to let all the king’s men move past to lead the way. There were 600 men from Gath who had come with David, along with the king’s bodyguard.
Then the king turned and said to Ittai, a leader of the men from Gath, “Why are you coming with us? Go on back to King Absalom, for you are a guest in Israel, a foreigner in exile.
You arrived only recently, and should I force you today to wander with us? I don’t even know where we will go. Go on back and take your kinsmen with you, and may the LORD show you his unfailing love and faithfulness. ”
But Ittai said to the king, “I vow by the LORD and by your own life that I will go wherever my lord the king goes, no matter what happens—whether it means life or death.”
David replied, “All right, come with us.” So Ittai and all his men and their families went along.
Everyone cried loudly as the king and his followers passed by. They crossed the Kidron Valley and then went out toward the wilderness.
Zadok and all the Levites also came along, carrying the Ark of the Covenant of God. They set down the Ark of God, and Abiathar offered sacrifices until everyone had passed out of the city.
Then the king instructed Zadok to take the Ark of God back into the city. “If the LORD sees fit,” David said, “he will bring me back to see the Ark and the Tabernacle again.
But if he is through with me, then let him do what seems best to him.”
The king also told Zadok the priest, “Look, here is my plan. You and Abiathar should return quietly to the city with your son Ahimaaz and Abiathar’s son Jonathan.
I will stop at the shallows of the Jordan River and wait there for a report from you.”