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2 Samuel 15-17 The Voice (VOICE)

15 After this, Absalom acquired a chariot and horses, and he hired 50 men to run ahead of him. Now Absalom made it a practice to rise early and stand beside the road leading into one of Jerusalem’s gates. When someone came along who wanted to petition the king, he would ask, “What is your city?” The person would answer, “Your servant is from a certain tribe of Israel.”

Absalom: I’m sure your claims are truthful and have merit, but the king has not appointed anyone to hear your case. If only I were appointed the authority in the land! Then anyone with a petition could come before me, and I would give him justice!

When people came to Absalom to show their respects, he would embrace them and kiss them. Absalom did this to everyone who sought justice from the king; and in this way, he made himself the favorite of the people of Israel.

When four[a] years had passed, Absalom went to his father the king.

Absalom: My king, please let me go to Hebron and satisfy the vow I made to the Eternal One. I made a promise when I lived at Geshur in Aram: “If ever the Eternal will bring me back to Jerusalem, then I will go and serve Him [in Hebron.]”[b]

David: Go in peace.

So he got up and traveled to Hebron. But this was all part of Absalom’s plan to come to power. 10 He had secretly planted messengers in all the tribes of Israel with these instructions: “As soon as you hear the trumpet play, then shout that Absalom has been crowned king in Hebron.”

Absalom is planning to follow in his father’s footsteps, for Hebron is where David was first crowned king.

11 Two hundred men from Jerusalem who were ignorant of Absalom’s plan were his invited guests on the journey. 12 While Absalom was offering sacrifices to God, he sent for David’s counselor Ahithophel of Giloh. The rebellion grew in power and number, 13 and at last a messenger came to David.

Messenger: Absalom has captured the loyalty of the people of Israel.

14 David could see now that he had been outmaneuvered, so he called for his advisors in Jerusalem and instructed them.

David: Gather your things, and let’s flee from the city right now, or we won’t escape Absalom’s revolt. Hurry, or he will catch us and kill us and anyone left in the city.

David’s Advisors: 15 We will do whatever you tell us to do.

16 So the king with his household, all the people loyal to David in Jerusalem, left. David left behind 10 royal concubines, members of his harem, and he gave them responsibility over the palace. 17 The king’s entourage stopped at the last house on the edge of the city. 18 Then all those who served him, the Cherethites, the Pelethites, and the 600 Gittites who had followed David since he had been exiled in the Philistine city of Gath, went ahead. 19 David turned to Ittai the Gittite, who had been with David since the days of Saul.

David: Why are you coming with us? Go back and make friends with the new king, for you are a foreigner, in exile from your home. 20 You came to us only recently; why should you have to wander with us wherever I have to go? Go back and take your people with you, and may the Lord show unfailing mercy to you and be ever faithful.

Ittai the Gittite: 21 As sure as the Eternal One lives and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king goes, in death or in life, I will follow him.

David: 22 All right, then. Let’s march.

So Ittai the Gittite went with David, bringing all the men, women, and children who were with him. 23 The whole country seemed to weep as David and his followers departed. The king crossed over the Kidron stream, and they all continued toward the desert wilderness.

24 Abiathar, Zadok, and all the Levite priests traveled with them, carrying the covenant chest of God. The priests had set the chest down beside the road while everyone else departed Jerusalem.

David (to Zadok): 25 Carry the covenant chest of God back into Jerusalem. If the Eternal looks on me with favor, then I will come back someday to see it in its place in Jerusalem where it belongs. 26 But if He says, “I am through with you,” then I stand ready to endure whatever He wills.

27 But as for you and your son Ahimaaz, and Abiathar and his son Jonathan, can’t you see that you should go back into Jerusalem in peace? 28 I will be waiting in the wilderness until you send me news.

29 So Zadok and Abiathar returned the covenant chest of God to Jerusalem, and they remained there.

30 But David and all of those who went into exile with him covered their heads; and weeping, they climbed the Mount of Olives out of the city, David climbing barefoot. 31 Someone told David that his wise counselor Ahithophel was conspiring with Absalom. So David prayed.

David: O Eternal One, I ask that you turn Ahithophel’s counsel into foolishness.

32 When David reached the top of the mountain where God was worshiped, Hushai the Archite, who had been one of his advisors, joined the group of exiles, grieving with his clothes torn and dirt upon his head.

Since the days of the exodus, Israel has always been something of a “mixed group.” Now during David’s flight from Jerusalem, many non-Israelites pay homage and give loyalty to their king. Hushai the Archite and Barzillai the Gileadite are just two of these.

David: 33 If you go with us, you will only be a burden to me. 34 But if you return to the city, speak to Absalom. Gain his confidence. Tell him you will serve him as king as you once served me, and that way you can block Ahithophel’s advice for me. 35-36 The priests Zadok and Abiathar will be in the city with you. Tell them what you hear in the palace; and they and their sons, Ahimaaz and Jonathan respectively, will pass the news on to me.

37 So David’s counselor and friend Hushai returned to Jerusalem just as Absalom was entering the city.

16 After David and his people passed over the crest of the Mount of Olives, the exiles met Ziba, who served Saul’s son Mephibosheth. Ziba led a couple of donkeys carrying goods: 200 loaves of bread, 100 clumps of raisins, 100 summer fruits, and a wineskin.

David (to Ziba, seeing that Mephibosheth wasn’t with him): Why have you brought these things?

Ziba: The donkeys are for members of the king’s family to ride. The bread and summer fruit are for your young men, and the wine is for those who grow weak in the wilderness.

David: Where is your master’s descendant?

Ziba: He is still in Jerusalem. He says, “Now the people of Israel will give me back my grandfather’s kingdom.”

David: Then all that belonged to Mephibosheth is yours now.

Ziba (bowing): I am your servant. May my lord and king look kindly on me.

They traveled on. When David reached Bahurim, one of Saul’s family, Shimei, the son of Gera, came out of his house and cursed David constantly there in the road, throwing stones at him and at his servants even though David’s soldiers were all around, supporting him.

Shimei (shouting abuse): Go on! Get out, you man of blood! You worthless man! The Eternal One has finally punished you for taking the kingdom from Saul, for shedding the blood of his family and subjects and reigning in his place. That’s why the Eternal One has taken the kingdom from your bloody hands and given it into the hands of your son Absalom.

Abishai, Zeruiah’s son, was offended and amazed.

Abishai: Why should you let this worthless dog curse you, my king? Say the word, and I’ll chop his head off.

David (to Abishai): 10 Why should this matter to you? What do we, sons of Zeruiah, have in common? If he insults me because the Eternal has told him to, who are we to ask him why he does it?

11 (turning to the rest) Listen, Abishai—and all of you! My own son seeks to kill me today, so why shouldn’t this man of Benjamin? Leave him alone and let him curse me, as the Eternal One wills it. 12 Maybe the Eternal will look at everything done against me and render something good in its place today.

13 So they traveled on their way; and Shimei followed, too, along the hill opposite them, shouting curses and throwing stones and flinging dust. 14 David and his men were weary when they at last arrived at the Jordan River, and there they stopped to rest.

15 Meanwhile Absalom and all his people, the men of Israel, came into Jerusalem; and Ahithophel was with him. 16 When Hushai the Archite, David’s friend, came to Absalom, he saluted Absalom.

Hushai: Long live the king! Long live the king!

Absalom: 17 Is this how you repay my father’s friendship? Wouldn’t it be better for you to have followed him?

Hushai: 18 No. I will serve the one whom the Eternal One, these people, and the people of Israel have chosen. I’ll serve him and remain with him. 19 And why shouldn’t I serve the son of my lord? Just as I served him, I will serve you.

Absalom (to Ahithophel): 20 Advise me. What should I do now?

Ahithophel: 21 Make the break with your father complete. Sleep with each woman in your father’s harem whom he left behind to mind the palace. All of Israel will hear how you’ve insulted your father, and they’ll know there’s no turning back now. They will have to be committed to this rebellion.

22 So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the roof of the palace, and all Israel saw that Absalom had slept with his father’s concubines. 23 In those days, both with David and then with Absalom, Ahithophel’s counsel was deemed so wise that it could have come from God Himself, so his advice was highly prized.

17 Ahithophel had a strategy for victory over David and advised Absalom.

Ahithophel: Let me choose 12,000 men, and tonight we will pursue David 2-3 while he is weak and weary. We’ll throw him into a panic; then all of the people will run away from him, come back to you, and be safe. I will strike down the king. If we take only the life of this one man here—your father—then everyone else can return to you.

This advice appealed to Absalom and to Israel’s elders.

Absalom: Call in Hushai the Archite, and see what he thinks.

When Hushai arrived, Absalom told him what Ahithophel had advised.

Absalom: What do you think? Should we do as he suggests? If not, tell us what you’d advise.

Hushai: I don’t think the advice from Ahithophel is good this time, and I’ll tell you why: You know that your father and his men are hardened soldiers. Right now they’re angry, like a bear that’s been robbed of her cubs in the field. Also your father is such a wise warrior that he’ll know he’s our target. He won’t sleep in the same camp with his people. He’s probably hidden in a cave or some other hole where he will be hard to find. When our troops start dying in the first attack, everyone will say, “Absalom’s men are being slaughtered.” 10 Then even the courageous warriors, the ones with the courage of lions, will disintegrate in fear. Everyone in Israel knows that your father is a true warrior, and those with him are hardened veterans.

11 No, my counsel is to take your time. Gather the people of Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, so that you have a large army, like the grains of sand on the beach, and lead them into battle yourself. 12 Wherever David is, we will fall on him like the dew on the ground. We’ll kill him and all who defend him. No one will remain. 13 And if he slips into a fortified city, we’ll have so many men of Israel that we could lasso that city and pull it down into the valley, so that not even a stone would be left in place.

14 Absalom and his counselors decided that Hushai’s plan was better than Ahithophel’s, not knowing that the Eternal One had determined to thwart Ahithophel’s good advice and bring about Absalom’s destruction.

15 After Hushai advised Absalom, he went to the priests Zadok and Abiathar. He wasn’t certain what Absalom would do, so he told them Ahithopel’s plan and his own.

Hushai: 16 Quickly now, send a messenger to David. Tell the king to move deeper into the wilderness, across the river but away from the fords! If he remains where he is tonight, then he and all his followers will be swallowed by Absalom’s forces.

17 The priests’ sons, Jonathan and Ahimaaz, were waiting at En-rogel for news. A servant girl would bring them messages because they couldn’t risk being seen entering the city. When they had something to report, they would go tell King David. 18 But this time they were careless, and a boy saw them and reported it to Absalom. So the two men fled to the house of a man in Bahurim. There was a well in the courtyard, and they lowered themselves into it. 19 The man’s wife put the cover over the well and spread out grain on top of it, so no one could see it was there. 20 When Absalom’s soldiers arrived, they questioned her.

Soldiers: Where are the traitors Ahimaaz and Jonathan?

Wife: Oh, they’ve crossed to the other side of the stream.

The soldiers looked for them, but when they couldn’t find them, they returned to Jerusalem.

21 After the soldiers left, they climbed out of the well and went to speak to King David.

Ahimaaz and Jonathan: Get ready to cross over the river into the wilderness quickly, because here is Ahithophel’s plan of action.

22 And knowing about the danger, David and everyone with him crossed over the Jordan River and moved deep into the wilderness. By daybreak not a single man loyal to David was left on the near side of the Jordan.

23 When Ahithophel saw that his plan was ignored, he knew the best hope for victory was lost. He saddled his donkey and went home; and after setting his affairs in order, he hanged himself and died. He was buried within his father’s tomb.

24 Meanwhile David went on to Mahanaim as Absalom was crossing over the Jordan with all of the men of Israel. 25 Absalom had made Amasa commander of the army, which used to be Joab’s office. Amasa was a nephew of David: his father was Ithra the Israelite[c] who had married Abigail, Nahash’s daughter and also a sister of David and Zeruiah, Joab’s mother. 26 Absalom and the army of Israel camped on the plains of Gilead.

27 When David arrived in Mahanaim, Shobi (the son of Nahash from Rabbah of the Ammonites), Machir (the son of Ammiel from Lo-debar), and Barzillai the Gileadite (from Rogelim) 28 brought beds, basins, earthenware, wheat, barley, meal, parched seeds and grain, beans, lentils, 29 honey, butter, sheep, and local cheese for David and his men to eat; for they knew the men were hungry, tired, and thirsty there in the wilderness.


  1. 15:7 Hebrew manuscripts read, “40”; some manuscripts read, “40 days.”
  2. 15:8 Hebrew manuscripts omit this portion.
  3. 17:25 Some manuscripts read, “Ishmaelite” or “Jezreelite.”
The Voice (VOICE)

The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

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