That was the beginning of a long war between those who had been loyal to Saul and those who were loyal to David. As time passed David became stronger and stronger, while Saul's dynasty became weaker and weaker.
These were the sons who were born to David in Hebron: The oldest was Amnon, whose mother was Ahinoam of Jezreel.
The second was Kileab, whose mother was Abigail, the widow of Nabal from Carmel. The third was Absalom, whose mother was Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur.
The fourth was Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith. The fifth was Shephatiah, whose mother was Abital.
The sixth was Ithream, whose mother was David's wife Eglah. These sons were all born to David in Hebron.
As the war went on, Abner became a powerful leader among those who were loyal to Saul's dynasty.
One day Ishbosheth, a Saul's son, accused Abner of sleeping with one of his father's concubines, a woman named Rizpah.
Abner became furious. "Am I a Judean dog to be kicked around like this?" he shouted. "After all I have done for you and your father by not betraying you to David, is this my reward -- that you find fault with me about this woman?
May God deal harshly with me if I don't help David get all that the LORD has promised him!
I should just go ahead and give David the rest of Saul's kingdom. I should set him up as king over Israel as well as Judah, from Dan to Beersheba."
Ishbosheth didn't dare say another word because he was afraid of what Abner might do.
Then Abner sent messengers to David, saying, "Let's make an agreement, and I will help turn the entire nation of Israel over to you."
"All right," David replied, "but I will not negotiate with you unless you bring back my wife Michal, Saul's daughter, when you come."
David then sent this message to Ishbosheth, Saul's son: "Give me back my wife Michal, for I bought her with the lives of one hundred Philistines."
So Ishbosheth took Michal away from her husband Palti b son of Laish.
Palti followed along behind her as far as Bahurim, weeping as he went. Then Abner told him, "Go back home!" So Palti returned.
Meanwhile, Abner had consulted with the leaders of Israel. "For some time now," he told them, "you have wanted to make David your king.
Now is the time! For the LORD has said, 'I have chosen David to save my people from the Philistines and from all their other enemies.'"
Abner also spoke with the leaders of the tribe of Benjamin. Then he went to Hebron to tell David that all the people of Israel and Benjamin supported him.
When Abner came to Hebron with his twenty men, David entertained them with a great feast.
Then Abner said to David, "Let me go and call all the people of Israel to your side. They will make a covenant with you to make you their king. Then you will be able to rule over everything your heart desires." So David sent Abner safely on his way.
But just after Abner left, Joab and some of David's troops returned from a raid, bringing much plunder with them.
When Joab was told that Abner had just been there visiting the king and had been sent away in safety,
he rushed to see the king. "What have you done?" he demanded. "What do you mean by letting Abner get away?
You know perfectly well that he came to spy on you and to discover everything you are doing!"
Joab then left David and sent messengers to catch up with Abner. They found him at the pool of Sirah and brought him back with them. But David knew nothing about it.
When Abner arrived at Hebron, Joab took him aside at the gateway as if to speak with him privately. But then he drew his dagger and killed Abner in revenge for killing his brother Asahel.
When David heard about it, he declared, "I vow by the LORD that I and my people are innocent of this crime against Abner.
Joab and his family are the guilty ones. May his family in every generation be cursed with a man who has open sores or leprosy c or who walks on crutches d or who dies by the sword or who begs for food!"
So Joab and his brother Abishai killed Abner because Abner had killed their brother Asahel at the battle of Gibeon.
Then David said to Joab and all those who were with him, "Tear your clothes and put on sackcloth. Go into deep mourning for Abner." And King David himself walked behind the procession to the grave.
They buried Abner in Hebron, and the king and all the people wept at his graveside.
Then the king sang this funeral song for Abner: "Should Abner have died as fools die?
Your hands were not bound; your feet were not chained. No, you were murdered -- the victim of a wicked plot." All the people wept again for Abner.
David had refused to eat anything the day of the funeral, and now everyone begged him to eat. But David had made a vow, saying, "May God kill me if I eat anything before sundown."
This pleased the people very much. In fact, everything the king did pleased them!
So everyone in Judah and Israel knew that David was not responsible for Abner's death.
Then King David said to the people, "Do you not realize that a great leader and a great man has fallen today in Israel?
And even though I am the anointed king, these two sons of Zeruiah -- Joab and Abishai -- are too strong for me to control. So may the LORD repay these wicked men for their wicked deeds."
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)