2 Samuel 18:19-33
David Is Grief-stricken
Then Ahimaaz the son of Zadok, said, “Let me run and bring the king news that the Lord has vindicated him by rescuing him from [the power of] his enemies.” But Joab told him, “You are not the man to carry news [to King David] today, but you shall carry news another day. On this day you shall carry no news, because the king’s son is dead.” Then Joab said to the Cushite (Ethiopian), “Go, tell the king what you have seen.” And the Cushite bowed to Joab and ran. Then Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said again to Joab, “But whatever happens, please let me also run after the Cushite.” Joab said, “Why should you run, my son, seeing you will have no messenger’s reward for going [because you have only bad news]?” “But whatever happens, Let me run.” So Joab said to him, “Run.” Then Ahimaaz ran by the way of the plain [of the Jordan River] and outran the Cushite.
Now David was sitting between the two gates; and the lookout went up to the roof of the gate by the wall, and when he raised his eyes and looked, he saw a man running alone. The lookout called down and told the king. The king said, “If he is alone, he has good news to tell.” And he came nearer and nearer. Then the lookout saw another man running, and he called to the gatekeeper and said, “Look, another man running alone.” The king said, “He also is bringing good news.” The lookout said, “I think the man in front runs like Ahimaaz the son of Zadok.” The king said, “He is a good man and is coming with good news.”
And Ahimaaz called out and said to the king, “[a]All is well.” And he bowed before the king with his face to the ground and said, “Blessed be the Lord your God, who has handed over the men who lifted up their hands [to fight] against my lord the king.” The king asked, “Is the young man Absalom safe?” Ahimaaz answered, “When Joab sent the king’s servant, and your servant, I saw a great turmoil, but I do not know what it was about.” The king told him, “Step aside; stand here.” And he stepped aside and stood still.
Behold, the Cushite (Ethiopian) arrived, and said, “Let my lord the king receive good news, for the Lord has vindicated you today by rescuing you from the hand (power) of all those who stood against you.” The king asked the Cushite, “Is the young man Absalom [my son] safe?” The Cushite replied, “May the enemies of my lord the king, and all those who rise against you to do evil, be [dead] like that young man is.”
[b]The king was deeply moved and went to the upper room over the gate and wept [in sorrow]. And this is what he said as he walked: “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! [c]How I wish that I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!”
- 2 Samuel 18:28 Lit Peace (Heb Shalom).
- 2 Samuel 18:33 In the Hebrew text, ch 19 begins with this verse.
- 2 Samuel 18:33 Lit Would that.
2 Samuel 19
Joab Reproves David’s Lament
It was told to Joab, “Behold, the king is weeping and mourning for Absalom.” So the victory on that day was turned into mourning for all the people, for the people heard it said on that day, “The king grieves for his son.” The people stole into the city [of Mahanaim] that day, as people who are humiliated and ashamed steal away when they retreat in battle. But the king covered his face and cried out with a loud voice, “O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!” Then Joab came into the house to the king and said, “Today you have put all your servants to shame who this day have saved your life and the lives of your sons and your daughters, and the lives of your wives and [a]concubines. For you love those who hate you and hate those who love you. For you have shown today that commanders and servants are nothing to you; for today I know that if Absalom had lived and all the rest of us had died today, then you would be pleased. So now stand up, go out and speak kindly and encouragingly to your servants; for I swear by the Lord that if you do not go out, not a man will stay with you tonight. And this will be worse for you than all the evil that has come upon you from your youth until now.”
David Restored as King
Then the king stood and sat at the gate [of Mahanaim]. And they told all the people, “The king is sitting at the gate,” and all the people came before the king.
But Israel [Absalom’s troops] had fled, every man to his tent. All the people were quarreling throughout the tribes of Israel, saying, “The king rescued us from the hands of our enemies, and he saved us from the hands of the Philistines, but now he has fled out of the land from Absalom. And Absalom, whom we anointed over us, has died in battle. So now, why are you [leaders] doing nothing about bringing back the king?”
Then King David sent word to Zadok and to Abiathar the priests, saying, “Say to the elders of Judah, ‘Why are you the last to bring the king back to his house [in Jerusalem], since the word of all Israel has come to the king, and to his house? You are my brothers (relatives, relations); you are my bone and my flesh. Why then are you the last to bring back the king?’ Say to Amasa [the commander of Absalom’s troops], ‘Are you not my bone and my flesh? May God do so to me, and more also, if you will not be commander of my army from now on in place of Joab.’” In this way he changed the hearts of all the men of Judah as one man, so they sent word to the king, “Return, you and all your [b]servants.” So David returned and came to the Jordan. And [supporters from] Judah came to Gilgal to meet the king, to escort him across the Jordan.
Then Shimei the son of Gera, a Benjamite of Bahurim, hurried and came down with the men [from the tribe of] of Judah to meet King David, and a thousand men [from the tribe] of Benjamin with him. And Ziba, the servant of the house of Saul, and his fifteen sons and twenty servants with him, rushed down to the Jordan before the king. Then they [repeatedly] crossed the ford to bring over the king’s household (family), and to do what pleased him. And Shimei the son of Gera fell down before the king as he was about to cross the Jordan, and said to the king, “Let not my lord consider me guilty, nor remember what your servant did [c]wrong on the day my lord the king left Jerusalem, so that the king would take it to heart. For your servant knows that I have sinned; therefore, behold, I have come today, the first of all the [d]house of Joseph to come down to meet my lord the king.” But Abishai the son of Zeruiah said, “Should not Shimei be put to death for this, because he cursed the Lord’s anointed?” David said, “What [e]business is this of yours, you sons of Zeruiah, that you should be an adversary to me today? Should anyone be put to death in Israel today? For do I not know that today I am king over Israel?” Therefore the king said to Shimei, “You shall not be put to death.” And so the king gave him his promise.
Then Mephibosheth the [grand]son of Saul came down to meet the king, but he had not cared for his feet, nor trimmed his mustache, nor washed his clothes from the day the king left until the day he returned in peace and safety. And when he came to Jerusalem to meet the king, the king said to him, “Why did you not go with me, Mephibosheth?” He said, “My lord the king, my servant [Ziba] betrayed me; for I said, ‘Saddle a donkey for me so that I may ride on it and go with the king,’ for your servant is lame [but he took the donkeys and left without me]. Further, he has slandered your servant to my lord the king; but my lord the king is like the angel of God; so do what is good in your eyes. For were not all of my father’s household (family) nothing but dead men before my lord the king; yet you set your servant among those who ate at your own table. So what right do I still have to cry out anymore to the king [for help]?” The king said to him, “Why speak anymore of your affairs? I have said, ‘You and Ziba shall divide the land.’” Mephibosheth said to the king, “Let him even take it all, since my lord the king has returned to his own house in safety and peace.”
Now Barzillai the Gileadite came down from Rogelim and went on to the Jordan with the king to escort him over the Jordan. Barzillai was a very old man, eighty years old; and he had provided the king with food while he stayed at Mahanaim, for he was a very great and wealthy man. The king said to Barzillai, “Cross over with me and I will provide for you in Jerusalem with me.” But Barzillai said to the king, “How much longer have I to live, that I should go up with the king to Jerusalem? I am this day eighty years old. Can I [be useful to advise you to] discern between good and bad? Can your servant taste what I eat or drink? Can I still hear the voices of singing men and women? Why then should your servant be an added burden to my lord the king? Your servant would merely cross over the Jordan with the king. Why should the king compensate me with this reward? Please let your servant return, so that I may die in my own city [and be buried] by the grave of my father and mother. But here is your servant Chimham [my son]; let him cross over with my lord the king, and do for him what seems good to you.” The king answered, “Chimham shall cross over with me, and I will do for him what seems good to you; and whatever you ask of me, I will do for you.” So all the people crossed over the Jordan. When the king had crossed over, he kissed Barzillai and blessed him, and he returned to his place.
Then the king went on to Gilgal, and Chimham went on with him; and all the people of Judah and also half the people of Israel accompanied the king. And all the men of Israel came to the king and said to him, “Why have our brothers (relatives), the men [from the tribe] of Judah, stolen you away and brought the king and his household and all David’s men with him over the Jordan [instead of waiting for us to arrive]?” Then all the men of Judah answered the men of Israel, “Because the king is a close relative to us. So why then are you angry about this matter? Have we eaten at all at the king’s expense? Or has anything been taken for us?” Then the men of [f]Israel answered the men of Judah, “We have ten [tribes’] shares in the king, and we have more claim on David than you. Why then did you treat us with contempt and ignore us [by rushing ahead]? Were we not the first to speak of bringing back our king?” [g]But the words of the men of Judah were harsher than those of the men of Israel.
- 2 Samuel 19:5 See note Gen 22:24.
- 2 Samuel 19:14 See note 15:14.
- 2 Samuel 19:19 Shimei’s insulting behavior is recorded in 16:5-8.
- 2 Samuel 19:20 A general reference to the ten northern tribes. The most important tribes in the north descended from Ephraim and Manasseh, Joseph’s sons.
- 2 Samuel 19:22 Lit to me and to you.
- 2 Samuel 19:43 I.e. the ten tribes of the north.
- 2 Samuel 19:43 This tribal dispute led to the revolt of Sheba.