2 Samuel 14; 2 Samuel 15; Luke 17:1-19

1 Joab knew that King David missed Absalom very much, 2 so he sent for a clever woman who lived in Tekoa. When she arrived, he said to her, "Pretend that you are in mourning; put on your mourning clothes, and don't comb your hair. Act like a woman who has been in mourning for a long time. 3 Then go to the king and say to him what I tell you to say." Then Joab told her what to say. 4 The woman went to the king, bowed down to the ground in respect, and said, "Help me, Your Majesty!" 5 "What do you want?" he asked her. "I am a poor widow, sir," she answered. "My husband is dead. 6 Sir, I had two sons, and one day they got into a quarrel out in the fields, where there was no one to separate them, and one of them killed the other. 7 And now, sir, all my relatives have turned against me and are demanding that I hand my son over to them, so that they can kill him for murdering his brother. If they do this, I will be left without a son. They will destroy my last hope and leave my husband without a son to keep his name alive." 8 "Go back home," the king answered, "and I will take care of the matter." 9 "Your Majesty," she said, "whatever you do, my family and I will take the blame; you and the royal family are innocent." 10 The king replied, "If anyone threatens you, bring him to me, and he will never bother you again." 11 She said, "Your Majesty, please pray to the Lord your God, so that my relative who is responsible for avenging the death of my son will not commit a greater crime by killing my other son." "I promise by the living Lord," David replied, "that your son will not be harmed in the least." 12 "Please, Your Majesty, let me say just one more thing," the woman said. "All right," he answered. 13 She said to him, "Why have you done such a wrong to God's people? You have not allowed your own son to return from exile, and so you have condemned yourself by what you have just said. 14 We will all die; we are like water spilled on the ground, which can't be gathered again. Even God does not bring the dead back to life, but the king can at least find a way to bring a man back from exile. 15 Now, Your Majesty, the reason I have come to speak to you is that the people threatened me, and so I said to myself that I would speak to you in the hope that you would do what I ask. 16 I thought you would listen to me and save me from the one who is trying to kill my son and me and so remove us from the land God gave his people. 17 I said to myself that your promise, sir, would make me safe, because the king is like God's angel and can distinguish good from evil. May the Lord your God be with you!" 18 The king answered, "I'm going to ask you a question, and you must tell me the whole truth." "Ask me anything, Your Majesty," she answered. 19 "Did Joab put you up to this?" he asked her. She answered, "I swear by all that is sacred, Your Majesty, that there is no way to avoid answering your question. It was indeed your officer Joab who told me what to do and what to say. 20 But he did it in order to straighten out this whole matter. Your Majesty is as wise as the angel of God and knows everything that happens." 21 Later on the king said to Joab, "I have decided to do what you want. Go and get the young man Absalom and bring him back here." 22 Joab threw himself to the ground in front of David in respect, and said, "God bless you, Your Majesty! Now I know that you are pleased with me, because you have granted my request." 23 Then he got up and went to Geshur and brought Absalom back to Jerusalem. 24 The king, however, gave orders that Absalom should not live in the palace. "I don't want to see him," the king said. So Absalom lived in his own house and did not appear before the king. 25 There was no one in Israel as famous for his good looks as Absalom; he had no defect from head to toe. 26 His hair was very thick, and he had to cut it once a year, when it grew too long and heavy. It would weigh about five pounds according to the royal standard of weights. 27 Absalom had three sons and one daughter named Tamar, a very beautiful woman. 28 Absalom lived two years in Jerusalem without seeing the king. 29 Then he sent for Joab, to ask him to go to the king for him; but Joab would not come. Again Absalom sent for him, and again Joab refused to come. 30 So Absalom said to his servants, "Look, Joab's field is next to mine, and it has barley growing in it. Go and set fire to it." So they went and set the field on fire. 31 Joab went to Absalom's house and demanded, "Why did your servants set fire to my field?" 32 Absalom answered, "Because you wouldn't come when I sent for you. I wanted you to go to the king and ask for me: "Why did I leave Geshur and come here? It would have been better for me to have stayed there.' " And Absalom went on, "I want you to arrange for me to see the king, and if I'm guilty, then let him put me to death." 33 So Joab went to King David and told him what Absalom had said. The king sent for Absalom, who went to him and bowed down to the ground in front of him. The king welcomed him with a kiss.
1 After this, Absalom provided a chariot and horses for himself, and an escort of fifty men. 2 He would get up early and go and stand by the road at the city gate. Whenever someone came there with a dispute that he wanted the king to settle, Absalom would call him over and ask him where he was from. And after the man had told him what tribe he was from, 3 Absalom would say, "Look, the law is on your side, but there is no representative of the king to hear your case." 4 And he would add, "How I wish I were a judge! Then anyone who had a dispute or a claim could come to me, and I would give him justice." 5 When the man would approach Absalom to bow down before him, Absalom would reach out, take hold of him, and kiss him. 6 Absalom did this with every Israelite who came to the king for judgment, and so he won their loyalty. 7 After four years Absalom said to King David, "Sir, let me go to Hebron and keep a promise I made to the Lord. 8 While I was living in Geshur in Syria, I promised the Lord that if he would take me back to Jerusalem, I would worship him in Hebron." 9 "Go in peace," the king said. So Absalom went to Hebron. 10 But he sent messengers to all the tribes of Israel to say, "When you hear the sound of trumpets, shout, "Absalom has become king at Hebron!' " 11 There were two hundred men who at Absalom's invitation had gone from Jerusalem with him; they knew nothing of the plot and went in all good faith. 12 And while he was offering sacrifices, Absalom also sent to the town of Gilo for Ahithophel, who was one of King David's advisers. The plot against the king gained strength, and Absalom's followers grew in number. 13 A messenger reported to David, "The Israelites are pledging their loyalty to Absalom." 14 So David said to all his officials who were with him in Jerusalem, "We must get away at once if we want to escape from Absalom! Hurry! Or else he will soon be here and defeat us and kill everyone in the city!" 15 "Yes, Your Majesty," they answered. "We are ready to do whatever you say." 16 So the king left, accompanied by all his family and officials, except for ten concubines, whom he left behind to take care of the palace. 17 As the king and all his men were leaving the city, they stopped at the last house. 18 All his officials stood next to him as the royal bodyguards passed by in front of him. The six hundred soldiers who had followed him from Gath also passed by, 19 and the king said to Ittai, their leader, "Why are you going with us? Go back and stay with the new king. You are a foreigner, a refugee away from your own country. 20 You have lived here only a short time, so why should I make you wander around with me? I don't even know where I'm going. Go back and take all your people with you - and may the Lord be kind and faithful to you." 21 But Ittai answered, "Your Majesty, I swear to you in the Lord's name that I will always go with you wherever you go, even if it means death." 22 "Fine!" David answered. "March on!" So Ittai went on with all his men and their dependents. 23 The people cried loudly as David's followers left. The king crossed Kidron Brook, followed by his men, and together they went out toward the wilderness. 24 Zadok the priest was there, and with him were the Levites, carrying the sacred Covenant Box. They set it down and didn't pick it up again until all the people had left the city. The priest Abiathar was there too. 25 Then the king said to Zadok, "Take the Covenant Box back to the city. If the Lord is pleased with me, some day he will let me come back to see it and the place where it stays. 26 But if he isn't pleased with me - well, then, let him do to me what he wishes." 27 And he went on to say to Zadok, "Look, take your son Ahimaaz and Abiathar's son Jonathan and go back to the city in peace. 28 Meanwhile, I will wait at the river crossings in the wilderness until I receive news from you." 29 So Zadok and Abiathar took the Covenant Box back into Jerusalem and stayed there. 30 David went on up the Mount of Olives crying; he was barefoot and had his head covered as a sign of grief. All who followed him covered their heads and cried also. 31 When David was told that Ahithophel had joined Absalom's rebellion, he prayed, "Please, Lord, turn Ahithophel's advice into nonsense!" 32 When David reached the top of the hill, where there was a place of worship, his trusted friend Hushai the Archite met him with his clothes torn and with dirt on his head. 33 David said to him, "You will be of no help to me if you come with me, 34 but you can help me by returning to the city and telling Absalom that you will now serve him as faithfully as you served his father. And do all you can to oppose any advice that Ahithophel gives. 35 The priests Zadok and Abiathar will be there; tell them everything you hear in the king's palace. 36 They have their sons Ahimaaz and Jonathan with them, and you can send them to me with all the information you gather." 37 So Hushai, David's friend, returned to the city just as Absalom was arriving.
1 Jesus said to his disciples, "Things that make people fall into sin are bound to happen, but how terrible for the one who makes them happen! 2 It would be better for him if a large millstone were tied around his neck and he were thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. 3 So watch what you do! "If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. 4 If he sins against you seven times in one day, and each time he comes to you saying, "I repent,' you must forgive him." 5 The apostles said to the Lord, "Make our faith greater." 6 The Lord answered, "If you had faith as big as a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, "Pull yourself up by the roots and plant yourself in the sea!' and it would obey you. 7 "Suppose one of you has a servant who is plowing or looking after the sheep. When he comes in from the field, do you tell him to hurry along and eat his meal? 8 Of course not! Instead, you say to him, "Get my supper ready, then put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may have your meal.' 9 The servant does not deserve thanks for obeying orders, does he? 10 It is the same with you; when you have done all you have been told to do, say, "We are ordinary servants; we have only done our duty.' " 11 As Jesus made his way to Jerusalem, he went along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 He was going into a village when he was met by ten men suffering from a dreaded skin disease. They stood at a distance 13 and shouted, "Jesus! Master! Have pity on us!" 14 Jesus saw them and said to them, "Go and let the priests examine you." On the way they were made clean. 15 When one of them saw that he was healed, he came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself to the ground at Jesus' feet and thanked him. The man was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus spoke up, "There were ten who were healed; where are the other nine? 18 Why is this foreigner the only one who came back to give thanks to God?" 19 And Jesus said to him, "Get up and go; your faith has made you well."
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