Absalom Rebels against David
1 Some time later, Absalom got himself a chariot with horses to pull it, and he had 50 men run in front. 2 He would get up early each morning and wait by the side of the road that led to the city gate. Anyone who had a complaint to bring to King David would have to go that way, and Absalom would ask each of them, “Where are you from?”
If they said, “I'm from a tribe in the north,” 3 Absalom would say, “You deserve to win your case. It's too bad the king doesn't have anyone to hear complaints like yours. 4 I wish someone would make me the judge around here! I would be fair to everyone.”
5 Whenever anyone came to Absalom and started bowing down, he would reach out and hug and kiss them. 6 That's how he treated everyone from Israel who brought a complaint to the king. Soon everyone in Israel liked Absalom better than they liked David.
7 Four years later, Absalom said to David, “Please, let me go to Hebron. I have to keep a promise that I made to the Lord, 8 when I was living with the Arameans in Geshur. I promised that if the Lord would bring me back to live in Jerusalem, I would worship him in Hebron.”
9 David gave his permission, and Absalom went to Hebron. 10-12 He took 200 men from Jerusalem with him, but they had no idea what he was going to do. Absalom offered sacrifices in Hebron and sent someone to Gilo to tell David's advisor Ahithophel to come.
More and more people were joining Absalom and supporting his plot. Meanwhile, Absalom had secretly sent some messengers to the northern tribes of Israel. The messengers told everyone, “When you hear the sound of the trumpets, you must shout, ‘Absalom now rules as king in Hebron!’ ”
David Has To Leave Jerusalem
13 A messenger came and told David, “Everyone in Israel is on Absalom's side!”
14 David's officials were in Jerusalem with him, and he told them, “Let's get out of here! We'll have to leave soon, or none of us will escape from Absalom. Hurry! If he moves fast, he could catch us while we're still here. Then he will kill us and everyone else in the city.”
15 The officials said, “Your Majesty, we'll do whatever you say.”
16-17 David left behind ten of his wives to take care of the palace, but the rest of his family and his officials and soldiers went with him.
They stopped at the last house at the edge of the city. 18 Then David stood there and watched while his regular troops and his bodyguards marched past. The last group was the 600 soldiers who had followed him from Gath. Their commander was Ittai.
19 David spoke to Ittai and said, “You're a foreigner from the town of Gath. You don't have to leave with us. Go back and join the new king! 20 You haven't been with me very long, so why should you have to follow me, when I don't even know where I'm going? Take your soldiers and go back. I pray that the Lord will be kind and faithful to you.”
21 Ittai answered, “Your Majesty, just as surely as you and the Lord live, I will go where you go, no matter if it costs me my life.”
22 “Then come on!” David said.
So Ittai and all his men and their families walked on past David.
David Sends the Sacred Chest Back to Jerusalem
23 The people of Jerusalem were crying and moaning as David and everyone with him passed by. He led them across Kidron Valley and along the road toward the desert.
24 Zadok and Abiathar the priests were there along with several men from the tribe of Levi who were carrying the sacred chest. They set the chest down, and left it there until David and his followers had gone out of the city.
25 Then David said:
Zadok, take the sacred chest back to Jerusalem. If the Lord is pleased with me, he will bring me back and let me see it and his tent again. 26 But if he says he isn't pleased with me, then let him do what he knows is best.
27 Zadok, you are a good judge of things, so return to the city and don't cause any trouble. Take your son Ahimaaz with you. Abiathar and his son Jonathan will also go back. 28 I'll wait at the river crossing in the desert until I hear from you.
29 Zadok and Abiathar took the sacred chest back into Jerusalem and stayed there. 30 David went on up the slope of the Mount of Olives. He was barefoot and crying, and he covered his head to show his sorrow. Everyone with him was crying, and they covered their heads too.
31 Someone told David, “Ahithophel is helping Absalom plot against you!”
David said, “Please, Lord, keep Ahithophel's plans from working!”
David Sends Hushai Back as a Spy
32 When David reached the top of the Mount of Olives, he met Hushai the Archite at a place of worship. Hushai's robe was torn, and dust was on his head. 33 David told him:
If you come with me, you might slow us down. 34 Go back into the city and tell Absalom, “Your Majesty, I am your servant. I will serve you now, just as I served your father in the past.”
Hushai, if you do that, you can help me ruin Ahithophel's plans. 35 Zadok and Abiathar the priests will be there with you, and you can tell them everything you hear in the palace. 36 Then they can send their sons Ahimaaz and Jonathan to tell me what you've heard.
37 David's advisor Hushai slipped back into Jerusalem, at just about the same time Absalom was coming in.