Joab Rebukes the King
1*19:1 Verses 19:1-43 are numbered 19:2-44 in Hebrew text. Word soon reached Joab that the king was weeping and mourning for Absalom. 2As all the people 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 town that day as though they were ashamed and had deserted in battle. 4The king covered his face with his hands and kept on crying, “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 of ourselves. 6You seem to love those who hate you and hate those who love you. You have made it clear today that your commanders and troops mean nothing to you. It seems that if Absalom had lived and all of us had died, you would be pleased. 7Now go out there and congratulate your troops, for I swear by the Lord that if you don’t go out, not a single one of them will remain here tonight. Then you will be worse off than ever before.”
8So the king went out and took his seat at the town gate, and as the news spread throughout the town that he was there, everyone went to him.
Meanwhile, the Israelites who had supported Absalom fled to their homes. 9And throughout all the tribes of Israel there was much discussion and argument going on. The people were saying, “The king rescued us from our enemies and saved us from the Philistines, but Absalom chased him out of the country. 10Now Absalom, whom we anointed to rule over us, is dead. Why not ask David to come back and be our king again?”
11Then King David sent Zadok and Abiathar, the priests, to say to the elders of Judah, “Why are you the last ones to welcome back the king into his palace? For I have heard that all Israel is ready. 12You are my relatives, my own tribe, my own flesh and blood! So why are you the last ones to welcome back the king?” 13And David told them to tell Amasa, “Since you are my own flesh and blood, like Joab, may God strike me and even kill me if I do not appoint you as commander of my army in his place.”
14Then Amasa*19:14 Or David; Hebrew reads he. convinced all the men of Judah, and they responded unanimously. They sent word to the king, “Return to us, and bring back all who are with you.”
David’s 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. 16Shimei son of Gera, the man from Bahurim in Benjamin, hurried across with the men of Judah to welcome King David. 17A thousand other men from the tribe of Benjamin were with him, including Ziba, the chief servant of the house of Saul, and Ziba’s fifteen sons and twenty servants. They rushed down to the Jordan to meet the king. 18They crossed the shallows of the Jordan to bring the king’s household across the river, helping him in every way they could.
David’s 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 your servant did when you left Jerusalem. May the king put it out of his mind. 20I know how much I sinned. That is why I have come here today, the very first person in all Israel*19:20 Hebrew in the house of Joseph. to greet my lord the king.”
21Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said, “Shimei should die, for he cursed the Lord’s anointed king!”
22“Who asked your opinion, you sons of Zeruiah!” David exclaimed. “Why have you become my adversary*19:22 Or my prosecutor. today? This is not a day for execution, for today I am once again the king of Israel!” 23Then, turning to Shimei, David vowed, “Your life will be spared.”
David’s Kindness to Mephibosheth
24Now Mephibosheth,*19:24 Mephibosheth is another name for Merib-baal. Saul’s grandson, came down from Jerusalem to meet the king. He had not cared for his feet, trimmed his beard, or washed his clothes 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*19:26 As in Greek, Syriac, and Latin versions; Hebrew reads I will saddle a donkey for myself. so 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 my lord the king is 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 by allowing me to eat at your own table! What more can I ask?”
29“You’ve said enough,” David replied. “I’ve decided 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 safely back again, my lord the king!”
David’s Kindness to Barzillai
31Barzillai of Gilead had come down from Rogelim to escort the king across the Jordan. 32He was very old—eighty years of age—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 to go with the king to Jerusalem. 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 singers as they sing. I would only be a burden to my lord the king. 36Just to go across the Jordan River with the king 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 your servant, my son Kimham. Let him go with my lord the king and receive whatever you want to give him.”
38“Good,” the king agreed. “Kimham will go with me, and I will help him in any way you would like. And I will do for you anything you want.” 39So all the people crossed the Jordan with the king. After David had blessed Barzillai and kissed him, Barzillai returned to his own home.
40The king then crossed over to Gilgal, taking Kimham with him. All the troops of Judah and half the troops of Israel escorted the king on his way.
An Argument over the King
41But all the men of Israel complained to the king, “The men of Judah stole the king and didn’t give us the honor of helping take you, your household, and all your men across the Jordan.”
42The men of Judah replied, “The king is one of our own kinsmen. Why should this make you angry? We haven’t eaten any of the king’s food or received any special favors!”
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. What right do you have to treat us with such contempt? Weren’t we the first to speak of bringing him back to be our king again?” The argument continued back and forth, and the men of Judah spoke even more harshly than the men of Israel.