2 Samuel 16; 2 Samuel 17; 2 Samuel 18

1 When David had passed a short distance beyond the summit, Ziba, Mephibosheth's servant, met him with a pair of saddled donkeys loaded with two hundred loaves of bread, one hundred bunches of raisins, one hundred figs, and a jar of wine. 2 "What is all this for?" the king asked Ziba. "The donkeys are for the royal family to ride," Ziba explained. "The bread and summer fruit are for the young people to eat, and the wine is for those who get exhausted in the wilderness." 3 "Where is your master's grandson?" the king asked. "He is still in Jerusalem," Ziba answered the king, "because he thinks that the Israelites are now going to give his grandfather's kingdom back to him." 4 "Look here," the king said to Ziba. "Everything that belonged to Mephibosheth now belongs to you." Ziba said, "I bow out of respect! Please think well of me, my master and king." 5 When King David came to Bahurim, a man from the same clan as Saul's family came out from there. His name was Shimei; he was Gera's son. He was cursing as he came out. 6 He threw rocks at David and at all of King David's servants, even though the entire army and all the warriors were on either side of him. 7 This is what Shimei said as he cursed David: "Get out of here! Get out of here! You are a murderer! You are despicable! 8 The LORD has paid you back for all the blood of Saul's family, in whose place you rule, and the LORD has handed the kingdom over to your son Absalom. You are in this trouble because you are a murderer!" 9 Zeruiah's son Abishai said to the king, "Why should this dead dog curse my master the king? Let me go over and cut his head off!" 10 But the king said, "My problems aren't yours, you sons of Zeruiah. If he is cursing because the LORD told him to curse David, then who is to question, ‘Why are you doing this?'" 11 Then David addressed Abishai and all his servants: "Listen! My own son, one of my very own children, wants me dead. This Benjaminite can only feel the same—only more! Leave him alone. And let him curse, because the LORD told him to. 12 Perhaps the LORD will see my distress; perhaps the LORD will repay me with good for this cursing today." 13 So David and his men kept walking, while Shimei went along on the hillside next to him, cursing as he went, throwing rocks and dirt at him. 14 The king and all the people who were with him reached the Jordan River exhausted, and he rested there. 15 Now Absalom and all the Israelites entered Jerusalem, and Ahithophel was with him. 16 Then David's friend Hushai, who was from Erek, approached Absalom and said to him, "Long live the king! Long live the king!" 17 But Absalom said to Hushai, "Is this how you show loyal love to your friend? Why didn't you go with him?" 18 "No," Hushai replied to Absalom, "I will belong to the one chosen by the LORD, by this people, and by all Israel, and I will stay with him. 19 What's more, whom should I serve if not David's son? I served your father, and so I will serve you in the same way." 20 Then Absalom said to Ahithophel, "Give your advice then. What should we do?" 21 "Have sex with your father's secondary wives—the ones he left to take care of the palace," Ahithophel told Absalom. "Then all Israel will hear that you have alienated yourself from your father, and everyone who supports you will be encouraged." 22 So they set up a tent for Absalom on the roof, and he had sex with his father's secondary wives in plain sight before all Israel. ( 23 Now in those days, the advice Ahithophel gave was like asking for a word from God. That's why Ahithophel's advice was valued by both David and Absalom.)
1 Then Ahithophel said to Absalom, "Let me pick twelve thousand men, and I will go after David tonight. 2 I will attack him while he is tired and weak, and I will throw him into a panic. All the troops with him will run off. I promise to kill the king alone, 3 and I will bring all the people back to you like a bride comes back to her husband. It's only one man's life you are seeking; everyone else can be at peace." 4 This plan seemed excellent to Absalom and the Israelite elders. 5 But Absalom said, "Call Hushai from Erek. Let's hear what he has to say as well." 6 When Hushai from Erek arrived, Absalom said to him, "This is what Ahithophel has advised. Should we follow it or not? What do you say?" 7 Hushai said to Absalom, "This time, the advice Ahithophel has given isn't right. 8 You know that your father and his men are warriors," he continued, "and they are as desperate as a wild bear robbed of her cubs. Your father is a seasoned fighter. He won't spend the night with his troops. 9 Even now he has probably hidden himself in one of the caves or some other place. When some of the troops fall in the first attack, whoever hears it will say, ‘The soldiers who follow Absalom have been defeated!' 10 Then even the bravest soldier, whose heart is like a lion's, will melt in fear because all Israel knows that your father is a warrior and that those who are with him are brave. 11 So I would advise that all the Israelites, from Dan to Beer-sheba—a group as countless as sand on the seashore—be summoned to join you, and that you yourself go into battle. 12 When we attack him wherever he might be, we will fall on him like dew that falls on the ground. No one will survive—not him and not one of the soldiers who are with him! 13 If he retreats into a city, all Israel will bring ropes to that city, and we will drag it into a valley until not even a pebble of it will be found." 14 Then Absalom and everyone in Israel agreed, "The advice of Hushai from Erek is better than Ahithophel's advice." This was because the LORD had decided to counter Ahithophel's good advice so that the LORD could bring disaster on Absalom. 15 Hushai told the priests Zadok and Abiathar, "Here is what Ahithophel advised Absalom and the Israelite elders, and here is what I advised. 16 Now send word immediately to David and tell him, ‘Don't spend the night in the desert plains. You must cross over immediately. Otherwise, the king and all the troops who are with him will be swallowed up whole.'" 17 Jonathan and Ahimaaz were standing by at En-rogel. A female servant would come and report to them, and they would then travel and report to King David because they couldn't risk being seen entering the city. 18 But a boy saw them and reported it to Absalom. So the two of them left immediately and came to a man's house at Bahurim. He had a well in his courtyard, and they climbed down into it. 19 The man's wife took a covering and spread it over the well's opening, then scattered grain over it so no one would notice. 20 When Absalom's servants came to the woman at the house they demanded, "Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?" The woman told them, "They crossed over the stream." They looked for them but found nothing, so they returned to Jerusalem. 21 After they had left, Jonathan and Ahimaaz climbed out of the well. They went and reported to King David, "Get up! Cross the water immediately because Ahithophel has made plans against you!" 22 So David and all the troops who were with him got up and crossed the Jordan River. By daybreak there was no one left who hadn't crossed the Jordan. 23 Meanwhile, once Ahithophel saw that his advice hadn't been followed, he saddled his donkey and went home to his own town. He gave instructions to his household, then hanged himself and died. He was buried in his father's tomb. 24 David had reached Mahanaim by the time Absalom and all the Israelites who were with him crossed the Jordan River. 25 Absalom had put Amasa in charge of the army instead of Joab. Amasa was the son of a man named Ithra, an Ishmaelite who had married Abigail, who was Nahash's daughter and the sister of Zeruiah, Joab's mother. 26 Israel and Absalom camped in the territory of Gilead. 27 When David arrived in Mahanaim, Nahash's son Shobi, who was from Rabbah of the Ammonites; Ammiel's son Machir, who was from Lo-debar; and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim 28 brought couches, basins, and pottery, along with wheat, barley, flour, roasted grain, beans, lentils, 29 honey, curds, sheep, and cheese from the herd so that David and the troops who were with him could eat. They said, "The troops have grown hungry, tired, and thirsty in the wilderness."
1 Then David gathered the troops who were with him and appointed unit commanders over thousands and hundreds. 2 David sent out the army—a third under Joab's command, a third under the command of Abishai, Zeruiah's son, and a third under the command of Ittai the Gittite. The king told the troops, "I will march out with you myself." 3 But the troops replied, "No! You must not march out! If we flee, they won't care about us. Even if half of us die, they won't care about us. But you are worth ten thousand of us. It is much better if you support us from the city." 4 The king said to them, "I will do whatever you think is best." So the king stood beside the gate as all the troops marched out by hundreds and thousands. 5 The king gave orders to Joab, Abishai, and Ittai: "For my sake, protect my boy Absalom." All the troops heard what the king ordered regarding Absalom to all the commanders. 6 So the troops marched into the field to meet the Israelites. The battle was fought in the Ephraim forest. 7 The army of Israel was defeated there by David's soldiers. A great slaughter of twenty thousand men took place that day. 8 The battle spread out over the entire countryside, and the forest devoured more soldiers than the sword that day. 9 Absalom came upon some of David's men. Absalom was riding on a mule, and the mule went under the tangled branches of a large oak tree. Absalom's head got caught in the tree. He was left hanging in midair while the mule under him kept on going. 10 One of the men saw this and reported to Joab, "I just saw Absalom hanging from an oak tree." 11 Joab said to the man who told him, "You saw this? Why didn't you kill him on the spot? I would have given you ten pieces of silver and a belt." 12 But the man said to Joab, "Even if I had a thousand pieces of silver in my hand, I wouldn't touch the king's son! We heard what the king commanded you, Abishai, and Ittai—‘For my sake, take care of my boy Absalom.' 13 If I had taken Absalom's life behind the king's back then—though nothing is hidden from the king—you would have kept your distance from me." 14 Joab said, "I won't waste time like this with you!" He took three sticks in his hand and drove them into Absalom's chest while he was still alive in the oak. 15 Then ten young armor-bearers of Joab surrounded Absalom, struck him, and killed him. 16 Then Joab sounded the trumpet, and the troops stopped chasing the Israelites, because Joab held them back. 17 They took Absalom and threw him into a big pit in the forest. They piled over him a huge heap of stones. Meanwhile, all the Israelites fled to their homes. 18 When he was alive, Absalom had raised a large pillar for himself in the King's Valley because he said, "I have no son to carry on the memory of my name." He named the pillar after himself. It is called Absalom's Monument to this day. 19 Then Zadok's son Ahimaaz said, "Please let me run and take the news to the king that the LORD has vindicated him against his enemies' power." 20 Joab said to him, "You aren't the one to bring the news today. You can bring news on another day, but not today, because the king's son is dead." 21 Then Joab said to a Cushite, "Go tell the king what you have seen." The Cushite bowed low before Joab, then ran off. 22 But Zadok's son Ahimaaz again said to Joab, "I don't care what happens, just let me run after the Cushite too." "Why do you want to go, son?" Joab asked. "You'll get no reward for going." 23 "I don't care what happens, I want to go," Ahimaaz said. So Joab said to him, "Run off then!" Ahimaaz ran off, going by way of the plain, and passed the Cushite. 24 Now David was sitting between the two gates. The watchman on duty went up on the roof of the gate by the wall. He looked out and saw a man running alone. 25 The watchman called out and reported this to the king. The king said, "If he's alone, it's good news." The man got nearer and nearer, 26 and the watchman saw another man running and called down to the gatekeeper, "There's another man running alone." The king said, "That one must be bringing good news too." 27 The watchman said, "I can see that the first one runs like Zadok's son Ahimaaz." "He's a good man," the king said, "and is coming with good news." 28 Ahimaaz called out to the king, "Peace!" then bowed low before the king, his nose to the ground. He said, "Bless the LORD your God, who has delivered up the men who raised their hands against my master the king." 29 The king said, "Is my boy Absalom okay?" Ahimaaz said, "I saw a large crowd right when Joab, the king's servant, sent your servant off, but I don't know what it was about." 30 "Step aside and stand right here," the king said. So Ahimaaz stepped aside and waited. 31 Then the Cushite arrived and said, "My master the king: Listen to this good news! The LORD has vindicated you this day against the power of all who rose up against you." 32 The king said to the Cushite, "Is my boy Absalom okay?" The Cushite answered, "May the enemies of my master the king and all who rise up against you to hurt you end up like that young man." 33 The king trembled. He went up to the room over the gate and cried. As he went, he said, "Oh, my son Absalom! Oh, my son! My son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you! Oh, Absalom, my son! My son!"
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