2 Samuel 13; 2 Samuel 14; 2 Samuel 15

1 Some time later, David's son Amnon fell in love with Tamar. She was the beautiful sister of Absalom. He was another one of David's sons. 2 Amnon's sister Tamar was a virgin. It seemed impossible for him to do what he wanted to do with her. But he wanted her so much it almost made him sick. 3 Amnon had a friend named Jonadab. He was the son of David's brother Shimeah. Jonadab was a very clever man. 4 He asked Amnon, "You are the king's son, aren't you? So why do you look so worn out every morning? Won't you tell me?" Amnon answered, "I'm in love with Tamar. She's the sister of my brother Absalom." 5 "Go to bed," Jonadab said. "Pretend to be sick. Your father will come to see you. When he does, tell him, 'I would like my sister Tamar to come and give me something to eat. Let her prepare the food right here in front of me where I can watch her. Then she can feed it to me.' " 6 So Amnon went to bed. He pretended to be sick. The king came to see him. Amnon said to him, "I would like my sister Tamar to come here. I want to watch her make some special bread. Then she can feed it to me." 7 David sent a message to Tamar at the palace. It said, "Go to your brother Amnon's house. Prepare some food for him." 8 So Tamar went to the house of her brother Amnon. He was lying in bed. She got some dough and mixed it. She shaped the bread right there in front of him. And she baked it. 9 Then she took the bread out of the pan and served it to him. But he refused to eat it. "Send everyone out of here," Amnon said. So everyone left him. 10 Then he said to Tamar, "Bring the food here into my bedroom. Please feed it to me." So Tamar picked up the bread she had prepared. She brought it to her brother Amnon in his bedroom. 11 She took it to him so he could eat it. But he grabbed hold of her. He said, "My sister, come and have sex with me." 12 "Don't do this, my brother!" she said to him. "Don't force me to have sex with you. An evil thing like that should never be done in Israel! Don't do it! 13 What about me? How could I ever get rid of my shame? And what about you? You would be as foolish as any evil person in Israel. Please speak to the king. He won't keep me from getting married to you." 14 But Amnon refused to listen to her. He was stronger than she was. So he raped her. 15 Then Amnon was filled with deep hatred for Tamar. In fact, he hated her now more than he had loved her before. He said to her, "Get up! Get out!" 16 "No!" she said to him. "Don't send me away. That would be worse than what you have already done to me." But he refused to listen to her. 17 He sent for his personal servant. He said, "Get this woman out of here. Lock the door behind her." 18 So his servant threw her out. Then he locked the door behind her. Tamar was wearing a beautiful robe. It was the kind of robe the virgin daughters of the king wore. 19 She put ashes on her head. She tore the beautiful robe she was wearing. She put her hands on her head and went away. She was sobbing out loud as she went. 20 When her brother Absalom saw her, he spoke to her. He said, "Has Amnon, that brother of yours, forced you to have sex with him? My sister, don't let it upset you. Don't let it bother you. He's your brother." After that, Tamar lived in her brother Absalom's house. She was very lonely. 21 King David heard about everything that had happened. So he became very angry. 22 Absalom never said a word of any kind to Amnon. He hated Amnon because he had brought shame on his sister Tamar. 23 Two years later, Absalom invited all of the king's sons to come to Baal Hazor. It was near the border of Ephraim. The workers who clipped the wool off Absalom's sheep were there. 24 Absalom went to the king. He said, "I've had my workers come to clip the wool. Will you and your officials please join me?" 25 "No, my son," the king replied. "All of us shouldn't go. It would be too much trouble for you." Although Absalom begged him, the king still refused to go. But he gave Absalom his blessing. 26 Then Absalom said, "If you won't come, please let my brother Amnon come with us." The king asked him, "Why should he go with you?" 27 But Absalom begged him. So the king sent Amnon with him. He also sent the rest of his sons. 28 Absalom ordered his men, "Listen! When Amnon has had too much wine to drink, I'll say to you, 'Strike Amnon down.' When I do, kill him. Don't be afraid. I've given you an order, haven't I? Be strong and brave." 29 So Absalom's men killed Amnon, just as Absalom had ordered. Then all of the king's sons got on their mules and rode away. 30 While they were on their way, a report came to David. It said, "Absalom has struck down all of your sons. Not one of them is left alive." 31 The king stood up and tore his clothes. Then he lay down on the ground. All of his servants stood near him. They had also torn their clothes. 32 Jonadab, the son of David's brother Shimeah, spoke up. He said, "You shouldn't think that all of the princes have been killed. The only one who is dead is Amnon. Absalom had planned to kill him ever since the day Amnon raped his sister Tamar. 33 You are my king and master. You shouldn't be concerned about this report. It's not true that all of your sons are dead. The only one who is dead is Amnon." 34 While all of that was taking place, Absalom ran away. The man on guard duty at Jerusalem looked up. He saw many people coming on the road west of him. They were coming down the side of the hill. He went and spoke to the king. He said, "I see men coming down the road from Horonaim. They are coming down the side of the hill." 35 Jonadab said to the king, "See, your sons are coming. It has happened just as I said it would." 36 As he finished speaking, the king's sons came in. They were sobbing out loud. The king and all of his servants were also sobbing very bitterly. 37 When Absalom ran away, he went to Talmai, the son of Ammihud. Talmai was king of Geshur. King David sobbed over his son every day. 38 So Absalom ran away and went to Geshur. He stayed there for three years. 39 After some time the king got over his sorrow because of Amnon's death. Then he longed to go to Absalom.
1 Joab, the son of Zeruiah, knew that the king longed to see Absalom. 2 So Joab sent someone to Tekoa to have a wise woman brought back from there. Joab said to her, "Pretend you are filled with sadness. Put on black clothes. Don't use any makeup. Act like a woman who has spent many days sobbing over someone who has died. 3 Then go to the king. Give him the message I'm about to give you." And Joab told her what to say. 4 The woman from Tekoa went to the king. She bowed down with her face toward the ground. She did it to show him respect. She said, "King David, please help me!" 5 The king asked her, "What's bothering you?" She said, "I'm a widow. My husband is dead. 6 I had two sons. They got into a fight with each other in the field. No one was there to separate them. One of my sons struck the other one down and killed him. 7 "Now my whole family group has risen up against me. They say, 'Hand over the one who struck his brother down. Then we can put him to death for killing his brother. That will also get rid of the one who will receive the family property.' They want to kill the only living son I have left, just as someone would put out a burning coal. That would leave my husband without any son on the face of the earth to carry on his name." 8 The king said to the woman, "Go home. I'll give an order to make sure you are taken care of." 9 But the woman from Tekoa said to him, "You are my king and master. No matter what you do, I and my family will take the blame for it. You and your royal family won't be guilty of doing anything wrong." 10 The king replied, "If people give you any trouble, bring them to me. They won't bother you again." 11 She said, "Please pray to the LORD your God. Pray that he will keep our nearest male relative from killing my other son. Then my son won't be destroyed." "You can be sure that the LORD lives," the king said. "And you can be just as sure that not one hair of your son's head will fall to the ground." 12 Then the woman said, "King David, please let me say something else to you." "Go ahead," he replied. 13 The woman said, "You are the king. So why have you done something that brings so much harm on God's people? When you do that, you hand down a sentence against yourself. You won't let the son you drove away come back. 14 All of us must die. We are like water that is spilled on the ground. It can't be put back into the jar. But God doesn't take life away. Instead, he finds a way to bring back anyone who was driven away from him. 15 "King David, I've come here to say this to you now. I've done it because people have made me afraid. I thought, 'I'll go and speak to the king. Perhaps he'll do what I'm asking. 16 Perhaps he'll agree to save me from the man who is trying to cut off me and my son from the property God gave us.' 17 "So now I'm saying, 'May what you have told me bring me peace and rest. You are like an angel of God. You know what is good and what is evil. May the LORD your God be with you.' " 18 Then the king said to the woman, "I'm going to ask you a question. I want you to tell me the truth." "Please ask me anything you want to," the woman said. 19 The king asked, "Joab told you to say all of this, didn't he?" The woman answered, "What you have told me is exactly right. And that's just as sure as you are alive. It's true that Joab directed me to do this. He told me everything he wanted me to say. 20 He did it to change the way things now are. You are as wise as an angel of God. You know everything that happens in the land." 21 Later the king said to Joab, "All right. I'll do what you want. Go. Bring the young man Absalom back." 22 Joab bowed down with his face toward the ground. He did it to honor the king. And he asked God to bless the king. He said, "You are my king and master. Today I know that you are pleased with me. You have given me what I asked for." 23 Then Joab went to Geshur. He brought Absalom back to Jerusalem. 24 But the king said, "He must go to his own house. I don't want him to come and see me." So Absalom went to his own house. He didn't go to see the king. 25 In the whole land of Israel there wasn't any man as handsome as Absalom was. That's why everyone praised him. From the top of his head to the bottom of his feet he didn't have any flaws. 26 He used to cut his hair when it became too heavy for him. Then he would weigh it. It weighed five pounds in keeping with the standard weights that were used in the palace. 27 Three sons and a daughter were born to Absalom. The daughter's name was Tamar. She became a beautiful woman. 28 Absalom lived in Jerusalem for two years without going to see the king. 29 Then Absalom sent for Joab. He wanted to send him to the king. But Joab refused to come to Absalom. So Absalom sent for him a second time. But Joab still refused to come. 30 Then Absalom said to his servants, "Joab's field is next to mine. He has barley growing there. Go and set it on fire." So Absalom's servants set the field on fire. 31 Joab finally went to Absalom's house. He said to Absalom, "Why did your servants set my field on fire?" 32 Absalom said to Joab, "I sent a message to you. It said, 'Come here. I want to send you to the king. I want you to ask him for me, "Why did you bring me back from Geshur? I would be better off if I were still there!" ' Now then, I want to go and see the king. If I'm guilty of doing anything wrong, let him put me to death." 33 So Joab went to the king and told him that. Then the king sent for Absalom. He came in and bowed down to the king with his face toward the ground. And the king kissed Absalom.
1 Some time later, Absalom got a chariot and horses for himself. He also got 50 men to run in front of him. 2 He would get up early. He would stand by the side of the road that led to the city gate. Sometimes a person would come with a case for the king to decide. Then Absalom would call out to him, "What town are you from?" He would answer, "I'm from one of the tribes of Israel." 3 Absalom would say, "Look, your claims are based on the law. So you have every right to make them. But the king doesn't have anyone here who can listen to your case." 4 Absalom would continue, "I wish I were appointed judge in the land! Then anyone who has a case or a claim could come to me. I would make sure he is treated fairly." 5 Sometimes people would approach Absalom and bow down to him. Then he would reach out his hand. He would take hold of them and kiss them. 6 Absalom did that to all of the people of Israel who came to the king with their cases or claims. That's why the hearts of the people were turned toward him. 7 After Absalom had lived in Jerusalem for four years, he went and spoke to the king. He said, "Let me go to Hebron. I want to keep a promise I made to the Lord. 8 When I was living at Geshur in Aram, I made a promise. I said, 'If the LORD takes me back to Jerusalem, I'll go to Hebron and worship him there.' " 9 The king said to him, "Go in peace." So he went to Hebron. 10 Then Absalom sent messengers secretly to all of the tribes of Israel. They said, "Listen for the sound of trumpets. As soon as you hear them, say, 'Absalom has become king in Hebron.' " 11 Absalom had taken 200 men from Jerusalem with him to Hebron. He had invited them to be his guests. They went without having any idea what was going to happen. 12 While Absalom was offering sacrifices, he sent for Ahithophel. Ahithophel was David's adviser. He came to Absalom from Giloh, his hometown. The number of people who followed Absalom kept growing. So he became more and more able to carry out his plans against David. 13 A messenger came and spoke to David. He told him, "The hearts of the people are turned toward Absalom." 14 Then David spoke to all of his officials who were with him in Jerusalem. He said, "Come on! We have to leave right away! If we don't, none of us will escape from Absalom. He'll move quickly to catch up with us. He'll destroy us. His men will kill everyone in the city with their swords." 15 The king's officials answered him, "You are our king and master. We're ready to do anything you want." 16 The king started out. Everyone in his whole family went with him. But he left ten concubines behind to take care of the palace. 17 So the king and all those who were with him left. They stopped at a place that wasn't very far away. 18 All of David's officials marched past him. All of the Kerethites and Pelethites marched along with them. And all of the 600 men who had come with him from Gath marched in front of him. 19 The king spoke to Ittai. He was from Gath. The king said to him, "Why do you want to come along with us? Go back. Stay with King Absalom. You are a stranger. You left your own country. 20 You came to join me only a short time ago. So why should I make you wander around with us now? I don't even know where I'm going. So go on back. Take with you the others who are from your country. And may the LORD be kind and faithful to you." 21 But Ittai replied to the king, "You are my king and master. I want to be where you are. It doesn't matter whether I live or die. And that's just as sure as the LORD and you are alive." 22 David said to Ittai, "Go ahead then. Keep marching with my men." So Ittai, the Gittite, kept marching. All of his men and their families marched with him. 23 All of the people in the countryside sobbed out loud as David and all of his followers passed by. The king went across the Kidron Valley. He and all of the people who were with him moved on toward the desert. 24 Zadok also went with them. Some of the Levites went with him. They were carrying the ark of the covenant of God. They set the ark down. Abiathar offered sacrifices until all of the people had left the city. 25 Then the king said to Zadok, "Take the ark of God back into the city. If the LORD is pleased with me, he'll bring me back. He'll let me see the ark again. He'll also let me see Jerusalem again. That's the place where he lives. 26 But suppose he says, 'I am not pleased with you.' Then I accept that. Let him do to me what he thinks is best." 27 The king spoke again to the priest Zadok. He said, "You are a prophet, aren't you? Go back to the city in peace. Take your son Ahimaaz with you. Also take Abiathar and his son Jonathan with you. 28 I'll wait at the place in the desert where we can go across the Jordan River. I'll wait there until you send word to let me know what's happening." 29 So Zadok and Abiathar took the ark of God back to Jerusalem. They stayed there. 30 But David went on up the Mount of Olives. He was sobbing as he went. His head was covered, and he was barefoot. All of the people who were with him covered their heads too. And they were sobbing as they went up. 31 David had been told, "Ahithophel is one of those who are making secret plans with Absalom against you." So David prayed, "Lord, make Ahithophel's advice look foolish." 32 David arrived at the top of the Mount of Olives. That's where people used to worship God. Hushai, the Arkite, was there to meet him. His robe was torn. There was dust on his head. 33 David said to him, "If you go with me, you will be too much trouble for me. 34 So return to the city. Say to Absalom, 'King Absalom, I'll be your servant. In the past, I was your father's servant. But now I'll be your servant.' If you do that, you can help me by making sure Ahithophel's advice fails. 35 The priests Zadok and Abiathar will be there with you. Tell them everything you hear in the king's palace. 36 They have their sons Ahimaaz and Jonathan there with them. Send them to tell me everything you hear." 37 So David's friend Hushai went to Jerusalem. He arrived just as Absalom was entering the city.
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