Add parallel Print Page Options

Joab Scolds David

19 People told Joab what had happened, “Look, the king is crying and mourning for Absalom.” So the joy of victory turned to sadness for everyone. It was a very sad day because the people heard, “The king is mourning for his son.”

The people came into the city quietly as if they were the ones who had been defeated in battle. The king had covered his face and was crying loudly, “O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!”

Joab came into the king’s palace and said to the king, “You are humiliating every one of your officers! Look, they saved your life today and the lives of your sons and daughters and your wives and slave women. It seems that you love those who hate you, and you hate those who love you! Today you have made it clear to your officers and men that they mean nothing to you. It appears as if you would have been perfectly happy if Absalom had lived and the rest of us had been killed today! Now get up and go encourage your officers. I swear by the Lord, if you don’t go out and do that right now, not one man will be with you tonight. And that will be worse for you than all the trouble you have had since you were a child.”

So the king went to the city gate.[a] The news spread that the king was at the gate, so all the people came to see him, except for the Israelites who had run away to their homes.

David Is King Again

The tribes of Israel began discussing what to do next. They said, “King David saved us from the Philistines and our other enemies. David left the country because he was running away from Absalom. 10 We anointed Absalom to be the king, but he was killed in battle. So we should bring David back to be the king again.”

11 King David sent a message to Zadok and Abiathar the priests. David said, “Speak to the leaders of Judah and tell them, ‘Why are you the last tribe to bring King David back home? See, all the Israelites are talking about bringing the king back home. 12 You are my brothers, my family, so why are you the last tribe to bring the king back?’ 13 Also tell Amasa, ‘You are part of my family. I swear that I will make you captain of the army in Joab’s place.’”

14 David touched the hearts of the people of Judah, and they all agreed as one. The people of Judah sent a message to the king, saying, “You and all your officers come back!”

15 King David came to the Jordan River. The people of Judah came to Gilgal to meet the king and take him across the Jordan River.

Shimei Asks David to Forgive Him

16 Shimei son of Gera, from the tribe of Benjamin, lived in Bahurim. Shimei rushed down to meet King David, with the rest of the people of Judah. 17 About 1000 people from the tribe of Benjamin came with Shimei. Ziba the servant from Saul’s family also came. Ziba brought his 15 sons and 20 servants with him. All these people hurried to the Jordan River to meet King David.

18 The people went across the Jordan River to help bring the king’s family back to Judah. They did whatever the king wanted. While the king was crossing the river, Shimei son of Gera came to meet him. He bowed down to the ground in front of the king. 19 Shimei said to the king, “My lord, don’t think about the wrong things I did. My lord and king, don’t remember the bad things I did when you left Jerusalem. 20 I know that I sinned. That is why today I am the first person from Joseph’s family[b] to come down and meet you, my lord and king.”

21 Abishai son of Zeruiah said, “Let’s kill him for all the bad things he said about the Lord’s chosen king.[c]

22 David said, “What should I do with you, sons of Zeruiah? Are you trying to cause me trouble? No one will be put to death in Israel today! Today I know that I am king over Israel.”

23 Then the king said to Shimei, “You will not die.” The king made a promise to Shimei that he himself would not kill Shimei.[d]

Mephibosheth Goes to See David

24 Saul’s grandson,[e] Mephibosheth, came down to meet King David. Mephibosheth had not cared for his feet, trimmed his mustache, or washed his clothes since the day the king left Jerusalem. 25 When he met the king at Jerusalem, the king said, “Mephibosheth, why didn’t you go with me when I ran away from Jerusalem?”

26 Mephibosheth answered, “My lord and king, my servant tricked me. I am crippled so I said to my servant, Ziba, ‘Go saddle a donkey for me so that I can go with the king.’ 27 But my servant tricked me and said bad things about me. My lord and king, you are like an angel from God. Do whatever you think is right. 28 You could have killed all my grandfather’s[f] family, but you did not do that. Instead, you included me among the people who eat at your own table. So I don’t have a right to complain to the king about anything.”

29 The king said to Mephibosheth, “Don’t say anything more about your problems. This is what I have decided: You and Ziba will divide the land.”

30 Mephibosheth said to the king, “My lord and king, it is enough that you have come home in peace. Let Ziba have the land.”

David Asks Barzillai to Come With Him

31 Barzillai of Gilead came down from Rogelim to cross the Jordan River with King David and send him on his way home. 32 Barzillai was a very old man, 80 years old. He had given the king food and other things when David was staying at Mahanaim. Barzillai could do this because he was a very rich man. 33 David said to Barzillai, “Come across the river with me. I will take care of you if you will live in Jerusalem with me.”

34 But Barzillai said to the king, “Do you know how old I am? Do you think I can go with you to Jerusalem? 35 I am 80 years old! I am too old to tell what is bad or good. I cannot taste what I eat or drink or hear the voices of men and women singers. Why should you want to be bothered with me? 36 I don’t need any of the things that you want to give me. I will cross the Jordan River with you. 37 Then please let me go back so that I can die in my own town and be buried in the grave of my father and mother. But here is Kimham; take him back with you as a servant, my lord and king. Do whatever you want with him.”

38 The king answered, “Kimham will go back with me. I will be kind to him for you. I will do anything for you.”

David Goes Back Home

39 The king kissed Barzillai and blessed him. Barzillai went back home, and the king and all the people went across the river.

40 The king crossed the Jordan River to Gilgal. Kimham went with him. All the people of Judah and half the people of Israel led David across the river.

Israelites Argue With the People of Judah

41 All the Israelites came to the king and said to him, “Why did our brothers, the people of Judah, steal you away? Why did they bring you and your family back across the Jordan River with your men?”

42 All the people of Judah answered the Israelites, “We did it because the king is our close relative. Why are you angry with us about this? We have not eaten food at the king’s expense. The king did not give us any gifts.”

43 The Israelites answered, “We have ten shares in David,[g] so we have more right to David than you do. Why did you ignore us? We were the first ones to talk about bringing our king back.”

But the people of Judah replied with words that were even louder and angrier than those of the Israelites.

Sheba Leads Israel Away From David

20 At that place there was a man named Sheba son of Bicri. Sheba was a worthless troublemaker from the tribe of Benjamin. He blew a trumpet to gather the people together and said,

“We have no share in David.
    We have no part in the son of Jesse.
Israel, let’s all go home.”

So all the Israelites[h] left David and followed Sheba son of Bicri. But the people from Judah stayed with their king all the way from the Jordan River to Jerusalem.

David went back to his house in Jerusalem. He had left ten of his slave women to take care of the house. He put these women in a special house.[i] Then he put guards around the house. They stayed in this house until they died. David took care of the women and gave them food, but he did not have sexual relations with them. They lived like widows until they died.

The king told Amasa, “Tell the people of Judah to meet with me in three days. You must be here, too.”

So Amasa called the people of Judah together, but he took longer than the king had told him.

David Tells Abishai to Kill Sheba

David said to Abishai, “Sheba son of Bicri is more dangerous to us than Absalom was. So take my officers and chase Sheba. Hurry before he gets into cities with walls. If he gets into the well-protected cities, we will not be able to get him.”

So Joab took the Kerethites and Pelethites[j] and the other soldiers with him and left Jerusalem to chase after Sheba son of Bicri.

Joab Kills Amasa

When Joab and the army came to Big Rock at Gibeon, Amasa came out to meet them. Joab was wearing his uniform with a belt that held a knife. As he walked toward Amasa, the knife on the belt came out. Joab asked Amasa, “How are you doing, brother?” Joab reached out with his right hand and grabbed Amasa by the beard to greet him with a kiss. 10 Amasa didn’t see the knife that was now in Joab’s other hand. Joab stabbed him in the belly, and Amasa’s intestines spilled out on the ground. There was no need for Joab to stab him again; he was already dead.

David’s Men Continue to Look for Sheba

Then Joab and his brother Abishai resumed the chase after Sheba son of Bicri. 11 One of Joab’s young soldiers stood by Amasa’s body and said, “All of you who support Joab and David, let’s follow Joab.”

12 Amasa was there in the middle of road, lying in his own blood. The young soldier noticed that all the people kept stopping to look at the body, so he rolled the body off the road and into the field and covered it with a cloth. 13 Once the body was out of the way, the people simply passed it by and joined up with Joab to go after Sheba son of Bicri.

Sheba Escapes to Abel Beth Maacah

14 Sheba son of Bicri passed through all the tribes of Israel on his way to Abel Beth Maacah. All the Berites[k] joined together and followed Sheba.

15 When Joab and his men came to Abel Beth Maacah, they surrounded the town. They piled dirt up against the city wall and began breaking stones out of the wall to make it fall down.

16 But there was a very wise woman in that city who shouted out to them and said, “Listen to me! Tell Joab to come here. I want to talk with him.”

17 Joab went to talk with the woman. She asked him, “Are you Joab?”

Joab answered, “Yes, I am.”

Then the woman said, “Listen to me.”

Joab said, “I am listening.”

18 Then the woman said, “In the past people would say, ‘Ask for help in Abel and you will get what you need.’ 19 I am one of many peaceful, loyal people in this town. You are trying to destroy an important city of Israel. Why do you want to destroy something that belongs to the Lord?”

20 Joab answered, “I don’t want to destroy anything. I don’t want to ruin your city. 21 But there is a man in your city from the hill country of Ephraim. He is named Sheba son of Bicri. He rebelled against King David. Bring him to me, and I will leave the city alone.”

The woman said to Joab, “All right. His head will be thrown over the wall to you.”

22 Then the woman spoke very wisely to all the people of the city. They cut off the head of Sheba son of Bicri and threw it over the city wall to Joab.

So Joab blew the trumpet and the army left the city. The soldiers went home, and Joab went back to the king in Jerusalem.

The People on David’s Staff

23 Joab was captain of the whole army of Israel. Benaiah son of Jehoiada led the Kerethites and Pelethites. 24 Adoniram led the men who were forced to do hard work. Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was the historian. 25 Sheva was the secretary. Zadok and Abiathar were the priests. 26 And Ira from Jair was David’s personal priest.[l]

Saul’s Family Punished

21 While David was king, there was a famine that continued for three years. So David prayed to the Lord. And the Lord answered, “Saul and his family of murderers[m] are the reason for the famine, because he killed the Gibeonites.” (The Gibeonites were not Israelites. They were a group of Amorites. The Israelites had promised not to hurt them,[n] but Saul tried to kill the Gibeonites. He did this because of his strong feelings for the people of Israel and Judah.)

King David called the Gibeonites together and talked to them. David said to the Gibeonites, “What can I do for you? What can I do to take away Israel’s sin, so that you can bless the Lord’s people?”

The Gibeonites said to David, “There isn’t enough gold and silver for Saul’s family to pay for what they did. But we don’t have the right to kill anyone else in Israel.”

David said, “Well, what can I do for you?”

The Gibeonites said to King David, “The person who plotted against us was Saul. He is the one who tried to destroy all our people living in the land of Israel. Give us seven of Saul’s sons. Saul was the Lord’s chosen king,[o] so we will hang his sons in front of the Lord on Mount Gibeah of Saul.”

King David said, “All right, I will give them to you.” But the king protected Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth. Jonathan was Saul’s son, and David had made a promise in the Lord’s name to Jonathan.[p] So the king did not let them hurt Mephibosheth. David gave them Armoni and Mephibosheth.[q] These were the sons of Saul and Rizpah. Saul also had a daughter named Merab who was married to Adriel son of Barzillai, from Meholah. David took the five sons of Merab and Adriel. David gave these seven men to the Gibeonites who then brought them to Mount Gibeah and hanged them in front of the Lord. Those seven men died together in the spring, during the first days of the barley harvest.

David and Rizpah

10 Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took a mourning cloth and put it on the rock.[r] That cloth stayed on the rock from the time the harvest began until the rains came. Rizpah watched the bodies day and night. She protected them from the wild birds during the day and the wild animals at night.

11 People told David what Saul’s slave woman Rizpah was doing. 12 Then David took the bones of Saul and Jonathan from the men of Jabesh Gilead. (The men of Jabesh Gilead got these bones after Saul and Jonathan were killed at Gilboa. The Philistines had hanged the bodies of Saul and Jonathan on a wall in Beth Shan.[s] But the men of Beth Shan went there and stole the bodies from that public area.) 13 David brought the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from Jabesh Gilead and buried them with the bodies of the seven men who were hanged. 14 They buried the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan in the area of Benjamin, in one of the tunnels in the grave of Saul’s father Kish, as the king commanded. After that God again listened to the prayers of the people in that land.

War With the Philistines

15 The Philistines started another war with Israel. David and his men went out to fight the Philistines, but David became very tired and weak. 16 Ishbi-Benob was one of the giants.[t] His spear weighed over 7 pounds.[u] He put on new armor and thought he would be able to kill David. 17 But Abishai son of Zeruiah killed this giant Philistine and saved David’s life.

Then David’s men made him promise that he would not go out to battle anymore. They said, “If you do, Israel might lose its brightest leader.”

18 Later, there was another battle with the Philistines at Gob. Sibbecai the Hushathite killed Saph, another one of the giants.

19 Later, there was another battle at Gob against the Philistines. Elhanan the son of Jaare Oregim from Bethlehem killed Lahmi, the brother of Goliath from Gath.[v] His spear was as big as a post.[w]

20 There was another battle at Gath. There was a very large man who had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot. He had 24 fingers and toes in all. This man was also one of the giants. 21 This man challenged Israel and made fun of them, but Jonathan killed this man. (This was Jonathan, the son of David’s brother Shimei.)

22 All four of these men were giants from Gath. They were killed by David and his men.


  1. 2 Samuel 19:8 city gate This was where the public meetings were held.
  2. 2 Samuel 19:20 Joseph’s family This probably means the Israelites who followed Absalom. Many times the name Ephraim (a son of Joseph) is used for all the tribes in northern Israel.
  3. 2 Samuel 19:21 chosen king Literally, “anointed one.”
  4. 2 Samuel 19:23 David did not kill Shimei. But a few years later, David’s son Solomon ordered Shimei to be put to death. See 1 Kings 2:44-46.
  5. 2 Samuel 19:24 grandson Literally, “son.”
  6. 2 Samuel 19:28 grandfather’s Literally, “father’s.”
  7. 2 Samuel 19:43 ten shares in David Judah and Benjamin were two of the tribes that later became the kingdom of Judah after the kingdom split. The other ten tribes were in the kingdom of Israel.
  8. 2 Samuel 20:2 Israelites Here, this means the tribes not united with Judah.
  9. 2 Samuel 20:3 David … special house David’s son Absalom had ruined David’s concubines by having sexual relations with them. See 2 Sam. 16:21-22.
  10. 2 Samuel 20:7 Kerethites and Pelethites David’s special group of fighting men. Also in verse 23.
  11. 2 Samuel 20:14 Berites The Greek and Latin versions have “Bicrites.”
  12. 2 Samuel 20:26 personal priest Or “chief servant” or “advisor.”
  13. 2 Samuel 21:1 family of murderers Literally, “house of blood.”
  14. 2 Samuel 21:2 The Israelites … them This happened in Joshua’s time when the Gibeonites tricked the Israelites. Read Josh. 9:3-15.
  15. 2 Samuel 21:6 chosen king Literally, “anointed one.”
  16. 2 Samuel 21:7 David had made … to Jonathan David and Jonathan promised each other they would not harm each other’s families. Read 1 Sam. 20:12-23, 42.
  17. 2 Samuel 21:8 Mephibosheth This is another man named Mephibosheth, not Jonathan’s son.
  18. 2 Samuel 21:10 rock This might be the Big Rock at Gibeon (read 2 Sam. 20:8), the rock that the bodies were lying on, or a rock that marked the place where her sons were buried.
  19. 2 Samuel 21:12 Beth Shan Or possibly, “Beth Shean.”
  20. 2 Samuel 21:16 one of the giants Or “a son of Rapha (Rephaim).” Also in verses 18, 20, 22.
  21. 2 Samuel 21:16 over 7 pounds Literally, “300 shekels of bronze” (3.45 kg).
  22. 2 Samuel 21:19 Lahmi … Gath See 1 Chron. 20:5.
  23. 2 Samuel 21:19 post Literally, “a weaver’s rod,” the large beam across a loom.

Bible Gateway Recommends

PDT Flexcover Bible, Case of 24
PDT Flexcover Bible, Case of 24
Retail: $215.76
Our Price: $159.99
Save: $55.77 (26%)
PDT Spanish Paperback Bible, Case of 28
PDT Spanish Paperback Bible, Case of 28
Retail: $279.72
Our Price: $206.99
Save: $72.73 (26%)
ERV God's Word: Your Journey to Freedom
ERV God's Word: Your Journey to Freedom
Retail: $7.99
Our Price: $6.99
Save: $1.00 (13%)
5.0 of 5.0 stars
ERV Duotone Bible, Burgundy/Tan - Case of 24
ERV Duotone Bible, Burgundy/Tan - Case of 24
Retail: $455.76
Our Price: $334.99
Save: $120.77 (26%)
ERV Holy Bible--soft leather-look, teal
ERV Holy Bible--soft leather-look, teal
Retail: $18.99
Our Price: $13.99
Save: $5.00 (26%)
4.5 of 5.0 stars
ERV Flexcover Bible, Case of 28
ERV Flexcover Bible, Case of 28
Retail: $223.72
Our Price: $166.99
Save: $56.73 (25%)