Absalom Makes Many Friends
1After this, Absalom got a chariot and horses for himself. He had 50 men run in front of him while he drove the chariot. 2Absalom would get up early and stand near the gate.#15:2 gate This was where people came to do all of their business. This was also where many court cases were held. He would watch for anyone with problems who was going to King David for judgment. Then Absalom would talk to them and say, “What city are you from?” They would say they were from such and such tribe in Israel. 3Then Absalom would say, “Look, you are right, but King David will not listen to you.”
4Absalom would also say, “Oh, I wish someone would make me a judge in this country! Then I could help everyone who comes to me with a problem. I would help them get a fair solution to their problem.”
5And if anyone came to Absalom and started to bow down to him, Absalom would treat him like a close friend—he would reach out and touch him and kiss him. 6Absalom did that to all the Israelites who came to King David for judgment. In this way Absalom won the hearts of all the people of Israel.
Absalom Plans to Take David’s Kingdom
7After four years,#15:7 four years This is found in several ancient versions. The standard Hebrew text has “40 years.” Absalom said to King David, “Please let me go to Hebron to complete a special promise that I made to the Lord. 8I made that promise while I was still living in Geshur in Aram. I said, ‘If the Lord brings me back to Jerusalem, I will serve the Lord in a special way.’”
9King David said, “Go in peace.”
Absalom went to Hebron. 10But he also sent spies to all the tribes of Israel. They told the people, “When you hear the trumpet, say, ‘Absalom is king in Hebron!’”
11Absalom invited 200 men to go with him. They left Jerusalem with him, but they did not know what he was planning. 12Ahithophel was one of David’s advisors. He was from the town of Giloh. While Absalom was offering sacrifices, he invited Ahithophel to join. Absalom’s plans were working very well and more and more people began to support him.
David Learns About Absalom’s Plans
13A man came in to tell the news to David. The man said, “The people of Israel are beginning to follow Absalom.”
14Then David said to all of his officers who were still in Jerusalem with him, “Come on, we cannot let him trap us here in Jerusalem. Hurry up, before he catches us. He will destroy us all, and Jerusalem will be destroyed in the battle.”
15The king’s officers told him, “We will do whatever you tell us.”
David and His People Escape
16King David left with everyone in his family, except ten of his slave women. He left them to take care of the house. 17The king left with everyone in his house following him on foot. They stopped at the last house. 18All the king’s officers passed by him. And all the Kerethites, all the Pelethites, and the Gittites (600 men from Gath) passed by the king.
19The king said to Ittai from Gath, “Why are you also going with us? You are a foreigner; this is not your homeland. Go back and stay with the new king. 20You came to join me only yesterday. You don’t need to wander from place to place with me. Take your brothers and go back. Go with my faithful, loving kindness.”
21But Ittai answered the king, “As the Lord lives, and as long as you live, I will stay with you, in life or death!”
22David said to Ittai, “Then come, let’s go cross Kidron Brook.”
So Ittai from Gath and all of his people and their children crossed over Kidron Brook. 23All the people#15:23 people Literally, “country.” were crying loudly. Then King David crossed over Kidron Brook, and all the people went out to the desert. 24Zadok and all the Levites with him were carrying the Box of God’s Agreement. They set down God’s Holy Box, and Abiathar said prayers#15:24 said prayers Literally, “went up.” This could mean “burn incense,” “offer sacrifices,” or it might mean simply that Abiathar stood to one side, by the Holy Box, until all the people passed by. until all the people had left Jerusalem.
25King David said to Zadok, “Take God’s Holy Box back to Jerusalem. If the Lord is pleased with me, he will bring me back and let me see Jerusalem and his Temple. 26But if he says he is not pleased with me, let him do whatever he wants to me.”
27The king said to Zadok the priest, “You are a seer. Go back to the city in peace.#15:27 You are a seer … peace Or “You do see, don’t you, that you should go back to the city in peace.” Take your son Ahimaaz and Jonathan the son of Abiathar. 28I will be waiting near the places where people cross the river into the desert. I will wait there until I hear from you.”
29So Zadok and Abiathar took God’s Holy Box back to Jerusalem and stayed there.
David’s Prayer Against Ahithophel
30David walked up the path to the Mount of Olives. He was crying, his head was covered, and he went without sandals on his feet. All the people with David also covered their heads and were crying as they walked with him.
31Someone told David, “Ahithophel is one who joined in Absalom’s plot against you.” Then David prayed, “Lord, I ask you to make Ahithophel give only foolish advice.” 32When David got to the top of the mountain, he bowed down to worship God. Then David noticed Hushai the Arkite. Hushai’s coat was torn, and there was dust on his head.#15:32 coat was torn … head This showed that he was very sad.
33David said to Hushai, “If you go with me, you will be just one more person to care for. 34But if you go back to Jerusalem, you can disagree with Ahithophel and make his advice useless. Tell Absalom, ‘King, I am your servant. I served your father, but now I will serve you.’ 35The priests Zadok and Abiathar will be with you. You must tell them everything you hear in the king’s palace. 36Zadok’s son Ahimaaz and Abiathar’s son Jonathan will be with them. You can send them to tell me everything you hear.”
37So David’s friend Hushai went back to the city, just as Absalom arrived in Jerusalem.