2 Samuel 1-4 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
David Finds Out about Saul’s Death
1 Saul was dead.
Meanwhile, David had defeated the Amalekites and returned to Ziklag. 2 Three days later, a soldier came from Saul’s army. His clothes were torn, and dirt was on his head.[a] He went to David and knelt down in front of him.
3 David asked, “Where did you come from?”
The man answered, “From Israel’s army. I barely escaped with my life.”
4 “Who won the battle?” David asked.
The man said, “Our army turned and ran, but many were wounded and died. Even King Saul and his son Jonathan are dead.”
5 David asked, “How do you know Saul and Jonathan are dead?”
6 The young man replied:
I was on Mount Gilboa and saw King Saul leaning on his spear. The enemy’s war chariots and cavalry were closing in on him. 7 When he turned around and saw me, he called me over. I went and asked what he wanted.
8 Saul asked me, “Who are you?”
“An Amalekite,” I answered.
9 Then he said, “Kill me! I’m dying, and I’m in terrible pain.”[b]
10 So I killed him. I knew he was too badly wounded to live much longer. Then I took his crown and his arm-band, and I brought them to you, Your Majesty. Here they are.
11 Right away, David and his soldiers tore their clothes in sorrow. 12 They cried all day long and would not eat anything. Everyone was sad because Saul, his son Jonathan, and many of the Lord’s people had been killed in the battle.
13 David asked the young man, “Where is your home?”
The man replied, “My father is an Amalekite, but we live in Israel.”
14-16 David said to him, “Why weren’t you afraid to kill the Lord’s chosen king? And you even told what you did. It’s your own fault that you’re going to die!”
Then David told one of his soldiers, “Come here and kill this man!”
David Sings in Memory of Saul
17 David sang a song in memory of Saul and Jonathan, 18 and he ordered his men to teach the song to everyone in Judah. He called it “The Song of the Bow,” and it can be found in The Book of Jashar.[c] This is the song:
19 Israel, your famous hero
22 The arrows of Jonathan struck,
23 It was easy to love Saul
24 Women of Israel, cry for Saul.
26 Jonathan, I miss you most!
27 Our warriors have fallen,
David Becomes King of Judah
2 Later, David asked the Lord, “Should I go back to one of the towns of Judah?”
The Lord answered, “Yes.”
David asked, “Which town should I go to?”
“Go to Hebron,” the Lord replied.
2 David went to Hebron with his two wives, Ahinoam and Abigail. Ahinoam was from Jezreel, and Abigail was the widow of Nabal from Carmel. 3 David also had his men and their families come and live in the villages near Hebron.
4 The people of Judah met with David at Hebron and poured olive oil on his head to show that he was their new king. Then they told David, “The people from Jabesh in Gilead buried Saul.”
5 David sent messengers to tell them:
The Lord bless you! You were kind enough to bury Saul your ruler, 6 and I pray that the Lord will be kind and faithful to you. I will be your friend because of what you have done. 7 Saul is dead, but the tribe of Judah has made me their king. So be strong and have courage.
Ishbosheth Becomes King of Israel
8 Abner the son of Ner[g] had been the general of Saul’s army. He took Saul’s son Ishbosheth[h] across the Jordan River to Mahanaim 9 and made him king of Israel,[i] including the areas of Gilead, Asher,[j] Jezreel, Ephraim, and Benjamin. 10 Ishbosheth was forty years old at the time, and he ruled for two years. But the tribe of Judah made David their king, 11 and he ruled from Hebron for seven and a half years.
The War between David and Ishbosheth
12 One day, Abner and the soldiers of Ishbosheth[k] left Mahanaim and went to Gibeon. 13 Meanwhile, Joab the son of Zeruiah[l] was leading David’s soldiers, and the two groups met at the pool in Gibeon.[m] Abner and his men sat down on one side of the pool, while Joab and his men sat on the other side. 14 Abner yelled to Joab, “Let’s have some of our best soldiers get up and fight each other!”
Joab agreed, 15 and twelve of Ishbosheth’s men from the tribe of Benjamin got up to fight twelve of David’s men. 16 They grabbed each other by the hair and stabbed each other in the side with their daggers. They all died right there! That’s why the place in Gibeon is called “Field of Daggers.”[n] 17 Then everyone started fighting. Both sides fought very hard, but David’s soldiers defeated Abner and the soldiers of Israel.
18 Zeruiah’s three sons were there: Joab, Abishai, and Asahel. Asahel could run as fast as a deer in an open field, 19 and he ran straight after Abner, without looking to the right or to the left.
20 When Abner turned and saw him, he said, “Is that you, Asahel?”
Asahel answered, “Yes it is.”
21 Abner said, “There are soldiers all around. Stop chasing me and fight one of them! Kill him and take his clothes and weapons for yourself.”
But Asahel refused to stop.
22 Abner said, “If you don’t turn back, I’ll have to kill you! Then I could never face your brother Joab again.”
23 But Asahel would not turn back, so Abner struck him in the stomach with the back end of his spear. The spear went all the way through and came out of his back. Asahel fell down and died. Everyone who saw Asahel lying dead just stopped and stood still. 24 But Joab and Abishai went after Abner. Finally, about sunset, they came to the hill of Ammah, not far from Giah on the road to Gibeon Desert. 25 Abner brought the men of Benjamin together in one group on top of a hill, and they got ready to fight.
26 Abner shouted to Joab, “Aren’t we ever going to stop killing each other? Don’t you know that the longer we keep on doing this, the worse it’s going to be when it’s all over? When are you going to order your men to stop chasing their own relatives?”
27 Joab shouted back, “I swear by the living God, if you hadn’t spoken, my men would have chased their relatives all night!” 28 Joab took his trumpet and blew the signal for his soldiers to stop chasing the soldiers of Israel. Right away, the fighting stopped.
29 Abner and his troops marched through the Jordan River valley all that night. Then they crossed the river and marched all morning[o] until they arrived back at Mahanaim.
30 As soon as Joab stopped chasing Abner, he got David’s troops together and counted them. There were nineteen missing besides Asahel. 31 But David’s soldiers had killed 360 of Abner’s men from the tribe of Benjamin. 32 Joab and his troops carried Asahel’s body to Bethlehem and buried him in the family burial place. Then they marched all night and reached Hebron before sunrise.
3 This battle was the beginning of a long war between the followers of Saul and the followers of David. Saul’s power grew weaker, but David’s grew stronger.
David’s Sons Born in Hebron
2-5 Several of David’s sons were born while he was living in Hebron. His oldest son was Amnon, whose mother was Ahinoam from Jezreel. David’s second son was Chileab, whose mother was Abigail, who had been married to Nabal from Carmel. Absalom was the third. His mother was Maacah, the daughter of King Talmai of Geshur. The fourth was Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith. The fifth was Shephatiah, whose mother was Abital. The sixth was Ithream, whose mother was Eglah, another one of David’s wives.
Abner Decides To Help David
6 As the war went on between the families of David and Saul, Abner was gaining more power than ever in Saul’s family. 7 He had even slept with a wife[p] of Saul by the name of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah. But Saul’s son Ishbosheth[q] told Abner, “You shouldn’t have slept with one of my father’s wives!”
8 Abner was very angry at what Ishbosheth had said, and he told Ishbosheth:
Am I some kind of worthless dog from Judah? I’ve always been loyal to your father’s family and to his relatives and friends. I haven’t turned you over to David. And yet you talk to me as if I’ve committed a crime with this woman.
9 I ask God to punish me if I don’t help David get what the Lord promised him! 10 God said that he wouldn’t let anyone in Saul’s family ever be king again and that David would be king instead. He also said that David would rule both Israel and Judah, all the way from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south.[r]
11 Ishbosheth was so afraid of Abner that he could not even answer.
12 Abner sent some of his men to David with this message: “You should be the ruler of the whole nation.[s] If you make an agreement with me, I will persuade everyone in Israel to make you their king.”
13 David sent this message back: “Good! I’ll make an agreement with you. But before I will even talk with you about it, you must get Saul’s daughter Michal back for me.”
14 David sent a few of his officials to Ishbosheth to give him this message: “Give me back my wife Michal! I killed a hundred Philistines so I could marry her.”[t]
15 Ishbosheth sent some of his men to take Michal away from her new husband, Paltiel the son of Laish. 16 Paltiel followed Michal and the men all the way to Bahurim, crying as he walked. But he went back home after Abner ordered him to leave.
17 Abner talked with the leaders of the tribes of Israel and told them, “You’ve wanted to make David your king for a long time now. 18 So do it! After all, God said he would use his servant David to rescue his people Israel from their enemies, especially from the Philistines.”
19 Finally, Abner talked with the tribe of Benjamin. Then he left for Hebron to tell David everything that the tribe of Benjamin and the rest of the people of Israel wanted to do. 20 Abner took twenty soldiers with him, and when they got to Hebron, David gave a big feast for them.
21 After the feast, Abner said, “Your Majesty, let me leave now and bring Israel here to make an agreement with you. You’ll be king of the whole nation, just as you’ve been wanting.”
David told Abner he could leave, and he left without causing any trouble.
Joab Kills Abner
22 Soon after Abner had left Hebron, Joab and some of David’s soldiers came back, bringing a lot of things they had taken from an enemy village. 23 Right after they arrived, someone told Joab, “Abner visited the king, and the king let him go. Abner even left without causing any trouble.”
24 Joab went to David and said, “What have you done? Abner came to you, and you let him go. Now he’s long gone! 25 You know Abner—he came to trick you. He wants to find out how strong your army is and to know everything you’re doing.”
26 Joab left David, then he sent some messengers to catch up with Abner. They brought him back from the well at Sirah,[u] but David did not know anything about it. 27 When Abner returned to Hebron, Joab pretended he wanted to talk privately with him. So he took Abner into one of the small rooms that were part of the town gate and stabbed him in the stomach. Joab killed him because Abner had killed Joab’s brother Asahel.
28 David heard how Joab had killed Abner, and he said, “I swear to the Lord that I am completely innocent of Abner’s death! 29 Joab and his family are the guilty ones. I pray that Joab’s family will always be sick with sores and other skin diseases. May they all be cowards,[v] and may they die in war or starve to death.”
30 Joab and his brother Abishai killed Abner because he had killed their brother Asahel in the battle at Gibeon.
31 David told Joab and everyone with him, “Show your sorrow by tearing your clothes and wearing sackcloth![w] Walk in front of Abner’s body and cry!”
David walked behind the stretcher on which Abner’s body was being carried. 32 Abner was buried in Hebron, while David and everyone else stood at the tomb and cried loudly. 33 Then the king sang a funeral song about Abner:
Abner, why should you
Everyone started crying again. 35 Then they brought some food to David and told him he would feel better if he had something to eat. It was still daytime, and David said, “I swear to God that I’ll not take a bite of bread or anything else until sunset!”
36 Everyone noticed what David did, and they liked it, just as they always liked what he did. 37 Now the people of Judah and Israel were certain that David had nothing to do with killing Abner.
38 David said to his officials, “Don’t you realize that today one of Israel’s great leaders has died? 39 I am the chosen king, but Joab and Abishai have more power than I do. So God will have to pay them back[y] for the evil thing they did.”
Ishbosheth Is Killed
4 Ishbosheth[z] felt like giving up after he heard that Abner had died in Hebron. Everyone in Israel was terrified.
2 Ishbosheth had put the two brothers Baanah and Rechab in charge of the soldiers who raided enemy villages. Rimmon was their father, and they were from the town of Beeroth, which belonged to the tribe of Benjamin. 3 The people who used to live in Beeroth had run away to Gittaim, and they still live[aa] there.
4 Saul’s son Jonathan had a son named Mephibosheth,[ab] who had not been able to walk since he was five years old. It happened when someone from Jezreel told his nurse that Saul and Jonathan had died.[ac] She hurried off with the boy in her arms, but he fell and injured his legs.
5 One day about noon, Rechab and Baanah went to Ishbosheth’s house. It was a hot day, and he was resting 6-7 in his bedroom. The two brothers went into the house, pretending to get some flour. But once they were inside, they stabbed Ishbosheth in the stomach and killed him. Then they cut off his head and took it with them.
Rechab and Baanah walked through the Jordan River valley all night long. 8 Finally they turned west and went to Hebron. They went in to see David and told him, “Your Majesty, here is the head of Ishbosheth, the son of your enemy Saul who tried to kill you! The Lord has let you get even with Saul and his family.”
9 David answered:
I swear that only the Lord rescues me when I’m in trouble! 10 When a man came to Ziklag and told me that Saul was dead, he thought he deserved a reward for bringing good news. But I grabbed him and killed him.
11 You evil men have done something much worse than he did. You’ve killed an innocent man in his own house and on his own bed. I’ll make you pay for that. I’ll wipe you from the face of the earth!
12 Then David said to his troops, “Kill these two brothers! Cut off their hands and feet and hang their bodies by the pool in Hebron. But bury Ishbosheth’s head in Abner’s tomb near Hebron.” And they did.
Starting your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus is easy. You’re already logged in with your Bible Gateway account. The next step is to choose a monthly or yearly subscription, and then enter your payment information. Your credit card won’t be charged until the trial period is over. You can cancel anytime during the trial period.
Click the button below to continue.
You’ve already claimed your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus. To subscribe at our regular subscription rate, click the button below.
It looks like you’re already subscribed to Bible Gateway Plus! To manage your subscription, visit your Bible Gateway account settings.
Congratulations on your Bible Gateway account!
As an account holder, you can highlight Bible verses, mark your favorites, and take notes. Over the next few days, you’ll receive a few email tutorials on how to get the most out of your account.
For now, consider improving your experience even more by upgrading to Bible Gateway Plus! With Bible Gateway Plus, you gain instant access to a digital Bible study library, including complete notes from resources like the NIV Study Bible, the NKJV MacArthur Study Bible, and the abridged Expositor's Bible Commentary. Try it free for 30 days!
Three easy steps to start your free trial subscription to Bible Gateway Plus.