Soon after this, Absalom acquired a chariot, horses, and 50 men to run ahead of him.
Absalom used to get up early and stand by the road leading to the city gate. When anyone had a case to be tried by King David, Absalom would ask, "Which city are you from?" After the person had told him which tribe in Israel he was from,
Absalom would say, "Your case is good and proper, but the king hasn't appointed anyone to hear it."
He would add, "I wish someone would make me judge in the land. Then anyone who had a case to be tried could come to me, and I would make sure that he got justice."
When anyone approached him and bowed down, Absalom would reach out, take hold of him, and kiss him.
This is what he did for all Israelites who came to the king to have him try their case. So Absalom stole the hearts of the people of Israel.
Four years later Absalom said to the king, "Let me go to Hebron and keep the vow I made to the LORD.
I made a vow while I was living at Geshur in Aram. I said, 'If the LORD will bring me back to Jerusalem, I will serve the LORD.'"
"Go in peace," the king told him. So he went to Hebron.
But Absalom sent his loyal supporters to all the tribes of Israel and said, "When you hear the sound of the ram's horn, say, 'Absalom has become king in Hebron.'"
Two hundred men invited from Jerusalem went with Absalom. They went innocently, knowing nothing [about Absalom's plans].
While Absalom was offering sacrifices, he sent for Ahithophel, David's adviser, to come from his home in Giloh. Meanwhile, the conspiracy grew stronger, and the number of people siding with Absalom kept getting larger.
Someone came to tell David, "The hearts of the people of Israel are with Absalom."
David told all his men who were with him in Jerusalem, "Let's flee immediately, or none of us will escape from Absalom. Let's leave right away, or he'll catch up to us and bring disaster on us when he massacres the city."
The king's servants told him, "No matter what happens, we are Your Majesty's servants."
The king left on foot, and his whole household followed him except ten concubines whom the king left behind to take care of the palace.
As the king and his troops were leaving the city on foot, they stopped at the last house.
All his mercenaries passed by him; all the Cherethites, all the Pelethites, Ittai, and all 600 men who had followed him from Gath were marching past the king.
The king asked Ittai from Gath, "Why should you go with us? Go back, and stay with King Absalom. You are a foreigner, an exile from your homeland.
You came to us just yesterday. Should I make you wander around with me when I don't even know where I'm going? Go back, and take your countrymen with you. [May the LORD] always show you kindness."
But Ittai answered the king, "I solemnly swear, as the LORD and the king live: Wherever you are, whether you're dead or alive, I'll be there."
So David told Ittai, "Go ahead and keep marching." So Ittai from Gath marched on with all his men and all the families who were with him.
The whole country was crying loudly as all the troops were passing by. The king was crossing the Kidron Valley, and all the people were moving down the road toward the desert.
Zadok and all the Levites with him were carrying the ark of God's promise. They set down the ark of God beside Abiathar until all the troops had withdrawn from the city.
The king told Zadok, "Take God's ark back to the city. If the LORD looks favorably on me, he will allow me to come back and see both it and its dwelling place again.
But if he says, 'I'm not pleased with you,' let him do to me what he considers right."
"Aren't you a seer?" the king asked Zadok the priest. "Go back to the city peacefully, and take your son Ahimaaz and Abiathar's son Jonathan with you.
I'll wait at the river crossings in the desert until I receive a message from you."
So Zadok and Abiathar took the ark of God back to Jerusalem and stayed there.
David cried as he went up the Mount of Olives. He covered his head and walked barefoot. And all of the troops with him covered their heads and cried as they went.
Then David was told, "Ahithophel is among those conspiring with Absalom." So David prayed, "LORD, make Ahithophel's advice foolish."
When David came to the top [of the Mount of Olives] where people worshiped God, Hushai from Archi's family was there to meet him. His clothes were torn, and he had dirt on his head.
David told him, "If you go with me, you will only be a burden to me.
But if you go back to the city and say to Absalom, 'Your Majesty, I'll be your servant. I was your father's servant in the past, but now I'll be your servant,' then you'll [help me by] undoing Ahithophel's advice.
The priests Zadok and Abiathar will be with you there. When you hear anything from the royal palace, tell it to the priests Zadok and Abiathar.
They have two sons with them: Zadok has Ahimaaz, and Abiathar has Jonathan. Send them to report to me anything you hear."
So Hushai, David's friend, went to the city as Absalom was entering Jerusalem.