2 Samuel 3

David's sons

1 David's men continued to fight against the men who were faithful to Saul's family. The war continued for a long time. David's army became stronger and stronger, but Saul's army became weaker and weaker.

2 While David lived in Hebron he had several sons:

  • The firstborn was Amnon. Ahinoam from Jezreel gave birth to him.
  • 3 The second son was Kileab. Nabal's widow, Abigail, from Carmel gave birth to him.
  • The third son was Absalom. His mother was Maakah, the daughter of Talmai, King of Geshur.
  • 4 The fourth son was Adonijah. His mother was Haggith.
  • The fifth son was Shephatiah. Abital was his mother.
  • 5 The sixth son was Ithream. David's wife, Eglah, gave birth to him.
  • These sons of David were all born in Hebron.

    Abner joins David's army

    6 The war continued between David's men and the men who fought on behalf of Saul's family. Abner was becoming a more powerful leader among Saul's group. 7 Saul had had slave wife called Rizpah. She was Aiah's daughter. One day, Ish-Bosheth asked Abner, ‘Why did you sleep with my father's woman?’

    3:7Ish-Bosheth was King Saul's son. He was the king of the northern part of Israel. See 2 Samuel 2:8-11. If Abner had slept with Saul's woman, it would show that he wanted to be king himself.

    8 Abner was very angry because of what Ish-Bosheth had said to him. Abner said, ‘Do you think that I am a useless dog that belongs to Judah? I have always been faithful to your father Saul and to his family and his friends. I have not deceived you to put you under David's power. But now you say that I am guilty of a sin with this woman. 9 So I promise you this! Now I will help David to get what the Lord has promised to him. I ask God to punish me if I do not help David! 10 The Lord promised that David's family would rule as kings instead of Saul's family. He promised that David would be king over all the people of Israel and Judah, from Dan to Beersheba.’

    3:10Dan was at the north border of Israel. Beersheba was in the south, in Judah. So from Dan to Beersheba means ‘everywhere’.

    11 Ish-Bosheth was so afraid of Abner that he could not say anything.

    12 Then Abner sent men to David with this message: ‘Who should rule this country? If you make an agreement with me, I will help you. I will cause all Israel's people to be faithful to you.’

    13 David said, ‘That is good! I will make an agreement with you. But you must do this for me: You must bring Saul's daughter, Michal, with you when you come to visit me. If you do not do that, I will not agree to see you.’

    14 Then David sent men to Saul's son, Ish-Bosheth, with this message: ‘Give back to me my wife, Michal. I paid 100 Philistine foreskins to have her as my wife.’

    15 So Ish-Bosheth sent his men to take Michal from her husband, Paltiel, son of Laish. 16 But her husband came with her. He wept while he followed her all the way to Bahurim. Then Abner said to him, ‘Return to your home!’ So he returned home.

    17 Then Abner talked to the leaders of Israel. He said, ‘For a long time you have wanted David to be your king. 18 So now is your chance to do something! Remember that the Lord promised, “I will use David's strength to save my people, Israel, from the Philistines and from all their enemies.” ’

    19 Abner also went himself to speak to the men of Benjamin's tribe. After that, he went to Hebron. He went to tell David what all Israel's people had agreed to do. All the people of Benjamin's tribe had also agreed the same thing. 20 Abner arrived in Hebron with 20 of his men to visit David. David prepared a feast for Abner and the men who were with him. 21 Then Abner said to David, ‘Please let me go now to bring all the people of Israel together for my lord the king. Then they will make an agreement with you. Then you will rule over the whole land, as you really want to do.’ So David sent Abner away, with a promise that he would be safe.

    3:19Saul belonged to Benjamin's tribe. David belonged to Judah's tribe. The people from Benjamin's tribe had always been faithful to Saul's family.

    Joab murders Abner

    22 David's men and Joab had attacked some of the enemy's towns. Now they were returning home. They brought with them a lot of things that they had taken from the enemy. By this time Abner had left Hebron because David had sent him away safely. 23 When Joab and all his soldiers arrived in Hebron, people told him, ‘Ner's son Abner came to visit the king. The king sent him back home safely.’

    24 Joab went to the king. He said, ‘Why did you do this? Abner came to visit you. You allowed him to go back home safely. Now he has gone. 25 You should know what Abner is like. He came here to deceive you. He wanted to find out everything that you do and everywhere that you go.’

    26 Then Joab left David. He sent men to run after Abner with a message. They found him at the well at Sirah and they brought him back to Hebron. But David did not know that. 27 When Abner returned to Hebron, Joab met him at the city's gate. Then Joab took him into a corner, as if he wanted to speak with Abner alone. But he pushed his knife into Abner's stomach. Joab killed Abner because Abner had killed Asahel, Joab's brother.

    28 Later, David heard about what Joab had done. He said, ‘The Lord knows this: I and the people of my kingdom are not guilty of Abner's murder. 29 I pray that Joab and all his father's family will pay for this murder! May God punish his descendants for ever! May somebody always have sores or leprosy. May there be men who are not brave enough to fight, men who die in battle, or people who have no food to eat!’

    30 That is how Joab and his brother Abishai killed Abner. They killed him because he had killed their brother Asahel in the battle at Gibeon.

    31 David said to Joab and to all the people who were with him, ‘Tear your clothes! Wear sackcloth to show that you are sad! Weep because of Abner's death.’ King David himself walked behind the men who carried Abner's dead body. 32 They buried Abner in a grave in Hebron. The king wept loudly beside Abner's grave. All the people wept too.

    33 The king sang this song about Abner's death:

    ‘Abner, you should not have died like a fool.

    34 Nobody had tied your hands.

    Nobody had put chains on your feet.

    It was murder by wicked people that killed you.’

    Then all the people started to weep again for Abner.

    35 The people came and they spoke to David. They said that he should eat some food before the end of the day. But David said, ‘I will not eat any food at all before sunset. May God punish me if I eat anything!’

    36 All the people heard David say this. It made them happy. They were pleased with everything that the king did. 37 That day, everyone in Israel realized that David had not wanted the death of Ner's son, Abner.

    38 The king said to his servants, ‘You must understand that a great leader has died today in Israel. 39 I am God's chosen king, but even I am weak today. I cannot control these sons of Zeruiah! They have done a wicked thing. I pray that the Lord will punish them as they deserve.’

    3:39Zeruiah's sons were Joab and Abishai, as well as Asahel who was now dead.