2 Sam 18-20; Psalm 34; Romans 2
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The following text is from the English Standard Version.
2 Sam 18-20
Then David mustered the men who were with him and set over them commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds.
And David sent out the army, one third under the command of Joab, one third under the command of Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab’s brother, and one third under the command of Ittai the Gittite. And the king said to the men, ”I myself will also go out with you.”
But the men said, ”You shall not go out. For if we flee, they will not care about us. If half of us die, they will not care about us. But you are worth ten thousand of us. Therefore it is better that you send us help from the city.”
The king said to them, ”Whatever seems best to you I will do.” So the king stood at the side of the gate, while all the army marched out by hundreds and by thousands.
And the king ordered Joab and Abishai and Ittai, ”Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom.” And all the people heard when the king gave orders to all the commanders about Absalom.
So the army went out into the field against Israel, and the battle was fought in the forest of Ephraim.
And the men of Israel were defeated there by the servants of David, and the loss there was great on that day, twenty thousand men.
The battle spread over the face of all the country, and the forest devoured more people that day than the sword.
And Absalom happened to meet the servants of David. Absalom was riding on his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a great terebinth, and his head caught fast in the oak, and he was suspended between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him went on.
And a certain man saw it and told Joab, ”Behold, I saw Absalom hanging in an oak.”
Joab said to the man who told him, ”What, you saw him! Why then did you not strike him there to the ground? I would have been glad to give you ten pieces of silver and a belt.”
But the man said to Joab, ”Even if I felt in my hand the weight of a thousand pieces of silver, I would not reach out my hand against the king’s son, for in our hearing the king commanded you and Abishai and Ittai, ‘For my sake protect the young man Absalom.’
On the other hand, if I had dealt treacherously against his life (and there is nothing hidden from the king), then you yourself would have stood aloof.”
Joab said, ”I will not waste time like this with you.” And he took three javelins in his hand and thrust them into the heart of Absalom while he was still alive in the oak.
And ten young men, Joab’s armor-bearers, surrounded Absalom and struck him and killed him.
Then Joab blew the trumpet, and the troops came back from pursuing Israel, for Joab restrained them.
And they took Absalom and threw him into a great pit in the forest and raised over him a very great heap of stones. And all Israel fled every one to his own home.
Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and set up for himself the pillar that is in the King’s Valley, for he said, ”I have no son to keep my name in remembrance.” He called the pillar after his own name, and it is called Absalom’s monument to this day.
Then Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said, ”Let me run and carry news to the king that the LORD has delivered him from the hand of his enemies.”
And Joab said to him, ”You are not to carry news today. You may carry news another day, but today you shall carry no news, because the king’s son is dead.”
Then Joab said to the Cushite, ”Go, tell the king what you have seen.” The Cushite bowed before Joab, and ran.
Then Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said again to Joab, ”Come what may, let me also run after the Cushite.” And Joab said, ”Why will you run, my son, seeing that you will have no reward for the news?”
‘Come what may,” he said, ”I will run.” So he said to him, ”Run.” Then Ahimaaz ran by the way of the plain, and outran the Cushite.
Now David was sitting between the two gates, and the watchman went up to the roof of the gate by the wall, and when he lifted up his eyes and looked, he saw a man running alone.
The watchman called out and told the king. And the king said, ”If he is alone, there is news in his mouth.” And he drew nearer and nearer.
The watchman saw another man running. And the watchman called to the gate and said, ”See, another man running alone!” The king said, ”He also brings news.”
The watchman said, ”I think the running of the first is like the running of Ahimaaz the son of Zadok.” And the king said, ”He is a good man and comes with good news.”
Then Ahimaaz cried out to the king, ”All is well.” And he bowed before the king with his face to the earth and said, ”Blessed be the LORD your God, who has delivered up the men who raised their hand against my lord the king.”
And the king said, ”Is it well with the young man Absalom?” Ahimaaz answered, ”When Joab sent the king’s servant, your servant, I saw a great commotion, but I do not know what it was.”
And the king said, ”Turn aside and stand here.” So he turned aside and stood still.
And behold, the Cushite came, and the Cushite said, ”Good news for my lord the king! For the LORD has delivered you this day from the hand of all who rose up against you.”
The king said to the Cushite, ”Is it well with the young man Absalom?” And the Cushite answered, ”May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up against you for evil be like that young man.”
And the king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And as he went, he said, ”O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!”
It was told Joab, ”Behold, the king is weeping and mourning for Absalom.”
So the victory that day was turned into mourning for all the people, for the people heard that day, ”The king is grieving for his son.”
And the people stole into the city that day as people steal in who are ashamed when they flee in battle.
The king covered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice, ”O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!”
Then Joab came into the house to the king and said, ”You have today covered with shame the faces of all your servants, who have this day saved your life and the lives of your sons and your daughters and the lives of your wives and your concubines,
because you love those who hate you and hate those who love you. For you have made it clear today that commanders and servants are nothing to you, for today I know that if Absalom were alive and all of us were dead today, then you would be pleased.
Now therefore arise, go out and speak kindly to your servants, for I swear by the Lord, if you do not go, not a man will stay with you this night, and this will be worse for you than all the evil that has come upon you from your youth until now”
Then the king arose and took his seat in the gate. And the people were all told, ”Behold, the king is sitting in the gate.” And all the people came before the king. Now Israel had fled every man to his home.
And all the people were arguing throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, ”The king delivered us from the hand of our enemies and saved us from the hand of the Philistines, and now he has fled out of the land from Absalom.
But Absalom, whom we anointed over us, is dead in battle. Now therefore why do you say nothing about bringing the king back?”
And King David sent this message to Zadok and Abiathar the priests, ”Say to the elders of Judah, ‘Why should you be the last to bring the king back to his house, when the word of all Israel has come to the king?
You are my brothers; you are my bone and my flesh. Why then should you be the last to bring back the king?’
And say to Amasa, ‘Are you not my bone and my flesh? God do so to me and more also, if you are not commander of my army from now on in place of Joab.”’
And he swayed the heart of all the men of Judah as one man, so that they sent word to the king, ”Return, both you and all your servants.”
So the king came back to the Jordan, and Judah came to Gilgal to meet the king and to bring the king over the Jordan.
And Shimei the son of Gera, the Benjaminite, from Bahurim, hurried to come down with the men of Judah to meet King David.
And with him were a thousand men from Benjamin. And Ziba the servant of the house of Saul, with his fifteen sons and his twenty servants, rushed down to the Jordan before the king,
and they crossed the ford to bring over the king’s household and to do his pleasure. And Shimei the son of Gera fell down before the king, as he was about to cross the Jordan,
and said to the king, ”Let not my lord hold me guilty or remember how your servant did wrong on the day my lord the king left Jerusalem. Do not let the king take it to heart.
For your servant knows that I have sinned. Therefore, behold, I have come this day, the first of all the house of Joseph to come down to meet my lord the king.”
Abishai the son of Zeruiah answered, ”Shall not Shimei be put to death for this, because he cursed the LORD’s anointed?”
But David said, ”What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah, that you should this day be as an adversary to me? Shall anyone be put to death in Israel this day? For do I not know that I am this day king over Israel?”
And the king said to Shimei, ”You shall not die.” And the king gave him his oath.
And Mephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the king. He had neither taken care of his feet nor trimmed his beard nor washed his clothes, from the day the king departed until the day he came back in safety.
And when he came to Jerusalem to meet the king, the king said to him, ”Why did you not go with me, Mephibosheth?”
He answered, ”My lord, O king, my servant deceived me, for your servant said to him, ‘I will saddle a donkey for myself, that I may ride on it and go with the king.’ For your servant is lame.
He has slandered your servant to my lord the king. But my lord the king is like the angel of God; do therefore what seems good to you.
For all my father’s house were but men doomed to death before my lord the king, but you set your servant among those who eat at your table. What further right have I, then, to cry to the king?”
And the king said to him, ”Why speak any more of your affairs? I have decided: you and Ziba shall divide the land.”
And Mephibosheth said to the king, ”Oh, let him take it all, since my lord the king has come safely home.”
Now Barzillai the Gileadite had come down from Rogelim, and he went on with the king to the Jordan, to escort him over the Jordan.
Barzillai was a very aged man, eighty years old. He had provided the king with food while he stayed at Mahanaim, for he was a very wealthy man.
And the king said to Barzillai, ”Come over with me, and I will provide for you with me in Jerusalem.”
But Barzillai said to the king, ”How many years have I still to live, that I should go up with the king to Jerusalem?
I am this day eighty years old. Can I discern what is pleasant and what is not? Can your servant taste what he eats or what he drinks? Can I still listen to the voice of singing men and singing women? Why then should your servant be an added burden to my lord the king?
Your servant will go a little way over the Jordan with the king. Why should the king repay me with such a reward?
Please let your servant return, that I may die in my own city near the grave of my father and my mother. But here is your servant Chimham. Let him go over with my lord the king, and do for him whatever seems good to you.”
And the king answered, ”Chimham shall go over with me, and I will do for him whatever seems good to you, and all that you desire of me I will do for you.”
Then all the people went over the Jordan, and the king went over. And the king kissed Barzillai and blessed him, and he returned to his own home.
The king went on to Gilgal, and Chimham went on with him. All the people of Judah, and also half the people of Israel, brought the king on his way.
Then all the men of Israel came to the king and said to the king, ”Why have our brothers the men of Judah stolen you away and brought the king and his household over the Jordan, and all David’s men with him?”
All the men of Judah answered the men of Israel, ”Because the king is our close relative. Why then are you angry over this matter? Have we eaten at all at the king’s expense? Or has he given us any gift?”
And the men of Israel answered the men of Judah, ”We have ten shares in the king, and in David also we have more than you. Why then did you despise us? Were we not the first to speak of bringing back our king?” But the words of the men of Judah were fiercer than the words of the men of Israel.
Now there happened to be there a worthless man, whose name was Sheba, the son of Bichri, a Benjaminite. And he blew the trumpet and said, ”We have no portion in David, and we have no inheritance in the son of Jesse; every man to his tents, O Israel!”
So all the men of Israel withdrew from David and followed Sheba the son of Bichri. But the men of Judah followed their king steadfastly from the Jordan to Jerusalem.
And David came to his house at Jerusalem. And the king took the ten concubines whom he had left to care for the house and put them in a house under guard and provided for them, but did not go in to them. So they were shut up until the day of their death, living as if in widowhood.
Then the king said to Amasa, ”Call the men of Judah together to me within three days, and be here yourself.”
So Amasa went to summon Judah, but he delayed beyond the set time that had been appointed him.
And David said to Abishai, ”Now Sheba the son of Bichri will do us more harm than Absalom. Take your lord’s servants and pursue him, lest he get himself to fortified cities and escape from us.”
And there went out after him Joab’s men and the Cherethites and the Pelethites, and all the mighty men. They went out from Jerusalem to pursue Sheba the son of Bichri.
When they were at the great stone that is in Gibeon, Amasa came to meet them. Now Joab was wearing a soldier’s garment, and over it was a belt with a sword in its sheath fastened on his thigh, and as he went forward it fell out.
And Joab said to Amasa, ”Is it well with you, my brother?” And Joab took Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him.
But Amasa did not observe the sword that was in Joab’s hand. So Joab struck him with it in the stomach and spilled his entrails to the ground without striking a second blow, and he died.Then Joab and Abishai his brother pursued Sheba the son of Bichri.
And one of Joab’s young men took his stand by Amasa and said, ”Whoever favors Joab, and whoever is for David, let him follow Joab.”
And Amasa lay wallowing in his blood in the highway. And anyone who came by, seeing him, stopped. And when the man saw that all the people stopped, he carried Amasa out of the highway into the field and threw a garment over him.
When he was taken out of the highway, all the people went on after Joab to pursue Sheba the son of Bichri.
And Sheba passed through all the tribes of Israel to Abel of Beth-maacah, and all the Bichrites assembled and followed him in.
And all the men who were with Joab came and besieged him in Abel of Beth-maacah. They cast up a mound against the city, and it stood against the rampart, and they were battering the wall to throw it down.
Then a wise woman called from the city, ”Listen! Listen! Tell Joab, ‘Come here, that I may speak to you.”’
And he came near her, and the woman said, ”Are you Joab?” He answered, ”I am.” Then she said to him, ”Listen to the words of your servant.” And he answered, ”I am listening.”
Then she said, ”They used to say in former times, ‘Let them but ask counsel at Abel,’ and so they settled a matter.
I am one of those who are peaceable and faithful in Israel. You seek to destroy a city that is a mother in Israel. Why will you swallow up the heritage of the LORD?”
Joab answered, ”Far be it from me, far be it, that I should swallow up or destroy!
That is not true. But a man of the hill country of Ephraim, called Sheba the son of Bichri, has lifted up his hand against King David. Give up him alone, and I will withdraw from the city.” And the woman said to Joab, ”Behold, his head shall be thrown to you over the wall.”
Then the woman went to all the people in her wisdom. And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri and threw it out to Joab. So he blew the trumpet, and they dispersed from the city, every man to his home. And Joab returned to Jerusalem to the king.
Now Joab was in command of all the army of Israel; and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was in command of the Cherethites and the Pelethites;
and Adoram was in charge of the forced labor; and Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was the recorder;
and Sheva was secretary; and Zadok and Abiathar were priests;
and Ira the Jairite was also David’s priest.
I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!
I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack!
The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.
Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good?
Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.
Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.
The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry.
The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.
He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.
Affliction will slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
The LORD redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.
Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.
We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who do such things.
Do you suppose, O man–you who judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself–that you will escape the judgment of God?
Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.
He will render to each one according to his works:
to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life;
but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.
There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek,
but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek.
For God shows no partiality.
For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.
For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.
For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.
They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them
on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.
But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God
and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law;
and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness,
an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth–
you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal?
You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?
You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law.
For, as it is written, ”The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”
For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision.
So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision?
Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law.
For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical.
But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.