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!"