The Bible Story Of The Rebellion Against King David - A Predicted Punishment From God For His Adultery And Murder



This article is part of a series of Bible passages, which together are mainly about how the Bible says the Jewish race developed and were given laws, how they settled in ancient Israel, and how it says God sometimes punished them for disobeying his commands, which led to them changing their ways.
This is Part 8 (of 8) in Section 7: "The First Centuries In The Promised Land".


Some parts of the Old Testament and the Book of Revelation are very unpleasant. If you become offended by anything, please read An Attempt to Explain Gruesome Bible Passages.

The purpose of the Old Testament seems to have been mainly to try to scare lawless societies into behaving decently, giving up the cruel ways the Bible says they were guilty of. Hence much of the gruesomeness, which is at least in part meant to warn people committing cruel and hurtful actions to change.


Recalling the words that the Bible says the prophet Nathan spoke after David caused Uriah the Hittite to be killed and took his widow to be his wife, the Bible says, in the Second Book of Samuel:

2 Samuel chapter 12 (NLT)

1 The LORD sent Nathan the prophet to tell David ...

7 "... The LORD, the God of Israel, says, 'I anointed you king of Israel and saved you from the power of Saul. 8 I gave you his house and his wives and the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. And if that had not been enough, I would have given you much, much more. 9 Why, then, have you despised the word of the LORD and done this horrible deed? For you have murdered Uriah and stolen his wife. 10 From this time on, the sword will be a constant threat to your family, because you have despised me by taking Uriah's wife to be your own.

11 "'Because of what you have done, I, the LORD, will cause your own household to rebel against you. I will give your wives to another man, and he will go to bed with them in public view. 12 You did it secretly, but I will do this to you openly in the sight of all Israel.'"

13 Then David confessed to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD."


The idea of this sounds horribly offensive. This article claims that if Absolom had actually raped the concubines, it would have been political suicide, totally counter-productive, as it would have made him a lot of enemies, some of them powerful. It argues that what's more likely to have happened was a staged marriage-type ceremony symbolising the beginning of the reign of a new monarch and his inheritance of the royal harem. To read it, visit Good question...did God treat women's bodies as property, in the "rape" of David's concubines by Absalom?


2 Samuel chapter 3 (NLT)

2 These were the sons who were born to David in Hebron:


These sons were all born to David in Hebron.


Later in the Second Book of Samuel, the Bible says, describing what happened after the king and one of his sons became estranged:

2 Samuel chapter 15 (NLT)

1 ... Absalom bought a chariot and horses, and he hired fifty footmen to run ahead of him. 2 He got up early every morning and went out to the gate of the city. When people brought a case to the king for judgment, Absalom would ask where they were from, and they would tell him their tribe. 3 Then Absalom would say, "You've really got a strong case here! It's too bad the king doesn't have anyone to hear it. 4 I wish I were the judge. Then people could bring their problems to me, and I would give them justice!" 5 And when people tried to bow before him, Absalom wouldn't let them. Instead, he took them by the hand and embraced them. 6 So in this way, Absalom stole the hearts of all the people of Israel.


7 After four years, Absalom said to the king, "Let me go to Hebron to offer a sacrifice to the LORD in fulfillment of a vow I made to him.

9 "All right," the king told him. "Go and fulfill your vow."

So Absalom went to Hebron. 10 But while he was there, he sent secret messengers to every part of Israel to stir up a rebellion against the king. "As soon as you hear the trumpets," his message read, "you will know that Absalom has been crowned king in Hebron." 11 He took two hundred men from Jerusalem with him as guests, but they knew nothing of his intentions. 12 While he was offering the sacrifices, he sent for Ahithophel, one of David's counselors who lived in Giloh. Soon many others also joined Absalom, and the conspiracy gained momentum.

13 A messenger soon arrived in Jerusalem to tell King David, "All Israel has joined Absalom in a conspiracy against you!"

14 "Then we must flee at once, or it will be too late!" David urged his men. "Hurry! If we get out of the city before he arrives, both we and the city of Jerusalem will be spared from disaster."

15 "We are with you," his advisers replied. "Do what you think is best."

16 So the king and his household set out at once. He left no one behind except ten of his concubines to keep the palace in order. 17 The king and his people set out on foot, and they paused at the edge of the city 18 to let David's troops move past to lead the way.

There were six hundred Gittites who had come with David from Gath, along with the king's bodyguard. 19 Then the king turned to Ittai, the captain of the Gittites, and asked, "Why are you coming with us? Go on back with your men to King Absalom, for you are a guest in Israel, a foreigner in exile. 20 You arrived only yesterday, and now should I force you to wander with us? I don't even know where we will go. Go on back and take your troops with you, and may the LORD show you his unfailing love and faithfulness."

21 But Ittai said to the king, "I vow by the LORD and by your own life that I will go wherever you go, no matter what happens - whether it means life or death."

22 David replied, "All right, come with us."

So Ittai and his six hundred men and their families went along.

23 There was deep sadness throughout the land as the king and his followers passed by. They crossed the Kidron Valley and then went out toward the wilderness.

2 Samuel chapter 15 (TEV)

24 Zadok the priest was there, and with him were the Levites, carrying the sacred Covenant Box. They set it down and didn't pick it up again until all the people had left the city. The priest Abiathar was there too. 25 Then the king said to Zadok, "Take the Covenant Box back to the city. If the Lord is pleased with me, some day he will let me come back to see it and the place where it stays. 26 But if he isn't pleased with me-well, then, let him do to me what he wishes." 27 And he went on to say to Zadok, "Look, take your son Ahimaaz and Abiathar's son Jonathan and go back to the city in peace. 28 Meanwhile, I will wait at the river crossings in the wilderness until I receive news from you."

29 So Zadok and Abiathar took the Covenant Box back into Jerusalem and stayed there.

2 Samuel chapter 15 (NLT)

30 David walked up the road that led to the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went. His head was covered and his feet were bare as a sign of mourning. And the people who were with him covered their heads and wept as they climbed the mountain.

31 When someone told David that his adviser Ahithophel was now backing Absalom, David prayed, "O LORD, let Ahithophel give Absalom foolish advice!"

32 As they reached the spot at the top of the Mount of Olives where people worshiped God, David found Hushai the Arkite waiting for him. Hushai had torn his clothing and put dirt on his head as a sign of mourning. 33 But David told him, "If you go with me, you will only be a burden. 34 Return to Jerusalem and tell Absalom, 'I will now be your adviser, just as I was your father's adviser in the past.' Then you can frustrate and counter Ahithophel's advice. 35 Zadok and Abiathar, the priests, are there. Tell them the plans that are being made to capture me, 36 and they will send their sons Ahimaaz and Jonathan to find me and tell me what is going on."

37 So David's friend Hushai returned to Jerusalem, getting there just as Absalom arrived.

2 Samuel chapter 16 (CEV)

5 David was near the town of Bahurim when a man came out and started cursing him. The man was Shimei the son of Gera, and he was one of Saul's distant relatives. 6 He threw stones at David, at his soldiers, and at everyone else, including the bodyguards who walked on each side of David. 7 Shimei was yelling at David, "Get out of here, you murderer! You good-for-nothing, 8 the LORD is paying you back for killing so many in Saul's family. You stole his kingdom, but now the LORD has given it to your son Absalom. You're a murderer, and that's why you're in such big trouble!"

9 Abishai said, "Your Majesty, this man is as useless as a dead dog! He shouldn't be allowed to curse you. Let me go over and chop off his head."

10 David replied, "What will I ever do with you and your brother Joab? If Shimei is cursing me because the LORD has told him to, then who are you to tell him to stop?"

11 Then David said to Abishai and all his soldiers: My own son is trying to kill me! Why shouldn't this man from the tribe of Benjamin want me dead even more? Let him curse all he wants. Maybe the LORD did tell him to curse me. 12 But if the LORD hears these curses and sees the trouble I'm in, maybe he will have pity on me instead.

13 David and the others went on down the road. Shimei went along the hillside by the road, cursing and throwing rocks and dirt at them.

14 When David and those with him came to the Jordan River, they were tired out. But after they rested, they felt much better.


15 By this time, Absalom, Ahithophel, and the others had reached Jerusalem. 16 David's friend Hushai came to Absalom and said, "Long live the king! Long live the king!"

17 But Absalom asked Hushai, "Is this how you show loyalty to your friend David? Why didn't you go with him?"

18 Hushai answered, "The LORD and the people of Israel have chosen you to be king. I can't leave. I have to stay and serve the one they've chosen. 19 Besides, it seems right for me to serve you, just as I served your father."

2 Samuel chapter 16 (NLT)

20 Then Absalom turned to Ahithophel and asked him, "What should I do next?"

21 Ahithophel told him, "Go and sleep with your father's concubines, for he has left them here to keep the house. Then all Israel will know that you have insulted him beyond hope of reconciliation, and they will give you their support."

22 So they set up a tent on the palace roof where everyone could see it, and Absalom went into the tent to sleep with his father's concubines. 23 Absalom followed Ahithophel's advice, just as David had done. For every word Ahithophel spoke seemed as wise as though it had come directly from the mouth of God.

2 Samuel chapter 17 (NIV)

1 Ahithophel said to Absalom, "I would choose twelve thousand men and set out tonight in pursuit of David. 2 I would attack him while he is weary and weak. I would strike him with terror, and then all the people with him will flee. I would strike down only the king 3 and bring all the people back to you. The death of the man you seek will mean the return of all; all the people will be unharmed."

4 This plan seemed good to Absalom and to all the elders of Israel. 5 But Absalom said, "Summon also Hushai the Arkite, so we can hear what he has to say."

6 When Hushai came to him, Absalom said, "Ahithophel has given this advice. Should we do what he says? If not, give us your opinion."

7 Hushai replied to Absalom, "The advice Ahithophel has given is not good this time. 8 You know your father and his men; they are fighters, and as fierce as a wild bear robbed of her cubs. Besides, your father is an experienced fighter; he will not spend the night with the troops. 9 Even now, he is hidden in a cave or some other place. If he should attack your troops first, whoever hears about it will say, 'There has been a slaughter among the troops who follow Absalom.' 10 Then even the bravest soldier, whose heart is like the heart of a lion, will melt with fear, for all Israel knows that your father is a fighter and that those with him are brave.

11 "So I advise you: Let all Israel, from Dan to Beersheba-as numerous as the sand on the seashore-be gathered to you, with you yourself leading them into battle. 12 Then we will attack him wherever he may be found, and we will fall on him as dew settles on the ground. Neither he nor any of his men will be left alive. 13 If he withdraws into a city, then all Israel will bring ropes to that city, and we will drag it down to the valley until not even a piece of it can be found."

14 Absalom and all the men of Israel said, "The advice of Hushai the Arkite is better than that of Ahithophel." For the LORD had determined to frustrate the good advice of Ahithophel in order to bring disaster on Absalom.


15 Hushai told Zadok and Abiathar, the priests, "Ahithophel has advised Absalom and the elders of Israel to do such and such, but I have advised them to do so and so. 16 Now send a message immediately and tell David, 'Do not spend the night at the fords in the desert; cross over without fail, or the king and all the people with him will be swallowed up.' "

17 Jonathan and Ahimaaz were staying at En Rogel. A servant girl was to go and inform them, and they were to go and tell King David, for they could not risk being seen entering the city. 18 But a young man saw them and told Absalom. So the two of them left quickly and went to the house of a man in Bahurim. He had a well in his courtyard, and they climbed down into it. 19 His wife took a covering and spread it out over the opening of the well and scattered grain over it. No one knew anything about it. 20 When Absalom's men came to the woman at the house, they asked, "Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?" The woman answered them, "They crossed over the brook." The men searched but found no one, so they returned to Jerusalem.

21 After the men had gone, the two climbed out of the well and went to inform King David. They said to him, "Set out and cross the river at once; Ahithophel has advised such and such against you." 22 So David and all the people with him set out and crossed the Jordan. By daybreak, no one was left who had not crossed the Jordan.


23 When Ahithophel saw that his advice had not been followed, he saddled his donkey and set out for his house in his hometown. He put his house in order and then hanged himself. So he died and was buried in his father's tomb.

24 David went to Mahanaim, and Absalom crossed the Jordan with all the men of Israel. 25 Absalom had appointed Amasa over the army in place of Joab. Amasa was the son of a man named Jether, an Israelite who had married Abigail, the daughter of Nahash and sister of Zeruiah the mother of Joab. 26 The Israelites and Absalom camped in the land of Gilead.

27 When David came to Mahanaim, Shobi son of Nahash from Rabbah of the Ammonites, and Makir son of Ammiel from Lo Debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim 28 brought bedding and bowls and articles of pottery. They also brought wheat and barley, flour and roasted grain, beans and lentils, 29 honey and curds, sheep, and cheese from cows' milk for David and his people to eat. For they said, "The people have become hungry and tired and thirsty in the desert."

2 Samuel chapter 18 (CEV)

1 David divided his soldiers into groups of a hundred and groups of a thousand. Then he chose officers to be in command of each group. 2 He sent out one-third of his army under the command of Joab, another third under the command of Abishai the son of Zeruiah, and the rest under the command of Ittai from Gath.

He told the soldiers, "I'm going into battle with you." 3 But the soldiers said, "No, don't go into battle with us! It won't matter to our enemies if they make us all run away, or even if they kill half of us. But you are worth ten thousand of us. It would be better for you to stay in town and send help if we need it."

4-6 David said, "All right, if you think I should."
Then in a voice loud enough for everyone to hear, he said, "Joab! Abishai! Ittai! For my sake, be sure that Absalom comes back unharmed."

David stood beside the town gate as his army marched past in groups of a hundred and in groups of a thousand.

The war with Israel took place in Ephraim Forest. 7-8 Battles were being fought all over the forest, and David's soldiers were winning. Twenty thousand soldiers were killed that day, and more of them died from the dangers of the forest than from the fighting itself.

9 Absalom was riding his mule under a huge tree when his head caught in the branches. The mule ran off and left Absalom hanging in midair. Some of David's soldiers happened by, 10 and one of them went and told Joab, "I saw Absalom hanging in a tree!"
11 Joab said, "You saw Absalom? Why didn't you kill him? I would have given you ten pieces of silver and a special belt."

12 The man answered, "Even if you paid me a thousand pieces of silver here and now, I still wouldn't touch the king's son. We all heard King David tell you and Abishai and Ittai not to harm Absalom. 13 He always finds out what's going on. I would have been risking my life to kill Absalom, because you would have let me take the blame."

14 Joab said, "I'm not going to waste any more time on you!"
Absalom was still alive, so Joab took three spears and stuck them through Absalom's chest. 15 Ten of Joab's bodyguards came over and finished him off.

16 Then Joab blew a trumpet to signal his troops to stop chasing Israel's soldiers.
17 They threw Absalom's body into a deep pit in the forest and put a big pile of rocks over it.
Meanwhile, the people of Israel had all run back to their own homes.


18 When Absalom was alive, he had set up a stone monument for himself in King's Valley. He explained, "I don't have any sons to keep my name alive." He called it Absalom's Monument, and that is the name it still has today.


19 Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said, "Joab, let me run and tell King David that the LORD has rescued him from his enemies."
20 Joab answered, "You're not the one to tell the king that his son is dead. You can take him a message some other time, but not today." 21 Someone from Ethiopia was standing there, and Joab told him, "Go and tell the king what you have seen." The man knelt down in front of Joab and then got up and started running.
22 Ahimaaz spoke to Joab again, "No matter what happens, I still want to run. And besides, the Ethiopian has already left."
Joab said, "Why should you run? You won't get a reward for the news you have!"
23 "I'll run no matter what!" Ahimaaz insisted.
"All right then, run!" Joab said.

Ahimaaz took the road through the Jordan Valley and outran the Ethiopian.

24 Meanwhile, David was sitting between the inner and outer gates in the city wall. One of his soldiers was watching from the roof of the gate-tower. He saw a man running toward the town 25 and shouted down to tell David. David answered, "If he's alone, he must have some news."
The runner was getting closer, 26 when the soldier saw someone else running. He shouted down to the gate, "Look! There's another runner!"
David said, "He must have some news too."
27 The soldier on the roof shouted, "The first one runs just like Ahimaaz the son of Zadok."
This time David said, "He's a good man. He must have some good news."

28 Ahimaaz called out, "We won! We won!" Then he bowed low to David and said, "Your Majesty, praise the LORD your God! He has given you victory over your enemies."

29 "Is my son Absalom all right?" David asked.

Ahimaaz said, "When Joab sent your personal servant and me, I saw a noisy crowd. But I don't know what it was all about."

30 David told him, "Stand over there and wait."

Ahimaaz went over and stood there.

31 The Ethiopian came and said, "Your Majesty, today I have good news! The LORD has rescued you from all your enemies!"

32 "Is my son Absalom all right?" David asked.

The Ethiopian replied, "I wish that all Your Majesty's enemies and everyone who tries to harm you would end up like him!"

33 David started trembling. Then he went up to the room above the city gate to cry. As he went, he kept saying, "My son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! I wish I could have died instead of you! Absalom, my son, my son!"

2 Samuel chapter 19 (GWT)

1 Joab was told, "The king is crying and mourning for Absalom." 2 The victory of that day was turned into mourning because all the troops heard that the king was grieving for his son. 3 That day the troops sneaked into the city as if they had fled from battle and were ashamed of it.

4 The king covered his face and cried loudly, "My son Absalom! Absalom, my son, my son!"

5 Then Joab came into the house. "Today you have made all your men feel ashamed," he said. "They saved your life and the lives of your sons, daughters, wives, and concubines today. 6 You love those who hate you and hate those who love you. Today, you have made it clear that your commanders and servants mean nothing to you. I think you would be pleased if Absalom were alive and all of us were dead.
7 Now, get up, go out, and encourage your men. I swear to you by the LORD that if you don't go out, no one will stay with you tonight, and that will be worse than all the trouble you've had in your entire life."

8 The king sat in the gateway.
When all the troops were told, "The king is sitting in the gateway," they came to the king.
Meanwhile, Israel had fled and went back to their own homes.


9 All the people in all the tribes of Israel were arguing with one another, saying, "The king rescued us from our enemies and saved us from the Philistines, but now he has fled from Absalom and left the country. 10 However, Absalom, whom we anointed to rule us, has died in battle. Why is no one talking about bringing back the king?"

11 What all Israel was saying reached the king at his house. So King David sent [this message] to the priests Zadok and Abiathar:
"Ask the leaders of Judah, 'Why should you be the last [tribe] to bring the king back to his palace? 12 You are my relatives, my own flesh and blood. Why should you be the last to bring back the king?'
13 And tell Amasa, 'Aren't you my flesh and blood? May God strike me dead unless you are given Joab's place to serve me always as the commander of the army.'"

14 All the people of Judah were in total agreement. So they sent the king this message:
"Come back with all your servants."

15 The king came back to the Jordan River, and the people of Judah came to Gilgal to meet the king and bring him across the Jordan River.

16 Shimei, Gera's son from the tribe of Benjamin and the town of Bahurim, hurried down with the people of Judah to meet King David. 17 One thousand people from Benjamin were with him. And Ziba, the servant of Saul's family, rushed to the Jordan River across from the king. Ziba brought his 15 sons and 20 servants. 18 They crossed the river to bring over the king's family and to do anything else the king wanted. Shimei, Gera's son, bowed down in front of the king as he was going to cross the Jordan River. 19 He pleaded with the king, "Don't remember the crime I committed the day you left Jerusalem. Don't hold it against me or even think about it, Your Majesty. 20 I know I've sinned. Today I've come as the first of all the house of Joseph to meet you."

2 Samuel chapter 19 (NLT)

21 Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said, "Shimei should die, for he cursed the LORD's anointed king!"

22 "What am I going to do with you sons of Zeruiah!" David exclaimed. "This is not a day for execution but for celebration! I am once again the king of Israel!"

23 Then, turning to Shimei, David vowed, "Your life will be spared."

39 So all the people crossed the Jordan with the king.


2 Samuel chapter 21 (GWT)

15 Once again there was a battle between the Philistines and Israel. So David and his men went to fight the Philistines, but David became exhausted. 16 A descendant of Haraphah named Benob, who had a bronze spear weighing 7 pounds which he wore on a new belt, captured David and intended to kill him. 17 But Abishai, son of Zeruiah, came to help David. He attacked the Philistine and killed him.
Then David's men swore an oath, saying, "You'll never go into battle with us again. The lamp of Israel must never be extinguished."

18 After this, there was another battle with the Philistines at Gob. Then Sibbecai from Hushah killed Saph, another descendant of Haraphah.

19 When more fighting broke out with the Philistines at Gob, Elhanan, son of Jaare Oregim from Bethlehem, killed Goliath of Gath. (The shaft of Goliath's spear was like a beam used by weavers.)

20 In another battle at Gath, there was a tall man who had a total of 24 fingers and toes: six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot. He also was a descendant of Haraphah. 21 When he challenged Israel, Jonathan, son of David's brother Shimei, killed him.

22 These four were descendants of Haraphah from Gath, and David and his men killed them.



This is the last file in this section. The next section is entitled "The Kings of Israel and Judah, and Disaster and Prosperity Brought on the Two Kingdoms According to Their Obedience or Disobedience to God", and the first file in it is entitled "The Reign of David's Son Solomon, and the Gaining of Independence by Northern Israel From Government by his Successors as a Punishment From God".
Bible

If you have found parts of the Old Testament or the Book of Revelation offensive, please read An Attempt to Explain Gruesome Bible Passages.


The selections of Bible quotations have been put together by Diana Holbourn.

Throughout this series, wherever the initials TEV appear, they stand for Today's English Version (The Good News Bible).

Other initials: