Then David said to all his officials who were with him in Jerusalem, "Come! We must flee,1 or none of us will escape from Absalom.2 We must leave immediately, or he will move quickly to overtake us and bring ruin upon us and put the city to the sword."
The king's officials answered him, "Your servants are ready to do whatever our lord the king chooses."
The king set out, with his entire household following him; but he left ten concubines3 to take care of the palace.
So the king set out, with all the people following him, and they halted at a place some distance away.
All his men marched past him, along with all the Kerethites4 and Pelethites; and all the six hundred Gittites who had accompanied him from Gath marched before the king.
The king said to Ittai5 the Gittite, "Why should you come along with us? Go back and stay with King Absalom. You are a foreigner,6 an exile from your homeland.
You came only yesterday. And today shall I make you wander7 about with us, when I do not know where I am going? Go back, and take your countrymen. May kindness and faithfulness8 be with you."
But Ittai replied to the king, "As surely as the LORD lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king may be, whether it means life or death, there will your servant be."922
David said to Ittai, "Go ahead, march on." So Ittai the Gittite marched on with all his men and the families that were with him.
The whole countryside wept aloud10 as all the people passed by. The king also crossed the Kidron Valley,1112 and all the people moved on toward the desert.
Zadok13 was there, too, and all the Levites who were with him were carrying the ark14 of the covenant of God. They set down the ark of God, and Abiathar15 offered sacrificesa until all the people had finished leaving the city.