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2 Samuel New Living Translation (NLT)
David Learns of Sauls Death
1After the death of Saul, David returned from his victory over the Amalekites and spent two days in Ziklag. 2On the third day after David's return, a man arrived from the Israelite battlefront. He had torn his clothes and put dirt on his head to show that he was in mourning. He fell to the ground before David in deep respect.
3"Where have you come from?" David asked.
"I escaped from the Israelite camp," the man replied.
4"What happened?" David demanded. "Tell me how the battle went."
The man replied, "Our entire army fled. Many men are dead and wounded on the battlefield, and Saul and his son Jonathan have been killed."
5"How do you know that Saul and Jonathan are dead?" David demanded.
6The young man answered, "I happened to be on Mount Gilboa. I saw Saul there leaning on his spear with the enemy chariots closing in on him. 7When he turned and saw me, he cried out for me to come to him. `How can I help?' I asked him. 8And he said to me, `Who are you?' I replied, `I am an Amalekite.' 9Then he begged me, `Come over here and put me out of my misery, for I am in terrible pain and want to die.'
10"So I killed him," the Amalekite told David, "for I knew he couldn't live. Then I took his crown and one of his bracelets so I could bring them to you, my lord."
11David and his men tore their clothes in sorrow when they heard the news. 12They mourned and wept and fasted all day for Saul and his son Jonathan, and for the LORD's army and the nation of Israel, because so many had died that day. 13Then David said to the young man who had brought the news, "Where are you from?"
And he replied, "I am a foreigner, an Amalekite, who lives in your land."
14"Were you not afraid to kill the LORD's anointed one?" David asked. 15Then David said to one of his men, "Kill him!" So the man thrust his sword into the Amalekite and killed him. 16"You die self-condemned," David said, "for you yourself confessed that you killed the LORD's anointed one."
Davids Song for Saul and Jonathan
17Then David composed a funeral song for Saul and Jonathan. 18Later he commanded that it be taught to all the people of Judah. It is known as the Song of the Bow, and it is recorded in The Book of Jashar.
Your pride and joy, O Israel, lies dead on the hills!
How the mighty heroes have fallen!
Don't announce the news in Gath,
or the Philistines will rejoice.
Don't proclaim it in the streets of Ashkelon,
or the pagans will laugh in triumph.
O mountains of Gilboa,
let there be no dew or rain upon you or your slopes.
For there the shield of the mighty was defiled;
the shield of Saul will no longer be anointed with oil.
Both Saul and Jonathan killed their strongest foes;
they did not return from battle empty-handed.
How beloved and gracious were Saul and Jonathan!
They were together in life and in death.
They were swifter than eagles;
they were stronger than lions.
O women of Israel, weep for Saul,
for he dressed you in fine clothing and gold ornaments.
How the mighty heroes have fallen in battle!
Jonathan lies dead upon the hills.
How I weep for you, my brother Jonathan!
Oh, how much I loved you!
And your love for me was deep,
deeper than the love of women!
How the mighty heroes have fallen!
Stripped of their weapons, they lie dead.
David Anointed King of Judah
1After this, David asked the LORD, "Should I move back to Judah?"
And the LORD replied, "Yes."
Then David asked, "Which town should I go to?"
And the LORD replied, "Hebron."
2David's wives were Ahinoam from Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal from Carmel. So David and his wives 3and his men and their families all moved to Judah, and they settled near the town of Hebron. 4Then Judah's leaders came to David and crowned him king over the tribe of Judah.
When David heard that the men of Jabesh-gilead had buried Saul, 5he sent them this message: "May the LORD bless you for being so loyal to your king and giving him a decent burial. 6May the LORD be loyal to you in return and reward you with his unfailing love! And I, too, will reward you for what you have done. 7And now that Saul is dead, I ask you to be my strong and loyal subjects like the people of Judah, who have anointed me as their new king."
Ishbosheth Crowned King of Israel
8But Abner son of Ner, the commander of Saul's army, had already gone to Mahanaim with Saul's son Ishbosheth. 9There he proclaimed Ishbosheth king over Gilead, Jezreel, Ephraim, Benjamin, the land of the Ashurites, and all the rest of Israel. 10Ishbosheth was forty years old when he became king, and he ruled from Mahanaim for two years. Meanwhile, the tribe of Judah remained loyal to David. 11David made Hebron his capital, and he ruled as king of Judah for seven and a half years.
War between Israel and Judah
12One day Abner led some of Ishbosheth's troops from Mahanaim to Gibeon. 13About the same time, Joab son of Zeruiah led David's troops from Hebron, and they met Abner at the pool of Gibeon. The two groups sat down there, facing each other from opposite sides of the pool. 14Then Abner suggested to Joab, "Let's have a few of our warriors put on an exhibition of hand-to-hand combat."
"All right," Joab agreed. 15So twelve men were chosen from each side to fight against each other. 16Each one grabbed his opponent by the hair and thrust his sword into the other's side so that all of them died. The place has been known ever since as the Field of Swords. 17The two armies then began to fight each other, and by the end of the day Abner and the men of Israel had been defeated by the forces of David.
The Death of Asahel
18Joab, Abishai, and Asahel, the three sons of Zeruiah, were among David's forces that day. Asahel could run like a deer, 19and he began chasing Abner. He was relentless and single-minded in his pursuit. 20When Abner looked back and saw him coming, he called out, "Is that you, Asahel?"
"Yes, it is," he replied.
21"Go fight someone else!" Abner warned. "Take on one of the younger men and strip him of his weapons." But Asahel refused and kept right on chasing Abner.
22Again Abner shouted to him, "Get away from here! I will never be able to face your brother Joab if I have to kill you!" 23But Asahel would not give up, so Abner thrust the butt end of his spear through Asahel's stomach, and the spear came out through his back. He stumbled to the ground and died there. And everyone who came by that spot stopped and stood still when they saw Asahel lying there.
24When Joab and Abishai found out what had happened, they set out after Abner. The sun was just going down as they arrived at the hill of Ammah near Giah, along the road to the wilderness of Gibeon. 25Abner's troops from the tribe of Benjamin regrouped there at the top of the hill to take a stand. 26Abner shouted down to Joab, "Must we always solve our differences with swords? Don't you realize the only thing we will gain is bitterness toward each other? When will you call off your men from chasing their Israelite brothers?"
27Then Joab said, "God only knows what would have happened if you hadn't spoken, for we would have chased you all night if necessary." 28So Joab blew his trumpet, and his men stopped chasing the troops of Israel.
29All that night Abner and his men retreated through the Jordan Valley. They crossed the Jordan River, traveling all through the morning, and they did not stop until they arrived at Mahanaim.
30Meanwhile, Joab and his men also returned home. When Joab counted his casualties, he discovered that only nineteen men were missing, in addition to Asahel. 31But three hundred and sixty of Abner's men, all from the tribe of Benjamin, had been killed. 32Joab and his men took Asahel's body to Bethlehem and buried him there beside his father. Then they traveled all night and reached Hebron at daybreak.
1 That was the beginning of a long war between those who had been loyal to Saul and those who were loyal to David. As time passed David became stronger and stronger, while Saul's dynasty became weaker and weaker.
Davids Sons Born in Hebron
2These were the sons who were born to David in Hebron:
The oldest was Amnon, whose mother was Ahinoam of Jezreel.
The second was Kileab, whose mother was Abigail, the widow of Nabal from Carmel.
The third was Absalom, whose mother was Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur.
The fourth was Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith.
The fifth was Shephatiah, whose mother was Abital.
The sixth was Ithream, whose mother was David's wife Eglah.
These sons were all born to David in Hebron.
Abner Joins Forces with David
6As the war went on, Abner became a powerful leader among those who were loyal to Saul's dynasty. 7One day Ishbosheth, Saul's son, accused Abner of sleeping with one of his father's concubines, a woman named Rizpah. 8Abner became furious. "Am I a Judean dog to be kicked around like this?" he shouted. "After all I have done for you and your father by not betraying you to David, is this my reward--that you find fault with me about this woman? 9May God deal harshly with me if I don't help David get all that the LORD has promised him! 10I should just go ahead and give David the rest of Saul's kingdom. I should set him up as king over Israel as well as Judah, from Dan to Beersheba." 11Ishbosheth didn't dare say another word because he was afraid of what Abner might do.
12Then Abner sent messengers to David, saying, "Let's make an agreement, and I will help turn the entire nation of Israel over to you."
13"All right," David replied, "but I will not negotiate with you unless you bring back my wife Michal, Saul's daughter, when you come."
14David then sent this message to Ishbosheth, Saul's son: "Give me back my wife Michal, for I bought her with the lives of one hundred Philistines." 15So Ishbosheth took Michal away from her husband Palti son of Laish. 16Palti followed along behind her as far as Bahurim, weeping as he went. Then Abner told him, "Go back home!" So Palti returned.
17Meanwhile, Abner had consulted with the leaders of Israel. "For some time now," he told them, "you have wanted to make David your king. 18Now is the time! For the LORD has said, `I have chosen David to save my people from the Philistines and from all their other enemies.' " 19Abner also spoke with the leaders of the tribe of Benjamin. Then he went to Hebron to tell David that all the people of Israel and Benjamin supported him.
20When Abner came to Hebron with his twenty men, David entertained them with a great feast. 21Then Abner said to David, "Let me go and call all the people of Israel to your side. They will make a covenant with you to make you their king. Then you will be able to rule over everything your heart desires." So David sent Abner safely on his way.
Joab Murders Abner
22But just after Abner left, Joab and some of David's troops returned from a raid, bringing much plunder with them. 23When Joab was told that Abner had just been there visiting the king and had been sent away in safety, 24he rushed to see the king. "What have you done?" he demanded. "What do you mean by letting Abner get away? 25You know perfectly well that he came to spy on you and to discover everything you are doing!"
26Joab then left David and sent messengers to catch up with Abner. They found him at the pool of Sirah and brought him back with them. But David knew nothing about it. 27When Abner arrived at Hebron, Joab took him aside at the gateway as if to speak with him privately. But then he drew his dagger and killed Abner in revenge for killing his brother Asahel.
28When David heard about it, he declared, "I vow by the LORD that I and my people are innocent of this crime against Abner. 29Joab and his family are the guilty ones. May his family in every generation be cursed with a man who has open sores or leprosy or who walks on crutches or who dies by the sword or who begs for food!"
30So Joab and his brother Abishai killed Abner because Abner had killed their brother Asahel at the battle of Gibeon.
David Mourns Abners Death
31Then David said to Joab and all those who were with him, "Tear your clothes and put on sackcloth. Go into deep mourning for Abner." And King David himself walked behind the procession to the grave. 32They buried Abner in Hebron, and the king and all the people wept at his graveside. 33Then the king sang this funeral song for Abner:
"Should Abner have died as fools die?
Your hands were not bound;
your feet were not chained.
No, you were murdered--
the victim of a wicked plot."
All the people wept again for Abner. 35David had refused to eat anything the day of the funeral, and now everyone begged him to eat. But David had made a vow, saying, "May God kill me if I eat anything before sundown." 36This pleased the people very much. In fact, everything the king did pleased them! 37So everyone in Judah and Israel knew that David was not responsible for Abner's death.
38Then King David said to the people, "Do you not realize that a great leader and a great man has fallen today in Israel? 39And even though I am the anointed king, these two sons of Zeruiah--Joab and Abishai--are too strong for me to control. So may the LORD repay these wicked men for their wicked deeds."
The Murder of Ishbosheth
1When Ishbosheth heard about Abner's death at Hebron, he lost all courage, and his people were paralyzed with fear. 2Now there were two brothers, Baanah and Recab, who were captains of Ishbosheth's raiding parties. They were sons of Rimmon, a member of the tribe of Benjamin who lived in Beeroth. The town of Beeroth is now part of Benjamin's territory 3because the original people of Beeroth fled to Gittaim, where they still live as foreigners.
4(Saul's son Jonathan had a son named Mephibosheth, who was crippled as a child. He was five years old when Saul and Jonathan were killed at the battle of Jezreel. When news of the battle reached the capital, the child's nurse grabbed him and fled. But she fell and dropped him as she was running, and he became crippled as a result.)
5One day Recab and Baanah, the sons of Rimmon from Beeroth, went to Ishbosheth's home around noon as he was taking a nap. 6The doorkeeper, who had been sifting wheat, became drowsy and fell asleep. So Recab and Baanah slipped past the doorkeeper, went into Ishbosheth's bedroom, and stabbed him in the stomach. Then they escaped. 7But before leaving, they cut off his head as he lay there on his bed. Taking his head with them, they fled across the Jordan Valley through the night. 8They arrived at Hebron and presented Ishbosheth's head to David. "Look!" they exclaimed. "Here is the head of Ishbosheth, the son of your enemy Saul who tried to kill you. Today the LORD has given you revenge on Saul and his entire family!"
9But David said to Recab and Baanah, "As surely as the LORD lives, the one who saves me from my enemies, I will tell you the truth. 10Once before, someone told me, `Saul is dead,' thinking he was bringing me good news. But I seized him and killed him at Ziklag. That's the reward I gave him for his news! 11Now what reward should I give the wicked men who have killed an innocent man in his own house and on his own bed? Should I not also demand your very lives?" 12So David ordered his young men to kill them, and they did. They cut off their hands and feet and hung their bodies beside the pool in Hebron. Then they took Ishbosheth's head and buried it in Abner's tomb in Hebron.
David Becomes King of All Israel
1Then all the tribes of Israel went to David at Hebron and told him, "We are all members of your family. 2For a long time, even while Saul was our king, you were the one who really led Israel. And the LORD has told you, `You will be the shepherd of my people Israel. You will be their leader.' " 3So there at Hebron, David made a covenant with the leaders of Israel before the LORD. And they anointed him king of Israel.
4David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years in all. 5He had reigned over Judah from Hebron for seven years and six months, and from Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah for thirty-three years.
David Captures Jerusalem
6David then led his troops to Jerusalem to fight against the Jebusites. "You'll never get in here," the Jebusites taunted. "Even the blind and lame could keep you out!" For the Jebusites thought they were safe. 7But David captured the fortress of Zion, now called the City of David.
8When the insulting message from the defenders of the city reached David, he told his own troops, "Go up through the water tunnel into the city and destroy those `lame' and `blind' Jebusites. How I hate them." That is the origin of the saying, "The blind and the lame may not enter the house." 9So David made the fortress his home, and he called it the City of David. He built additional fortifications around the city, starting at the Millo and working inward. 10And David became more and more powerful, because the LORD God Almighty was with him.
11Then King Hiram of Tyre sent messengers to David, along with carpenters and stonemasons to build him a palace. Hiram also sent many cedar logs for lumber. 12And David realized that the LORD had made him king over Israel and had made his kingdom great for the sake of his people Israel.
13After moving from Hebron to Jerusalem, David married more wives and concubines, and he had many sons and daughters. 14These are the names of David's sons who were born in Jerusalem: Shimea, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon, 15Ibhar, Elishua, Nepheg, Japhia, 16Elishama, Eliada, and Eliphelet.
David Conquers the Philistines
17When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king of Israel, they mobilized all their forces to capture him. But David was told they were coming and went into the stronghold. 18The Philistines arrived and spread out across the valley of Rephaim. 19So David asked the LORD, "Should I go out to fight the Philistines? Will you hand them over to me?"
The LORD replied, "Yes, go ahead. I will certainly give you the victory."
20So David went to Baal-perazim and defeated the Philistines there. "The LORD has done it!" David exclaimed. "He burst through my enemies like a raging flood!" So David named that place Baal-perazim (which means "the Lord who bursts through"). 21The Philistines had abandoned their idols there, so David and his troops confiscated them.
22But after a while the Philistines returned and again spread out across the valley of Rephaim. 23And once again David asked the LORD what to do. "Do not attack them straight on," the LORD replied. "Instead, circle around behind them and attack them near the balsam trees. 24When you hear a sound like marching feet in the tops of the balsam trees, attack! That will be the signal that the LORD is moving ahead of you to strike down the Philistines." 25So David did what the LORD commanded, and he struck down the Philistines all the way from Gibeon to Gezer.
The Ark Brought to Jerusalem
1Then David mobilized thirty thousand special troops. 2He led them to Baalah of Judah to bring home the Ark of God, which bears the name of the LORD Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim. 3They placed the Ark of God on a new cart and brought it from the hillside home of Abinadab. Uzzah and Ahio, Abinadab's sons, were guiding the cart 4with the Ark of God on it, with Ahio walking in front. 5David and all the people of Israel were celebrating before the LORD with all their might, singing songs and playing all kinds of musical instruments--lyres, harps, tambourines, castanets, and cymbals.
6But when they arrived at the threshing floor of Nacon, the oxen stumbled, and Uzzah put out his hand to steady the Ark of God. 7Then the LORD's anger blazed out against Uzzah for doing this, and God struck him dead beside the Ark of God. 8David was angry because the LORD's anger had blazed out against Uzzah. He named that place Perez-uzzah (which means "outbreak against Uzzah"). It is still called that today.
9David was now afraid of the LORD and asked, "How can I ever bring the Ark of the LORD back into my care?" 10So David decided not to move the Ark of the LORD into the City of David. He took it instead to the home of Obed-edom of Gath. 11The Ark of the LORD remained there with the family of Obed-edom for three months, and the LORD blessed him and his entire household.
12Then King David was told, "The LORD has blessed Obed-edom's home and everything he has because of the Ark of God." So David went there and brought the Ark to the City of David with a great celebration. 13After the men who were carrying it had gone six steps, they stopped and waited so David could sacrifice an ox and a fattened calf. 14And David danced before the LORD with all his might, wearing a priestly tunic. 15So David and all Israel brought up the Ark of the LORD with much shouting and blowing of trumpets.
Michals Contempt for David
16But as the Ark of the LORD entered the City of David, Michal, the daughter of Saul, looked down from her window. When she saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, she was filled with contempt for him.
17The Ark of the LORD was placed inside the special tent that David had prepared for it. And David sacrificed burnt offerings and peace offerings to the LORD. 18When he had finished, David blessed the people in the name of the LORD Almighty. 19Then he gave a gift of food to every man and woman in Israel: a loaf of bread, a cake of dates, and a cake of raisins. Then everyone went home.
20When David returned home to bless his family, Michal came out to meet him and said in disgust, "How glorious the king of Israel looked today! He exposed himself to the servant girls like any indecent person might do!"
21David retorted to Michal, "I was dancing before the LORD, who chose me above your father and his family! He appointed me as the leader of Israel, the people of the LORD. So I am willing to act like a fool in order to show my joy in the LORD. 22Yes, and I am willing to look even more foolish than this, but I will be held in honor by the girls of whom you have spoken!" 23So Michal, the daughter of Saul, remained childless throughout her life.
The LORDs Covenant Promise to David
1When the LORD had brought peace to the land and King David was settled in his palace, 2David summoned Nathan the prophet. "Look!" David said. "Here I am living in this beautiful cedar palace, but the Ark of God is out in a tent!"
3Nathan replied, "Go ahead and do what you have in mind, for the LORD is with you."
4But that same night the LORD said to Nathan,
5"Go and tell my servant David, `This is what the LORD says: Are you the one to build me a temple to live in? 6I have never lived in a temple, from the day I brought the Israelites out of Egypt until now. My home has always been a tent, moving from one place to another. 7And I have never once complained to Israel's leaders, the shepherds of my people Israel. I have never asked them, "Why haven't you built me a beautiful cedar temple?" '
8"Now go and say to my servant David, `This is what the LORD Almighty says: I chose you to lead my people Israel when you were just a shepherd boy, tending your sheep out in the pasture. 9I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have destroyed all your enemies. Now I will make your name famous throughout the earth! 10And I have provided a permanent homeland for my people Israel, a secure place where they will never be disturbed. It will be their own land where wicked nations won't oppress them as they did in the past, 11from the time I appointed judges to rule my people. And I will keep you safe from all your enemies.
" `And now the LORD declares that he will build a house for you--a dynasty of kings! 12For when you die, I will raise up one of your descendants, and I will make his kingdom strong. 13He is the one who will build a house--a temple--for my name. And I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14I will be his father, and he will be my son. If he sins, I will use other nations to punish him. 15But my unfailing love will not be taken from him as I took it from Saul, whom I removed before you. 16Your dynasty and your kingdom will continue for all time before me, and your throne will be secure forever.' "
17So Nathan went back to David and told him everything the LORD had said.
Davids Prayer of Thanks
18Then King David went in and sat before the LORD and prayed, "Who am I, O Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? 19And now, Sovereign LORD, in addition to everything else, you speak of giving me a lasting dynasty! Do you deal with everyone this way, O Sovereign LORD? 20What more can I say? You know what I am really like, Sovereign LORD. 21For the sake of your promise and according to your will, you have done all these great things and have shown them to me.
22"How great you are, O Sovereign LORD! There is no one like you--there is no other God. We have never even heard of another god like you! 23What other nation on earth is like Israel? What other nation, O God, have you redeemed from slavery to be your own people? You made a great name for yourself when you rescued your people from Egypt. You performed awesome miracles and drove out the nations and gods that stood in their way. 24You made Israel your people forever, and you, O LORD, became their God.
25"And now, O LORD God, do as you have promised concerning me and my family. Confirm it as a promise that will last forever. 26And may your name be honored forever so that all the world will say, `The LORD Almighty is God over Israel!' And may the dynasty of your servant David be established in your presence.
27"O LORD Almighty, God of Israel, I have been bold enough to pray this prayer because you have revealed that you will build a house for me--an eternal dynasty! 28For you are God, O Sovereign LORD. Your words are truth, and you have promised these good things to me, your servant. 29And now, may it please you to bless me and my family so that our dynasty may continue forever before you. For when you grant a blessing to your servant, O Sovereign LORD, it is an eternal blessing!"
Davids Military Victories
1After this, David subdued and humbled the Philistines by conquering Gath, their largest city. 2David also conquered the land of Moab. He made the people lie down on the ground in a row, and he measured them off in groups with a length of rope. He measured off two groups to be executed for every one group to be spared. The Moabites who were spared became David's servants and brought him tribute money.
3David also destroyed the forces of Hadadezer son of Rehob, king of Zobah, when Hadadezer marched out to strengthen his control along the Euphrates River. 4David captured seventeen hundred charioteers and twenty thousand foot soldiers. Then he crippled all but one hundred of the chariot horses.
5When Arameans from Damascus arrived to help Hadadezer, David killed twenty-two thousand of them. 6Then he placed several army garrisons in Damascus, the Aramean capital, and the Arameans became David's subjects and brought him tribute money. So the LORD gave David victory wherever he went. 7David brought the gold shields of Hadadezer's officers to Jerusalem, 8along with a large amount of bronze from Hadadezer's cities of Tebah and Berothai.
9When King Toi of Hamath heard that David had destroyed the army of Hadadezer, 10he sent his son Joram to congratulate David on his success. Hadadezer and Toi had long been enemies, and there had been many wars between them. Joram presented David with many gifts of silver, gold, and bronze. 11King David dedicated all these gifts to the LORD, along with the silver and gold he had set apart from the other nations he had subdued-- 12Edom, Moab, Ammon, Philistia, and Amalek--and from Hadadezer son of Rehob, king of Zobah.
13So David became very famous. After his return he destroyed eighteen thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt. 14He placed army garrisons throughout Edom, and all the Edomites became David's subjects. This was another example of how the LORD made David victorious wherever he went.
15David reigned over all Israel and was fair to everyone. 16Joab son of Zeruiah was commander of the army. Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was the royal historian. 17Zadok son of Ahitub and Ahimelech son of Abiathar were the priests. Seraiah was the court secretary. 18Benaiah son of Jehoiada was captain of the king's bodyguard. David's sons served as priestly leaders.
Davids Kindness to Mephibosheth
1One day David began wondering if anyone in Saul's family was still alive, for he had promised Jonathan that he would show kindness to them. 2He summoned a man named Ziba, who had been one of Saul's servants. "Are you Ziba?" the king asked.
"Yes sir, I am," Ziba replied.
3The king then asked him, "Is anyone still alive from Saul's family? If so, I want to show God's kindness to them in any way I can."
Ziba replied, "Yes, one of Jonathan's sons is still alive, but he is crippled."
4"Where is he?" the king asked.
"In Lo-debar," Ziba told him, "at the home of Makir son of Ammiel." 5So David sent for him and brought him from Makir's home. 6His name was Mephibosheth; he was Jonathan's son and Saul's grandson. When he came to David, he bowed low in great fear and said, "I am your servant."
7But David said, "Don't be afraid! I've asked you to come so that I can be kind to you because of my vow to your father, Jonathan. I will give you all the land that once belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you may live here with me at the palace!"
8Mephibosheth fell to the ground before the king. "Should the king show such kindness to a dead dog like me?" he exclaimed.
9Then the king summoned Saul's servant Ziba and said, "I have given your master's grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. 10You and your sons and servants are to farm the land for him to produce food for his family. But Mephibosheth will live here at the palace with me."
Ziba, who had fifteen sons and twenty servants, replied, 11"Yes, my lord; I will do all that you have commanded." And from that time on, Mephibosheth ate regularly with David, as though he were one of his own sons. 12Mephibosheth had a young son named Mica. And from then on, all the members of Ziba's household were Mephibosheth's servants. 13And Mephibosheth, who was crippled in both feet, moved to Jerusalem to live at the palace.
David Defeats the Ammonites
1Some time after this, King Nahash of the Ammonites died, and his son Hanun became king. 2David said, "I am going to show complete loyalty to Hanun because his father, Nahash, was always completely loyal to me." So David sent ambassadors to express sympathy to Hanun about his father's death.
But when David's ambassadors arrived in the land of Ammon, 3Hanun's advisers said to their master, "Do you really think these men are coming here to honor your father? No! David has sent them to spy out the city so that they can come in and conquer it!" 4So Hanun seized David's ambassadors and shaved off half of each man's beard, cut off their robes at the buttocks, and sent them back to David in shame. 5When David heard what had happened, he sent messengers to tell the men to stay at Jericho until their beards grew out, for they were very embarrassed by their appearance.
6Now the people of Ammon realized how seriously they had angered David, so they hired twenty thousand Aramean mercenaries from the lands of Beth-rehob and Zobah, one thousand from the king of Maacah, and twelve thousand from the land of Tob. 7When David heard about this, he sent Joab and the entire Israelite army to fight them. 8The Ammonite troops drew up their battle lines at the entrance of the city gates, while the Arameans from Zobah and Rehob and the men from Tob and Maacah positioned themselves to fight in the open fields.
9When Joab saw that he would have to fight on two fronts, he chose the best troops in his army. He placed them under his personal command and led them out to fight the Arameans in the fields. 10He left the rest of the army under the command of his brother Abishai, who was to attack the Ammonites. 11"If the Arameans are too strong for me, then come over and help me," Joab told his brother. "And if the Ammonites are too strong for you, I will come and help you. 12Be courageous! Let us fight bravely to save our people and the cities of our God. May the LORD's will be done."
13When Joab and his troops attacked, the Arameans began to run away. 14And when the Ammonites saw the Arameans running, they ran from Abishai and retreated into the city. After the battle was over, Joab returned to Jerusalem.
15The Arameans now realized that they were no match for Israel. So when they regrouped, 16they were joined by additional Aramean troops summoned by Hadadezer from the other side of the Euphrates River. These troops arrived at Helam under the command of Shobach, the commander of all Hadadezer's forces. 17When David heard what was happening, he mobilized all Israel, crossed the Jordan River, and led the army to Helam. The Arameans positioned themselves there in battle formation and then attacked David. 18But again the Arameans fled from the Israelites. This time David's forces killed seven hundred charioteers and forty thousand horsemen, including Shobach, the commander of their army. 19When Hadadezer and his Aramean allies realized they had been defeated by Israel, they surrendered to them and became their subjects. After that, the Arameans were afraid to help the Ammonites.
David and Bathsheba
1The following spring, the time of year when kings go to war, David sent Joab and the Israelite army to destroy the Ammonites. In the process they laid siege to the city of Rabbah. But David stayed behind in Jerusalem.
2Late one afternoon David got out of bed after taking a nap and went for a stroll on the roof of the palace. As he looked out over the city, he noticed a woman of unusual beauty taking a bath. 3He sent someone to find out who she was, and he was told, "She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite." 4Then David sent for her; and when she came to the palace, he slept with her. (She had just completed the purification rites after having her menstrual period.) Then she returned home. 5Later, when Bathsheba discovered that she was pregnant, she sent a message to inform David.
6So David sent word to Joab: "Send me Uriah the Hittite." 7When Uriah arrived, David asked him how Joab and the army were getting along and how the war was progressing. 8Then he told Uriah, "Go on home and relax." David even sent a gift to Uriah after he had left the palace. 9But Uriah wouldn't go home. He stayed that night at the palace entrance with some of the king's other servants.
10When David heard what Uriah had done, he summoned him and asked, "What's the matter with you? Why didn't you go home last night after being away for so long?"
11Uriah replied, "The Ark and the armies of Israel and Judah are living in tents, and Joab and his officers are camping in the open fields. How could I go home to wine and dine and sleep with my wife? I swear that I will never be guilty of acting like that."
12"Well, stay here tonight," David told him, "and tomorrow you may return to the army." So Uriah stayed in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13Then David invited him to dinner and got him drunk. But even then he couldn't get Uriah to go home to his wife. Again he slept at the palace entrance.
David Arranges for Uriahs Death
14So the next morning David wrote a letter to Joab and gave it to Uriah to deliver. 15The letter instructed Joab, "Station Uriah on the front lines where the battle is fiercest. Then pull back so that he will be killed." 16So Joab assigned Uriah to a spot close to the city wall where he knew the enemy's strongest men were fighting. 17And Uriah was killed along with several other Israelite soldiers.
18Then Joab sent a battle report to David. 19He told his messenger, "Report all the news of the battle to the king. 20But he might get angry and ask, `Why did the troops go so close to the city? Didn't they know there would be shooting from the walls? 21Wasn't Gideon's son Abimelech killed at Thebez by a woman who threw a millstone down on him?' Then tell him, `Uriah the Hittite was killed, too.' "
22So the messenger went to Jerusalem and gave a complete report to David. 23"The enemy came out against us," he said. "And as we chased them back to the city gates, 24the archers on the wall shot arrows at us. Some of our men were killed, including Uriah the Hittite."
25"Well, tell Joab not to be discouraged," David said. "The sword kills one as well as another! Fight harder next time, and conquer the city!"
26When Bathsheba heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. 27When the period of mourning was over, David sent for her and brought her to the palace, and she became one of his wives. Then she gave birth to a son. But the LORD was very displeased with what David had done.
Nathan Rebukes David
1So the LORD sent Nathan the prophet to tell David this story: "There were two men in a certain town. One was rich, and one was poor. 2The rich man owned many sheep and cattle. 3The poor man owned nothing but a little lamb he had worked hard to buy. He raised that little lamb, and it grew up with his children. It ate from the man's own plate and drank from his cup. He cuddled it in his arms like a baby daughter. 4One day a guest arrived at the home of the rich man. But instead of killing a lamb from his own flocks for food, he took the poor man's lamb and killed it and served it to his guest."
5David was furious. "As surely as the LORD lives," he vowed, "any man who would do such a thing deserves to die! 6He must repay four lambs to the poor man for the one he stole and for having no pity."
7Then Nathan said to David, "You are that man! The LORD, the God of Israel, says, `I anointed you king of Israel and saved you from the power of Saul. 8I gave you his house and his wives and the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. And if that had not been enough, I would have given you much, much more. 9Why, then, have you despised the word of the LORD and done this horrible deed? For you have murdered Uriah and stolen his wife. 10From this time on, the sword will be a constant threat to your family, because you have despised me by taking Uriah's wife to be your own.
11" `Because of what you have done, I, the LORD, will cause your own household to rebel against you. I will give your wives to another man, and he will go to bed with them in public view. 12You did it secretly, but I will do this to you openly in the sight of all Israel.' "
David Confesses His Guilt
13Then David confessed to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD."
Nathan replied, "Yes, but the LORD has forgiven you, and you won't die for this sin. 14But you have given the enemies of the LORD great opportunity to despise and blaspheme him, so your child will die."
15After Nathan returned to his home, the LORD made Bathsheba's baby deathly ill. 16David begged God to spare the child. He went without food and lay all night on the bare ground. 17The leaders of the nation pleaded with him to get up and eat with them, but he refused. 18Then on the seventh day the baby died. David's advisers were afraid to tell him. "He was so broken up about the baby being sick," they said. "What will he do to himself when we tell him the child is dead?"
19But when David saw them whispering, he realized what had happened. "Is the baby dead?" he asked.
"Yes," they replied. 20Then David got up from the ground, washed himself, put on lotions, and changed his clothes. Then he went to the Tabernacle and worshiped the LORD. After that, he returned to the palace and ate. 21His advisers were amazed. "We don't understand you," they told him. "While the baby was still living, you wept and refused to eat. But now that the baby is dead, you have stopped your mourning and are eating again."
22David replied, "I fasted and wept while the child was alive, for I said, `Perhaps the LORD will be gracious to me and let the child live.' 23But why should I fast when he is dead? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him one day, but he cannot return to me."
24Then David comforted Bathsheba, his wife, and slept with her. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son, and they named him Solomon. The LORD loved the child 25and sent word through Nathan the prophet that his name should be Jedidiah--"beloved of the LORD"--because the LORD loved him.
David Captures Rabbah
26Meanwhile, Joab and the Israelite army were successfully ending their siege of Rabbah, the capital of Ammon. 27Joab sent messengers to tell David, "I have fought against Rabbah and captured its water supply. 28Now bring the rest of the army and finish the job, so you will get credit for the victory instead of me."
29So David led the rest of his army to Rabbah and captured it. 30David removed the crown from the king's head, and it was placed on David's own head. The crown was made of gold and set with gems, and it weighed about seventy-five pounds. David took a vast amount of plunder from the city. 31He also made slaves of the people of Rabbah and forced them to labor with saws, picks, and axes, and to work in the brick kilns. That is how he dealt with the people of all the Ammonite cities. Then David and his army returned to Jerusalem.
The Rape of Tamar
1David's son Absalom had a beautiful sister named Tamar. And Amnon, her half brother, fell desperately in love with her. 2Amnon became so obsessed with Tamar that he became ill. She was a virgin, and it seemed impossible that he could ever fulfill his love for her.
3Now Amnon had a very crafty friend--his cousin Jonadab. He was the son of David's brother Shimea. 4One day Jonadab said to Amnon, "What's the trouble? Why should the son of a king look so dejected morning after morning?"
So Amnon told him, "I am in love with Tamar, Absalom's sister."
5"Well," Jonadab said, "I'll tell you what to do. Go back to bed and pretend you are sick. When your father comes to see you, ask him to let Tamar come and prepare some food for you. Tell him you'll feel better if she feeds you."
6So Amnon pretended to be sick. And when the king came to see him, Amnon asked him, "Please let Tamar come to take care of me and cook something for me to eat." 7So David agreed and sent Tamar to Amnon's house to prepare some food for him.
8When Tamar arrived at Amnon's house, she went to the room where he was lying down so he could watch her mix some dough. Then she baked some special bread for him. 9But when she set the serving tray before him, he refused to eat. "Everyone get out of here," Amnon told his servants. So they all left. 10Then he said to Tamar, "Now bring the food into my bedroom and feed it to me here." So Tamar took it to him. 11But as she was feeding him, he grabbed her and demanded, "Come to bed with me, my darling sister."
12"No, my brother!" she cried. "Don't be foolish! Don't do this to me! You know what a serious crime it is to do such a thing in Israel. 13Where could I go in my shame? And you would be called one of the greatest fools in Israel. Please, just speak to the king about it, and he will let you marry me."
14But Amnon wouldn't listen to her, and since he was stronger than she was, he raped her. 15Then suddenly Amnon's love turned to hate, and he hated her even more than he had loved her. "Get out of here!" he snarled at her.
16"No, no!" Tamar cried. "To reject me now is a greater wrong than what you have already done to me."
But Amnon wouldn't listen to her. 17He shouted for his servant and demanded, "Throw this woman out, and lock the door behind her!"
18So the servant put her out. She was wearing a long, beautiful robe, as was the custom in those days for the king's virgin daughters. 19But now Tamar tore her robe and put ashes on her head. And then, with her face in her hands, she went away crying.
20Her brother Absalom saw her and asked, "Is it true that Amnon has been with you? Well, don't be so upset. Since he's your brother anyway, don't worry about it." So Tamar lived as a desolate woman in Absalom's house. 21When King David heard what had happened, he was very angry. 22And though Absalom never spoke to Amnon about it, he hated Amnon deeply because of what he had done to his sister.
Absaloms Revenge on Amnon
23Two years later, when Absalom's sheep were being sheared at Baal-hazor near Ephraim, Absalom invited all the king's sons to come to a feast. 24He went to the king and said, "My sheep-shearers are now at work. Would the king and his servants please come to celebrate the occasion with me?"
25The king replied, "No, my son. If we all came, we would be too much of a burden on you." Absalom pressed him, but the king wouldn't come, though he sent his thanks.
26"Well, then," Absalom said, "if you can't come, how about sending my brother Amnon instead?"
"Why Amnon?" the king asked. 27But Absalom kept on pressing the king until he finally agreed to let all his sons attend, including Amnon.
28Absalom told his men, "Wait until Amnon gets drunk; then at my signal, kill him! Don't be afraid. I'm the one who has given the command. Take courage and do it!" 29So at Absalom's signal they murdered Amnon. Then the other sons of the king jumped on their mules and fled.
30As they were on the way back to Jerusalem, this report reached David: "Absalom has killed all your sons; not one is left alive!" 31The king jumped up, tore his robe, and fell prostrate on the ground. His advisers also tore their clothes in horror and sorrow.
32But just then Jonadab, the son of David's brother Shimea, arrived and said, "No, not all your sons have been killed! It was only Amnon! Absalom has been plotting this ever since Amnon raped his sister Tamar. 33No, your sons aren't all dead! It was only Amnon." 34Meanwhile Absalom escaped.
Then the watchman on the Jerusalem wall saw a great crowd coming toward the city from the west. He ran to tell the king, "I see a crowd of people coming from the Horonaim road along the side of the hill."
35"Look!" Jonadab told the king. "There they are now! Your sons are coming, just as I said." 36They soon arrived, weeping and sobbing, and the king and his officials wept bitterly with them. 37And David mourned many days for his son Amnon.
Absalom fled to his grandfather, Talmai son of Ammihud, the king of Geshur. 38He stayed there in Geshur for three years. 39And David, now reconciled to Amnon's death, longed to be reunited with his son Absalom.
Joab Arranges for Absaloms Return
1Joab realized how much the king longed to see Absalom. 2So he sent for a woman from Tekoa who had a reputation for great wisdom. He said to her, "Pretend you are in mourning; wear mourning clothes and don't bathe or wear any perfume. Act like a woman who has been in deep sorrow for a long time. 3Then go to the king and tell him the story I am about to tell you." Then Joab told her what to say.
4When the woman approached the king, she fell with her face down to the floor in front of him and cried out, "O king! Help me!"
5"What's the trouble?" the king asked.
"I am a widow," she replied. 6"My two sons had a fight out in the field. And since no one was there to stop it, one of them was killed. 7Now the rest of the family is demanding, `Let us have your son. We will execute him for murdering his brother. He doesn't deserve to inherit his family's property.' But if I do that, I will have no one left, and my husband's name and family will disappear from the face of the earth."
8"Leave it to me," the king told her. "Go home, and I'll see to it that no one touches him."
9"Oh, thank you, my lord," she replied. "And I'll take the responsibility if you are criticized for helping me like this."
10"Don't worry about that!" the king said. "If anyone objects, bring them to me. I can assure you they will never complain again!"
11Then she said, "Please swear to me by the LORD your God that you won't let anyone take vengeance against my son. I want no more bloodshed."
"As surely as the LORD lives," he replied, "not a hair on your son's head will be disturbed!"
12"Please let me ask one more thing of you!" she said.
"Go ahead," he urged. "Speak!"
13She replied, "Why don't you do as much for all the people of God as you have promised to do for me? You have convicted yourself in making this decision, because you have refused to bring home your own banished son. 14All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. That is why God tries to bring us back when we have been separated from him. He does not sweep away the lives of those he cares about--and neither should you!
15"But I have come to plead with you for my son because my life and my son's life have been threatened. I said to myself, `Perhaps the king will listen to me 16and rescue us from those who would cut us off from God's people. 17Yes, the king will give us peace of mind again.' I know that you are like an angel of God and can discern good from evil. May the LORD your God be with you."
18"I want to know one thing," the king replied.
"Yes, my lord?" she asked.
19"Did Joab send you here?"
And the woman replied, "My lord the king, how can I deny it? Nobody can hide anything from you. Yes, Joab sent me and told me what to say. 20He did it to place the matter before you in a different light. But you are as wise as an angel of God, and you understand everything that happens among us!"
21So the king sent for Joab and told him, "All right, go and bring back the young man Absalom."
22Joab fell to the ground before the king and blessed him and said, "At last I know that I have gained your approval, for you have granted me this request!"
23Then Joab went to Geshur and brought Absalom back to Jerusalem. 24But the king gave this order: "Absalom may go to his own house, but he must never come into my presence." So Absalom did not see the king.
Absalom Reconciled to David
25Now no one in Israel was as handsome as Absalom. From head to foot, he was the perfect specimen of a man. 26He cut his hair only once a year, and then only because it was too heavy to carry around. When he weighed it out, it came to five pounds! 27He had three sons and one daughter. His daughter's name was Tamar, and she was very beautiful.
28Absalom lived in Jerusalem for two years without getting to see the king. 29Then Absalom sent for Joab to ask him to intercede for him, but Joab refused to come. Absalom sent for him a second time, but again Joab refused to come. 30So Absalom said to his servants, "Go and set fire to Joab's barley field, the field next to mine." So they set his field on fire, as Absalom had commanded.
31Then Joab came to Absalom and demanded, "Why did your servants set my field on fire?"
32And Absalom replied, "Because I wanted you to ask the king why he brought me back from Geshur if he didn't intend to see me. I might as well have stayed there. Let me see the king; if he finds me guilty of anything, then let him execute me."
33So Joab told the king what Absalom had said. Then at last David summoned his estranged son, and Absalom came and bowed low before the king, and David kissed him.
1After this, Absalom bought a chariot and horses, and he hired fifty footmen to run ahead of him. 2He got up early every morning and went out to the gate of the city. When people brought a case to the king for judgment, Absalom would ask where they were from, and they would tell him their tribe. 3Then Absalom would say, "You've really got a strong case here! It's too bad the king doesn't have anyone to hear it. 4I wish I were the judge. Then people could bring their problems to me, and I would give them justice!" 5And when people tried to bow before him, Absalom wouldn't let them. Instead, he took them by the hand and embraced them. 6So in this way, Absalom stole the hearts of all the people of Israel.
7After four years, Absalom said to the king, "Let me go to Hebron to offer a sacrifice to the LORD in fulfillment of a vow I made to him. 8For while I was at Geshur, I promised to sacrifice to him in Hebron if he would bring me back to Jerusalem."
9"All right," the king told him. "Go and fulfill your vow."
So Absalom went to Hebron. 10But while he was there, he sent secret messengers to every part of Israel to stir up a rebellion against the king. "As soon as you hear the trumpets," his message read, "you will know that Absalom has been crowned king in Hebron." 11He took two hundred men from Jerusalem with him as guests, but they knew nothing of his intentions. 12While he was offering the sacrifices, he sent for Ahithophel, one of David's counselors who lived in Giloh. Soon many others also joined Absalom, and the conspiracy gained momentum.
David Escapes from Jerusalem
13A messenger soon arrived in Jerusalem to tell King David, "All Israel has joined Absalom in a conspiracy against you!"
14"Then we must flee at once, or it will be too late!" David urged his men. "Hurry! If we get out of the city before he arrives, both we and the city of Jerusalem will be spared from disaster."
15"We are with you," his advisers replied. "Do what you think is best." 16So the king and his household set out at once. He left no one behind except ten of his concubines to keep the palace in order. 17The king and his people set out on foot, and they paused at the edge of the city 18to let David's troops move past to lead the way. There were six hundred Gittites who had come with David from Gath, along with the king's bodyguard.
19Then the king turned to Ittai, the captain of the Gittites, and asked, "Why are you coming with us? Go on back with your men to King Absalom, for you are a guest in Israel, a foreigner in exile. 20You arrived only yesterday, and now should I force you to wander with us? I don't even know where we will go. Go on back and take your troops with you, and may the LORD show you his unfailing love and faithfulness."
21But Ittai said to the king, "I vow by the LORD and by your own life that I will go wherever you go, no matter what happens--whether it means life or death."
22David replied, "All right, come with us." So Ittai and his six hundred men and their families went along.
23There was deep sadness throughout the land as the king and his followers passed by. They crossed the Kidron Valley and then went out toward the wilderness.
24Abiathar and Zadok and the Levites took the Ark of the Covenant of God and set it down beside the road. Then they offered sacrifices there until everyone had passed by. 25David instructed Zadok to take the Ark of God back into the city. "If the LORD sees fit," David said, "he will bring me back to see the Ark and the Tabernacle again. 26But if he is through with me, then let him do what seems best to him."
27Then the king told Zadok the priest, "Look, here is my plan. You and Abiathar should return quietly to the city with your son Ahimaaz and Abiathar's son Jonathan. 28I will stop at the shallows of the Jordan River and wait there for a message from you. Let me know what happens in Jerusalem before I disappear into the wilderness." 29So Zadok and Abiathar took the Ark of God back to the city and stayed there.
30David walked up the road that led to the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went. His head was covered and his feet were bare as a sign of mourning. And the people who were with him covered their heads and wept as they climbed the mountain. 31When someone told David that his adviser Ahithophel was now backing Absalom, David prayed, "O LORD, let Ahithophel give Absalom foolish advice!"
32As they reached the spot at the top of the Mount of Olives where people worshiped God, David found Hushai the Arkite waiting for him. Hushai had torn his clothing and put dirt on his head as a sign of mourning. 33But David told him, "If you go with me, you will only be a burden. 34Return to Jerusalem and tell Absalom, `I will now be your adviser, just as I was your father's adviser in the past.' Then you can frustrate and counter Ahithophel's advice. 35Zadok and Abiathar, the priests, are there. Tell them the plans that are being made to capture me, 36and they will send their sons Ahimaaz and Jonathan to find me and tell me what is going on." 37So David's friend Hushai returned to Jerusalem, getting there just as Absalom arrived.
David and Ziba
1David was just past the top of the hill when Ziba, the servant of Mephibosheth, caught up with him. He was leading two donkeys loaded with two hundred loaves of bread, one hundred clusters of raisins, one hundred bunches of summer fruit, and a skin of wine. 2"What are these for?" the king asked Ziba.
And Ziba replied, "The donkeys are for your people to ride on, and the bread and summer fruit are for the young men to eat. The wine is to be taken with you into the wilderness for those who become faint."
3"And where is Mephibosheth?" the king asked him.
"He stayed in Jerusalem," Ziba replied. "He said, `Today I will get back the kingdom of my grandfather Saul.' "
4"In that case," the king told Ziba, "I give you everything Mephibosheth owns."
"Thank you, sir," Ziba replied. "I will always do whatever you want me to do."
Shimei Curses David
5As David and his party passed Bahurim, a man came out of the village cursing them. It was Shimei son of Gera, a member of Saul's family. 6He threw stones at the king and the king's officers and all the mighty warriors who surrounded them. 7"Get out of here, you murderer, you scoundrel!" he shouted at David. 8"The LORD is paying you back for murdering Saul and his family. You stole his throne, and now the LORD has given it to your son Absalom. At last you will taste some of your own medicine, you murderer!"
9"Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king?" Abishai son of Zeruiah demanded. "Let me go over and cut off his head!"
10"No!" the king said. "What am I going to do with you sons of Zeruiah! If the LORD has told him to curse me, who am I to stop him?" 11Then David said to Abishai and the other officers, "My own son is trying to kill me. Shouldn't this relative of Saul have even more reason to do so? Leave him alone and let him curse, for the LORD has told him to do it. 12And perhaps the LORD will see that I am being wronged and will bless me because of these curses." 13So David and his men continued on, and Shimei kept pace with them on a nearby hillside, cursing as he went and throwing stones at David and tossing dust into the air.
14The king and all who were with him grew weary along the way, so they rested when they reached the Jordan River.
Ahithophel Advises Absalom
15Meanwhile, Absalom and his men arrived at Jerusalem, accompanied by Ahithophel. 16When David's friend Hushai the Arkite arrived, he went immediately to see Absalom. "Long live the king!" he exclaimed. "Long live the king!"
17"Is this the way you treat your friend David?" Absalom asked him. "Why aren't you with him?"
18"I'm here because I work for the man who is chosen by the LORD and by Israel," Hushai replied. 19"And anyway, why shouldn't I serve you? I helped your father, and now I will help you!"
20Then Absalom turned to Ahithophel and asked him, "What should I do next?"
21Ahithophel told him, "Go and sleep with your father's concubines, for he has left them here to keep the house. Then all Israel will know that you have insulted him beyond hope of reconciliation, and they will give you their support." 22So they set up a tent on the palace roof where everyone could see it, and Absalom went into the tent to sleep with his father's concubines.
23Absalom followed Ahithophel's advice, just as David had done. For every word Ahithophel spoke seemed as wise as though it had come directly from the mouth of God.
1 Now Ahithophel urged Absalom, "Let me choose twelve thousand men to start out after David tonight. 2I will catch up to him while he is weary and discouraged. He and his troops will panic, and everyone will run away. Then I will kill only the king, 3and I will bring all the people back to you as a bride returns to her husband. After all, it is only this man's life that you seek. Then all the people will remain unharmed and peaceful." 4This plan seemed good to Absalom and to all the other leaders of Israel.
Hushai Counters Ahithophels Advice
5But then Absalom said, "Bring in Hushai the Arkite. Let's see what he thinks about this." 6When Hushai arrived, Absalom told him what Ahithophel had said. Then he asked, "What is your opinion? Should we follow Ahithophel's advice? If not, speak up."
7"Well," Hushai replied, "this time I think Ahithophel has made a mistake. 8You know your father and his men; they are mighty warriors. Right now they are probably as enraged as a mother bear who has been robbed of her cubs. And remember that your father is an experienced soldier. He won't be spending the night among the troops. 9He has probably already hidden in some pit or cave. And when he comes out and attacks and a few of your men fall, there will be panic among your troops, and everyone will start shouting that your men are being slaughtered. 10Then even the bravest of them, though they have the heart of a lion, will be paralyzed with fear. For all Israel knows what a mighty man your father is and how courageous his warriors are.
11"I suggest that you mobilize the entire army of Israel, bringing them from as far away as Dan and Beersheba. That way you will have an army as numerous as the sand on the seashore. And I think that you should personally lead the troops. 12When we find David, we can descend on him like the dew that falls to the ground, so that not one of his men is left alive. 13And if David has escaped into some city, you will have the entire army of Israel there at your command. Then we can take ropes and drag the walls of the city into the nearest valley until every stone is torn down."
14Then Absalom and all the leaders of Israel said, "Hushai's advice is better than Ahithophel's." For the LORD had arranged to defeat the counsel of Ahithophel, which really was the better plan, so that he could bring disaster upon Absalom!
Hushai Warns David to Escape
15Then Hushai reported to Zadok and Abiathar, the priests, what Ahithophel had said and what he himself had suggested instead. 16"Quick!" he told them. "Find David and urge him not to stay at the shallows of the Jordan River tonight. He must go across at once into the wilderness beyond. Otherwise he will die and his entire army with him."
17Jonathan and Ahimaaz had been staying at En-rogel so as not to be seen entering and leaving the city. Arrangements had been made for a servant girl to bring them the message they were to take to King David. 18But a boy saw them leaving En-rogel to go to David, and he told Absalom about it. Meanwhile, they escaped to Bahurim, where a man hid them inside a well in his courtyard. 19The man's wife put a cloth over the top of the well with grain on it to dry in the sun; so no one suspected they were there.
20When Absalom's men arrived, they asked her, "Have you seen Ahimaaz and Jonathan?"
She replied, "They were here, but they crossed the brook." Absalom's men looked for them without success and returned to Jerusalem.
21Then the two men crawled out of the well and hurried on to King David. "Quick!" they told him, "cross the Jordan tonight!" And they told him how Ahithophel had advised that he be captured and killed. 22So David and all the people with him went across the Jordan River during the night, and they were all on the other bank before dawn.
23Meanwhile, Ahithophel was publicly disgraced when Absalom refused his advice. So he saddled his donkey, went to his hometown, set his affairs in order, and hanged himself. He died there and was buried beside his father.
24David soon arrived at Mahanaim. By now, Absalom had mobilized the entire army of Israel and was leading his troops across the Jordan River. 25Absalom had appointed Amasa as commander of his army, replacing Joab, who had been commander under David. (Amasa was Joab's cousin. His father was Jether, an Ishmaelite. His mother, Abigail daughter of Nahash, was the sister of Joab's mother, Zeruiah.) 26Absalom and the Israelite army set up camp in the land of Gilead.
27When David arrived at Mahanaim, he was warmly greeted by Shobi son of Nahash of Rabbah, an Ammonite, and by Makir son of Ammiel of Lo-debar, and by Barzillai of Gilead from Rogelim. 28They brought sleeping mats, cooking pots, serving bowls, wheat and barley flour, roasted grain, beans, lentils, 29honey, butter, sheep, and cheese for David and those who were with him. For they said, "You must all be very tired and hungry and thirsty after your long march through the wilderness."
Absaloms Defeat and Death
1David now appointed generals and captains to lead his troops. 2One-third were placed under Joab, one-third under Joab's brother Abishai son of Zeruiah, and one-third under Ittai the Gittite. The king told his troops, "I am going out with you."
3But his men objected strongly. "You must not go," they urged. "If we have to turn and run--and even if half of us die--it will make no difference to Absalom's troops; they will be looking only for you. You are worth ten thousand of us, and it is better that you stay here in the city and send us help if we need it."
4"If you think that's the best plan, I'll do it," the king finally agreed. So he stood at the gate of the city as all the divisions of troops passed by. 5And the king gave this command to Joab, Abishai, and Ittai: "For my sake, deal gently with young Absalom." And all the troops heard the king give this order to his commanders.
6So the battle began in the forest of Ephraim, 7and the Israelite troops were beaten back by David's men. There was a great slaughter, and twenty thousand men laid down their lives that day. 8The battle raged all across the countryside, and more men died because of the forest than were killed by the sword.
9During the battle, Absalom came unexpectedly upon some of David's men. He tried to escape on his mule, but as he rode beneath the thick branches of a great oak, his head got caught. His mule kept going and left him dangling in the air. 10One of David's men saw what had happened and told Joab, "I saw Absalom dangling in a tree."
11"What?" Joab demanded. "You saw him there and didn't kill him? I would have rewarded you with ten pieces of silver and a hero's belt!"
12"I wouldn't do it for a thousand pieces of silver," the man replied. "We all heard the king say to you and Abishai and Ittai, `For my sake, please don't harm young Absalom.' 13And if I had betrayed the king by killing his son--and the king would certainly find out who did it--you yourself would be the first to abandon me."
14"Enough of this nonsense," Joab said. Then he took three daggers and plunged them into Absalom's heart as he dangled from the oak still alive. 15Ten of Joab's young armor bearers then surrounded Absalom and killed him. 16Then Joab blew the trumpet, and his men returned from chasing the army of Israel. 17They threw Absalom's body into a deep pit in the forest and piled a great heap of stones over it. And the army of Israel fled to their homes.
18During his lifetime, Absalom had built a monument to himself in the King's Valley, for he had said, "I have no son to carry on my name." He named the monument after himself, and it is known as Absalom's Monument to this day.
David Mourns Absaloms Death
19Then Zadok's son Ahimaaz said, "Let me run to the king with the good news that the LORD has saved him from his enemy Absalom."
20"No," Joab told him, "it wouldn't be good news to the king that his son is dead. You can be my messenger some other time, but not today."
21Then Joab said to a man from Cush, "Go tell the king what you have seen." The man bowed and ran off.
22But Ahimaaz continued to plead with Joab, "Whatever happens, please let me go, too."
"Why should you go, my son?" Joab replied. "There will be no reward for you."
23"Yes, but let me go anyway," he begged.
Joab finally said, "All right, go ahead." Then Ahimaaz took a shortcut across the plain of the Jordan and got to Mahanaim ahead of the man from Cush.
24While David was sitting at the city gate, the watchman climbed to the roof of the gateway by the wall. As he looked, he saw a lone man running toward them. 25He shouted the news down to David, and the king replied, "If he is alone, he has news."
As the messenger came closer, 26the watchman saw another man running toward them. He shouted down, "Here comes another one!"
The king replied, "He also will have news."
27"The first man runs like Ahimaaz son of Zadok," the watchman said.
"He is a good man and comes with good news," the king replied.
28Then Ahimaaz cried out to the king, "All is well!" He bowed low with his face to the ground and said, "Blessed be the LORD your God, who has handed over the rebels who dared to stand against you."
29"What about young Absalom?" the king demanded. "Is he all right?"
Ahimaaz replied, "When Joab told me to come, there was a lot of commotion. But I didn't know what was happening."
30"Wait here," the king told him. So Ahimaaz stepped aside.
31Then the man from Cush arrived and said, "I have good news for my lord the king. Today the LORD has rescued you from all those who rebelled against you."
32"What about young Absalom?" the king demanded. "Is he all right?"
And the Cushite replied, "May all of your enemies, both now and in the future, be as that young man is!"
33The king was overcome with emotion. He went up to his room over the gateway and burst into tears. And as he went, he cried, "O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I could have died instead of you! O Absalom, my son, my son."
Joab Rebukes the King
1Word soon reached Joab that the king was weeping and mourning for Absalom. 2As the troops heard of the king's deep grief for his son, the joy of that day's victory was turned into deep sadness. 3They crept back into the city as though they were ashamed and had been beaten in battle. 4The king covered his face with his hands and kept on weeping, "O my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son!"
5Then Joab went to the king's room and said to him, "We saved your life today and the lives of your sons, your daughters, and your wives and concubines. Yet you act like this, making us feel ashamed, as though we had done something wrong. 6You seem to love those who hate you and hate those who love you. You have made it clear today that we mean nothing to you. If Absalom had lived and all of us had died, you would be pleased. 7Now go out there and congratulate the troops, for I swear by the LORD that if you don't, not a single one of them will remain here tonight. Then you will be worse off than you have ever been." 8So the king went out and sat at the city gate, and as the news spread throughout the city that he was there, everyone went to him.
Meanwhile, the Israelites who supported Absalom had fled to their homes. 9And throughout the tribes of Israel there was much discussion and argument going on. The people were saying, "The king saved us from our enemies, the Philistines, but Absalom chased him out of the country. 10Now Absalom, whom we anointed to rule over us, is dead. Let's ask David to come back and be our king again."
11Then King David sent Zadok and Abiathar, the priests, to say to the leaders of Judah, "Why are you the last ones to reinstate the king? For I have heard that all Israel is ready, and only you are holding out. 12Yet you are my relatives, my own tribe, my own flesh and blood! Why are you the last ones to welcome me back?" 13And David told them to tell Amasa, "Since you are my nephew, may God strike me dead if I do not appoint you as commander of my army in place of Joab." 14Then Amasa convinced all the leaders of Judah, and they responded unanimously. They sent word to the king, "Return to us, and bring back all those who are with you."
Davids Return to Jerusalem
15So the king started back to Jerusalem. And when he arrived at the Jordan River, the people of Judah came to Gilgal to meet him and escort him across the river. 16Then Shimei son of Gera, the man from Bahurim in Benjamin, hurried across with the men of Judah to welcome King David. 17A thousand men from the tribe of Benjamin were with him, including Ziba, the servant of Saul, and Ziba's fifteen sons and twenty servants. They rushed down to the Jordan to arrive ahead of the king. 18They all crossed the ford and worked hard ferrying the king's household across the river, helping them in every way they could.
Davids Mercy to Shimei
As the king was about to cross the river, Shimei fell down before him. 19"My lord the king, please forgive me," he pleaded. "Forget the terrible thing I did when you left Jerusalem. 20I know how much I sinned. That is why I have come here today, the very first person in all Israel to greet you."
21Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said, "Shimei should die, for he cursed the LORD's anointed king!"
22"What am I going to do with you sons of Zeruiah!" David exclaimed. "This is not a day for execution but for celebration! I am once again the king of Israel!" 23Then, turning to Shimei, David vowed, "Your life will be spared."
Davids Kindness to Mephibosheth
24Now Mephibosheth, Saul's grandson, arrived from Jerusalem to meet the king. He had not washed his feet or clothes nor trimmed his beard since the day the king left Jerusalem. 25"Why didn't you come with me, Mephibosheth?" the king asked him.
26Mephibosheth replied, "My lord the king, my servant Ziba deceived me. I told him, `Saddle my donkey so that I can go with the king.' For as you know I am crippled. 27Ziba has slandered me by saying that I refused to come. But I know that you are like an angel of God, so do what you think is best. 28All my relatives and I could expect only death from you, my lord, but instead you have honored me among those who eat at your own table! So how can I complain?"
29"All right," David replied. "My decision is that you and Ziba will divide your land equally between you."
30"Give him all of it," Mephibosheth said. "I am content just to have you back again, my lord!"
Davids Kindness to Barzillai
31Barzillai of Gilead now arrived from Rogelim to conduct the king across the Jordan. 32He was very old, about eighty, and very wealthy. He was the one who had provided food for the king during his stay in Mahanaim. 33"Come across with me and live in Jerusalem," the king said to Barzillai. "I will take care of you there."
34"No," he replied, "I am far too old for that. 35I am eighty years old today, and I can no longer enjoy anything. Food and wine are no longer tasty, and I cannot hear the musicians as they play. I would only be a burden to my lord the king. 36Just to go across the river with you is all the honor I need! 37Then let me return again to die in my own town, where my father and mother are buried. But here is my son Kimham. Let him go with you and receive whatever good things you want to give him."
38"Good," the king agreed. "Kimham will go with me, and I will do for him whatever I would have done for you." 39So all the people crossed the Jordan with the king. After David had blessed and embraced him, Barzillai returned to his own home. 40The king then went on to Gilgal, taking Kimham with him. All the army of Judah and half the army of Israel escorted him across the river.
An Argument over the King
41But the men of Israel complained to the king that the men of Judah had gotten to do most of the work in helping him cross the Jordan. 42"Why not?" the men of Judah replied. "The king is one of our own tribe. Why should this make you angry? We have charged him nothing. And he hasn't fed us or even given us gifts!"
43"But there are ten tribes in Israel," the others replied. "So we have ten times as much right to the king as you do. Why did you treat us with such contempt? Remember, we were the first to speak of bringing him back to be our king again." The argument continued back and forth, and the men of Judah were very harsh in their replies.
The Revolt of Sheba
1Then a troublemaker named Sheba son of Bicri, a man from the tribe of Benjamin, blew a trumpet and shouted, "We have nothing to do with David. We want no part of this son of Jesse. Come on, you men of Israel, let's all go home!" 2So the men of Israel deserted David and followed Sheba. But the men of Judah stayed with their king and escorted him from the Jordan River to Jerusalem.
3When the king arrived at his palace in Jerusalem, he instructed that the ten concubines he had left to keep house should be placed in seclusion. Their needs were to be cared for, he said, but he would no longer sleep with them. So each of them lived like a widow until she died.
4Then the king instructed Amasa to mobilize the army of Judah within three days and to report back at that time. 5So Amasa went out to notify the troops, but it took him longer than the three days he had been given. 6Then David said to Abishai, "That troublemaker Sheba is going to hurt us more than Absalom did. Quick, take my troops and chase after him before he gets into a fortified city where we can't reach him."
7So Abishai and Joab set out after Sheba with an elite guard from Joab's army and the king's own bodyguard. 8As they arrived at the great stone in Gibeon, Amasa met them, coming from the opposite direction. Joab was wearing his uniform with a dagger strapped to his belt. As he stepped forward to greet Amasa, he secretly slipped the dagger from its sheath. 9"How are you, my cousin?" Joab said and took him by the beard with his right hand as though to kiss him. 10Amasa didn't notice the dagger in his left hand, and Joab stabbed him in the stomach with it so that his insides gushed out onto the ground. Joab did not need to strike again, and Amasa soon died. Joab and his brother Abishai left him lying there and continued after Sheba.
11One of Joab's young officers shouted to Amasa's troops, "If you are for Joab and David, come and follow Joab." 12But Amasa lay in his blood in the middle of the road, and Joab's officer saw that a crowd was gathering around to stare at him. So he pulled him off the road into a field and threw a cloak over him. 13With Amasa's body out of the way, everyone went on with Joab to capture Sheba.
14Meanwhile, Sheba had traveled across Israel to mobilize his own clan of Bicri at the city of Abel-beth-maacah. 15When Joab's forces arrived, they attacked Abel-beth-maacah and built a ramp against the city wall and began battering it down. 16But a wise woman in the city called out to Joab, "Listen to me, Joab. Come over here so I can talk to you." 17As he approached, the woman asked, "Are you Joab?"
"I am," he replied.
So she said, "Listen carefully to your servant."
"I'm listening," he said.
18Then she continued, "There used to be a saying, `If you want to settle an argument, ask advice at the city of Abel.' 19I am one who is peace loving and faithful in Israel. But you are destroying a loyal city. Why do you want to destroy what belongs to the LORD?"
20And Joab replied, "Believe me, I don't want to destroy your city! 21All I want is a man named Sheba son of Bicri from the hill country of Ephraim, who has revolted against King David. If you hand him over to me, we will leave the city in peace."
"All right," the woman replied, "we will throw his head over the wall to you." 22Then the woman went to the people with her wise advice, and they cut off Sheba's head and threw it out to Joab. So he blew the trumpet and called his troops back from the attack, and they all returned to their homes. Joab returned to the king at Jerusalem.
23Joab once again became the commander of David's army. Benaiah son of Jehoiada was commander of the king's bodyguard. 24Adoniram was in charge of the labor force. Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was the royal historian. 25Sheva was the court secretary. Zadok and Abiathar were the priests. 26Ira the Jairite was David's personal priest.
David Avenges the Gibeonites
1There was a famine during David's reign that lasted for three years, so David asked the LORD about it. And the LORD said, "The famine has come because Saul and his family are guilty of murdering the Gibeonites."
2So King David summoned the Gibeonites. They were not part of Israel but were all that was left of the nation of the Amorites. Israel had sworn not to kill them, but Saul, in his zeal, had tried to wipe them out. 3David asked them, "What can I do for you to make amends? Tell me so that the LORD will bless his people again."
4"Well, money won't do it," the Gibeonites replied. "And we don't want to see the Israelites executed in revenge."
"What can I do then?" David asked. "Just tell me and I will do it for you."
5Then they replied, "It was Saul who planned to destroy us, to keep us from having any place at all in Israel. 6So let seven of Saul's sons or grandsons be handed over to us, and we will execute them before the LORD at Gibeon, on the mountain of the LORD."
"All right," the king said, "I will do it." 7David spared Jonathan's son Mephibosheth, who was Saul's grandson, because of the oath David and Jonathan had sworn before the LORD. 8But he gave them Saul's two sons Armoni and Mephibosheth, whose mother was Rizpah daughter of Aiah. He also gave them the five sons of Saul's daughter Merab, the wife of Adriel son of Barzillai from Meholah. 9The men of Gibeon executed them on the mountain before the LORD. So all seven of them died together at the beginning of the barley harvest.
10Then Rizpah, the mother of two of the men, spread sackcloth on a rock and stayed there the entire harvest season. She prevented vultures from tearing at their bodies during the day and stopped wild animals from eating them at night. 11When David learned what Rizpah, Saul's concubine, had done, 12he went to the people of Jabesh-gilead and asked for the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan. (When Saul and Jonathan had died in a battle with the Philistines, it was the people of Jabesh-gilead who had retrieved their bodies from the public square of the Philistine city of Beth-shan.) 13So David brought the bones of Saul and Jonathan, as well as the bones of the men the Gibeonites had executed. 14He buried them all in the tomb of Kish, Saul's father, at the town of Zela in the land of Benjamin. After that, God ended the famine in the land of Israel.
Battles against Philistine Giants
15Once again the Philistines were at war with Israel. And when David and his men were in the thick of battle, David became weak and exhausted. 16Ishbi-benob was a descendant of the giants; his bronze spearhead weighed more than seven pounds, and he was armed with a new sword. He had cornered David and was about to kill him. 17But Abishai son of Zeruiah came to his rescue and killed the Philistine. After that, David's men declared, "You are not going out to battle again! Why should we risk snuffing out the light of Israel?"
18After this, there was another battle against the Philistines at Gob. As they fought, Sibbecai from Hushah killed Saph, another descendant of the giants. 19In still another battle at Gob, Elhanan son of Jair from Bethlehem killed the brother of Goliath of Gath. The handle of his spear was as thick as a weaver's beam! 20In another battle with the Philistines at Gath, a huge man with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot--a descendant of the giants-- 21defied and taunted Israel. But he was killed by Jonathan, the son of David's brother Shimea. 22These four Philistines were descended from the giants of Gath, but they were killed by David and his warriors.
Davids Song of Praise
1David sang this song to the LORD after the LORD had rescued him from all his enemies and from Saul. 2These are the words he sang:
"The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior;
my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.
He is my shield, the strength of my salvation, and my stronghold,
my high tower, my savior, the one who saves me from violence.
I will call on the LORD, who is worthy of praise,
for he saves me from my enemies.
"The waves of death surrounded me;
the floods of destruction swept over me.
The grave wrapped its ropes around me;
death itself stared me in the face.
But in my distress I cried out to the LORD;
yes, I called to my God for help.
He heard me from his sanctuary;
my cry reached his ears.
"Then the earth quaked and trembled;
the foundations of the heavens shook;
they quaked because of his anger.
Smoke poured from his nostrils;
fierce flames leaped from his mouth;
glowing coals flamed forth from him.
He opened the heavens and came down;
dark storm clouds were beneath his feet.
Mounted on a mighty angel, he flew,
soaring on the wings of the wind.
He shrouded himself in darkness,
veiling his approach with dense rain clouds.
A great brightness shone before him,
and bolts of lightning blazed forth.
The LORD thundered from heaven;
the Most High gave a mighty shout.
He shot his arrows and scattered his enemies;
his lightning flashed, and they were confused.
Then at the command of the LORD,
at the blast of his breath,
the bottom of the sea could be seen,
and the foundations of the earth were laid bare.
"He reached down from heaven and rescued me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
He delivered me from my powerful enemies,
from those who hated me and were too strong for me.
They attacked me at a moment when I was weakest,
but the LORD upheld me.
He led me to a place of safety;
he rescued me because he delights in me.
The LORD rewarded me for doing right;
he compensated me because of my innocence.
For I have kept the ways of the LORD;
I have not turned from my God to follow evil.
For all his laws are constantly before me;
I have never abandoned his principles.
I am blameless before God;
I have kept myself from sin.
The LORD rewarded me for doing right,
because of my innocence in his sight.
"To the faithful you show yourself faithful;
to those with integrity you show integrity.
To the pure you show yourself pure,
but to the wicked you show yourself hostile.
You rescue those who are humble,
but your eyes are on the proud to humiliate them.
O LORD, you are my light;
yes, LORD, you light up my darkness.
In your strength I can crush an army;
with my God I can scale any wall.
"As for God, his way is perfect.
All the LORD's promises prove true.
He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.
For who is God except the LORD?
Who but our God is a solid rock?
God is my strong fortress;
he has made my way safe.
He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
leading me safely along the mountain heights.
He prepares me for battle;
he strengthens me to draw a bow of bronze.
You have given me the shield of your salvation;
your help has made me great.
You have made a wide path for my feet
to keep them from slipping.
"I chased my enemies and destroyed them;
I did not stop until they were conquered.
I consumed them; I struck them down so they could not get up;
they fell beneath my feet.
You have armed me with strength for the battle;
you have subdued my enemies under my feet.
You made them turn and run;
I have destroyed all who hated me.
They called for help, but no one came to rescue them.
They cried to the LORD, but he refused to answer them.
I ground them as fine as the dust of the earth;
I swept them into the gutter like dirt.
"You gave me victory over my accusers.
You preserved me as the ruler over nations;
people I don't even know now serve me.
Foreigners cringe before me;
as soon as they hear of me, they submit.
They all lose their courage
and come trembling from their strongholds.
"The LORD lives! Blessed be my rock!
May God, the rock of my salvation, be exalted!
He is the God who pays back those who harm me;
he subdues the nations under me
and rescues me from my enemies.
You hold me safe beyond the reach of my enemies;
you save me from violent opponents.
For this, O LORD, I will praise you among the nations;
I will sing joyfully to your name.
You give great victories to your king;
you show unfailing love to your anointed,
to David and all his descendants forever."
Davids Last Words
1These are the last words of David:
"David, the son of Jesse, speaks--
David, the man to whom God gave such wonderful success,
David, the man anointed by the God of Jacob,
David, the sweet psalmist of Israel.
"The Spirit of the LORD speaks through me;
his words are upon my tongue.
The God of Israel spoke.
The Rock of Israel said to me:
`The person who rules righteously,
who rules in the fear of God,
he is like the light of the morning,
like the sunrise bursting forth in a cloudless sky,
like the refreshing rains that bring tender grass from the earth.'
"It is my family God has chosen!
Yes, he has made an everlasting covenant with me.
His agreement is eternal, final, sealed.
He will constantly look after my safety and success.
But the godless are like thorns to be thrown away,
for they tear the hand that touches them.
One must be armed to chop them down;
they will be utterly consumed with fire."
Davids Mightiest Men
8These are the names of David's mightiest men. The first was Jashobeam the Hacmonite, who was commander of the Three--the three greatest warriors among David's men. He once used his spear to kill eight hundred enemy warriors in a single battle.
9Next in rank among the Three was Eleazar son of Dodai, a descendant of Ahoah. Once Eleazar and David stood together against the Philistines when the entire Israelite army had fled. 10He killed Philistines until his hand was too tired to lift his sword, and the LORD gave him a great victory that day. The rest of the army did not return until it was time to collect the plunder!
11Next in rank was Shammah son of Agee from Harar. One time the Philistines gathered at Lehi and attacked the Israelites in a field full of lentils. The Israelite army fled, 12but Shammah held his ground in the middle of the field and beat back the Philistines. So the LORD brought about a great victory.
13Once during harvesttime, when David was at the cave of Adullam, the Philistine army was camped in the valley of Rephaim. The Three (who were among the Thirty--an elite group among David's fighting men) went down to meet him there. 14David was staying in the stronghold at the time, and a Philistine detachment had occupied the town of Bethlehem. 15David remarked longingly to his men, "Oh, how I would love some of that good water from the well in Bethlehem, the one by the gate." 16So the Three broke through the Philistine lines, drew some water from the well, and brought it back to David. But he refused to drink it. Instead, he poured it out before the LORD. 17"The LORD forbid that I should drink this!" he exclaimed. "This water is as precious as the blood of these men who risked their lives to bring it to me." So David did not drink it. This is an example of the exploits of the Three.
Davids Thirty Mighty Men
18Abishai son of Zeruiah, the brother of Joab, was the leader of the Thirty. He once used his spear to kill three hundred enemy warriors in a single battle. It was by such feats that he became as famous as the Three. 19Abishai was the most famous of the Thirty and was their commander, though he was not one of the Three.
20There was also Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant warrior from Kabzeel. He did many heroic deeds, which included killing two of Moab's mightiest warriors. Another time he chased a lion down into a pit. Then, despite the snow and slippery ground, he caught the lion and killed it. 21Another time, armed only with a club, he killed a great Egyptian warrior who was armed with a spear. Benaiah wrenched the spear from the Egyptian's hand and killed him with it. 22These are some of the deeds that made Benaiah almost as famous as the Three. 23He was more honored than the other members of the Thirty, though he was not one of the Three. And David made him commander of his bodyguard.
24Other members of the Thirty included:
Asahel, Joab's brother;
Elhanan son of Dodo from Bethlehem;
Shammah from Harod;
Elika from Harod;
Helez from Pelon;
Ira son of Ikkesh from Tekoa;
Abiezer from Anathoth;
Sibbecai from Hushah;
Zalmon from Ahoah;
Maharai from Netophah;
Heled son of Baanah from Netophah;
Ithai son of Ribai from Gibeah (from the tribe of Benjamin);
Benaiah from Pirathon;
Hurai from Nahale-gaash;
Abi-albon the Arbathite;
Azmaveth from Bahurim;
Eliahba from Shaalbon;
the sons of Jashen;
Jonathan son of Shagee from Harar;
Ahiam son of Sharar from Harar;
Eliphelet son of Ahasbai from Maacah;
Eliam son of Ahithophel from Giloh;
Hezro from Carmel;
Paarai from Arba;
Igal son of Nathan from Zobah;
Bani from Gad;
Zelek from Ammon;
Naharai from Beeroth (Joab's armor bearer);
Ira from Jattir;
Gareb from Jattir;
Uriah the Hittite.
There were thirty-seven in all.
David Takes a Census
1Once again the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and he caused David to harm them by taking a census. "Go and count the people of Israel and Judah," the LORD told him.
2So the king said to Joab, the commander of his army, "Take a census of all the people in the land--from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south--so that I may know how many people there are."
3But Joab replied to the king, "May the LORD your God let you live until there are a hundred times as many people in your kingdom as there are now! But why do you want to do this?"
4But the king insisted that they take the census, so Joab and his officers went out to count the people of Israel. 5First they crossed the Jordan and camped at Aroer, south of the town in the valley, in the direction of Gad. Then they went on to Jazer, 6then to Gilead in the land of Tahtim-hodshi and to Dan-jaan and around to Sidon. 7Then they came to the stronghold of Tyre, and all the cities of the Hivites and Canaanites. Finally, they went south to Judah as far as Beersheba. 8Having gone through the entire land, they completed their task in nine months and twenty days and then returned to Jerusalem. 9Joab reported the number of people to the king. There were 800,000 men of military age in Israel and 500,000 in Judah.
Judgment for Davids Sin
10But after he had taken the census, David's conscience began to bother him. And he said to the LORD, "I have sinned greatly and shouldn't have taken the census. Please forgive me, LORD, for doing this foolish thing."
11The next morning the word of the LORD came to the prophet Gad, who was David's seer. This was the message: 12"Go and say to David, `This is what the LORD says: I will give you three choices. Choose one of these punishments, and I will do it.' "
13So Gad came to David and asked him, "Will you choose three years of famine throughout the land, three months of fleeing from your enemies, or three days of severe plague throughout your land? Think this over and let me know what answer to give the LORD."
14"This is a desperate situation!" David replied to Gad. "But let us fall into the hands of the LORD, for his mercy is great. Do not let me fall into human hands."
15So the LORD sent a plague upon Israel that morning, and it lasted for three days. Seventy thousand people died throughout the nation. 16But as the death angel was preparing to destroy Jerusalem, the LORD relented and said to the angel, "Stop! That is enough!" At that moment the angel of the LORD was by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.
17When David saw the angel, he said to the LORD, "I am the one who has sinned and done wrong! But these people are innocent--what have they done? Let your anger fall against me and my family."
David Builds an Altar
18That day Gad came to David and said to him, "Go and build an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite."
19So David went to do what the LORD had commanded him. 20When Araunah saw the king and his men coming toward him, he came forward and bowed before the king with his face to the ground. 21"Why have you come, my lord?" Araunah asked.
And David replied, "I have come to buy your threshing floor and to build an altar to the LORD there, so that the LORD will stop the plague."
22"Take it, my lord, and use it as you wish," Araunah said to David. "Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and you can use the threshing tools and ox yokes for wood to build a fire on the altar. 23I will give it all to you, and may the LORD your God accept your sacrifice."
24But the king replied to Araunah, "No, I insist on buying it, for I cannot present burnt offerings to the LORD my God that have cost me nothing." So David paid him fifty pieces of silver for the threshing floor and the oxen. 25David built an altar there to the LORD and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. And the LORD answered his prayer, and the plague was stopped.