2 Samuel 16; 2 Samuel 17; 2 Samuel 18

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2 Samuel 16

1 David went just beyond the top of the Mount of Olives. Ziba was waiting there to meet him. He was Mephibosheth's manager. He had several donkeys with saddles on them. They were carrying 200 loaves of bread and 100 raisin cakes. They were also carrying 100 fig cakes and a bottle of wine. The bottle was made out of animal skin.
2 The king asked Ziba, "Why have you brought all of these things?" Ziba answered, "The donkeys are for the king's family to ride on. The bread and fruit are for the people to eat. The wine will make those who get tired in the desert feel like new again."
3 Then the king asked, "Where is your master's grandson Mephibosheth?" Ziba said to him, "He's staying in Jerusalem. He thinks, 'Today the people of Israel will give me back my grandfather Saul's kingdom.' "
4 Then the king said to Ziba, "Everything that belonged to Mephibosheth belongs to you now." "You are my king and master," Ziba said. "I make myself low in front of you. I bow down to you. May you be pleased with me."
5 King David approached Bahurim. As he did, a man came out toward him. The man was from the same family group that Saul was from. His name was Shimei. He was the son of Gera. As he came out of the town, he called down curses on David.
6 He threw stones at David and all of his officials. He did it even though all of the troops and the special guard were there. They were to the right and left of David.
7 As Shimei called down curses, he said, "Get out! Get out, you murderer! You are a worthless and evil man!
8 You spilled the blood of a lot of people in Saul's family. You took over his kingdom. Now the LORD is paying you back. He has handed the kingdom over to your son Absalom. You have been destroyed because you are a murderer!"
9 Then Abishai, the son of Zeruiah, spoke to the king. He said, "King David, why should we let this dead dog call down curses on you? Let me go over there. I'll cut off his head."
10 But the king said, "You and Joab are sons of Zeruiah. What do you and I have in common? Maybe the LORD said to him, 'Call down curses on David.' If he did, who can ask him, 'Why are you doing this?' "
11 Then David spoke to Abishai and all of his officials. He said, "My very own son Absalom is trying to kill me. How much more should this man from Benjamin want to kill me! Leave him alone. Let him call down curses. The LORD has told him to do it.
12 Maybe the LORD will see how much I'm suffering. Maybe he'll reward me with good things in place of the curses that are being called down on me today."
13 So David and his men kept going along the road. At the same time, Shimei was going along the hillside across from him. He was calling down curses as he went. He was throwing stones at David. He was showering him with dirt.
14 The king and all of the people who were with him came to the place they had planned to go to. They were very tired. So David rested there.
15 During that time, Absalom and all of the men of Israel came to Jerusalem. Ahithophel was with him.
16 Then Hushai, the Arkite, went to Absalom. He said to him, "May the king live a long time! May the king live a long time!" Hushai was David's friend.
17 Absalom asked Hushai, "Is this the way you show love to your friend? Why didn't you go with him?"
18 Hushai said to Absalom, "Why should I? You are the one the LORD has chosen. These people and all of the men of Israel have also chosen you. I want to be on your side. I want to stay with you.
19 After all, who else should I serve? Shouldn't I serve the king's son? I will serve you, just as I served your father."
20 Absalom said to Ahithophel, "Give us your advice. What should we do?"
21 Ahithophel answered, "Your father left some concubines behind to take care of the palace. Go and have sex with them. Then all of the people of Israel will hear about it. They will hear that you have made yourself smell very bad to your father. Everyone who is with you will become braver."
22 So they set up a tent for Absalom on the roof of the palace. He went in and had sex with his father's concubines. Everyone in Israel saw it.
23 In those days the advice Ahithophel gave was as good as advice from someone who asks God for guidance. That's what David and Absalom thought about all of Ahithophel's advice.
Holy Bible, New International Reader's Version® Copyright © 1995, 1996, 1998 by Biblica.   All rights reserved worldwide.

2 Samuel 17

1 One day Ahithophel said to Absalom, "Here's what I suggest. Choose 12,000 men. Start out tonight and go after David.
2 Attack him while he's tired and weak. Fill him with terror. Then all of the people who are with him will run away. Don't strike down anyone except the king.
3 Bring all of the other people back. After the man you want to kill is dead, everyone else will return to you. And none of the people will be harmed."
4 Ahithophel's plan seemed good to Absalom. It also seemed good to all of the elders of Israel.
5 But Absalom said, "Send for Hushai, the Arkite. Then we can find out what he suggests."
6 Hushai came to him. Absalom said, "Ahithophel has given us his advice. Should we do what he says? If we shouldn't, tell us what you would do."
7 Hushai replied to Absalom, "The advice Ahithophel has given you isn't good this time.
8 You know your father and his men. They are fighters. They are as strong as a wild bear whose cubs have been stolen from her. Besides, your father really knows how to fight. He won't spend the night with his troops.
9 In fact, he's probably hiding in a cave or some other place right now. "Suppose he attacks your troops first. When people hear about it, they'll say, 'Many of the troops who followed Absalom have been killed.'
10 Then the hearts of your soldiers will melt away in fear. Even those who are as brave as a lion will be terrified. That's because everyone in Israel knows that your father is a fighter. They know that those who are with him are brave.
11 "So here's what I suggest. Bring together all of the men of Israel from the town of Dan all the way to Beersheba. They are as many as the grains of sand on the seashore. You yourself should lead them into battle.
12 "Then we'll attack David no matter where we find him. As dew completely covers the ground, we'll completely overpower his entire army. We won't leave him or any of his men alive.
13 He might try to get away by going into a city. If he does, all of us will bring ropes to that city. We'll drag the whole city down into the valley. No one will be able to find even a piece of that city."
14 Absalom and all of the men of Israel agreed. They said, "The advice of Hushai, the Arkite, is better than the advice of Ahithophel." The LORD had decided that Ahithophel's good advice would fail. The LORD wanted to bring horrible trouble on Absalom.
15 Hushai spoke to the priests Zadok and Abiathar. He said, "Ahithophel has given advice to Absalom and the elders of Israel. He suggested that they should do one thing. But I suggested something else.
16 "Send a message right away. Tell David, 'Don't spend the night at the place in the desert where people can go across the Jordan River. Make sure you go on across. If you don't, you and all of the people who are with you will be swallowed up.' "
17 Jonathan and Ahimaaz were staying at En Rogel just outside Jerusalem. They knew they would be in danger if anyone saw them entering the city. A female servant was supposed to go and tell them what had happened. Then they were supposed to go and tell King David.
18 But a young man saw Jonathan and Ahimaaz and told Absalom about it. So the two men left quickly. They went to the house of a man in Bahurim. He had a well in his courtyard. They climbed down into it.
19 The man's wife got a covering and spread it out over the opening of the well. Then she scattered grain on the covering. So no one knew that the men were hiding in the well.
20 Absalom's men came to the house. They asked the woman, "Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?" She answered, "They went across the brook." When the men looked around, they didn't find anyone. So they returned to Jerusalem.
21 After the men had gone, Jonathan and Ahimaaz climbed out of the well. They went to tell King David what they had found out. They said to him, "Go across the river right away. Ahithophel has told Absalom how to come after you and strike you down."
22 So David and all of the people who were with him started out. They went across the Jordan River. By sunrise, everyone had crossed over.
23 Ahithophel saw that his advice wasn't being followed. So he put a saddle on his donkey. He started out for his house in his hometown. When he got there, he put everything in order. He made out his will. Then he killed himself. So he died, and his body was buried in his father's tomb.
24 David went to Mahanaim. Absalom went across the Jordan River with all of the men of Israel.
25 Absalom had made Amasa commander of the army in place of Joab. Amasa was the son of a man named Jether. Jether belonged to the family line of Ishmael. He had gotten married to Abigail. She was the daughter of Nahash and the sister of Zeruiah. Zeruiah was the mother of Joab.
26 Absalom and the people of Israel camped in the land of Gilead.
27 David came to Mahanaim. Shobi, the son of Nahash, met him there. Shobi was from Rabbah in the land of Ammon. Makir, the son of Ammiel from Lo Debar, met him there too. So did Barzillai from Rogelim in the land of Gilead.
28 They brought beds, bowls and clay pots. They brought wheat, barley, flour, and grain that had been cooked. They brought beans and lentils.
29 They brought honey, butter, sheep and cheese that was made from cows' milk. They brought all of that food for David and his people to eat. They said, "These people have become hungry. They've become tired and thirsty in the desert."
Holy Bible, New International Reader's Version® Copyright © 1995, 1996, 1998 by Biblica.   All rights reserved worldwide.

2 Samuel 18

1 David brought together the men who were with him. He appointed commanders of thousands over some of them. He appointed commanders of hundreds over the others.
2 Then David sent the troops out in three companies. One company was under the command of Joab. Another was under Joab's brother Abishai, the son of Zeruiah. The last was under Ittai, the Gittite. The king told the troops, "You can be sure that I myself will march out with you."
3 But the men said, "You must not march out. If we are forced to run away, our enemies won't care about us. Even if half of us die, they won't care. But you are worth 10,000 of us. So it would be better for you to stay here in the city. Then you can send us help if we need it."
4 The king said, "I'll do what you think is best." So the king stood beside the city gate. The whole army marched out in companies of hundreds and companies of thousands.
5 The king gave an order to Joab, Abishai and Ittai. He commanded them, "Be gentle with the young man Absalom. Do it for me." All of the troops heard the king give the commanders that order about Absalom.
6 David's army marched into the field to fight against Israel. The battle took place in the forest of Ephraim.
7 There David's men won the battle over Israel's army. A huge number of men were wounded or killed that day. The total number was 20,000.
8 The fighting spread out over the whole countryside. But more men were killed in the forest that day than out in the open.
9 Absalom happened to come across some of David's men. He was riding his mule. The mule went under the thick branches of a large oak tree. Absalom's head got caught in the tree. He was left hanging in the air. The mule he was riding kept on going.
10 One of David's men saw what had happened. He told Joab, "I just saw Absalom hanging in an oak tree."
11 Joab said to the man, "What! You saw him? Why didn't you strike him down right there? Then I would have had to give you four ounces of silver and a soldier's belt."
12 But the man replied, "I wouldn't lift my hand to harm the king's son. I wouldn't do it even for 25 pounds of silver. We heard the king's command to you and Abishai and Ittai. He said, 'Be careful not to hurt the young man Absalom. Do it for me.'
13 Suppose I had put my life in danger by killing him. The king would have found out about it. Nothing is hidden from him. And you wouldn't have stood up for me."
14 Joab said, "I'm not going to waste any more time on you." So he got three javelins. Then he went over and drove them into Absalom's heart. He did it while Absalom was still hanging there alive in the oak tree.
15 Ten of the men who were carrying Joab's armor surrounded Absalom. They struck him down and killed him.
16 Then Joab blew his trumpet. He ordered his troops to stop chasing Israel's army.
17 Joab's men threw Absalom's body into a big pit in the forest. They covered his body with a large pile of rocks. While all of that was going on, all of the Israelites ran back to their homes.
18 Earlier in his life Absalom had set up a pillar in the King's Valley. He had put it up as a monument to himself. He thought, "I don't have a son to carry on the memory of my name." So he named the pillar after himself. It is still called Absalom's Monument to this very day.
19 Ahimaaz said to Joab, "Let me run and take the news to the king. Let me tell him that the LORD has saved him from the power of his enemies." Ahimaaz was the son of Zadok.
20 "I don't want you to take the news to the king today," Joab told him. "You can do it some other time. But you must not do it today, because the king's son is dead."
21 Then Joab said to a man from Cush, "Go. Tell the king what you have seen." The man bowed down in front of Joab. Then he ran off.
22 Ahimaaz, the son of Zadok, spoke again to Joab. He said, "I don't care what happens to me. Please let me run behind the man from Cush." But Joab replied, "My son, why do you want to go? You don't have any news that will bring you a reward."
23 He said, "I don't care what happens. I want to run." So Joab said, "Run!" Then Ahimaaz ran across the flatlands of the Jordan River. As he ran, he passed the man from Cush.
24 David was sitting in the area between the inner and outer gates of the city. The man on guard duty went up to the roof over the entrance of the gate by the wall. As he looked out, he saw someone running alone.
25 He called out to the king and reported it. The king said, "If the runner is alone, he must be bringing good news." The man came closer and closer.
26 Then the man on guard duty saw another man running. He called out to the man who was guarding the gate. He said, "Look! There's another man running alone!" The king said, "He must be bringing good news too."
27 The man on guard duty said, "I can see that the first one runs like Ahimaaz, the son of Zadok." "He's a good man," the king said. "He's bringing good news."
28 Then Ahimaaz called out to the king, "Everything's all right!" He bowed down in front of the king with his face toward the ground. He said, "You are my king and master. Give praise to the LORD your God! He has handed over to you the men who lifted their hands to kill you."
29 The king asked, "Is the young man Absalom safe?" Ahimaaz answered, "I saw total disorder. I saw it just as Joab was about to send the king's servant and me to you. But I don't know what it was all about."
30 The king said, "Stand over there and wait." So he stepped over to one side and stood there.
31 Then the man from Cush arrived. He said, "You are my king and master. I'm bringing you some good news. The LORD has saved you today from all those who were trying to kill you."
32 The king asked the man from Cush, "Is the young man Absalom safe?" The man replied, "King David, may your enemies be like that young man. May all those who rise up to harm you be like him."
33 The king was very upset. He went up to the room over the entrance of the gate and sobbed. As he went, he said, "My son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! I wish I had died instead of you. Absalom! My son, my son!"
Holy Bible, New International Reader's Version® Copyright © 1995, 1996, 1998 by Biblica.   All rights reserved worldwide.