Word soon reached Joab that the king was weeping and mourning for Absalom.
As the troops heard of the king's deep grief for his son, the joy of that day's victory was turned into deep sadness.
They crept back into the city as though they were ashamed and had been beaten in battle.
The king covered his face with his hands and kept on weeping, "O my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son!"
Then Joab went to the king's room and said to him, "We saved your life today and the lives of your sons, your daughters, and your wives and concubines. Yet you act like this, making us feel ashamed, as though we had done something wrong.
You seem to love those who hate you and hate those who love you. You have made it clear today that we mean nothing to you. If Absalom had lived and all of us had died, you would be pleased.
Now go out there and congratulate the troops, for I swear by the LORD that if you don't, not a single one of them will remain here tonight. Then you will be worse off than you have ever been."
So the king went out and sat at the city gate, and as the news spread throughout the city that he was there, everyone went to him. Meanwhile, the Israelites who supported Absalom had fled to their homes.
And throughout the tribes of Israel there was much discussion and argument going on. The people were saying, "The king saved us from our enemies, the Philistines, but Absalom chased him out of the country.
Now Absalom, whom we anointed to rule over us, is dead. Let's ask David to come back and be our king again."
Then King David sent Zadok and Abiathar, the priests, to say to the leaders of Judah, "Why are you the last ones to reinstate the king? For I have heard that all Israel is ready, and only you are holding out.
Yet you are my relatives, my own tribe, my own flesh and blood! Why are you the last ones to welcome me back?"
And David told them to tell Amasa, "Since you are my nephew, may God strike me dead if I do not appoint you as commander of my army in place of Joab."
Then Amasa convinced all the leaders of Judah, and they responded unanimously. They sent word to the king, "Return to us, and bring back all those who are with you."
So the king started back to Jerusalem. And when he arrived at the Jordan River, the people of Judah came to Gilgal to meet him and escort him across the river.
Then Shimei son of Gera, the man from Bahurim in Benjamin, hurried across with the men of Judah to welcome King David.
A thousand men from the tribe of Benjamin were with him, including Ziba, the servant of Saul, and Ziba's fifteen sons and twenty servants. They rushed down to the Jordan to arrive ahead of the king.
They all crossed the ford and worked hard ferrying the king's household across the river, helping them in every way they could. As the king was about to cross the river, Shimei fell down before him.
"My lord the king, please forgive me," he pleaded. "Forget the terrible thing I did when you left Jerusalem.
I know how much I sinned. That is why I have come here today, the very first person in all Israel a to greet you."
Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said, "Shimei should die, for he cursed the LORD's anointed king!"
"What am I going to do with you sons of Zeruiah!" David exclaimed. "This is not a day for execution but for celebration! I am once again the king of Israel!"
Then, turning to Shimei, David vowed, "Your life will be spared."
Now Mephibosheth, b Saul's grandson, arrived from Jerusalem to meet the king. He had not washed his feet or clothes nor trimmed his beard since the day the king left Jerusalem.
"Why didn't you come with me, Mephibosheth?" the king asked him.
Mephibosheth replied, "My lord the king, my servant Ziba deceived me. I told him, 'Saddle my donkey so that I can go with the king.' For as you know I am crippled.
Ziba has slandered me by saying that I refused to come. But I know that you are like an angel of God, so do what you think is best.
All my relatives and I could expect only death from you, my lord, but instead you have honored me among those who eat at your own table! So how can I complain?"
"All right," David replied. "My decision is that you and Ziba will divide your land equally between you."
"Give him all of it," Mephibosheth said. "I am content just to have you back again, my lord!"
Barzillai of Gilead now arrived from Rogelim to conduct the king across the Jordan.
He was very old, about eighty, and very wealthy. He was the one who had provided food for the king during his stay in Mahanaim.
"Come across with me and live in Jerusalem," the king said to Barzillai. "I will take care of you there."
"No," he replied, "I am far too old for that.
I am eighty years old today, and I can no longer enjoy anything. Food and wine are no longer tasty, and I cannot hear the musicians as they play. I would only be a burden to my lord the king.
Just to go across the river with you is all the honor I need!
Then let me return again to die in my own town, where my father and mother are buried. But here is my son Kimham. Let him go with you and receive whatever good things you want to give him."
"Good," the king agreed. "Kimham will go with me, and I will do for him whatever I would have done for you."
So all the people crossed the Jordan with the king. After David had blessed and embraced him, Barzillai returned to his own home.
The king then went on to Gilgal, taking Kimham with him. All the army of Judah and half the army of Israel escorted him across the river.
But the men of Israel complained to the king that the men of Judah had gotten to do most of the work in helping him cross the Jordan.
"Why not?" the men of Judah replied. "The king is one of our own tribe. Why should this make you angry? We have charged him nothing. And he hasn't fed us or even given us gifts!"
"But there are ten tribes in Israel," the others replied. "So we have ten times as much right to the king as you do. Why did you treat us with such contempt? Remember, we were the first to speak of bringing him back to be our king again." The argument continued back and forth, and the men of Judah were very harsh in their replies.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)