2 Samuel 15

Absalom turns against King David

1 Some time later, Absalom bought a chariot and some horses. He had 50 men who ran in front of the chariot to give him honour. 2 Every day, he got up early in the morning. Then he went to stand at the side of the road near the city's gate. He called out to anyone who was bringing a problem for the king to judge. He would ask them, ‘Which town have you come from?’ Then the man would tell Absalom which tribe of Israel he belonged to. 3 Then Absalom would say, ‘I am sure that you are right. You deserve to receive justice. But the king has not given any of his officers authority to listen to you.’ 4 Absalom would also say, ‘I think that I should have authority to be a judge in Israel. Then when people have a problem to take to court, they could come to me. I would make sure that they receive justice.’

5 When anyone bent his body down low to give honour to Absalom, Absalom would reach out and pull the man towards him. He would kiss the man. 6 Absalom did this to all the Israelites who came to Jerusalem to ask the king for justice. In that way, Absalom turned the people of Israel so that they became faithful to him.

7 After four years, Absalom said to the king, ‘Please let me go to Hebron. I need to make a sacrifice to the Lord, as I promised to do. 8 When I was living at Geshur with the Arameans, I made this promise: “If the Lord brings me back to live in Jerusalem, I will go to Hebron and I will worship him there.” ’

9 The king said, ‘Yes, you may go.’ So Absalom left Jerusalem and he went to Hebron.

10 Then Absalom sent his men to go secretly to all the tribes of Israel. They took this message to the people: ‘When you hear the noise of trumpets, then you must shout, “Absalom has become king in Hebron.” ’

11 200 men had gone with Absalom from Jerusalem. He had asked them to go with him as his friends. They trusted him and they did not know about his ideas. 12 Absalom offered his sacrifices as he had promised to do. But at the same time he sent men to fetch Ahithophel from Giloh, where he lived. Ahithophel was King David's advisor. More and more people agreed to join Absalom and turn against David. So Absalom was becoming more powerful.

David runs away from Jerusalem

13 Somebody brought this message to David: ‘The Israelites are now faithful to Absalom instead of you.’

14 So David said to the officers who were with him in Jerusalem, ‘We must go! We must run away! If we do not do that, no one will escape from Absalom. Hurry, or he will quickly catch us here. Then he will destroy us and our whole city!’

15 The king's officers answered, ‘Our lord the king, we will do anything that you decide is right.’

16 So the king left home. He took all his servants and family with him. But he left ten of his slave wives to take care of the palace. 17 As King David and all his people were leaving, they stopped at the last house on the edge of Jerusalem. 18 All his officers and his personal guards, the Kerethites and Pelethites, went on past him. There were also 600 men who had come with him from Gath. All these people were leaving Jerusalem with the king.

19 Then the king asked Ittai, who came from Gath, ‘Why are you coming with us? Go back into the city and join with Absalom, the new king. You have come from another country and you live here as a foreigner. 20 It seems like only a few days since you arrived here. There is no reason for you to travel with us. I do not even know where we are going! So you should go back. Take your men with you. I pray that the Lord will keep you safe with his faithful love.’

21 But Ittai replied to the king, ‘As surely as the Lord lives and as surely as you live, I promise that I will go with you, sir. Wherever you go, I will be there with you. My lord the king, I will stay with you, even if it brings death.’

22 So David said to Ittai, ‘Go on ahead of me.’ So Ittai, with all his men and their families, went on ahead of David.

23 As David and his men left the city, all the people who saw them wept loudly. The king went across the Kidron Valley and his men followed him. They travelled along the road towards the desert.

24 Zadok and Abiathar, the priests, were with them. The Levites were also there, and they were carrying God's Covenant Box. They put it down on the ground while all the people left the city. After all the people had passed, they picked it up again.

25 Then the king said to Zadok, ‘Take the Covenant Box back into the city. If the Lord is pleased with me, he will bring me back here again. The Lord will let me see the Covenant Box again, as well as his home. 26 But if he is not pleased with me, then he must do to me whatever he decides is right.’

27 Then the king said to Zadok the priest, ‘You do not know what will happen. So go safely back into the city, both you and Abiathar. Take your son Ahimaaz and Abiathar's son Jonathan with you. 28 I will wait at the place in the desert where we go across the river. I will wait there until I receive a message from you.’ 29 So Zadok and Abiathar took the Covenant Box back into Jerusalem. They stayed there.

David sends Hushai to Jerusalem

30 But David continued to go up the Mount of Olives. He was weeping as he went. He had covered his head and he was not wearing any shoes on his feet. All the people with him also covered their heads and they wept as they went up the hill. 31 Someone told David that his advisor, Ahithophel, had now joined with Absalom and his men. So David prayed, ‘Lord, please cause Ahithophel to give them foolish advice.’

15:30The Mount of Olives is on the east side of Jerusalem.

32 David arrived at the top of the hill. It was a place where people worshipped God. Hushai, who was an Arkite, met him there. He had torn his clothes and he had dirt on his head. 33 David said, ‘If you come with me, you will be no help to me. 34 Instead, go back into the city. You should say to Absalom, “I accept you as king and I will be your servant. I was once your father's servant, but now I will be your servant.” Then you will be able to speak against Ahithophel's advice. 35 The priests, Zadok and Abiathar, will be there with you. Tell them any news that you hear in the king's palace. 36 Their two sons, Ahimaaz and Jonathan, are with them. Send them to me to tell me any news that you hear.’

15:32This showed that Hushai was very upset.

37 So David's friend Hushai arrived at Jerusalem at the same time that Absalom was coming into the city.