2 Samuel 3:22-39

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.