As the war between the royal families of Saul and David dragged on, David's family became stronger and stronger, and Saul's family became weaker and weaker.
Sons were born to David while he was in Hebron. His first son was Amnon, [born] to Ahinoam from Jezreel.
The second was Chileab, [born] to Abigail (who had been Nabal's wife) from Carmel. The third was Absalom, whose mother was Maacah (the daughter of King Talmai) from Geshur.
The fourth was Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith. The fifth was Shephatiah, whose mother was Abital.
The sixth was Ithream, [born] to David's wife Eglah. These sons were born to David while he was in Hebron.
During the war between the families of Saul and David, Abner strengthened his position in Saul's royal family.
Saul had a concubine named Rizpah (Aiah's daughter). Ishbosheth asked Abner, "Why did you have sex with my father's concubine?"
Ishbosheth's question made Abner very angry. "Have I been behaving like some Judean dog?" he asked. "Until now I've been faithful to your father Saul's family, to his relatives and friends, and I haven't handed you over to David. But now you charge me with a crime because of this woman.
May God strike me dead unless I do for David what the LORD had promised him with an oath:
'I, the LORD, will transfer the kingship from Saul's family and establish David's throne over Israel and Judah from Dan to Beersheba.'"
Ishbosheth couldn't respond to a single word, because he was afraid of Abner.
Then Abner sent messengers to David to speak on his behalf. "Who owns this country?" he asked. "Make an agreement with me," he said. "I'll support you and bring all Israel to you."
"Good!" David answered. "I'll make an agreement with you. But there's one condition: You can't come to see me unless you bring Michal, Saul's daughter, when you come."
Then David sent messengers to Saul's son Ishbosheth to say, "Give me my wife Michal. I made a payment of 100 Philistine foreskins for her."
So Ishbosheth sent men to take her from her husband Paltiel, son of Laish.
Her husband went with her and cried over her all the way to Bahurim. "Go home," Abner told him. So he went home.
Meanwhile, Abner sent the following message to the leaders of Israel: "For some time now you've wanted to make David your king.
Do it now, because the LORD said about David: 'I will save my people Israel from the Philistines and all their other enemies through my servant David.'"
Abner also spoke specifically to the people of Benjamin. Then Abner went directly to David in Hebron to tell him everything Israel and the entire tribe of Benjamin had approved.
So Abner came with 20 men to David in Hebron, and David had a feast for Abner and his men.
Abner told David, "I must go now so that I can gather all Israel for you, Your Majesty. They will make a treaty with you, and you will rule everything your heart desires." Then David dismissed Abner, who left peacefully.
Just then David's men and Joab were coming home from a raid with a lot of goods. Abner had been dismissed, so he was no longer with David in Hebron.
When Joab came back with the whole army, he was told, "Ner's son Abner came to the king, but David dismissed him, and Abner left peacefully."
Then Joab went to the king and asked, "What have you done? Abner came to see you. Why did you dismiss him and let him get away?
Certainly you must know that Ner's son Abner came to deceive you, to find out about your movements and learn everything you're doing!"
After leaving David, Joab sent messengers after Abner. They brought him back from the cistern of Sirah without David knowing about it.
When Abner returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside in the gateway as if to talk to him privately. There he stabbed Abner in the belly. Abner died because he spilled the blood of Joab's brother Asahel.
Later when David heard about it, he said, "As far as the LORD is concerned, my kingdom and I are forever innocent of spilling the blood of Ner's son Abner.
May the blame fall on the head of Joab and all of his family. May there always be members of Joab's family who have oozing sores and skin diseases, who can only work a spindle, who die in battle, and who never have any food."
(Joab and his brother Abishai killed Abner because he had killed their brother Asahel in the battle at Gibeon.)
David told Joab and all the people with him, "Tear your clothes, put on sackcloth, and mourn for Abner." King David followed the open casket.
They buried Abner in Hebron. The king cried loudly at Abner's grave, and all the people cried.
The king sang a funeral song for Abner: Should Abner die like a godless fool?
Your hands were not tied. Your feet were not chained. You fell as one falls in front of wicked men. And all the people continued to cry for him.
That entire day all the people tried to get David to eat some food. But David had taken an oath: "May God strike me dead if I taste any food or anything else before the sun goes down."
Then all the people understood and approved of this, as all the people approved of everything the king did.
That day all the people of Israel knew the king wasn't responsible for killing Ner's son Abner.
The king said to his officers, "Don't you know that today a leader, a great man, has fallen in Israel?
Today I'm weak, though I'm the anointed king. These men, Zeruiah's sons, are too cruel for me. May the LORD repay this evildoer as his evil deeds deserve."