2 Samuel 15 (NRSV)
Absalom Usurps the Throne
After this Absalom got himself a chariot and horses, and fifty men to run ahead of him. 2Absalom used to rise early and stand beside the road into the gate; and when anyone brought a suit before the king for judgment, Absalom would call out and say, “From what city are you?” When the person said, “Your servant is of such and such a tribe in Israel,” 3Absalom would say, “See, your claims are good and right; but there is no one deputed by the king to hear you.” 4Absalom said moreover, “If only I were judge in the land! Then all who had a suit or cause might come to me, and I would give them justice.”
5Whenever people came near to do obeisance to him, he would put out his hand and take hold of them, and kiss them. 6Thus Absalom did to every Israelite who came to the king for judgment; so Absalom stole the hearts of the people of Israel.
He “stole their hearts,” Scripture says. Absalom knew exactly how to do this.
- He carefully cultivated an exciting, enticing image (chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him)
- He worked hard (Absalom would rise early)
- He knew where to position himself (beside the way to the gate)
- He looked for troubled people (anyone who had a lawsuit)
- He reached out to troubled people (Absalom would call to him)
- He took a personal interest in the troubled person (What city are you from?)
- He sympathized with the person (your case is good and right)
- He never attacked David directly (no deputy of the king to hear you)
- He left the troubled person more troubled (no deputy of the king to hear you)
- Without directly attacking David, Absalom promised to do better (Oh, that I were made judge in the land, and everyone who has any suit or cause would come to me; then I would give him justice)
7At the end of four years Absalom said to the king, “Please let me go to Hebron and pay the vow that I have made to the Lord. 8For your servant made a vow while I lived at Geshur in Aram: If the Lord will indeed bring me back to Jerusalem, then I will worship the Lord in Hebron.”
9The king said to him, “Go in peace.” So he got up, and went to Hebron.
David’s last words to Absalom are — how ironic! — “Go in peace.” Then Absalom went out to overthrow his father.
10But Absalom sent secret messengers throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, “As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then shout: Absalom has become king at Hebron!”
11Two hundred men from Jerusalem went with Absalom; they were invited guests, and they went in their innocence, knowing nothing of the matter. 12While Absalom was offering the sacrifices, he sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counselor, from his city Giloh. The conspiracy grew in strength, and the people with Absalom kept increasing.
To make it look more like succession and less like treason, Absalom connived to have 200 men who were loyal to David there, as well as Ahithophel, Bathsheba’s grandfather. Their presence with Absalom appeared to endorse him.
David Flees from Jerusalem
13A messenger came to David, saying, “The hearts of the Israelites have gone after Absalom.”
14Then David said to all his officials who were with him at Jerusalem, “Get up! Let us flee, or there will be no escape for us from Absalom. Hurry, or he will soon overtake us, and bring disaster down upon us, and attack the city with the edge of the sword.”
15The king’s officials said to the king, “Your servants are ready to do whatever our lord the king decides.”
from Whispers of his Power,
by Amy Carmichael
Are we truly ready to serve our King like this today?
16So the king left, followed by all his household, except ten concubines whom he left behind to look after the house. 17The king left, followed by all the people; and they stopped at the last house. 18All his officials passed by him; and all the Cherethites, and all the Pelethites, and all the six hundred Gittites who had followed him from Gath, passed on before the king.
The foreigners are supporting David —
19Then the king said to Ittai the Gittite, “Why are you also coming with us? Go back, and stay with the king; for you are a foreigner, and also an exile from your home. 20You came only yesterday, and shall I today make you wander about with us, while I go wherever I can? Go back, and take your kinsfolk with you; and may the Lord show steadfast love and faithfulness to you.”
21But Ittai answered the king, “As the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king may be, whether for death or for life, there also your servant will be.”
22David said to Ittai, “Go then, march on.” So Ittai the Gittite marched on, with all his men and all the little ones who were with him.
23The whole country wept aloud as all the people passed by; the king crossed the Wadi Kidron, and all the people moved on toward the wilderness.
24Abiathar came up, and Zadok also, with all the Levites, carrying the ark of the covenant of God. They set down the ark of God, until the people had all passed out of the city.
The priests are loyal to David —
25Then the king said to Zadok, “Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me back and let me see both it and the place where it stays. 26But if he says, ‘I take no pleasure in you,’ here I am, let him do to me what seems good to him.”
27The king also said to the priest Zadok, “Look, go back to the city in peace, you and Abiathar, with your two sons, Ahimaaz your son, and Jonathan son of Abiathar. 28See, I will wait at the fords of the wilderness until word comes from you to inform me.” 29So Zadok and Abiathar carried the ark of God back to Jerusalem, and they remained there.
30But David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, with his head covered and walking barefoot; and all the people who were with him covered their heads and went up, weeping as they went.
Psalm 61 (New International Version)
For the director of music. With stringed instruments. Of David.
(This psalm is thought to have been written by David during the time of Absalom’s rebellion.)
Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer.
From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the foe.
I long to dwell in your tent forever
and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.
For you have heard my vows, O God;
you have given me the heritage
of those who fear your name.
Increase the days of the king’s life,
his years for many generations.
May he be enthroned in God’s presence forever;
appoint your love and faithfulness to protect him.
Then will I ever sing praise to your name
and fulfill my vows day after day.
Selah sings “Before the Throne of God Above.” He reigns forever and ever, the rightful and perfect king!
31David was told that Ahithophel was among the conspirators with Absalom. And David said, “O Lord, I pray you, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.”
Hushai Becomes David’s Spy
32When David came to the summit, where God was worshiped, Hushai the Archite came to meet him with his coat torn and earth on his head. 33David said to him, “If you go on with me, you will be a burden to me. 34But if you return to the city and say to Absalom, ‘I will be your servant, O king; as I have been your father’s servant in time past, so now I will be your servant,’ then you will defeat for me the counsel of Ahithophel. 35The priests Zadok and Abiathar will be with you there. So whatever you hear from the king’s house, tell it to the priests Zadok and Abiathar. 36Their two sons are with them there, Zadok’s son Ahimaaz and Abiathar’s son Jonathan; and by them you shall report to me everything you hear.”
37So Hushai, David’s friend, came into the city, just as Absalom was entering Jerusalem.
Absalom came into Jerusalem as a cunning, wicked rebel.David came into Jerusalem as a brave, noble conqueror
(2 Samuel 5:6-7).Jesus came into Jerusalem as a servant-king
(Matthew 21:4-10).–David Guzik
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.