2 Samuel 13:23-19:8, ~24 mins
23 Two years later Absalom’s sheepshearers were in Baal Hazor, near Ephraim. Absalom invited all the king’s sons. 24 Then Absalom went to the king and said, “My shearers have begun their work. Let the king and his servants go with me.”
25 But the king said to Absalom, “No, my son. We shouldn’t all go. We shouldn’t burden you in that way.” Though Absalom pressed him, the king was not willing to go. Instead, David blessed him.
26 Then Absalom said, “If you will not go, then let my brother Amnon go with us.” The king replied to him, “Why should he go with you?” 27 But when Absalom pressed him, he sent Amnon and all the king’s sons along with him.
28 Absalom instructed his servants, “Look! When Amnon is drunk and I say to you, ‘Strike Amnon down,’ kill him then and there. Don’t fear! Is it not I who have given you these instructions? Be strong and courageous!” 29 So Absalom’s servants did to Amnon exactly what Absalom had instructed. Then all the king’s sons got up; each one rode away on his mule and fled.
30 While they were still on their way, the following report reached David: “Absalom has killed all the king’s sons; not one of them is left!” 31 Then the king stood up and tore his garments and lay down on the ground. All his servants were standing there with torn garments as well.
32 Jonadab, the son of David’s brother Shimeah, said, “My lord should not say, ‘They have killed all the young men who are the king’s sons.’ For only Amnon is dead. This is what Absalom has talked about from the day that Amnon humiliated his sister Tamar. 33 Now don’t let my lord the king be concerned about the report that has come saying, ‘All the king’s sons are dead.’ It is only Amnon who is dead.”
34 In the meantime Absalom fled. When the servant who was the watchman looked up, he saw many people coming from the west on a road beside the hill. 35 Jonadab said to the king, “Look! The king’s sons have come! It’s just as I said.”
36 Just as he finished speaking, the king’s sons arrived, wailing and weeping. The king and all his servants wept loudly as well. 37 But Absalom fled and went to King Talmai son of Ammihud of Geshur. And David grieved over his son every day.
38 After Absalom fled and went to Geshur, he remained there for three years. 39 The king longed to go to Absalom, for he had since been consoled over the death of Amnon.
14 Now Joab son of Zeruiah realized that the king longed to see Absalom. 2 So Joab sent to Tekoa and brought from there a wise woman. He told her, “Pretend to be in mourning and put on garments for mourning. Don’t anoint yourself with oil. Instead, act like a woman who has been mourning for the dead for some time. 3 Go to the king and speak to him in the following fashion.” Then Joab told her what to say.
4 So the Tekoan woman went to the king. She bowed down with her face to the ground in deference to him and said, “Please help me, O king!” 5 The king replied to her, “What do you want?” She answered, “I am a widow; my husband is dead. 6 Your servant has two sons. When the two of them got into a fight in the field, there was no one present who could intervene. One of them struck the other and killed him. 7 Now the entire family has risen up against your servant, saying, ‘Turn over the one who struck down his brother, so that we can execute him and avenge the death of his brother whom he killed. In so doing we will also destroy the heir.’ They want to extinguish my remaining coal, leaving no one on the face of the earth to carry on the name of my husband.”
8 Then the king told the woman, “Go to your home. I will give instructions concerning your situation.” 9 The Tekoan woman said to the king, “My lord the king, let any blame fall on me and on the house of my father. But let the king and his throne be innocent!”
10 The king said, “Bring to me whoever speaks to you, and he won’t bother you again!” 11 She replied, “In that case, let the king invoke the name of the Lord your God so that the avenger of blood may not add to the killing! Then they will not destroy my son!” He replied, “As surely as the Lord lives, not a single hair of your son’s head will fall to the ground.”
12 Then the woman said, “Please permit your servant to speak to my lord the king about another matter.” He replied, “Tell me.” 13 The woman said, “Why have you devised something like this against God’s people? When the king speaks in this fashion, he makes himself guilty, for the king has not brought back the one he has banished. 14 Certainly we must die, and are like water spilled on the ground that cannot be gathered up again. But God does not take away life; instead he devises ways for the banished to be restored. 15 I have now come to speak with my lord the king about this matter, because the people have made me fearful. But your servant said, ‘I will speak to the king! Perhaps the king will do what his female servant asks. 16 Yes! The king may listen and deliver his female servant from the hand of the man who seeks to remove both me and my son from the inheritance God has given us!’ 17 So your servant said, ‘May the word of my lord the king be my security, for my lord the king is like the angel of God when it comes to deciding between right and wrong! May the Lord your God be with you!’”
18 Then the king replied to the woman, “Don’t hide any information from me when I question you.” The woman said, “Let my lord the king speak.” 19 The king said, “Did Joab put you up to all of this?” The woman answered, “As surely as you live, my lord the king, there is no deviation to the right or to the left from all that my lord the king has said. For your servant Joab gave me instructions. He has put all these words in your servant’s mouth. 20 Your servant Joab did this so as to change this situation. But my lord has wisdom like that of the angel of God, and knows everything that is happening in the land.”
21 Then the king said to Joab, “All right! I will do this thing. Go and bring back the young man Absalom!” 22 Then Joab bowed down with his face toward the ground and thanked the king. Joab said, “Today your servant knows that I have found favor in your sight, my lord the king, because the king has granted the request of your servant!”
23 So Joab got up and went to Geshur and brought Absalom back to Jerusalem. 24 But the king said, “Let him go over to his own house. He may not see my face.” So Absalom went over to his own house; he did not see the king’s face.
25 Now in all Israel everyone acknowledged that there was no man as handsome as Absalom. From the soles of his feet to the top of his head he was perfect in appearance. 26 When he would shave his head—at the end of every year he used to shave his head, for it grew too long and he would shave it—he used to weigh the hair of his head at three pounds according to the king’s weight. 27 Absalom had three sons and one daughter, whose name was Tamar. She was a very attractive woman.
28 Absalom lived in Jerusalem for two years without seeing the king’s face. 29 Then Absalom sent a message to Joab asking him to send him to the king, but Joab was not willing to come to him. So he sent a second message to him, but he still was not willing to come. 30 So he said to his servants, “Look, Joab has a portion of field adjacent to mine and he has some barley there. Go and set it on fire.” So Absalom’s servants set Joab’s portion of the field on fire.
31 Then Joab got up and came to Absalom’s house. He said to him, “Why did your servants set my portion of field on fire?” 32 Absalom said to Joab, “Look, I sent a message to you saying, ‘Come here so that I can send you to the king with this message: “Why have I come from Geshur? It would be better for me if I were still there.”’ Let me now see the face of the king. If I am at fault, let him put me to death!”
33 So Joab went to the king and informed him. The king summoned Absalom, and he came to the king. Absalom bowed down before the king with his face toward the ground and the king kissed him.
15 Some time later Absalom managed to acquire a chariot and horses, as well as 50 men to serve as his royal guard. 2 Now Absalom used to get up early and stand beside the road that led to the city gate. Whenever anyone came by who had a complaint to bring to the king for arbitration, Absalom would call out to him, “What city are you from?” The person would answer, “I, your servant, am from one of the tribes of Israel.” 3 Absalom would then say to him, “Look, your claims are legitimate and appropriate. But there is no representative of the king who will listen to you.” 4 Absalom would then say, “If only they would make me a judge in the land! Then everyone who had a judicial complaint could come to me and I would make sure he receives a just settlement.”
5 When someone approached to bow before him, Absalom would extend his hand and embrace him and kiss him. 6 Absalom acted this way toward everyone in Israel who came to the king for justice. In this way Absalom won the loyalty of the citizens of Israel.
7 After four years Absalom said to the king, “Let me go and repay my vow that I made to the Lord while I was in Hebron. 8 For I made this vow when I was living in Geshur in Aram: ‘If the Lord really does allow me to return to Jerusalem, I will serve the Lord.’” 9 The king replied to him, “Go in peace.” So Absalom got up and went to Hebron.
10 Then Absalom sent spies through all the tribes of Israel who said, “When you hear the sound of the horn, you may assume that Absalom rules in Hebron.” 11 Now 200 men had gone with Absalom from Jerusalem. Since they were invited, they went naively and were unaware of what Absalom was planning. 12 While he was offering sacrifices, Absalom sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s adviser, to come from his city, Giloh. The conspiracy was gaining momentum, and the people were starting to side with Absalom.
13 Then a messenger came to David and reported, “The men of Israel are loyal to Absalom!” 14 So David said to all his servants who were with him in Jerusalem, “Come on! Let’s escape! Otherwise no one will be delivered from Absalom! Go immediately, or else he will quickly overtake us and bring disaster on us and kill the city’s residents with the sword.” 15 The king’s servants replied to the king, “We will do whatever our lord the king decides.”
16 So the king and all the members of his royal court set out on foot, though the king left behind 10 concubines to attend to the palace. 17 The king and all the people set out on foot, pausing at a spot some distance away. 18 All his servants were leaving with him, along with all the Kerethites, all the Pelethites, and all the Gittites—some 600 men who had come on foot from Gath. They were leaving with the king.
19 Then the king said to Ittai the Gittite, “Why should you come with us? Go back and stay with the new king, for you are a foreigner and an exile from your own country. 20 It seems as if you arrived just yesterday. Today should I make you wander around by going with us? I go where I must go. But as for you, go back and take your men with you. May genuine loyal love protect you!”
21 But Ittai replied to the king, “As surely as the Lord lives and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king is, whether it means death or life, there I will be as well!” 22 So David said to Ittai, “Come along then.” So Ittai the Gittite went along, accompanied by all his men and all the dependents who were with him.
23 All the land was weeping loudly as all these people were leaving. As the king was crossing over the Kidron Valley, all the people were leaving on the road that leads to the desert. 24 Zadok and all the Levites who were with him were carrying the ark of the covenant of God. When they positioned the ark of God, Abiathar offered sacrifices until all the people had finished leaving the city.
25 Then the king said to Zadok, “Take the ark of God back to the city. If I find favor in the Lord’s sight he will bring me back and enable me to see both it and his dwelling place again. 26 However, if he should say, ‘I do not take pleasure in you,’ then he will deal with me in a way that he considers appropriate.”
27 The king said to Zadok the priest, “Are you a seer? Go back to the city in peace! Your son Ahimaaz and Abiathar’s son Jonathan may go with you and Abiathar. 28 Look, I will be waiting at the fords of the desert until word from you reaches me.” 29 So Zadok and Abiathar took the ark of God back to Jerusalem and remained there.
30 As David was going up the Mount of Olives, he was weeping as he went; his head was covered and his feet were bare. All the people who were with him also had their heads covered and were weeping as they went up. 31 Now David had been told, “Ahithophel has sided with the conspirators who are with Absalom.” So David prayed, “Make the advice of Ahithophel foolish, O Lord.”
32 When David reached the summit, where he used to worship God, Hushai the Arkite met him with his clothes torn and dirt on his head. 33 David said to him, “If you leave with me you will be a burden to me. 34 But you will be able to counter the advice of Ahithophel if you go back to the city and say to Absalom, ‘I will be your servant, O king! Previously I was your father’s servant, and now I will be your servant.’ 35 Zadok and Abiathar the priests will be there with you. Everything you hear in the king’s palace you must tell Zadok and Abiathar the priests. 36 Furthermore, their two sons are there with them, Zadok’s son Ahimaaz and Abiathar’s son Jonathan. You must send them to me with any information you hear.”
37 So David’s friend Hushai arrived in the city, just as Absalom was entering Jerusalem.
16 When David had gone a short way beyond the summit, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth was there to meet him. He had a couple of donkeys that were saddled, and on them were 200 loaves of bread, 100 raisin cakes, 100 baskets of summer fruit, and a container of wine.
2 The king asked Ziba, “Why did you bring these things?” Ziba replied, “The donkeys are for the king’s family to ride on, the loaves of bread and the summer fruit are for the attendants to eat, and the wine is for those who get exhausted in the desert.” 3 The king asked, “Where is your master’s grandson?” Ziba replied to the king, “He remains in Jerusalem, for he said, ‘Today the house of Israel will give back to me my grandfather’s kingdom.’” 4 The king said to Ziba, “Everything that was Mephibosheth’s now belongs to you.” Ziba replied, “I bow before you. May I find favor in your sight, my lord the king.”
5 Then King David reached Bahurim. There a man from Saul’s extended family named Shimei son of Gera came out, yelling curses as he approached. 6 He threw stones at David and all of King David’s servants, as well as all the people and the soldiers who were on his right and on his left. 7 As he yelled curses, Shimei said, “Leave! Leave! You man of bloodshed, you wicked man! 8 The Lord has punished you for all the spilled blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you rule. Now the Lord has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. Disaster has overtaken you, for you are a man of bloodshed!”
9 Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and cut off his head!” 10 But the king said, “What do we have in common, you sons of Zeruiah? If he curses because the Lord has said to him, ‘Curse David!,’ who can say to him, ‘Why have you done this?’” 11 Then David said to Abishai and to all his servants, “My own son, my very own flesh and blood, is trying to take my life. So also now this Benjaminite! Leave him alone so that he can curse, for the Lord has spoken to him. 12 Perhaps the Lord will notice my affliction and this day grant me good in place of his curse.”
13 So David and his men went on their way. But Shimei kept going along the side of the hill opposite him, yelling curses as he threw stones and dirt at them. 14 The king and all the people who were with him arrived exhausted at their destination, where David refreshed himself.
15 Now when Absalom and all the men of Israel arrived in Jerusalem, Ahithophel was with him. 16 When David’s friend Hushai the Arkite came to Absalom, Hushai said to him, “Long live the king! Long live the king!”
17 Absalom said to Hushai, “Do you call this loyalty to your friend? Why didn’t you go with your friend?” 18 Hushai replied to Absalom, “No, I will be loyal to the one whom the Lord, these people, and all the men of Israel have chosen. 19 Moreover, whom should I serve? Should it not be his son? Just as I served your father, so I will serve you.”
20 Then Absalom said to Ahithophel, “Give us your advice. What should we do?” 21 Ahithophel replied to Absalom, “Sleep with your father’s concubines whom he left to care for the palace. All Israel will hear that you have made yourself repulsive to your father. Then your followers will be motivated to support you.” 22 So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the roof, and Absalom slept with his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel.
23 In those days Ahithophel’s advice was considered as valuable as a prophetic revelation. Both David and Absalom highly regarded the advice of Ahithophel.
17 Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Let me pick out 12,000 men. Then I will go and pursue David this very night. 2 When I catch up with him he will be exhausted and worn out. I will rout him, and the entire army that is with him will flee. I will kill only the king 3 and will bring the entire army back to you. In exchange for the life of the man you are seeking, you will get back everyone. The entire army will return unharmed.”
4 This seemed like a good idea to Absalom and to all the leaders of Israel. 5 But Absalom said, “Call for Hushai the Arkite, and let’s hear what he has to say.” 6 So Hushai came to Absalom. Absalom said to him, “Here is what Ahithophel has advised. Should we follow his advice? If not, what would you recommend?”
7 Hushai replied to Absalom, “Ahithophel’s advice is not sound this time.” 8 Hushai went on to say, “You know your father and his men—they are soldiers and are as dangerous as a bear out in the wild that has been robbed of her cubs. Your father is an experienced soldier; he will not stay overnight with the army. 9 At this very moment he is hiding out in one of the caves or in some other similar place. If it should turn out that he attacks our troops first, whoever hears about it will say, ‘Absalom’s army has been slaughtered!’ 10 If that happens even the bravest soldier—one who is lion-hearted—will virtually melt away. For all Israel knows that your father is a warrior and that those who are with him are brave. 11 My advice therefore is this: Let all Israel from Dan to Beer Sheba—in number like the sand by the sea—be mustered to you, and you lead them personally into battle. 12 We will come against him wherever he happens to be found. We will descend on him like the dew falls on the ground. Neither he nor any of the men who are with him will be spared alive—not one of them! 13 If he regroups in a city, all Israel will take up ropes to that city and drag it down to the valley, so that not a single pebble will be left there!”
14 Then Absalom and all the men of Israel said, “The advice of Hushai the Arkite sounds better than the advice of Ahithophel.” Now the Lord had decided to frustrate the sound advice of Ahithophel, so that the Lord could bring disaster on Absalom.
15 Then Hushai reported to Zadok and Abiathar the priests, “Here is what Ahithophel has advised Absalom and the leaders of Israel to do, and here is what I have advised. 16 Now send word quickly to David and warn him, “Don’t spend the night at the fords of the wilderness tonight. Instead, be sure you cross over, or else the king and everyone who is with him may be overwhelmed.”
17 Now Jonathan and Ahimaaz were staying in En Rogel. A female servant would go and inform them, and they would then go and inform King David. It was not advisable for them to be seen going into the city. 18 But a young man saw them on one occasion and informed Absalom. So the two of them quickly departed and went to the house of a man in Bahurim. There was a well in his courtyard, and they got down in it. 19 His wife then took the covering and spread it over the top of the well and scattered some grain over it. No one was aware of what she had done.
20 When the servants of Absalom approached the woman at her home, they asked, “Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?” The woman replied to them, “They crossed over the stream.” Absalom’s men searched but did not find them, so they returned to Jerusalem.
21 After the men had left, Ahimaaz and Jonathan climbed out of the well. Then they left and informed King David. They advised David, “Get up and cross the stream quickly, for Ahithophel has devised a plan to catch you.” 22 So David and all the people who were with him got up and crossed the Jordan River. By dawn there was not one person left who had not crossed the Jordan.
23 When Ahithophel realized that his advice had not been followed, he saddled his donkey and returned to his house in his hometown. After setting his household in order, he hanged himself. So he died and was buried in the grave of his father.
24 Meanwhile David had gone to Mahanaim, while Absalom and all the men of Israel had crossed the Jordan River. 25 Absalom had made Amasa general in command of the army in place of Joab. (Now Amasa was the son of an Israelite man named Jether, who had married Abigail the daughter of Nahash and sister of Zeruiah, Joab’s mother.) 26 The army of Israel and Absalom camped in the land of Gilead.
27 When David came to Mahanaim, Shobi the son of Nahash from Rabbah of the Ammonites, Makir the son of Ammiel from Lo Debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim 28 brought bedding, basins, and pottery utensils. They also brought food for David and all who were with him, including wheat, barley, flour, roasted grain, beans, lentils, 29 honey, curds, flocks, and cheese. For they said, “The people are no doubt hungry, tired, and thirsty there in the desert.”
18 David assembled the army that was with him. He appointed leaders of thousands and leaders of hundreds. 2 David then sent out the army—a third under the leadership of Joab, a third under the leadership of Joab’s brother Abishai son of Zeruiah, and a third under the leadership of Ittai the Gittite. The king said to the troops, “I too will indeed march out with you.”
3 But the soldiers replied, “You should not do this! For if we should have to make a rapid retreat, they won’t be concerned about us. Even if half of us should die, they won’t be concerned. But you are like 10,000 of us! So it is better if you remain in the city for support.” 4 Then the king said to them, “I will do whatever seems best to you.”
So the king stayed beside the city gate, while all the army marched out by hundreds and by thousands. 5 The king gave this order to Joab, Abishai, and Ittai: “For my sake deal gently with the young man Absalom.” Now the entire army was listening when the king gave all the leaders this order concerning Absalom.
6 Then the army marched out to the field to fight against Israel. The battle took place in the forest of Ephraim. 7 The army of Israel was defeated there by David’s men. The slaughter there was great that day—20,000 soldiers were killed. 8 The battle there was spread out over the whole area, and the forest consumed more soldiers than the sword devoured that day.
9 Then Absalom happened to come across David’s men. Now as Absalom was riding on his mule, it went under the branches of a large oak tree. His head got caught in the oak and he was suspended in midair, while the mule he had been riding kept going.
10 When one of the men saw this, he reported it to Joab saying, “I saw Absalom hanging in an oak tree.” 11 Joab replied to the man who was telling him this, “What! You saw this? Why didn’t you strike him down right on the spot? I would have given you 10 pieces of silver and a commemorative belt!”
12 The man replied to Joab, “Even if I were receiving 1,000 pieces of silver, I would not strike the king’s son! In our very presence the king gave this order to you and Abishai and Ittai, ‘Protect the young man Absalom for my sake.’ 13 If I had acted at risk of my own life—and nothing is hidden from the king—you would have abandoned me.”
14 Joab replied, “I will not wait around like this for you!” He took three spears in his hand and thrust them into the middle of Absalom while he was still alive in the middle of the oak tree. 15 Then 10 soldiers who were Joab’s armor-bearers struck Absalom and finished him off.
16 Then Joab blew the trumpet and the army turned back from chasing Israel, for Joab had called for the army to halt. 17 They took Absalom, threw him into a large pit in the forest, and stacked a huge pile of stones over him. In the meantime all the Israelite soldiers fled to their homes.
18 Before this Absalom had set up a monument and dedicated it to himself in the King’s Valley, reasoning, “I have no son who will carry on my name.” He named the monument after himself, and to this day it is known as Absalom’s Memorial.
19 Then Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said, “Let me run and give the king the good news that the Lord has vindicated him before his enemies.” 20 But Joab said to him, “You will not be a bearer of good news today. You will bear good news some other day, but not today, for the king’s son is dead.”
21 Then Joab said to the Cushite, “Go and tell the king what you have seen.” After bowing to Joab, the Cushite ran off. 22 Ahimaaz the son of Zadok again spoke to Joab, “Whatever happens, let me go after the Cushite.” But Joab said, “Why is it that you want to go, my son? You have no good news that will bring you a reward.” 23 But he said, “Whatever happens, I want to go!” So Joab said to him, “Then go!” So Ahimaaz ran by the way of the Jordan plain, and he passed the Cushite.
24 Now David was sitting between the inner and outer gates, and the watchman went up to the roof over the gate at the wall. When he looked, he saw a man running by himself. 25 So the watchman called out and informed the king. The king said, “If he is by himself, he brings good news.” The runner came ever closer.
26 Then the watchman saw another man running. The watchman called out to the gatekeeper, “There is another man running by himself.” The king said, “This one also is bringing good news.” 27 The watchman said, “It appears to me that the first runner is Ahimaaz son of Zadok.” The king said, “He is a good man, and he comes with good news.”
28 Then Ahimaaz called out and said to the king, “Greetings!” He bowed down before the king with his face toward the ground and said, “May the Lord your God be praised because he has defeated the men who opposed my lord the king!”
29 The king replied, “How is the young man Absalom?” Ahimaaz replied, “I saw a great deal of confusion when Joab was sending the king’s servant and me, your servant, but I don’t know what it was all about.” 30 The king said, “Turn aside and take your place here.” So he turned aside and waited.
31 Then the Cushite arrived and said, “May my lord the king now receive the good news! The Lord has vindicated you today and delivered you from the hand of all who have rebelled against you!” 32 The king asked the Cushite, “How is the young man Absalom?” The Cushite replied, “May the enemies of my lord the king and all who have plotted against you be like that young man!”
33 (19:1) The king then became very upset. He went up to the upper room over the gate and wept. As he went he said, “My son, Absalom! My son, my son, Absalom! If only I could have died in your place! Absalom, my son, my son!”
19 (19:2) Joab was told, “The king is weeping and mourning over Absalom.” 2 So the victory of that day was turned to mourning as far as all the people were concerned. For the people heard on that day, “The king is grieved over his son.” 3 That day the people stole away to go to the city the way people who are embarrassed steal away in fleeing from battle. 4 The king covered his face and cried out loudly, “My son, Absalom! Absalom, my son, my son!”
5 So Joab visited the king at his home. He said, “Today you have embarrassed all your servants who have saved your life this day, as well as the lives of your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your concubines. 6 You seem to love your enemies and hate your friends! For you have as much as declared today that leaders and servants don’t matter to you. I realize now that if Absalom were alive and all of us were dead today, it would be all right with you. 7 So get up now and go out and give some encouragement to your servants. For I swear by the Lord that if you don’t go out there, not a single man will stay here with you tonight! This disaster will be worse for you than any disaster that has overtaken you from your youth right to the present time!”
8 So the king got up and sat at the city gate. When all the people were informed that the king was sitting at the city gate, they all came before him.
But the Israelite soldiers had all fled to their own homes.