Absalom Makes Many Friends
After this, Absalom got a chariot and horses for himself. He had 50 men run in front of him while he drove the chariot. Absalom would get up early and stand near the gate.* He would watch for anyone with problems who was going to King David for judgment. Then Absalom would talk to them and say, “What city are you from?” They would say they were from such and such tribe in Israel. Then Absalom would say, “Look, you are right, but King David will not listen to you.”
Absalom would also say, “Oh, I wish someone would make me a judge in this country! Then I could help everyone who comes to me with a problem. I would help them get a fair solution to their problem.”
And if anyone came to Absalom and started to bow down to him, Absalom would treat him like a close friendhe would reach out and touch him and kiss him. Absalom did that to all the Israelites who came to King David for judgment. In this way Absalom won the hearts of all the people of Israel.
Absalom Plans to Take David’s Kingdom
After four years, Absalom said to King David, “Please let me go to Hebron to complete a special promise that I made to the LORD. I made that promise while I was still living in Geshur in Aram. I said, ‘If the LORD brings me back to Jerusalem, I will serve the LORD in a special way.’ ”
King David said, “Go in peace.”
Absalom went to Hebron. 10 But he also sent spies to all the tribes of Israel. They told the people, “When you hear the trumpet, say, ‘Absalom is king in Hebron!’ ”
11 Absalom invited 200 men to go with him. They left Jerusalem with him, but they did not know what he was planning. 12 Ahithophel was one of David’s advisors. He was from the town of Giloh. While Absalom was offering sacrifices, he invited Ahithophel to join. Absalom’s plans were working very well and more and more people began to support him.
David Learns About Absalom’s Plans
13 A man came in to tell the news to David. The man said, “The people of Israel are beginning to follow Absalom.”
14 Then David said to all of his officers who were still in Jerusalem with him, “Come on, we cannot let him trap us here in Jerusalem. Hurry up, before he catches us. He will destroy us all, and Jerusalem will be destroyed in the battle.”
15 The king’s officers told him, “We will do whatever you tell us.”
David and His People Escape
16 King David left with everyone in his family, except ten of his slave women. He left them to take care of the house. 17 The king left with everyone in his house following him on foot. They stopped at the last house. 18 All the king’s officers passed by him. And all the Kerethites, all the Pelethites, and the Gittites (600 men from Gath) passed by the king.
19 The king said to Ittai from Gath, “Why are you also going with us? You are a foreigner; this is not your homeland. Go back and stay with the new king. 20 You came to join me only yesterday. You don’t need to wander from place to place with me. Take your brothers and go back. Go with my faithful, loving kindness.”
21 But Ittai answered the king, “As the LORD lives, and as long as you live, I will stay with you, in life or death!”
22 David said to Ittai, “Then come, let’s go cross Kidron Brook.”
So Ittai from Gath and all of his people and their children crossed over Kidron Brook. 23 All the people were crying loudly. Then King David crossed over Kidron Brook, and all the people went out to the desert. 24 Zadok and all the Levites with him were carrying the Box of God’s Agreement. They set down God’s Holy Box, and Abiathar said prayers§ until all the people had left Jerusalem.
25 King David said to Zadok, “Take God’s Holy Box back to Jerusalem. If the LORD is pleased with me, he will bring me back and let me see Jerusalem and his Temple. 26 But if he says he is not pleased with me, let him do whatever he wants to me.”
27 The king said to Zadok the priest, “You are a seer. Go back to the city in peace.* Take your son Ahimaaz and Jonathan the son of Abiathar. 28 I will be waiting near the places where people cross the river into the desert. I will wait there until I hear from you.”
29 So Zadok and Abiathar took God’s Holy Box back to Jerusalem and stayed there.
David’s Prayer Against Ahithophel
30 David walked up the path to the Mount of Olives. He was crying, his head was covered, and he went without sandals on his feet. All the people with David also covered their heads and were crying as they walked with him.
31 Someone told David, “Ahithophel is one who joined in Absalom’s plot against you.” Then David prayed, “LORD, I ask you to make Ahithophel give only foolish advice.” 32 When David got to the top of the mountain, he bowed down to worship God. Then David noticed Hushai the Arkite. Hushai’s coat was torn, and there was dust on his head.
33 David said to Hushai, “If you go with me, you will be just one more person to care for. 34 But if you go back to Jerusalem, you can disagree with Ahithophel and make his advice useless. Tell Absalom, ‘King, I am your servant. I served your father, but now I will serve you.’ 35 The priests Zadok and Abiathar will be with you. You must tell them everything you hear in the king’s palace. 36 Zadok’s son Ahimaaz and Abiathar’s son Jonathan will be with them. You can send them to tell me everything you hear.”
37 So David’s friend Hushai went back to the city, just as Absalom arrived in Jerusalem.
* 15:2 gate This was where people came to do all of their business. This was also where many court cases were held. 15:7 four years This is found in several ancient versions. The standard Hebrew text has “40 years.” 15:23 people Literally, “country.” § 15:24 said prayers Literally, “went up.” This could mean “burn incense,” “offer sacrifices,” or it might mean simply that Abiathar stood to one side, by the Holy Box, until all the people passed by. * 15:27 You are a seer … peace Or “You do see, don’t you, that you should go back to the city in peace.” 15:32 coat was torn … head This showed that he was very sad.