Reading 89/341, 2 Samuel 15-17

[A] Today Absalom whose name means "The father of peace" begins a war. He is still angry with his father. David shows his true colors here. Unlike Saul who held onto power as tightly as possible, David holds onto the will of God.
[B] Today the prophecy is fulfilled that was spoken by the prophet Nathan when David took Bathsheba: Thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes, and give them to your neighbor, and he will lie with your wives in the sight of the sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.’

...2 Samuel...

It happened after this that Absalom got for himself a chariot and horses, and fifty men to run before him. Absalom would rise up early, and stood beside the road of the gate, and when any man had a suit which should come to the king for judgment, then Absalom called to him, and said, “Of what city are you?” When he said, “Your servant is of a certain tribe of Israel”, Absalom said to him, “Behold, your claims are good and right, but there is no man assigned by the king to hear you.” Absalom said moreover, “Oh that I were made judge in the land, that every man who has any suit or cause might come to me, and I would do him justice!” When any man came near to pay him homage, he put forth his hand, and took hold of him, and kissed him. Absalom acted in this manner to all Israel who came to the king for judgment, so Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel. It happened at the end of four years, that Absalom said to the king, “Please let me go and pay my vow, which I have vowed to the Lord, in Hebron. For your servant vowed a vow while I dwelt at Geshur in Aram, saying, ‘If the Lord shall indeed bring me again to Jerusalem, then I will worship the Lord.’” The king said to him, “Go in peace.” So he arose, and went to Hebron. But Absalom sent agents throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, “As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then you shall say, ‘Absalom is king in Hebron.’” With Absalom went two hundred men from Jerusalem, who were invited, and went in their simplicity, and they did not know anything. Absalom sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David's counselor, from his city, from Giloh, while he was offering the sacrifices. The conspiracy was strong, for the people with Absalom continually increased.

A messenger came to David, saying, “The hearts of the men of Israel are with Absalom.” David said to all his servants who were with him at Jerusalem, “Arise, and let us flee, else none of us shall escape from Absalom. Make haste to depart, lest he overtake us quickly, and bring down evil on us, and strike the city with the edge of the sword.” The king's servants said to the king, “Behold, your servants are ready to do whatever my lord the king shall choose.” The king went forth, and all his household after him. The king left ten women, who were concubines, to keep the house. The king went forth, and all the people after him, and they stayed in Beth-merhak [last house]. All his servants passed on beside him, and all the Cherethites, and all the Pelethites, and all the Gittites, six hundred men who came with him from Gath, passed on before the king. Then said the king to Ittai the Gittite, “Why do you also go with us? Return, and abide with the king, for you are an immigrant, and also an exile. Return to your own place. Whereas you came but yesterday, should I this day make you go up and down with us, seeing I go where I can? Return, and take back your brothers. Mercy and truth be with you.” Ittai answered the king, and said, “As the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, surely in what place my lord the king shall be, whether for death or for life, there also will your servant be.” David said to Ittai, “Go and pass over.” Ittai the Gittite passed over, and all his men, and all the little ones who were with him. All the country wept with a loud voice, and all the people passed over, the king also himself passed over the brook Kidron, and all the people passed over, toward the way of the desert.

Behold, Zadok also came, and all the Levites with him, bearing the ark of the covenant of God, and they set down the ark of God, and Abiathar went up, until all the people had done passing out of the city. The king said to Zadok, “Carry back the ark of God into the city. If I shall find favor in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me again, and show me both it, and his habitation, but if he say, ‘I have no delight in you’, behold, here I am: let him do to me as seems good to him.” The king said also to Zadok the priest, “Are you not a seer? Return into the city in peace, and your two sons with you: Ahimaaz your son, and Jonathan the son of Abiathar. Behold, I will stay at the fords of the desert, until word comes from you to inform me.” So Zadok and Abiathar carried the ark of God again to Jerusalem, and they dwelt there.

David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, and wept as he went up, and he had his head covered, and went barefoot, and all the people who were with, every man, covered his head, and they went up, weeping as they went up. Somone told David, saying, “Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.” David said, “O Lord, please turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.” It happened that when David had come to the top of the ascent, where God was worshiped, behold, Hushai the Archite came to meet him with his coat torn, and earth on his head. David said to him, “If you pass on with me, then you will be a burden to me, but if you return to the city, and tell Absalom, ‘I will be your servant, O king, as I have been your father's servant in time past, so will I now be your servant’, then you will defeat for me the counsel of Ahithophel. Do you not have Zadok and Abiathar the priests there with you? Therefore it shall be, that whatever thing you shall hear out of the king's house, you shall tell it to Zadok and Abiathar the priests. Behold, they have there with them their two sons: Ahimaaz, Zadok's son, and Jonathan, Abiathar's son, and by them you shall send to me everything that you shall hear.” So Hushai, David's friend, came into the city just as Absalom entered Jerusalem.

When David was a little past the top of the ascent, behold, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth met him, with a couple of donkeys saddled, and on them two hundred loaves of bread, and one hundred clusters of raisins, and one hundred summer fruits, and a skin of wine. The king said to Ziba, “What do you mean by these?” Ziba said, “The donkeys are for the king's household to ride on, and the bread and summer fruit for the young men to eat, and the wine is for whoever is faint in the desert to drink.” The king said, “Where is your master's son?” Ziba said to the king, “Behold, he abides at Jerusalem; for he said, ‘Today will the house of Israel restore to me the kingdom of my father.’” Then said the king to Ziba, “Behold, all that pertains to Mephibosheth is yours.” Ziba said, “I pay homage; let me find favor in your sight, my lord, O king.”

When King David came to Bahurim, behold, a man of the family of the house of Saul came out, whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera. He came out, and cursed as he came. He cast stones at David, and at all the servants of King David, and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left. Thus said Shimei when he cursed, “Be gone, be gone, you man of blood, and worthless fellow, the Lord has returned on you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned, and the Lord has delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom your son, and behold, you are taken in your own mischief, because you are a man of blood.” Then Abishai the son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Please let me go over and take off his head.” The king said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? Perhaps he curses because the Lord has said to him, ‘Curse David.’ Who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’” David said to Abishai, and to all his servants, “Behold, the son of my own loins seeks my life. How much more may this Benjamite now do it? Leave him alone, and let him curse, for the Lord has told him to. It may be that the Lord will look on the wrong done to me, and that the Lord will repay me good for his cursing of me this day.” So David and his men went by the way, and Shimei went along on the hillside opposite him, and cursed as he went, and threw stones at him, and cast dust. The king, and all the people who were with him, came wearily to the Jordan, and he refreshed himself there.

Absalom, and all the people, the men of Israel, came to Jerusalem, and Ahithophel with him. It happened, when Hushai the Archite, David's friend, was come to Absalom, that Hushai said to Absalom, “Long live the king, Long live the king.” Absalom said to Hushai, “Is this your loyalty to your friend? Why did not you go with your friend?” Hushai said to Absalom, “No, but whom the Lord, and this people, and all the men of Israel have chosen, his I will be, and with him I will abide. Again, whom should I serve? Should I not serve in the presence of his son? As I have served in your father's presence, so will I be in your presence.” Then Absalom said to Ahithophel, “Give your counsel what we shall do.” Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Go in to your father's concubines, that he has left to keep the house, and all Israel will hear that you are a stench to your father. Then the hands of all who are with you will be strong.” So they spread Absalom a tent on the top of the house, and Absalom went in to his father's concubines in the sight of all Israel. The counsel of Ahithophel, which he gave in those days, was as if a man inquired at the oracle of God, so was all the counsel of Ahithophel both with David and with Absalom.

Moreover Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Let me now choose out twelve thousand men, and I will arise and pursue after David this night, and I will come on him while he is weary and exhausted, and will make him afraid, and all the people who are with him shall flee, and I will strike the king only, and I will bring back all the people to you, as a bride comes home to her husband. You seek the life of one man, so all the people shall be in peace.” The saying pleased Absalom well, and all the elders of Israel. Then said Absalom, “Call now Hushai the Archite also, and let us hear likewise what he says.” When Hushai had come to Absalom, Absalom spoke to him, saying, “Ahithophel has spoken after this manner, shall we act according to his words? If not, speak up.” Hushai said to Absalom, “The counsel that Ahithophel has given this time is not good.” Hushai said moreover, “You know your father and his men, that they are mighty men, and they are enraged in their minds, as a bear robbed of her cubs in the field, and your father is a man of war, and will not lodge with the people. Behold, he is hid now in some pit, or in some other place, and it will happen, when some of them are fallen at the first, that whoever hears it will say, ‘There is a slaughter among the people who follow Absalom.’ He who is valiant, whose heart is as the heart of a lion, will utterly melt, for all Israel knows that your father is a mighty man, and those who are with him are valiant men. But I counsel that all Israel be gathered together to you, from Dan to Beersheba, as the sand that is by the sea for multitude, and that you go to battle in your own person. So shall we come on him in some place where he shall be found, and we will light on him as the dew falls on the ground, and of him and of all the men who are with him we will not leave so much as one. Moreover, if he goes into a city, then all Israel shall bring ropes to that city, and we will draw it into the valley, until there not be one pebble found there.” Absalom and all the men of Israel said, “The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel.” For the Lord had ordained to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, to the intent that the Lord might bring evil on Absalom.

Then Hushai said to Zadok and to Abiathar the priests, “Thus and so did Ahithophel counsel Absalom and the elders of Israel, and thus and so have I counseled. Now therefore send quickly, and tell David, saying, ‘Do not lodge this night at the fords of the desert, but by all means pass over, lest the king be swallowed up, and all the people who are with him.” Now Jonathan and Ahimaaz were staying by En-rogel, and a female servant was to go and tell them, and they were to go and tell King David, for they might not be seen entering the city. But a boy saw them, and told Absalom, so they both went away quickly, and came to the house of a man in Bahurim, who had a well in his court, and they went down in it. The woman took and spread the covering over the well's mouth, and scattered grain on it, and nothing was known. Absalom's servants came to the woman to the house, and they said, “Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?” The woman said to them, “They have gone over the brook of water.” When they had sought and could not find them, they returned to Jerusalem. It happened, after they had departed, that they came up out of the well, and went and told King David, and they said to David, “Arise and pass quickly over the water, for thus has Ahithophel counseled against you.” Then David arose, and all the people who were with him, and they passed over the Jordan, by daybreak there was no one left who had not gone over the Jordan.

When Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his donkey, and arose, and went home, to his city, and set his house in order, and hanged himself, and he died, and was buried in the tomb of his father. Then David came to Mahanaim. Absalom passed over the Jordan, he and all the men of Israel with him. Absalom set Amasa over the army instead of Joab. Now Amasa was the son of a man, whose name was Ithra the Israelite, who married Abigail the daughter of Nahash, sister to Zeruiah, Joab's mother. Israel and Absalom encamped in the land of Gilead. It happened, when David had come to Mahanaim, that Shobi the son of Nahash of Rabbah of the children of Ammon, and Machir the son of Ammiel of Lodebar, and Barzillai the Gileadite of Rogelim, brought beds, and basins, and earthen vessels, and wheat, and barley, and meal, and parched grain, and beans, and lentils, and parched pulse, and honey, and butter, and sheep, and cheese of the herd, for David, and for the people who were with him, to eat, for they said, “The people are hungry, and weary, and thirsty, in the desert.”

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