1Someone told Joab, "The king is sobbing over Absalom. He's filled with sadness because his son has died."
2The army had won a great battle that day. But their joy turned into sadness. That's because someone had told the troops, "The king is filled with sorrow because his son is dead." 3The men came quietly into the city that day. They were like fighting men who are ashamed because they've run away from a battle.
4The king covered his face. He sobbed out loud, "My son Absalom! Absalom, my son, my son!"
5Then Joab went into the king's house. He said to him, "Today you have made all of your men feel ashamed. They have just saved your life. They have saved the lives of your sons and daughters. And they have saved the lives of your wives and concubines.
6"You love those who hate you. You hate those who love you. The commanders and their troops don't mean anything to you. You made that very clear today. I can see that you would be pleased if Absalom were alive today and all of us were dead.
7"Now go out there and cheer up your men. If you don't, you won't have any of them left with you by sunset. That will be worse for you than all of the troubles you have ever had in your whole life. That's what I promise you with an oath in the Lord's name."
8So the king got up and took his seat in the entrance of the city gate. His men were told, "The king is sitting in the entrance of the gate." Then all of them came and stood in front of him.
While all of that was going on, the Israelites had run back to their homes.
David Returns to Jerusalem
9People from all of the tribes of Israel began to argue with one another. They were saying, "The king saved us from the power of our enemies. He saved us from the power of the Philistines. But now he has left the country because of Absalom. 10We anointed Absalom to rule over us. But he has died in battle. So why aren't any of you talking about bringing the king back?"
11King David sent a message to the priests Zadok and Abiathar. It said, "Speak to the elders of Judah. Tell them I said, 'News has reached me where I'm staying. People all over Israel are talking about bringing me back to my palace. Why should you be the last to do something about it? 12You are my relatives. You are my own flesh and blood. So why should you be the last to bring me back?'
13"Say to Amasa, 'Aren't you my own flesh and blood? From now on you will be the commander of my army in place of Joab. If that isn't true, may God punish me greatly.' "
14So the hearts of all of the men of Judah were turned toward David. All of them had the same purpose in mind. They sent a message to the king. It said, "We want you to come back. We want all of your men to come back too." 15Then the king returned. He went as far as the Jordan River.
The men of Judah had come to Gilgal to welcome the king back. They had come to bring him across the Jordan. 16Shimei, the son of Gera, was among them. Shimei was from Bahurim in the territory of Benjamin. He hurried down to welcome King David back. 17There were 1,000 people from Benjamin with him. Ziba, the manager of Saul's house, was with him too. And so were Ziba's 15 sons and 20 servants. All of them rushed down to the Jordan River. That's where the king was. 18They went across at the place where people usually cross it. Then they brought the king's family back over with them. They were ready to do anything he wanted them to do.
Shimei, the son of Gera, had also gone across the Jordan. When he did, he fell down flat with his face toward the ground in front of the king. 19He said to him, "You are my king and master. Please don't hold me guilty. Please forgive me for the wrong things I did on the day you left Jerusalem. Please forget all about them. 20I know I've sinned. But today I've come down here to welcome you. I'm the first member of Joseph's whole family to do it."
21Then Abishai, the son of Zeruiah, said, "Shouldn't Shimei be put to death for what he did? He called down curses on you. And you are the Lord's anointed king."
22But David replied, "You and Joab are sons of Zeruiah. What do you and I have in common? Abishai, you have now become my enemy! Should anyone be put to death in Israel today? Don't I know that today I am king over Israel again?"
23So the king took an oath and made a promise to Shimei. He said to him, "You aren't going to be put to death."
24Mephibosheth was Saul's grandson. He had also gone down to welcome the king back. He had not taken care of his feet. He hadn't trimmed his mustache or washed his clothes. He hadn't done any of those things from the day the king left Jerusalem until the day he returned safely. 25He came from Jerusalem to welcome the king. The king asked him, "Mephibosheth, why didn't you go with me?"
26He said, "You are my king and master. I'm disabled. So I thought, 'I'll have a saddle put on my donkey. I'll ride on it. Then I can go with the king.' But my servant Ziba turned against me. 27He has told you lies about me. King David, you are like an angel of God. So do what pleases you. 28You should have put all of the members of my grandfather's family to death, including me. Instead, you always provided what I needed. So what right do I have to make any more appeals to you?"
29The king said to him, "You don't have to say anything else. I order you and Ziba to divide up Saul's fields between you."
30Mephibosheth said to the king, "I'm happy that you have arrived home safely. So just let Ziba have everything."
31Barzillai had also come down to go across the Jordan River with the king. He wanted to send the king on his way from there. Barzillai was from Rogelim in the land of Gilead. 32He was a very old man. He was 80 years old. He had given the king everything he needed while the king was staying in Mahanaim. That's because Barzillai was very wealthy.
33The king said to Barzillai, "Come across the river with me. Stay with me in Jerusalem. I'll take good care of you."
34But Barzillai said to the king, "I won't live for many more years. So why should I go up to Jerusalem with you? 35I'm already 80 years old. I can hardly tell the difference between what is good and what isn't. I can hardly taste what I eat and drink. I can't even hear the voices of male and female singers anymore. So why should I add my problems to yours?
36"I'll go across the Jordan River with you for a little way. Why should you reward me by taking care of me? 37Let me go back home. Then I can die in my own town. I can be buried there in the tomb of my father and mother. But let Kimham take my place. Let him go across the river with you. Do for him what pleases you."
38The king said, "Kimham will go across with me. I'll do for him what pleases you. And I'll do for you anything you want me to do."
39So all of the people went across the Jordan River. Then the king crossed over. The king kissed Barzillai and gave him his blessing. And Barzillai went back home.
40After the king had gone across the river, he went to Gilgal. Kimham had gone across with him. All of the troops of Judah and half of the troops of Israel had taken the king across.
41Soon all of the men of Israel were coming to the king. They were saying to him, "Why did the men of Judah take you away from us? They are our relatives. What right did they have to bring you and your family across the Jordan River? What right did they have to bring all of your men over with you?"
42All of the men of Judah answered the men of Israel. They said, "We did that because the king is our close relative. So why should you be angry about what happened? Have we eaten any of the king's food? Have we taken anything for ourselves?"
43Then the men of Israel answered the men of Judah. They said, "We have ten of the 12 tribes in the kingdom. So we have a stronger claim on David than you have. Why then are you acting as if you hate us? Weren't we the first ones to talk about bringing back our king?"
But the men of Judah answered in an even meaner way than the men of Israel.