2 Samuel 20:1-22:51

20:1 Now a wicked man named Sheba son of Bikri, a Benjaminite, happened to be there. He blew the trumpet and said,

“We have no share in David;

we have no inheritance in this son of Jesse!

Every man go home, O Israel!”

2 So all the men of Israel deserted David and followed Sheba son of Bikri. But the men of Judah stuck by their king all the way from the Jordan River to Jerusalem.

3 Then David went to his palace in Jerusalem. The king took the 10 concubines he had left to care for the palace and placed them under confinement. Though he provided for their needs, he did not sleep with them. They remained under restriction until the day they died, living out the rest of their lives as widows.

4 Then the king said to Amasa, “Call the men of Judah together for me in three days, and you be present here with them too.” 5 So Amasa went out to call Judah together. But in doing so he took longer than the time that the king had allotted him.

6 Then David said to Abishai, “Now Sheba son of Bikri will cause greater disaster for us than Absalom did! Take your lord’s servants and pursue him. Otherwise he will secure fortified cities for himself and get away from us.” 7 So Joab’s men, accompanied by the Kerethites, the Pelethites, and all the warriors, left Jerusalem to pursue Sheba son of Bikri.

8 When they were near the big rock that is in Gibeon, Amasa came to them. Now Joab was dressed in military attire and had a dagger in its sheath belted to his waist. When he advanced, it fell out.

9 Joab said to Amasa, “How are you, my brother?” With his right hand Joab took hold of Amasa’s beard as if to greet him with a kiss. 10 Amasa did not protect himself from the knife in Joab’s other hand, and Joab stabbed him in the abdomen, causing Amasa’s intestines to spill out on the ground. There was no need to stab him again; the first blow was fatal. Then Joab and his brother Abishai pursued Sheba son of Bikri.

11 One of Joab’s soldiers who stood over Amasa said, “Whoever is for Joab and whoever is for David, follow Joab!” 12 Amasa was squirming in his own blood in the middle of the path, and this man had noticed that all the soldiers stopped. Having noticed that everyone who came across Amasa stopped, the man pulled him away from the path and into the field and threw a garment over him. 13 Once he had removed Amasa from the path, everyone followed Joab to pursue Sheba son of Bikri.

14 Sheba traveled through all the tribes of Israel to Abel of Beth Maacah and all the Berite region. When they had assembled, they too joined him. 15 So Joab’s men came and laid siege against him in Abel of Beth Maacah. They prepared a siege ramp outside the city that stood against its outer rampart. As all of Joab’s soldiers were trying to break through the wall so that it would collapse, 16 a wise woman called out from the city, “Listen up! Listen up! Tell Joab, ‘Come near so that I may speak to you.’”

17 When he approached her, the woman asked, “Are you Joab?” He replied, “I am.” She said to him, “Listen to the words of your servant.” He said, “Go ahead. I’m listening.” 18 She said, “In the past they would always say, ‘Let them inquire in Abel,’ and that is how they settled things. 19 I represent the peaceful and the faithful in Israel. You are attempting to destroy an important city in Israel. Why should you swallow up the Lord’s inheritance?”

20 Joab answered, “Not at all! I don’t intend to swallow up or destroy anything! 21 That’s not the way things are. There is a man from the hill country of Ephraim named Sheba son of Bikri. He has rebelled against King David. Give me just this one man, and I will leave the city.” The woman said to Joab, “This very minute his head will be thrown over the wall to you!”

22 Then the woman went to all the people with her wise advice and they cut off Sheba’s head and threw it out to Joab. Joab blew the trumpet, and his men dispersed from the city, each going to his own home. Joab returned to the king in Jerusalem.

23 Now Joab was the general in command of all the army of Israel. Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the Kerethites and the Perethites. 24 Adoniram was supervisor of the work crews. Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was the secretary. 25 Sheva was the scribe, and Zadok and Abiathar were the priests. 26 Ira the Jairite was David’s personal priest.

21:1 During David’s reign there was a famine for three consecutive years. So David inquired of the Lord. The Lord said, “It is because of Saul and his bloodstained family, because he murdered the Gibeonites.”

2 So the king summoned the Gibeonites and spoke with them. (Now the Gibeonites were not descendants of Israel; they were a remnant of the Amorites. The Israelites had made a promise to them, but Saul tried to kill them because of his zeal for the people of Israel and Judah.) 3 David said to the Gibeonites, “What can I do for you, and how can I make amends so that you will bless the Lord’s inheritance?”

4 The Gibeonites said to him, “We have no claim to silver or gold from Saul or from his family, nor would we be justified in putting to death anyone in Israel.” David asked, “What then are you asking me to do for you?” 5 They replied to the king, “As for this man who exterminated us and who schemed against us so that we were destroyed and left without status throughout all the borders of Israel— 6 let seven of his male descendants be turned over to us, and we will execute them before the Lord in Gibeah of Saul, who was the Lord’s chosen one.” The king replied, “I will turn them over.”

7 The king had mercy on Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, in light of the Lord’s oath that had been taken between David and Jonathan son of Saul. 8 So the king took Armoni and Mephibosheth, the two sons of Aiah’s daughter Rizpah whom she had born to Saul, and the five sons of Saul’s daughter Merab whom she had born to Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite. 9 He turned them over to the Gibeonites, and they executed them on a hill before the Lord. The seven of them died together; they were put to death during harvest time—during the first days of the beginning of the barley harvest.

10 Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it out for herself on a rock. From the beginning of the harvest until the rain fell on them, she did not allow the birds of the air to feed on them by day, nor the wild animals by night. 11 When David was told what Rizpah daughter of Aiah, Saul’s concubine, had done, 12 he went and took the bones of Saul and of his son Jonathan from the leaders of Jabesh Gilead. (They had secretly taken them from the plaza at Beth Shan. It was there that Philistines publicly exposed their corpses after they had killed Saul at Gilboa.) 13 David brought the bones of Saul and of Jonathan his son from there; they also gathered up the bones of those who had been executed.

14 They buried the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan in the land of Benjamin at Zela in the grave of his father Kish. After they had done everything that the king had commanded, God responded to their prayers for the land.

15 Another battle was fought between the Philistines and Israel. So David went down with his soldiers and fought the Philistines. David became exhausted. 16 Now Ishbi-Benob, one of the descendants of Rapha, had a spear that weighed 300 bronze shekels, and he was armed with a new weapon. He had said that he would kill David. 17 But Abishai the son of Zeruiah came to David’s aid, striking the Philistine down and killing him. Then David’s men took an oath saying, “You will not go out to battle with us again! You must not extinguish the lamp of Israel!”

18 Later there was another battle with the Philistines, this time in Gob. On that occasion Sibbekai the Hushathite killed Saph, who was one of the descendants of Rapha. 19 Yet another battle occurred with the Philistines in Gob. On that occasion Elhanan the son of Jair the Bethlehemite killed the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam. 20 Yet another battle occurred in Gath. On that occasion there was a large man who had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in all! He too was a descendant of Rapha. 21 When he taunted Israel, Jonathan, the son of David’s brother Shimeah, killed him. 22 These four were the descendants of Rapha who lived in Gath; they were killed by David and his soldiers.

22:1 David sang to the Lord the words of this song when the Lord rescued him from the power of all his enemies, including Saul. 2 He said:

“The Lord is my high ridge, my stronghold, my deliverer.

3 My God is my rocky summit where I take shelter,

my shield, the horn that saves me, my stronghold,

my refuge, my savior. You save me from violence!

4 I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,

and I was delivered from my enemies.

5 The waves of death engulfed me;

the currents of chaos overwhelmed me.

6 The ropes of Sheol tightened around me;

the snares of death trapped me.

7 In my distress I called to the Lord;

I called to my God.

From his heavenly temple he heard my voice;

he listened to my cry for help.

8 The earth heaved and shook;

the foundations of the sky trembled.

They heaved because he was angry.

9 Smoke ascended from his nose;

fire devoured as it came from his mouth;

he hurled down fiery coals.

10 He made the sky sink as he descended;

a thick cloud was under his feet.

11 He mounted a winged angel and flew;

he glided on the wings of the wind.

12 He shrouded himself in darkness,

in thick rain clouds.

13 From the brightness in front of him

came coals of fire.

14 The Lord thundered from the sky;

the Most High shouted loudly.

15 He shot arrows and scattered them,

lightning and routed them.

16 The depths of the sea were exposed;

the inner regions of the world were uncovered

by the Lord’s battle cry,

by the powerful breath from his nose.

17 He reached down from above and grabbed me;

he pulled me from the surging water.

18 He rescued me from my strong enemy,

from those who hate me,

for they were too strong for me.

19 They confronted me in my day of calamity,

but the Lord helped me.

20 He brought me out into a wide open place;

he delivered me because he was pleased with me.

21 The Lord repaid me for my godly deeds;

he rewarded my blameless behavior.

22 For I have obeyed the Lord’s commands;

I have not rebelled against my God.

23 For I am aware of all his regulations,

and I do not reject his rules.

24 I was blameless before him;

I kept myself from sinning.

25 The Lord rewarded me for my godly deeds;

he took notice of my blameless behavior.

26 You prove to be loyal to one who is faithful;

you prove to be trustworthy to one who is innocent.

27 You prove to be reliable to one who is blameless,

but you prove to be deceptive to one who is perverse.

28 You deliver oppressed people,

but you watch the proud and bring them down.

29 Indeed, you are my lamp, Lord.

The Lord illumines the darkness around me.

30 Indeed, with your help I can charge against an army;

by my God’s power I can jump over a wall.

31 The one true God acts in a faithful manner;

the Lord’s promise is reliable;

he is a shield to all who take shelter in him.

32 Indeed, who is God besides the Lord?

Who is a protector besides our God?

33 The one true God is my mighty refuge;

he removes the obstacles in my way.

34 He gives me the agility of a deer;

he enables me to negotiate the rugged terrain.

35 He trains my hands for battle;

my arms can bend even the strongest bow.

36 You give me your protective shield;

your willingness to help enables me to prevail.

37 You widen my path;

my feet do not slip.

38 I chase my enemies and destroy them;

I do not turn back until I wipe them out.

39 I wipe them out and beat them to death;

they cannot get up;

they fall at my feet.

40 You give me strength for battle;

you make my foes kneel before me.

41 You make my enemies retreat;

I destroy those who hate me.

42 They cry out, but there is no one to help them;

they cry out to the Lord, but he does not answer them.

43 I grind them as fine as the dust of the ground;

I crush them and stomp them like clay in the streets.

44 You rescue me from a hostile army;

you preserve me as a leader of nations;

people over whom I had no authority are now my subjects.

45 Foreigners are powerless before me;

when they hear of my exploits, they submit to me.

46 Foreigners lose their courage;

they shake with fear as they leave their strongholds.

47 The Lord is alive!

My Protector is praiseworthy!

The God who delivers me is exalted as king!

48 The one true God completely vindicates me;

he makes nations submit to me.

49 He delivers me from my enemies;

you snatch me away from those who attack me;

you rescue me from violent men.

50 So I will give you thanks, O Lord, before the nations!

I will sing praises to you.

51 He gives his king magnificent victories;

he is faithful to his chosen ruler,

to David and to his descendants forever!”