1 Now it came about after this that Absalom provided for himself a chariot and horses and fifty men as runners before him. 2 Absalom used to rise early and stand beside the way to the gate; and when any man had a suit to come to the king for judgment, Absalom would call to him and say, "From what city are you?" And he would say, "Your servant is from one of the tribes of Israel." 3 Then Absalom would say to him, "See, your claims are good and right, but no man listens to you on the part of the king." 4 Moreover, Absalom would say, "Oh that one would appoint me judge in the land, then every man who has any suit or cause could come to me and I would give him justice." 5 And when a man came near to prostrate himself before him, he would put out his hand and take hold of him and kiss him. 6 In this manner Absalom dealt with all Israel who came to the king for judgment; so Absalom stole away the hearts of the men of Israel.
7 Now it came about at the end of forty years that Absalom said to the king, "Please let me go and pay my vow which I have vowed to the LORD, in Hebron. 8 For your servant vowed a vow while I was living at Geshur in Aram, saying, `If the LORD shall indeed bring me back to Jerusalem, then I will serve the LORD.'" 9 The king said to him, "Go in peace." So he arose and went to Hebron. 10 But Absalom sent spies 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.'" 11 Then two hundred men went with Absalom from Jerusalem, who were invited and went innocently, and they did not know anything. 12 And Absalom sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David's counselor, from his city Giloh, while he was offering the sacrifices. And the conspiracy was strong, for the people increased continually with Absalom.
David Flees Jerusalem
13 Then a messenger came to David, saying, "The hearts of the men of Israel are with Absalom." 14 David said to all his servants who were with him at Jerusalem, "Arise and let us flee, for otherwise none of us will escape from Absalom. Go in haste, or he will overtake us quickly and bring down calamity on us and strike the city with the edge of the sword." 15 Then the king's servants said to the king, "Behold, your servants are ready to do whatever my lord the king chooses." 16 So the king went out and all his household with him. But the king left ten concubines to keep the house. 17 The king went out and all the people with him, and they stopped at the last house. 18 Now all his servants passed on beside him, all the Cherethites, all the Pelethites and all the Gittites, six hundred men who had come with him from Gath, passed on before the king.
19 Then the king said to Ittai the Gittite, "Why will you also go with us? Return and remain with the king, for you are a foreigner and also an exile; return to your own place. 20 You came only yesterday, and shall I today make you wander with us, while I go where I will? Return and take back your brothers; mercy and truth be with you." 21 But Ittai answered the king and said, "As the LORD lives, and as my lord the king lives, surely wherever my lord the king may be, whether for death or for life, there also your servant will be." 22 Therefore David said to Ittai, "Go and pass over." So Ittai the Gittite passed over with all his men and all the little ones who were with him. 23 While all the country was weeping with a loud voice, all the people passed over. The king also passed over the brook Kidron, and all the people passed over toward the way of the wilderness.
24 Now behold, Zadok also came, and all the Levites with him carrying the ark of the covenant of God. And they set down the ark of God, and Abiathar came up until all the people had finished passing from the city. 25 The king said to Zadok, "Return the ark of God to the city. If I find favor in the sight of the LORD, then He will bring me back again and show me both it and His habitation. 26 But if He should say thus, `I have no delight in you,' behold, here I am, let Him do to me as seems good to Him." 27 The king said also to Zadok the priest, "Are you not a seer? Return to the city in peace and your two sons with you, your son Ahimaaz and Jonathan the son of Abiathar. 28 See, I am going to wait at the fords of the wilderness until word comes from you to inform me." 29 Therefore Zadok and Abiathar returned the ark of God to Jerusalem and remained there.
30 And David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, and wept as he went, and his head was covered and he walked barefoot. Then all the people who were with him each covered his head and went up weeping as they went. 31 Now someone told David, saying, "Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom." And David said, "O LORD, I pray, make the counsel of Ahithophel foolishness."
32 It happened as David was coming to the summit, where God was worshiped, that behold, Hushai the Archite met him with his coat torn and dust on his head. 33 David said to him, "If you pass over with me, then you will be a burden to me. 34 But if you return to the city, and say to Absalom, `I will be your servant, O king; as I have been your father's servant in time past, so I will now be your servant,' then you can thwart the counsel of Ahithophel for me. 35 Are not Zadok and Abiathar the priests with you there? So it shall be that whatever you hear from the king's house, you shall report to Zadok and Abiathar the priests. 36 Behold their two sons are with them there, Ahimaaz, Zadok's son and Jonathan, Abiathar's son; and by them you shall send me everything that you hear." 37 So Hushai, David's friend, came into the city, and Absalom came into Jerusalem.
16 Ziba, a False Servant
1 Now when David had passed a little beyond the summit, behold, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth met him with a couple of saddled donkeys, and on them were two hundred loaves of bread, a hundred clusters of raisins, a hundred summer fruits, and a jug of wine. 2 The king said to Ziba, "Why do you have these?" And Ziba said, "The donkeys are for the king's household to ride, and the bread and summer fruit for the young men to eat, and the wine, for whoever is faint in the wilderness to drink." 3 Then the king said, "And where is your master's son?" And Ziba said to the king, "Behold, he is staying in Jerusalem, for he said, `Today the house of Israel will restore the kingdom of my father to me.'" 4 So the king said to Ziba, "Behold, all that belongs to Mephibosheth is yours." And Ziba said, "I prostrate myself; let me find favor in your sight, O my lord, the king!"
David Is Cursed
5 When King David came to Bahurim, behold, there came out from there a man of the family of the house of Saul whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera; he came out cursing continually as he came. 6 He threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David; and all the people and all the mighty men were at his right hand and at his left. 7 Thus Shimei said when he cursed, "Get out, get out, you man of bloodshed, and worthless fellow! 8 The LORD has returned upon you all the bloodshed of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned; and the LORD has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. And behold, you are taken in your own evil, for you are a man of bloodshed!"
9 Then Abishai the son of Zeruiah said to the king, "Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over now and cut off his head." 10 But the king said, "What have I to do with you, O sons of Zeruiah? If he curses, and if the LORD has told him, `Curse David,' then who shall say, `Why have you done so?'" 11 Then David said to Abishai and to all his servants, "Behold, my son who came out from me seeks my life; how much more now this Benjamite? Let him alone and let him curse, for the LORD has told him. 12 Perhaps the LORD will look on my affliction and return good to me instead of his cursing this day." 13 So David and his men went on the way; and Shimei went along on the hillside parallel with him and as he went he cursed and cast stones and threw dust at him. 14 The king and all the people who were with him arrived weary and he refreshed himself there.
Absalom Enters Jerusalem
15 Then Absalom and all the people, the men of Israel, entered Jerusalem, and Ahithophel with him. 16 Now it came about when Hushai the Archite, David's friend, came to Absalom, that Hushai said to Absalom, "Long live the king! Long live the king!" 17 Absalom said to Hushai, "Is this your loyalty to your friend? Why did you not go with your friend?" 18 Then Hushai said to Absalom, "No! For whom the LORD, this people, and all the men of Israel have chosen, his I will be, and with him I will remain. 19 Besides, whom should I serve? Should I not serve in the presence of his son? As I have served in your father's presence, so I will be in your presence."
20 Then Absalom said to Ahithophel, "Give your advice. What shall we do?" 21 Ahithophel said to Absalom, "Go in to your father's concubines, whom he has left to keep the house; then all Israel will hear that you have made yourself odious to your father. The hands of all who are with you will also be strengthened." 22 So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the roof, and Absalom went in to his father's concubines in the sight of all Israel. 23 The advice of Ahithophel, which he gave in those days, was as if one inquired of the word of God; so was all the advice of Ahithophel regarded by both David and Absalom.