands were not tied. His feet were not chained. He died as if he had been killed by evil people." All of the people sobbed over Abner again.
Then all of them came and begged David to eat something. They wanted him to eat while it was still day. But David took an oath. He said, "I won't taste bread or anything else before the sun goes down. If I do, may God punish me greatly!"
All of the people heard it and were pleased. In fact, everything the king did pleased them.
So on that day all of the people of Judah and Israel understood. They knew that the king didn't have anything to do with the murder of Abner, the son of Ner.
The king spoke to his men. He said, "Don't you realize that a great commander has died in Israel today?
I'm the anointed king. But today I'm weak. These sons of Zeruiah are too powerful for me. May the LORD pay back the one who killed Abner! May he pay him back for the evil thing he has done!"