The war keeps going, with David's house growing in power, as the house of Saul becomes weaker and weaker.
David has six different sons with five of his wives (Amnon, the first-born, Absalom, the third-born, and Adonijah, the fourth-born, all playing important roles later on).
Meanwhile, all is not well in the House of Saul. Ishbaal gets mad at Abner for sleeping with one of Saul's concubines—a woman named Rizpah.
Abner's like, "I don't need this." Annoyed that his loyalty isn't recognized or rewarded, he chews out Ishbaal, and says he's going to help David take over and become the one undisputed king of Israel.
One-Sided Wife Swap
Abner sends messengers telling David he wants to defect. David writes back and says, "Good—but you need to bring my former wife, Michal, back to me if you're going to do this."
So, they take Michal, and Abner brings her to David. Michal's husband Paltiel follows them, weeping, until Abner tells him to go back home, which he does.
Abner also urges all the elders of Israel to join David's side.
When he arrives at David's palace, David holds a feast in his honor, but Abner quickly departs, heading out to rally the people of Israel to David's side.
A Dish Best Served Cold
However, when Joab arrives at the palace after coming back from a raid, he tells David he shouldn't have let Abner get away, since he's probably still secretly working for Ishbaal.
Without David's knowledge, Joab sends out men to apprehend Abner and bring him back to Hebron.
They do, and when Joab goes to "speak with" Abner privately, he stabs and murders Abner—getting his revenge for Abner's murder of Asahel.
David denies any responsibility for the murder and says that the guilt will fall on Joab's house. Although Joah continues working for David, David curses Joab's house, saying it will always be have a member who suffers from leprosy, or is hungry, or dies in battle, etc.
David's Innocent… Like, Seriously, People
David tells all the people to mourn, wear sackcloth, and weep for Abner (including Joab). Dave follows the funeral procession and gives a tearful speech as Abner is buried.
The people try to convince David to eat something, but he's still way distraught over Abner, and won't eat anything before sundown.
This pleases everyone, and, it turns out, they get it—David didn't have anything to do with killing Abner.
David tells his servants that Abner was a great man, and that the sons of Zeruiah (Joab and Abishai) are too violent for his taste, and says God will repay their wickedness… because David definitely didn't order Abner killed.