2 Samuel 19; 2 Samuel 20; Luke 18:1-23

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2 Samuel 19

1 Joab was told, "The king is crying and mourning for Absalom."
2 The victory of that day was turned into mourning because all the troops heard that the king was grieving for his son.
3 That day the troops sneaked into the city as if they had fled from battle and were ashamed of it.
4 The king covered his face and cried loudly, "My son Absalom! Absalom, my son, my son!"
5 Then Joab came into the house. "Today you have made all your men feel ashamed," he said. "They saved your life and the lives of your sons, daughters, wives, and concubines today.
6 You love those who hate you and hate those who love you. Today, you have made it clear that your commanders and servants mean nothing to you. I think you would be pleased if Absalom were alive and all of us were dead.
7 Now, get up, go out, and encourage your men. I swear to you by the LORD that if you don't go out, no one will stay with you tonight, and that will be worse than all the trouble you've had in your entire life."
8 The king sat in the gateway. When all the troops were told, "The king is sitting in the gateway," they came to the king. Meanwhile, Israel had fled and went back to their own homes.
9 All the people in all the tribes of Israel were arguing with one another, saying, "The king rescued us from our enemies and saved us from the Philistines, but now he has fled from Absalom and left the country.
10 However, Absalom, whom we anointed to rule us, has died in battle. Why is no one talking about bringing back the king?"
11 What all Israel was saying reached the king at his house. So King David sent [this message] to the priests Zadok and Abiathar: "Ask the leaders of Judah, 'Why should you be the last [tribe] to bring the king back to his palace?
12 You are my relatives, my own flesh and blood. Why should you be the last to bring back the king?'
13 And tell Amasa, 'Aren't you my flesh and blood? May God strike me dead unless you are given Joab's place to serve me always as the commander of the army.'"
14 All the people of Judah were in total agreement. So they sent the king this message: "Come back with all your servants."
15 The king came back to the Jordan River, and the people of Judah came to Gilgal to meet the king and bring him across the Jordan River.
16 Shimei, Gera's son from the tribe of Benjamin and the town of Bahurim, hurried down with the people of Judah to meet King David.
17 One thousand people from Benjamin were with him. And Ziba, the servant of Saul's family, rushed to the Jordan River across from the king. Ziba brought his 15 sons and 20 servants.
18 They crossed the river to bring over the king's family and to do anything else the king wanted. Shimei, Gera's son, bowed down in front of the king as he was going to cross the Jordan River.
19 He pleaded with the king, "Don't remember the crime I committed the day you left Jerusalem. Don't hold it against me or even think about it, Your Majesty.
20 I know I've sinned. Today I've come as the first of all the house of Joseph to meet you."
21 But Abishai, Zeruiah's son, replied, "Shouldn't Shimei be put to death for cursing the LORD's anointed king?"
22 David responded, "Are you sure we're from the same family, sons of Zeruiah? You are my enemies today. Should anyone in Israel be killed today? Don't I know that I'm king of Israel again?"
23 The king promised Shimei, "You won't die," and the king swore to it.
24 Mephibosheth, Saul's grandson, went to meet the king. He had not tended to his feet, trimmed his mustache, or washed his clothes from the day the king left until he came home safely.
25 When he came from Jerusalem to meet the king, the king asked him, "Why didn't you go with me, Mephibosheth?"
26 He answered, "My servant deceived me, Your Majesty. Since I am disabled, I said, 'Saddle the donkey for me, and I'll ride on it and go with the king.'
27 He told you lies about me, Your Majesty. However, you are like God's Messenger. Do what you think is right.
28 You could have killed anyone in my entire family, Your Majesty. Instead, you've seated me with those who eat at your table. So I no longer have the right to complain to the king."
29 The king asked him, "Why do you keep talking about it? I've said that you and Ziba should divide the land."
30 "Let him take it all," Mephibosheth told the king. "It's enough for me that you've come home safely."
31 Barzillai, the man from Gilead, came from Rogelim with the king to the Jordan River to send him on his way.
32 Barzillai was an elderly man, 80 years old. Because he was a very rich man, he had provided the king with food while he was staying at Mahanaim.
33 The king told Barzillai, "Cross the river with me. I'll provide for you in Jerusalem."
34 Barzillai replied, "I don't have much longer to live. I shouldn't go with Your Majesty to Jerusalem.
35 I'm 80 years old now. How can I tell what is pleasant and what is not? Can I taste what I eat or drink? Can I still hear the singing of men and women? Why should I now become a burden to you, Your Majesty?
36 I'll just cross the Jordan River with you. Why should you give me such a reward?
37 Please let me go back so that I can die in my city near the grave of my father and mother. But here is Chimham. Let him go across with you. And do for him what you think is right."
38 "Chimham will go across with me," the king said. "I will do for him whatever you want. Anything you wish I'll do for you."
39 All the troops crossed the Jordan River, and then the king crossed. The king kissed Barzillai and blessed him. Then Barzillai went back home.
40 The king crossed the river to Gilgal, and Chimham went with him. All the troops from Judah and half of the troops from Israel brought the king across.
41 Then all the people of Israel kept coming to the king. They asked, "Why did our cousins, the people of Judah, kidnap you and bring Your Majesty and your family and men across the Jordan River?"
42 All the people of Judah answered the people of Israel, "Because the king is our relative. Why are you angry about this? Did we eat the king's food, or did he give us any gifts?"
43 The people of Israel answered the people of Judah, "We have ten times your interest in the king and a greater claim on David than you have. Why, then, do you despise us? Weren't we the first to suggest bringing back our king?" But the people of Judah spoke [even] more harshly than the people of Israel.

2 Samuel 20

1 A good-for-nothing man by the name of Sheba, Bichri's son, from the tribe of Benjamin happened to be at Gilgal. He blew a ram's horn [to announce], "We have no share in David's kingdom. We won't receive an inheritance from Jesse's son. Everyone to his own tent, Israel!"
2 So all the people of Israel left David to follow Sheba, Bichri's son. But the people of Judah remained loyal to their king [on his way] from the Jordan River to Jerusalem.
3 When David came to his palace in Jerusalem, he took the ten concubines he had left to look after the palace and put them in a house under guard. He provided for them but no longer slept with them. So they lived like widows in confinement until they died.
4 The king told Amasa, "Call the people of Judah together for me, and in three days be here yourself."
5 Amasa went to call Judah together, but he took longer to do it than David had given him.
6 David then told Abishai, "Sheba, son of Bichri, will do us more harm than Absalom. Take my men and go after him, or he will find some fortified cities and take the best ones for himself."
7 So Joab's men, the Cherethites, Pelethites, and all the soldiers went with Abishai. They left Jerusalem to pursue Sheba, Bichri's son.
8 When they were at the large rock in Gibeon, Amasa met them there. Joab wore a military uniform, and strapped over it at his hip was a sword in a scabbard. As he stepped forward, the sword dropped [into his hand].
9 "How are you, my brother?" Joab asked Amasa. He took hold of Amasa's beard with his right hand to kiss him.
10 Amasa wasn't on his guard against the sword in Joab's [left] hand. Joab stabbed him in the stomach, and his intestines poured out on the ground. (He died without being stabbed again.) Then Joab and his brother Abishai pursued Sheba, son of Bichri.
11 One of Joab's young men stood beside Amasa and said, "Anyone who favors Joab and is on David's side should follow Joab."
12 Amasa was wallowing in his blood in the middle of the road. When the man saw that all the troops stopped as they came to the body, he carried Amasa from the road to the field and threw a sheet over him.
13 As soon as he was moved from the road, everyone followed Joab and pursued Sheba, Bichri's son.
14 Sheba passed through all the tribes of Israel to Abel (Beth Maacah). All the Berites were gathered together and followed him to the city.
15 Joab's army came and attacked him in Abel (Beth Maacah). They put up a dirt ramp against the city, and it stood level with the outer wall. All the troops with Joab were trying to destroy the wall and tear it down.
16 Then a clever woman called from the city, "Listen, listen! Tell Joab to come here so that I can talk to him."
17 He came near, and she asked, "Are you Joab?" "I am," he answered. "Listen to what I have to say," she told him. "I'm listening," he answered.
18 So she said, "There's an old saying: 'Be sure to ask at Abel [before doing anything]. That's the way they settle matters.'
19 We are peaceful and faithful Israelites. Are you trying to destroy a mother city in Israel? Why should you swallow up what belongs to the LORD?"
20 Joab answered, "That's unthinkable! I don't wish to swallow [it] up or destroy [it].
21 That isn't the case. A man from the mountains of Ephraim by the name of Sheba, son of Bichri, has rebelled against King David. Give him to me, and I'll withdraw from the city." "That's fine," the woman told Joab. "His head will be thrown to you from the wall."
22 Then the woman went to all the people with her clever plan. They cut off Sheba's head and threw it to Joab. He blew the ram's horn, and everyone scattered and withdrew from the city and went home. Joab went back to the king in Jerusalem.
23 Now, Joab was put in charge of Israel's whole army. Benaiah, son of Jehoiada, was in charge of the Cherethites and Pelethites.
24 Adoram was in charge of forced labor. Jehoshaphat, son of Ahilud, was the royal historian.
25 Sheva was the royal scribe. Zadok and Abiathar were priests.
26 And Ira, a descendant of Jair, was a priest to David.

Luke 18:1-23

1 Jesus used this illustration with his disciples to show them that they need to pray all the time and never give up.
2 He said, "In a city there was a judge who didn't fear God or respect people.
3 In that city there was also a widow who kept coming to him and saying, 'Give me justice.'
4 "For a while the judge refused to do anything. But then he thought, 'This widow really annoys me. Although I don't fear God or respect people,
5 I'll have to give her justice. Otherwise, she'll keep coming to me until she wears me out.'"
6 The Lord added, "Pay attention to what the dishonest judge thought.
7 Won't God give his chosen people justice when they cry out to him for help day and night? Is he slow to help them?
8 I can guarantee that he will give them justice quickly. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"
9 Jesus also used this illustration with some who were sure that God approved of them while they looked down on everyone else.
10 He said, "Two men went into the temple courtyard to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a tax collector.
11 The Pharisee stood up and prayed, 'God, I thank you that I'm not like other people! I'm not a robber or a dishonest person. I haven't committed adultery. I'm not even like this tax collector.
12 I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my entire income.'
13 "But the tax collector was standing at a distance. He wouldn't even look up to heaven. Instead, he became very upset, and he said, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!'
14 "I can guarantee that this tax collector went home with God's approval, but the Pharisee didn't. Everyone who honors himself will be humbled, but the person who humbles himself will be honored."
15 Some people brought infants to Jesus to have him hold them. When the disciples saw this, they told the people not to do that.
16 But Jesus called the infants to him and said, "Don't stop the children from coming to me! Children like these are part of the kingdom of God.
17 I can guarantee this truth: Whoever doesn't receive the kingdom of God as a little child receives it will never enter it."
18 An official asked Jesus, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
19 Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God.
20 You know the commandments: Never commit adultery. Never murder. Never steal. Never give false testimony. Honor your father and your mother."
21 The official replied, "I've obeyed all these commandments since I was a boy."
22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "You still need one thing. Sell everything you have. Distribute the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then follow me!"
23 When the official heard this, he became sad, because he was very rich.