A messenger came to David, reporting, "The hearts of the Israelites have gone over to Absalom."
Then David told all the servants who were with him in Jerusalem, "Come on! We have to run for it, or we won't be able to escape Absalom. Hurry, or he will catch up with us in no time, destroy us,a and attack the city with the sword."
The king's servants said to him, "Your servants are ready to do whatever our master the king decides."
So the king left, with his entire household following him, but he left ten secondary wives behind to take care of the palace.
So the king left, with all his people following him, and they stopped at the last house.
All the king's servants marched past him, as did all the Cherethites, all the Pelethites, and the six hundred Gittites who had followed him from Gath.
The king said to Ittai the Gittite, "Why are you coming with us too? Go back! Stay with King Absalom.b You are a foreigner and an exile from your own country.
You just got here yesterday. So today should I make you wander around with us while I go wherever I have to go? No. Go back, and take your relatives with you. May the LORD show you loyal love and faithfulness."c21
But Ittai answered the king, "As surely as the LORD lives and as surely as my master the king lives, wherever my master the king may be, facing death or facing life, your servant will be there too."
"Okay then," David replied to Ittai. "Keep marching!" So Ittai the Gittite and all of his men and all the little children with him marched past.
The whole countryside cried loudly as all the troops marched past. The king crossed the Kidron Valley, and all the troops passed by on the Olive roadd into the wilderness.
Zadok was there too, along with all the Levites carrying the chest containing God's covenant. They set God's chest down, and Abiathar offered sacrifices until all the troops had finished marching out of the city.
Then the king said to Zadok, "Carry God's chest back into the city. If the LORD thinks well of me, then he will bring me back and let me see it and its home again.
But if God says, ‘I'm not pleased with you,' then I am ready. Let him do to me whatever pleases him."
"Do you understand?" the king said to the priest Zadok. "Go back to the city in safety—you and Abiathare with your two sons, your son Ahimaaz and Abiathar's son Jonathan.
I will be waiting in the desert plains until you send word telling me what to do."
So Zadok and Abiathar took God's chest back to Jerusalem and stayed there.
But David, his head covered, walked barefoot up the slope of the Mount of Olives crying. All the people who were with him covered their heads too and cried as they went up.
David was told that Ahithophel was also among the conspirators with Absalom, so he prayed, "Please, LORD, make Ahithophel's advice foolish."