2 Samuel 15

Absalom causes the people to love him

1 Some time after that, Absalom bought a chariot and horses. He had 50 men who ran in front of him. 2 He got up early in the morning. Then he went to stand at the side of the road by the city's gate. He shouted to anyone who was coming to see the king. Then he asked, ‘Where have you come from?’ The man would tell Absalom which tribe of Israel he came from. He knew that the man was arguing with another man about a problem. They wanted the king to tell them the right answer to that problem. 3 Then Absalom would say, ‘I am sure that you are right and not the other man. But there is nobody of the king's officers to listen to you.’ 4 And Absalom would also say, ‘If I became a judge in this country, people with problems would be able to come to me. I would be a fair judge for them.’

5 The man would bend down because he wanted to honour Absalom. But he would put out his hands and he would pull the man to himself. Then he would kiss him. 6 Absalom did this to all the people who came to ask the king for a judgement. That was how he caused all the men in Israel to love him.

7 After 4 years, Absalom spoke to the king. ‘Please let me go to Hebron. I have promised something to the LORD. 8 I did it while I was living in Geshur in Aram’, he said. ‘I promised to worship the LORD in Hebron if the LORD brought me to Jerusalem again.’

9 The king said, ‘Go in peace.’ So he went to Hebron.

Absalom makes himself king

10 Then Absalom sent men with a message secretly to all the tribes of Israel. The men had to say, ‘When you hear the noise of trumpets, shout, “Absalom has become king in Hebron.” ’ 11 But 200 men from Jerusalem had gone with Absalom. He had asked them to go as friends. They did not know what Absalom would do. 12 Absalom burnt his sacrifices. At the same time he sent men to fetch Ahithophel from Giloh. Ahithophel always suggested to David what he should do. More and more men joined Absalom's men against David. So Absalom became stronger and stronger.

David runs away from Jerusalem

13 A servant came and he told David, ‘Israel's men have turned away from you to follow Absalom.’

14 Then David spoke to the officers who were with him in Jerusalem. ‘Come, we must run away. If we do not do that, Absalom will beat us all. We must leave now. If we do not do that, he will kill everyone in the city.’

15 The king's servants answered, ‘We will do anything that our lord the king chooses.’

16 So the king went out with all his servants and family. But he did not take 10 of his lady friends so that they would be able to keep the king's house safe. 17 He went out and all the people were following him. They stopped at the last house that was near Jerusalem. 18 All his men marched past him with the Kerethites and Pelethites. The 600 men who had come with him from Gath also marched past the king.

19 The king spoke to Ittai from Gath. ‘Why are you coming with us? Return and stay with King Absalom. You are from another country. 20 You only came here a short time ago. You do not need to run away with us. I do not even know where I am going! Return and take your people with you. I pray that the LORD will be kind to you. And I pray that he will bless you.’

21 But Ittai replied to the king, ‘I promise that I will go with you. As surely as the LORD is alive, I will go with you. I will go to any place that you may go during your whole life. I will go, whether it causes me to live or to die.’

22 ‘March on then’, said David. So Ittai marched on with all his men and their families.

23 All the people that they passed wept with a loud voice. The king crossed the Kidron Valley and all the people moved towards the desert.

24 Zadok the priest was there. The Levites were also there, and they were carrying the Covenant Box. They put it down. Then Abiathar burnt sacrifices until all the people had left the city.

Zadok, Abiathar and their sons take the Covenant Box to Jerusalem again

25 Then the king spoke to Zadok ‘Take the Covenant Box into the city. If I have given pleasure to the LORD, he will bring me there again. Then I will see it again in the LORD's house. 26 But if not, I am ready. He must do what seems best to him.’

27 Again the king spoke to Zadok the priest. ‘Take your son Ahimaaz and Abiathar's son Jonathan to the city with you. 28 I will wait at the place where we crossed the river. I will wait there until you send me news.’ 29 So Zadok and Abiathar took the Covenant Box to Jerusalem and they stayed there.

David sends Hushai to Jerusalem

30 But David continued to go up the hill called the Hill of Olives. He was weeping as he went. He had covered his head and he was not wearing anything on his feet. All the people with him also covered their heads. And they wept as they walked. 31 They had told David that Ahithophel was with Absalom. So David prayed, ‘LORD, please cause Ahithophel to give them the advice of a fool.’

15:31The Hill of Olives is near to Jerusalem.

32 David arrived at the top of the hill where he worshipped God. Hushai from the place called Archi met him there. He had torn his clothes and he had dirt on his head. 33 David said, ‘Do not come with me because you might cause me trouble. 34 Return to the city. You can say to Absalom, “You are the king and I will be your servant. I was once your father's servant, but now I will be your servant.” Then you can help me. You can give opposite advice to Ahithophel's advice. 35 The priests Zadok and Abiathar will be there with you. Tell them anything that you hear in the king's house. 36 Their two sons, Ahimaaz and Jonathan are with them. Send them to me with anything that you hear.’

37 So, when Absalom had just gone into the city, David's friend Hushai arrived at Jerusalem.