2 Kingdoms 14, 15
1 Joab the son of Zeruiah perceived that the king’s heart was inclined toward Absalom. 2 So Joab sent to Tekoa and took from there a wise woman. He said to her, “Now mourn and put on apparel for mourning. Do not anoint yourself with olive oil, and be like a woman who is mourning for the dead a long time. 3 Then go to the king and repeat the words I give you.” So Joab put the words in her mouth.
4 And as the woman of Tekoa spoke to the king, she put her face to the ground and prostrated herself and said, “Help me, O king, help me!” 5 Then the king said to her, “What troubles you?” And she answered, “Indeed I am a widow. My husband is dead. 6 Now your handmaid had two sons, and the two fought with each other in the field, and there was no one to part them, but the one struck his brother and killed him. 7 And now the whole family has risen up against your handmaid and said, ‘Deliver him who struck his brother, so we may execute him for the life of his brother whom he killed. We will destroy your heir as well.’ So they will extinguish my ember that is left, and leave neither name nor remnant on the earth to my husband.”
8 Then the king said, “Go in peace to your house, and I will give orders concerning you.” 9 And the woman of Tekoa said to the king, “My lord king, let the iniquity be on me and on my father’s house. Let the king and his throne be guiltless.” 10 So the king said, “Who said this to you? Bring him to me, and he will no longer have influence over you.” 11 Then she said, “Indeed, remember, O king, let the Lord God prevail lest the blood of my kinsmen be utterly destroyed. Let not one of them by any means take away my son.” And he said, “As the Lord lives, not one hair of your son shall fall to the ground.”
12 Therefore the woman said, “May your handmaid speak another word to my lord the king?” And he said, “Speak.” 13 So the woman responded, “Why do you sometimes consider such a thing against the people of God? Truly, this message comes from the mouth of the king as an error, for the king does not bring back his son from being banished. 14 For as we will surely die and be spilled on the ground like water that cannot be gathered together on its own, so too God shall take away life, even as He is taking into account the ones being banished from Him. 15 Now I come to speak this message to my lord the king, so the people may see me and say that your handmaid indeed spoke to the king—if somehow the king will fulfill the request of his handmaid. 16 For the king will hear and deliver his handmaid from the hand of the man who seeks to cast me and my son from the inheritance of God.” 17 And the woman said, “May the word of my lord the king be as an offering. For as an angel of the Lord, thus does my lord and king hear the good and the evil; and the Lord your God will be with you.”
18 Then the king answered and said to the woman, “Hide nothing from me that I ask of you.” And the woman said, “Let my lord the king speak.” 19 So the king said, “Is not the hand of Joab in all this with you?” And the woman said to the king, “O my lord the king, as your soul lives, there is no turning to the right hand or to the left from any of the words my lord the king speaks. Your servant Joab commanded me, putting all these words in the mouth of your handmaid. 20 Your servant Joab did this to bring about this change of affairs, but my lord is wise according to the wisdom of an angel of God, and knows everything on the earth.”
21 And the king said to Joab, “All right, I have done this request of yours for you. Go and bring back the young man Absalom.” 22 Then Joab fell to the ground on his face and bowed himself and blessed the king. And Joab said, “Today your servant knows that I have found favor in your sight, my lord king, because the king has fulfilled his servant’s request.” 23 So Joab arose and went to Geshur and brought Absalom to Jerusalem. 24 And the king said, “Let him return to his own house, but do not let him see my face.” So Absalom returned to his own house but did not see the king’s face.
Absalom Reconciles with His Father
25 Now in all Israel there was no one praised as much as Absalom. From the sole of his foot to the crown of his head, there was no blemish in him. 26 And when he cut the hair of his head—at the beginning of every year he cut it because it was heavy on him—he weighed the hair of his head at two hundred shekels according to the king’s standard. 27 To Absalom were born three sons, and one daughter whose name was Tamar. She was a woman of beautiful appearance, and she became the wife of Rehoboam, son of Solomon, and she bore to him Abijah.
28 Absalom dwelt for two full years in Jerusalem, but did not see the king’s face. 29 Therefore Absalom requested that Joab send him to the king, but he would not come to him. And when he sent again the second time, he would not come. 30 So Absalom said to his servants, “See, a portion of Joab’s field is near mine, and he has barley there. Go and set it on fire.” So Absalom’s servants set it on fire. Then Joab’s servants went to him with their clothes torn and said, “Absalom’s servants set your portion on fire.” 31 Then Joab arose and came to Absalom’s house and said to him, “Why did your servants set my portion on fire?” 32 And Absalom answered Joab, “Look, I sent to you saying, ‘Come here,’ so I may send you to the king to say, ‘Why have I come from Geshur? It would be better for me to be there still.’ Now therefore, I have not seen the king’s face; but if there is iniquity in me, let him execute me.”
33 So Joab went to the king and told him. And he called for Absalom, and he came to the king and bowed and fell on his face to the ground before the king. Then the king kissed Absalom.
The Treason of Absalom
1 After this Absalom provided himself with chariots and horses and fifty men to run before him. 2 Now Absalom would rise early and stand beside the entrance to the gate. So it was that whenever anyone who had a lawsuit came to the king for a decision, Absalom would call to him and say, “What city are you from?” And the man would say, “Your servant is from such and such a tribe of Israel.” 3 Then Absalom would say to him, “Look, your case is good and right; but there is no one to grant you a hearing before the king.” 4 And Absalom said, “Who will appoint me as judge in the land, so everyone who has any dispute or cause will come to me? I will give him justice.” 5 And so it was, when anyone came near to him to bow down in respect, he would put out his hand and take him and kiss him. 6 Absalom acted in this manner toward all Israelites who came to the king for judgment. Absalom won over the hearts of the men of Israel.
7 Four years later Absalom said to his father, “I am going to Hebron to fulfill the vow I made to the Lord. 8 For your servant took a vow while I dwelt at Geshur in Syria, saying, ‘If the Lord brings me back to Jerusalem, then I will serve the Lord.’ ” 9 And the king said to him, “Go in peace.” So he arose and went to Hebron. 10 Then 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 reigns as king in Hebron!’ ” 11 And Absalom invited two hundred men who went with him from Jerusalem. They went along innocently and knew nothing in particular. 12 Then Absalom sent for and called Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counselor, from his city, from Giloh, where he was offering sacrifices. And the conspiracy grew strong, for there were many people who went with Absalom.
David Flees Jerusalem
13 Now a messenger came to David, saying, “The hearts of the men of Israel are following Absalom.” 14 So David said to all his servants who were with him at Jerusalem, “Arise, and let us flee. There is no refuge for us before Absalom. Make haste to depart, so he does not drive us out and bring disaster upon us and strike the city with the edge of the sword.” 15 And the king’s servants said to the king, “We are your servants, ready to do whatever our lord the king commands.” 16 Then the king went out on foot with all his household. But the king left ten women of his concubines to guard the house.
17 And the king went out with all his people on foot, and lodged in a distant house. 18 Then all his servants passed before him, even the Cherethites and all the Pelethites, and they stayed among the olive trees in the desert. All the people walked near him with his court, all the strong men, and all the six hundred men of the army present by his side. And all the Cherethites and all the Pelethites and all the Gathites totaled six hundred men who followed him from Gath on foot, who went ahead of the king. 19 Then the king said to Ittai the Gathite, “Why do you also travel with us? Return and remain with the king, for you are a foreigner and an exile from your own place. 20 In fact, you came only yesterday. Should I move you with us and cause you to flee from your place? You left yesterday. Shall I make you sojourn with us today as well? For indeed I will go wherever I wish to go. So return, and take your brethren back with you. May the Lord treat you with mercy and truth.”
21 And Ittai answered the king and said, “As the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king goes, to death or to life, your servant will be there as well.” 22 So the king said to Ittai, “Go and cross over with me.” Then Ittai the Gathite and all his men and all the crowd who were with him crossed over. 23 And all the country wept with a loud voice, and all the people crossed over the Brook Kidron. The king himself crossed over the Brook Kidron, and all the people crossed over toward the way of the desert.
24 And there was Zadok and all the Levites with him, bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lord from Bethor. And they set down the ark of God, and Abiathar went up until all the people finished crossing over from the city. 25 Then the king said to Zadok, “Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the eyes of the Lord, He will bring me back and show me both it and its majesty. 26 But if He says thus, ‘I have no delight in you,’ behold, here I am, let Him do to me as seems good to Him.” 27 The king also said to Zadok the priest, “Look, return to the city in peace along with your two sons, Ahimaaz your son, and Jonathan the son of Abiathar. 28 Take notice, I will continue to wait in Araboth, in the plains of the desert, until word comes from you to let me know.” 29 Therefore Zadok and Abiathar carried the ark back to Jerusalem, and they remained there.
30 So David went up by the ascent of the Mount of Olives and wept as he went up. His head was covered and he went up barefoot. And of the people with him, each of the men covered his head and went up, weeping as they went. 31 Then someone told David, saying, “Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.” And David said, “Lord, my God, defeat the counsel of Ahithophel!”
32 Now it happened, when David came to the top of the mountain, where he worshipped God, Hushai the Archite, David’s companion, was coming to meet him with his robe torn and dust on his head. 33 David said to him, “If you go on with me, then you will become a burden to me. 34 But if you return to the city and say to Absalom, ‘Your brothers crossed over, and the king your father crossed over behind me. Now I am your servant, O king; let me live. As I was previously the servant of your father, so I will now be your servant. So reject the counsel of Ahithophel for me.’ 35 Indeed, Zadok and Abiather the priests will be there, so whatever you hear from the king’s house, tell the priests. 36 Indeed Zadok and Abiathar have their two sons there with them, Ahimaaz, Zadok’s son, and Jonathan, Abiathar’s son. By them you shall send me everything you hear.” 37 So Hushai, David’s companion, went into the city. And Absalom entered Jerusalem.
1 For the day before the Sabbath, when the earth was settled; the praise of an ode by David.
The Lord reigns; He clothed Himself with majesty;
The Lord clothed and girded Himself with power;
And He established the world, which shall not be moved.
2 Your throne is prepared from of old;
You are from everlasting.
3 The rivers, O Lord, lift up;
The rivers lift up their voices;
4 Because of the voices of their many waters,
Marvelous are the billows of the sea;
Wondrous is the Lord on high.
5 Your testimonies are very much believed;
Holiness is proper to Your house, O Lord,
Unto length of days.
1 Wine is an intemperate thing, and strong drink is full of violence;
And all who commingle with it will not be wise.
2 The threat of a king does not differ from the anger of a lion,
And he who provokes him sins against his own soul.
3 It is glory for a man to turn away from reproaches,
But every man without discernment is entangled with such things.
4 A lazy man who is reproached feels no shame;
Likewise also is he who borrows bread in harvest.
5 Counsel is deep water in the heart of a man,
And a man with discernment will draw it out.
11 Then He said: “A certain man had two sons.
12 “And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood.
13 “And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living.
14 “But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want.
15 “Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
16 “And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.
17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
18 ‘I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you,
19 “and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.” ’
20 “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.
21 “And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet.
23 ‘And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry;
24 ‘for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.
25 “Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing.
26 “So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant.
27 “And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’
28 “But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him.
29 “So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends.
30 ‘But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’
31 “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours.
32 ‘It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’ ”