Just then David’s men and Joab returned from a raid and brought with them a great deal of plunder. But Abner was no longer with David in Hebron, because David had sent him away, and he had gone in peace.
When Joab and all the soldiers with him arrived, he was told that Abner son of Ner had come to the king and that the king had sent him away and that he had gone in peace.
So Joab went to the king and said, “What have you done? Look, Abner came to you. Why did you let him go? Now he is gone!
You know Abner son of Ner; he came to deceive you and observe your movements and find out everything you are doing.”
Joab then left David and sent messengers after Abner, and they brought him back from the cistern at Sirah. But David did not know it.
Now when Abner returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside into an inner chamber, as if to speak with him privately. And there, to avenge the blood of his brother Asahel, Joab stabbed him in the stomach, and he died.
Later, when David heard about this, he said, “I and my kingdom are forever innocent before the LORD concerning the blood of Abner son of Ner.
May his blood fall on the head of Joab and on his whole family! May Joab’s family never be without someone who has a running sore or leprosy or who leans on a crutch or who falls by the sword or who lacks food.”
(Joab and his brother Abishai murdered Abner because he had killed their brother Asahel in the battle at Gibeon.)
Then David said to Joab and all the people with him, “Tear your clothes and put on sackcloth and walk in mourning in front of Abner.” King David himself walked behind the bier.
They buried Abner in Hebron, and the king wept aloud at Abner’s tomb. All the people wept also.
The king sang this lament for Abner: “Should Abner have died as the lawless die?
Your hands were not bound, your feet were not fettered. You fell as one falls before the wicked.” And all the people wept over him again.
Then they all came and urged David to eat something while it was still day; but David took an oath, saying, “May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if I taste bread or anything else before the sun sets!”
All the people took note and were pleased; indeed, everything the king did pleased them.
So on that day all the people there and all Israel knew that the king had no part in the murder of Abner son of Ner.
Then the king said to his men, “Do you not realize that a commander and a great man has fallen in Israel this day?
And today, though I am the anointed king, I am weak, and these sons of Zeruiah are too strong for me. May the LORD repay the evildoer according to his evil deeds!”