2 Samuel 1; 2 Samuel 2; 2 Samuel 3

1 After Saul's death David came back from his victory over the Amalekites and stayed in Ziklag for two days. 2 The next day a young man arrived from Saul's camp. To show his grief, he had torn his clothes and put dirt on his head. He went to David and bowed to the ground in respect. 3 David asked him, "Where have you come from?" "I have escaped from the Israelite camp," he answered. 4 "Tell me what happened," David said. "Our army ran away from the battle," he replied, "and many of our men were killed. Saul and his son Jonathan were also killed." 5 "How do you know that Saul and Jonathan are dead?" David asked him. 6 He answered, "I happened to be on Mount Gilboa, and I saw that Saul was leaning on his spear and that the chariots and cavalry of the enemy were closing in on him. 7 Then he turned around, saw me, and called to me. I answered, "Yes, sir!' 8 He asked who I was, and I told him that I was an Amalekite. 9 Then he said, "Come here and kill me! I have been badly wounded, and I'm about to die.' 10 So I went up to him and killed him, because I knew that he would die anyway as soon as he fell. Then I took the crown from his head and the bracelet from his arm, and I have brought them to you, sir." 11 David tore his clothes in sorrow, and all his men did the same. 12 They grieved and mourned and fasted until evening for Saul and Jonathan and for Israel, the people of the Lord, because so many had been killed in battle. 13 David asked the young man who had brought him the news, "Where are you from?" He answered, "I'm an Amalekite, but I live in your country." 14 David asked him, "How is it that you dared kill the Lord's chosen king?" 15 Then David called one of his men and said, "Kill him!" The man struck the Amalekite and mortally wounded him, 16 and David said to the Amalekite, "You brought this on yourself. You condemned yourself when you confessed that you killed the one whom the Lord chose to be king." 17 David sang this lament for Saul and his son Jonathan, 18 and ordered it to be taught to the people of Judah. (It is recorded in [The Book of Jashar.]) 19 "On the hills of Israel our leaders are dead! The bravest of our soldiers have fallen! 20 Do not announce it in Gath or in the streets of Ashkelon. Do not make the women of Philistia glad; do not let the daughters of pagans rejoice. 21 "May no rain or dew fall on Gilboa's hills; may its fields be always barren! For the shields of the brave lie there in disgrace; the shield of Saul is no longer polished with oil. 22 Jonathan's bow was deadly, the sword of Saul was merciless, striking down the mighty, killing the enemy. 23 "Saul and Jonathan, so wonderful and dear; together in life, together in death; swifter than eagles, stronger than lions. 24 "Women of Israel, mourn for Saul! He clothed you in rich scarlet dresses and adorned you with jewels and gold. 25 "The brave soldiers have fallen, they were killed in battle. Jonathan lies dead in the hills. 26 "I grieve for you, my brother Jonathan; how dear you were to me! How wonderful was your love for me, better even than the love of women. 27 "The brave soldiers have fallen, their weapons abandoned and useless."
1 After this, David asked the Lord, "Shall I go and take control of one of the towns of Judah?" "Yes," the Lord answered. "Which one?" David asked. "Hebron," the Lord said. 2 So David went to Hebron, taking with him his two wives: Ahinoam, who was from Jezreel, and Abigail, Nabal's widow, who was from Carmel. 3 He also took his men and their families, and they settled in the towns around Hebron. 4 Then the men of Judah came to Hebron and anointed David as king of Judah. When David heard that the people of Jabesh in Gilead had buried Saul, 5 he sent some men there with the message: "May the Lord bless you for showing your loyalty to your king by burying him. 6 And now may the Lord be kind and faithful to you. I too will treat you well because of what you have done. 7 Be strong and brave! Saul your king is dead, and the people of Judah have anointed me as their king." 8 The commander of Saul's army, Abner son of Ner, had fled with Saul's son Ishbosheth across the Jordan to Mahanaim. 9 There Abner made Ishbosheth king of the territories of Gilead, Asher, Jezreel, Ephraim, and Benjamin, and indeed over all Israel. 10 He was forty years old when he was made king of Israel, and he ruled for two years. But the tribe of Judah was loyal to David, 11 and he ruled in Hebron over Judah for seven and a half years. 12 Abner and the officials of Ishbosheth went from Mahanaim to the city of Gibeon. 13 Joab, whose mother was Zeruiah, and David's other officials met them at the pool, where they all sat down, one group on one side of the pool and the other group on the opposite side. 14 Abner said to Joab, "Let's have some of the young men from each side fight an armed contest." "All right," Joab answered. 15 So twelve men, representing Ishbosheth and the tribe of Benjamin, fought twelve of David's men. 16 Each man caught his opponent by the head and plunged his sword into his opponent's side, so that all twenty-four of them fell down dead together. And so that place in Gibeon is called "Field of Swords." 17 Then a furious battle broke out, and Abner and the Israelites were defeated by David's men. 18 The three sons of Zeruiah were there: Joab, Abishai, and Asahel. Asahel, who could run as fast as a wild deer, 19 started chasing Abner, running straight for him. 20 Abner looked back and said, "Is that you, Asahel?" "Yes," he answered. 21 "Stop chasing me!" Abner said. "Run after one of the soldiers and take what he has." But Asahel kept on chasing him. 22 Once more Abner said to him, "Stop chasing me! Why force me to kill you? How could I face your brother Joab?" 23 But Asahel would not quit; so Abner, with a backward thrust of his spear, struck him through the stomach so that the spear came out at his back. Asahel dropped to the ground dead, and everyone who came to the place where he was lying stopped and stood there. 24 But Joab and Abishai started out after Abner, and at sunset they came to the hill of Ammah, which is to the east of Giah on the road to the wilderness of Gibeon. 25 The men from the tribe of Benjamin gathered around Abner again and took their stand on the top of a hill. 26 Abner called out to Joab, "Do we have to go on fighting forever? Can't you see that in the end there will be nothing but bitterness? We are your relatives. How long will it be before you order your men to stop chasing us?" 27 "I swear by the living God," Joab answered, "that if you had not spoken, my men would have kept on chasing you until tomorrow morning." 28 Then Joab blew the trumpet as a signal for his men to stop pursuing the Israelites; and so the fighting stopped. 29 Abner and his men marched through the Jordan Valley all that night; they crossed the Jordan River, and after marching all the next morning, they arrived back at Mahanaim. 30 When Joab gave up the chase, he gathered all his men and found that nineteen of them were missing, in addition to Asahel. 31 David's men had killed 360 of Abner's men from the tribe of Benjamin. 32 Joab and his men took Asahel's body and buried it in the family tomb at Bethlehem. Then they marched all night and at dawn arrived back at Hebron.
1 The fighting between the forces supporting Saul's family and those supporting David went on for a long time. As David became stronger and stronger, his opponents became weaker and weaker. 2 The following six sons, in order of their birth, were born to David at Hebron: Amnon, whose mother was Ahinoam, from Jezreel; 3 Chileab, whose mother was Abigail, Nabal's widow, from Carmel; Absalom, whose mother was Maacah, the daughter of King Talmai of Geshur; 4 Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith; Shephatiah, whose mother was Abital; 5 Ithream, whose mother was Eglah. All of these sons were born in Hebron. 6 As the fighting continued between David's forces and the forces loyal to Saul's family, Abner became more and more powerful among Saul's followers. 7 One day Ishbosheth son of Saul accused Abner of sleeping with Saul's concubine Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah. 8 This made Abner furious. "Do you think that I would betray Saul? Do you really think I'm serving Judah?" he exclaimed. "From the very first I have been loyal to the cause of your father Saul, his brothers, and his friends, and I have kept you from being defeated by David; yet today you find fault with me about a woman! 9 The Lord promised David that he would take the kingdom away from Saul and his descendants and would make David king of both Israel and Judah, from one end of the country to the other. Now may God strike me dead if I don't make this come true!" 11 Ishbosheth was so afraid of Abner that he could not say a word. 12 Abner sent messengers to David, who at that time was at Hebron, to say, "Who is going to rule this land? Make an agreement with me, and I will help you win all Israel over to your side." 13 "Good!" David answered. "I will make an agreement with you on one condition: you must bring Saul's daughter Michal to me when you come to see me." 14 And David also sent messengers to Ishbosheth to say, "Give me back my wife Michal. I paid a hundred Philistine foreskins in order to marry her." 15 So Ishbosheth had her taken from her husband Paltiel son of Laish. 16 Paltiel followed her all the way to the town of Bahurim, crying as he went. But when Abner said, "Go back home," he did. 17 Abner went to the leaders of Israel and said to them, "For a long time you have wanted David to be your king. 18 Now here is your chance. Remember that the Lord has said, "I will use my servant David to rescue my people Israel from the Philistines and from all their other enemies.' " 19 Abner spoke also to the people of the tribe of Benjamin and then went to Hebron to tell David what the people of Benjamin and of Israel had agreed to do. 20 When Abner came to David at Hebron with twenty men, David gave a feast for them. 21 Abner told David, "I will go now and win all Israel over to Your Majesty. They will accept you as king, and then you will get what you have wanted and will rule over the whole land." David gave Abner a guarantee of safety and sent him on his way. 22 Later on Joab and David's other officials returned from a raid, bringing a large amount of loot with them. Abner, however, was no longer there at Hebron with David, because David had sent him away with a guarantee of safety. 23 When Joab and his men arrived, he was told that Abner had come to King David and had been sent away with a guarantee of safety. 24 So Joab went to the king and said to him, "What have you done? Abner came to you - why did you let him go like that? 25 He came here to deceive you and to find out everything you do and everywhere you go. Surely you know that!" 26 After leaving David, Joab sent messengers to get Abner, and they brought him back from Sirah Well; but David knew nothing about it. 27 When Abner arrived in Hebron, Joab took him aside at the gate, as though he wanted to speak privately with him, and there he stabbed him in the stomach. And so Abner was murdered because he had killed Joab's brother Asahel. 28 When David heard the news, he said, "The Lord knows that my subjects and I are completely innocent of the murder of Abner. 29 May the punishment for it fall on Joab and all his family! In every generation may there be some man in his family who has gonorrhea or a dreaded skin disease or is fit only to do a woman's work or is killed in battle or doesn't have enough to eat!" 30 So Joab and his brother Abishai took revenge on Abner for killing their brother Asahel in the battle at Gibeon. 31 Then David ordered Joab and his men to tear their clothes, wear sackcloth, and mourn for Abner. And at the funeral King David himself walked behind the coffin. 32 Abner was buried at Hebron, and the king wept aloud at the grave, and so did all the people. 33 David sang this lament for Abner: "Why did Abner have to die like a fool? 34 His hands were not tied, And his feet were not bound; He died like someone killed by criminals!" And the people wept for him again. 35 All day long the people tried to get David to eat something, but he made a solemn promise, "May God strike me dead if I eat anything before the day is over!" 36 They took note of this and were pleased. Indeed, everything the king did pleased the people. 37 All of David's people and all the people in Israel understood that the king had no part in the murder of Abner. 38 The king said to his officials, "Don't you realize that this day a great leader in Israel has died? 39 Even though I am the king chosen by God, I feel weak today. These sons of Zeruiah are too violent for me. May the Lord punish these criminals as they deserve!"
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