2 Samuel 18:19-33
David Mourns Over Absalom
Ahimaaz, the son of Zadok, said to Joab, “Let me run and take the news to the king. Let me tell him that the Lord has shown that David is in the right. The Lord has done this by saving David from his enemies.”
“I don’t want you to take the news to the king today,” Joab told him. “You can do it some other time. But you must not do it today, because the king’s son is dead.”
Then Joab said to a man from Cush, “Go. Tell the king what you have seen.” The man bowed down in front of Joab. Then he ran off.
Ahimaaz, the son of Zadok, spoke again to Joab. He said, “I don’t care what happens to me. Please let me run behind the man from Cush.”
But Joab replied, “My son, why do you want to go? You don’t have any news that will bring you a reward.”
He said, “I don’t care what happens. I want to run.”
So Joab said, “Run!” Then Ahimaaz ran across the plain of the Jordan River. As he ran, he passed the man from Cush.
David was sitting in the area between the inner and outer gates of the city. The man on guard duty went up to the roof over the entrance of the gate by the wall. As he looked out, he saw someone running alone. The guard called out to the king and reported it.
The king said, “If the runner is alone, he must be bringing good news.” The runner came closer and closer.
Then the man on guard duty saw another runner. He called out to the man guarding the gate. He said, “Look! There’s another man running alone!”
The king said, “He must be bringing good news too.”
The man on guard duty said, “I can see that the first one runs like Ahimaaz, the son of Zadok.”
“He’s a good man,” the king said. “He’s bringing good news.”
Then Ahimaaz called out to the king, “Everything’s all right!” He bowed down in front of the king with his face toward the ground. He said, “You are my king and master. Give praise to the Lord your God! He has handed over to you those who lifted their hands to kill you.”
The king asked, “Is the young man Absalom safe?”
Ahimaaz answered, “I saw total disorder. I saw it just as Joab was about to send the king’s servant and me to you. But I don’t know what it was all about.”
The king said, “Stand over there and wait.” So he stepped over to one side and stood there.
Then the man from Cush arrived. He said, “You are my king and master. I’m bringing you some good news. The Lord has shown that you are in the right. He has done this by rescuing you today from all those trying to kill you.”
The king asked the man from Cush, “Is the young man Absalom safe?”
The man replied, “King David, may your enemies be like that young man. May all those who rise up to harm you be like him.”
The king was very upset. He went up to the room over the entrance of the gate and wept. As he went, he said, “My son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! I wish I had died instead of you. Absalom! My son, my son!”
2 Samuel 19
Someone told Joab, “The king is weeping and mourning for Absalom. He’s filled with sadness because his son has died.” The army had won a great battle that day. But their joy turned into sadness. That’s because someone had told the troops, “The king is filled with sorrow because his son is dead.” The men came quietly into the city that day. They were like fighting men who are ashamed because they’ve run away from a battle. The king covered his face. He cried loudly, “My son Absalom! Absalom, my son, my son!”
Then Joab went into the king’s house. He said to him, “Today you have made all your men feel ashamed. They have just saved your life. They have saved the lives of your sons and daughters. And they have saved the lives of your wives and concubines. You love those who hate you. You hate those who love you. The commanders and their troops don’t mean anything to you. You made that very clear today. I can see that you would be pleased if Absalom were alive today and all of us were dead. Now go out there and cheer up your men. If you don’t, you won’t have any of them left with you by sunset. That will be worse for you than all the troubles you have ever had in your whole life. That’s what I promise you in the Lord’s name.”
So the king got up and took his seat in the entrance of the city gate. His men were told, “The king is sitting in the entrance of the gate.” Then all of them came and stood in front of him.
While all of that was going on, the Israelites had run back to their homes.
David Returns to Jerusalem
People from all the tribes of Israel began to argue among themselves. They were saying, “The king saved us from the power of our enemies. He saved us from the power of the Philistines. But now he has left the country to escape from Absalom. We anointed Absalom to rule over us. But he has died in battle. So why aren’t any of you talking about bringing the king back?”
King David sent a message to Zadok and Abiathar, the priests. David said, “Speak to the elders of Judah. Tell them I said, ‘News has reached me where I’m staying. People all over Israel are talking about bringing me back to my palace. Why should you be the last to do something about it? You are my relatives. You are my own flesh and blood. So why should you be the last to bring me back?’ Say to Amasa, ‘Aren’t you my own flesh and blood? You will be the commander of my army for life in place of Joab. If that isn’t true, may God punish me greatly.’ ”
So the hearts of all the men of Judah were turned toward David. All of them had the same purpose in mind. They sent a message to the king. They said, “We want you to come back. We want all your men to come back too.” Then the king returned. He went as far as the Jordan River.
The men of Judah had come to Gilgal to welcome the king back. They had come to bring him across the Jordan. Shimei, the son of Gera, was among them. Shimei was from Bahurim in the territory of Benjamin. He hurried down to welcome King David back. There were 1,000 people from Benjamin with him. Ziba, the manager of Saul’s house, was with him too. And so were Ziba’s 15 sons and 20 servants. All of them rushed down to the Jordan River. That’s where the king was. They went across at the place where people usually cross it. Then they brought the king’s family back over with them. They were ready to do anything he wanted them to do.
Shimei, the son of Gera, had also gone across the Jordan. When he did, he fell down flat with his face toward the ground in front of the king. He said to him, “You are my king and master. Please don’t hold me guilty. Please forgive me for the wrong things I did on the day you left Jerusalem. Please forget all about them. I know I’ve sinned. But today I’ve come down here to welcome you. I’m the first member of Joseph’s whole family to do it.”
Then Abishai, the son of Zeruiah, said, “Shouldn’t Shimei be put to death for what he did? He cursed you. And you are the Lord’s anointed king.”
But David replied, “You and Joab are sons of Zeruiah. What does this have to do with you? What right do you have to interfere? Should anyone be put to death in Israel today? Don’t I know that today I am king over Israel again?” So the king made a promise to Shimei. He said to him, “You aren’t going to be put to death.”
Mephibosheth was Saul’s grandson. He had also gone down to welcome the king back. He had not taken care of his feet. He hadn’t trimmed his mustache or washed his clothes. He hadn’t done any of those things from the day the king left Jerusalem until the day he returned safely. He came from Jerusalem to welcome the king. The king asked him, “Mephibosheth, why didn’t you go with me?”
He said, “You are my king and master. I’m not able to walk. So I thought, ‘I’ll have a saddle put on my donkey. I’ll ride on it. Then I can go with the king.’ But my servant Ziba turned against me. He has told you lies about me. King David, you are like an angel of God. So do what you wish. You should have put all the members of my grandfather’s family to death, including me. Instead, you always provided what I needed. So what right do I have to make any more appeals to you?”
The king said to him, “You don’t have to say anything else. I order you and Ziba to divide up Saul’s land between you.”
Mephibosheth said to the king, “I’m happy that you have returned home safely. So just let Ziba have everything.”
Barzillai had also come down to go across the Jordan River with the king. He wanted to send the king on his way from there. Barzillai was from Rogelim in the land of Gilead. He was very old. He was 80 years old. He had given the king everything he needed while the king was staying in Mahanaim. That’s because Barzillai was very wealthy. The king said to Barzillai, “Come across the river with me. Stay with me in Jerusalem. I’ll take good care of you.”
But Barzillai said to the king, “I won’t live for many more years. So why should I go up to Jerusalem with you? I’m already 80 years old. I can hardly tell the difference between what is enjoyable and what isn’t. I can hardly taste what I eat and drink. I can’t even hear the voices of male and female singers anymore. So why should I add my problems to yours? I’ll go across the Jordan River with you for a little way. Why should you reward me by taking care of me? Let me go back home. Then I can die in my own town. I can be buried there in the tomb of my father and mother. But let Kimham take my place. Let him go across the river with you. Do for him whatever you wish.”
The king said, “Kimham will go across with me. I’ll do for him whatever you wish. And I’ll do for you anything you wish.”
So all the people went across the Jordan River. Then the king crossed over. The king kissed Barzillai and said goodbye to him. And Barzillai went back home.
After the king had gone across the river, he went to Gilgal. Kimham had gone across with him. All the troops of Judah and half of the troops of Israel had taken the king across.
Soon all the men of Israel were coming to the king. They were saying to him, “Why did the men of Judah take you away from us? They are our relatives. What right did they have to bring you and your family across the Jordan River? What right did they have to bring all your men over with you?”
All the men of Judah answered the men of Israel. They said, “We did that because the king is our close relative. So why should you be angry about what happened? Have we eaten any of the king’s food? Have we taken anything for ourselves?”
Then the men of Israel answered the men of Judah. They said, “We have ten of the 12 tribes in the kingdom. So we have a stronger claim on David than you have. Why then are you acting as if you hate us? Weren’t we the first ones to talk about bringing back our king?”
But the men of Judah argued their side even more forcefully than the men of Israel.