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Absalom The Ungrateful Son





Some time later Absalom, David's son, prepared a chariot and horses and
fifty men to run before him. He used to rise early and stand beside the
highway which led to the city gate. He would call to him every man who
had a suit that was to come before the ruler for judgment and say, "Of
what city are you?" When the man replied, "Your servant is from one of
the tribes of Israel," Absalom would say to him, "Your claims are good
and right; but the ruler has not appointed any one to hear you. Oh, that
some one would make me judge in the land, so that every man who has any
complaint or cause would come to me, and I would see that he received
justice!" And whenever a man came near to bow before him, he would put
out his hand and take hold of him and kiss him. In this way Absalom
treated all the Israelites who came to David for justice. Thus, Absalom
stole from David the hearts of the Israelites.

At the end of four years, Absalom said to his father, "I should like to
go and keep my promise, which I have made to Jehovah in Hebron." David
said to him, "Go in peace." So he went to Hebron; but Absalom sent
messengers to all the tribes of Israel to say, "As soon as you hear the
sound of the trumpet, cry, 'Absalom has become ruler in Hebron.'" With
Absalom there went two hundred men from Jerusalem, who were invited and
went innocently, knowing nothing at all of what he was going to do.
Absalom also sent for Ahithophel, David's adviser, from the city of
Giloh, while he was offering the sacrifices. And the plot was strong,
for more and more people kept going over to Absalom.

When a messenger came to David, saying, "The hearts of the men of Israel
have gone over to Absalom," David said to all his servants who were with
him at Jerusalem, "Up, let us flee; for, if we do not, none of us will
escape from Absalom. Go at once, or he may quickly overtake us and bring
evil upon us and kill the people of the city." Then David's servants
said to him, "It shall be done as our lord wishes; we are your
servants."

So David and all the people who followed him went out and stood at the
last house, while all the officers and the royal body-guard and all the
men of Ittai the Gittite, the six hundred who had followed him from
Gath, passed on before him.

Then David said to Ittai, "Why do you also go with us? Go back and stay
with the new ruler, for you are a foreigner and away from your own land.
Yesterday you came, and to-day shall I make you go up and down the land
with us, while I go where I may? Go back and take your men with you, and
may Jehovah show you kindness and faithfulness." But Ittai answered, "As
surely as Jehovah lives and as my lord the ruler of Israel lives,
wherever my lord is, whether dead or living, there your servant will
be!" David said to Ittai, "March on." So Ittai marched on with all his
men and with all the children who were with him.

All the people were weeping aloud while David stood in the Kidron
valley, and they went by before him on the way to the wilderness. And
Zadok and Abiathar came carrying the ark of Jehovah and set it down
until all the people had passed. Then David said to Zadok, "Carry the
ark of God back into the city. If I win Jehovah's favor, he will bring
me back and show me both it and the place where he dwells. But if he
declares, 'I have no trust in you, then here am I, let him do to me as
he thinks best.'" So Zadok and Abiathar carried the ark of God back to
Jerusalem and stayed there.

But David went up, weeping as he climbed the Mount of Olives with his
head covered and his feet bare. All the people who were with him covered
their heads and went up, weeping as they went.

And when David came to the summit, where one worships God, Hushai the
Archite with his garment torn and earth upon his head, came to meet him.
David said to him, "If you go on with me you will be a burden to me. But
if you go back to the city, and say to Absalom, 'Your brothers have gone
away and your father has gone after them; I will be your servant, O
king; as I have been your father's servant in the past, so now I will be
your servant,' you can defeat for me the advice of Ahithophel. And have
you not there with you Zadok and Abiathar the priests? See, they have
there with them their two sons, Ahimaaz, Zadok's son, and Jonathan,
Abiathar's son. By them you shall send word to me of everything that you
hear." So Hushai, David's friend, went into the city, when Absalom came
to Jerusalem.

Then David and all the people who were with him, reached the Jordan
tired out, but he refreshed himself there.

And Absalom, with all the men of Israel, came to Jerusalem, and
Ahithophel was with him. When Hushai, David's friend, came to Absalom,
Hushai said to him, "May the king live, may the king live!" But Absalom
said to Hushai, "Is this your love for your friend? Why did you not go
with your friend?" Hushai answered, "No! to him whom Jehovah and his
people and all the men of Israel have chosen, to him will I belong and
with him will I stay. Also whom should I serve? Should it not be his
son? As I have served your father, so will I serve you."

The advice which Ahithophel gave in those days was thought by David and
Absalom to be the same as if it had come from God himself. And
Ahithophel said to Absalom, "Let me now pick out twelve thousand men,
and set out and follow David to-night. Thus I will come upon him when he
is tired and weak and will frighten him, and all the people who are with
him will flee. Then I will kill only the king, and I will bring back all
the people to you as the bride turns to her husband. Seek only the life
of one man, and all the people will be at peace." This advice pleased
Absalom and all the leaders of Israel.

Then Absalom said, "Call now Hushai and let us hear also what he has to
say." When Hushai came to Absalom, Absalom said to him, "Thus Ahithophel
has spoken; shall we act as he advises? If not, you advise us." Then
Hushai said to Absalom, "The advice that Ahithophel has given this time
is not good. You know that your father and his men are mighty warriors
and are now angry, like a bear robbed of her cubs. Your father is also a
soldier and will not stay at night with the people. Even now he has
hidden himself in one of the caves or in some other place. If some of
the people fall at first, whoever hears it will say, 'There is a
slaughter among the people who follow Absalom.' Then even he who is
brave, whose heart is like the heart of a lion, will completely lose
courage; for all Israel knows that your father is a great warrior, and
they who are with him are brave men. But I advise, let all the
Israelites be gathered to you, from Dan to Beersheba, as many as the
sand that is by the sea, with you yourself marching in the midst of
them. In this way we will come upon him in some place where he will be
found, and we will fall upon him as the dew falls on the ground; and of
him and of all the men who are with him not even one shall be left. If
he goes into a city, then all Israel will bring ropes to that city, and
we will pull it down into the valley, until not even a small stone is
found there."

Absalom and all the men of Israel said, "The advice of Hushai is better
than the advice of Ahithophel." For Jehovah had planned to defeat the
good advice of Ahithophel, so that Jehovah might bring evil upon
Absalom.

Then Hushai said to Zadok and to Abiathar the priests, "This is what
Ahithophel advised Absalom and the leaders of Israel; and this is what I
advised. So now send quickly and say to David, 'Do not spend this night
at the fords of the wilderness, but by all means cross over, for fear
that David and all the people with him be killed.'"

Now Jonathan and Ahimaaz were staying at Enrogel; and a maid-servant was
to go and bring them news, and they were to go and tell David, for they
must not be seen coming into the city. But a boy saw them and told
Absalom. Then they both went away quickly and entered into the house of
a man in Bahurim, who had a well in his courtyard into which they
descended. The women took and spread the covering over the mouth of the
well, and scattered dried fruit upon it, so that nothing was known. And
when Absalom's servants came to the woman at the house and said, "Where
are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?" the woman answered, "They have gone over the
brook." When they had searched and could find nothing, they returned to
Jerusalem.

But as soon as the men had gone away, Ahimaaz and Jonathan came up out
of the well, and went and told David and said, "Get up, cross quickly
over the water, for so has Ahithophel advised in regard to you." Then
David and all the people who were with him rose and crossed the Jordan.
By daybreak there was not one left behind.





Next: A Broken-hearted Father

Previous: A Rich Man Who Was A Thief



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