1The LORD sent the prophet Nathan to David. Nathan went to him and said, “There were two men who lived in the same town; one was rich and the other poor. 2The rich man had many cattle and sheep, 3while the poor man had only one lamb, which he had bought. He took care of it, and it grew up in his home with his children. He would feed it with some of his own food, let it drink from his cup, and hold it in his lap. The lamb was like a daughter to him. 4One day a visitor arrived at the rich man's home. The rich man didn't want to kill one of his own animals to prepare a meal for him; instead, he took the poor man's lamb and cooked a meal for his guest.”
5David was very angry with the rich man and said, “I swear by the living LORD that the man who did this ought to die! 6For having done such a cruel thing, he must pay back four times as much as he took.”
7“You are that man,” Nathan said to David. “And this is what the LORD God of Israel says: ‘I made you king of Israel and rescued you from Saul. 8I gave you his kingdom and his wives; I made you king over Israel and Judah. If this had not been enough, I would have given you twice as much. 9Why, then, have you disobeyed my commands? Why did you do this evil thing? You had Uriah killed in battle; you let the Ammonites kill him, and then you took his wife! 10Now, in every generation some of your descendants will die a violent death because you have disobeyed me and have taken Uriah's wife. 11I swear to you that I will cause someone from your own family to bring trouble on you. You will see it when I take your wives from you and give them to another man; and he will have intercourse with them in broad daylight. 12You sinned in secret, but I will make this happen in broad daylight for all Israel to see.’ ”
13“I have sinned against the LORD,” David said.
Nathan replied, “The LORD forgives you; you will not die. 14But because you have shown such contempt for the LORD in doing this, your child will die.” 15Then Nathan went home.
David's Son Dies
The LORD caused the child that Uriah's wife had borne to David to become very ill. 16David prayed to God that the child would get well. He refused to eat anything, and every night he went into his room and spent the night lying on the floor. 17His court officials went to him and tried to make him get up, but he refused and would not eat anything with them. 18A week later the child died, and David's officials were afraid to tell him the news. They said, “While the child was living, David wouldn't answer us when we spoke to him. How can we tell him that his child is dead? He might do himself some harm!”
19When David noticed them whispering to each other, he realized that the child had died. So he asked them, “Is the child dead?”
“Yes, he is,” they answered.
20David got up from the floor, had a bath, combed his hair, and changed his clothes. Then he went and worshipped in the house of the LORD. When he returned to the palace, he asked for food and ate it as soon as it was served. 21“We don't understand this,” his officials said to him. “While the child was alive, you wept for him and would not eat; but as soon as he died, you got up and ate!”
22“Yes,” David answered, “I did fast and weep while he was still alive. I thought that the LORD might be merciful to me and not let the child die. 23But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Could I bring the child back to life? I will some day go to where he is, but he can never come back to me.”
Solomon is Born
24Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba. He had intercourse with her, and she bore a son, whom David named Solomon. The LORD loved the boy 25and commanded the prophet Nathan to name the boy Jedidiah, because the LORD loved him.
26Meanwhile Joab continued his campaign against Rabbah, the capital city of Ammon, and was about to capture it. 27He sent messengers to David to report: “I have attacked Rabbah and have captured its water supply. 28Now gather the rest of your forces, attack the city and take it yourself. I don't want to get the credit for capturing it.” 29So David gathered his forces, went to Rabbah, attacked it, and conquered it. 30From the head of the idol of the Ammonite god Molech David took a gold crown which weighed about 35 kilogrammes and had a jewel in it. David took the jewel and put it in his own crown. He also took a large amount of loot from the city 31and put its people to work with saws, iron hoes, and iron axes, and forced them to work at making bricks. He did the same to the people of all the other towns of Ammon. Then he and his men returned to Jerusalem.
Amnon and Tamar
1David's son Absalom had a beautiful unmarried sister named Tamar. Amnon, another of David's sons, fell in love with her. 2He was so much in love with her that he became ill, because it seemed impossible for him to have her; as a virgin, she was kept from meeting men. 3But he had a friend, a very shrewd man named Jonadab, the son of David's brother Shammah. 4Jonadab said to Amnon, “You are the king's son, yet day after day I see you looking sad. What's the matter?”
“I'm in love with Tamar, the sister of my half-brother Absalom,” he answered.
5Jonadab said to him, “Pretend that you are ill and go to bed. When your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘Please ask my sister Tamar to come and feed me. I want her to prepare the food here where I can see her, and then serve it to me herself.’ ” 6So Amnon pretended that he was ill and went to bed.
King David went to see him, and Amnon said to him, “Please let Tamar come and make a few cakes here where I can see her, and then serve them to me herself.”
7So David sent word to Tamar in the palace: “Go to Amnon's house and prepare some food for him.” 8She went there and found him in bed. She took some dough, prepared it, and made some cakes there where he could see her. Then she baked the cakes 9and emptied them out of the pan for him to eat, but he wouldn't. He said, “Send everyone away” — and they all left. 10Then he said to her, “Bring the cakes here to my bed and serve them to me yourself.” She took the cakes and went over to him. 11As she offered them to him, he grabbed her and said, “Come to bed with me!”
12“No,” she said. “Don't force me to do such a degrading thing! That's awful! 13How could I ever hold up my head in public again? And you — you would be completely disgraced in Israel. Please, speak to the king, and I'm sure that he will give me to you.” 14But he would not listen to her; and since he was stronger than she was, he overpowered her and raped her.
15Then Amnon was filled with a deep hatred for her; he hated her now even more than he had loved her before. He said to her, “Get out!”
16“No,” she answered. “To send me away like this is a greater crime than what you just did!”
But Amnon would not listen to her; 17he called in his personal servant and said, “Get this woman out of my sight! Throw her out and lock the door!” 18The servant put her out and locked the door.
Tamar was wearing a long robe with full sleeves, the usual clothing for an unmarried princess in those days.19She sprinkled ashes on her head, tore her robe, and with her face buried in her hands went away crying. 20When her brother Absalom saw her, he asked, “Has Amnon molested you? Please, sister, don't let it upset you so much. He is your half-brother, so don't tell anyone about it.” So Tamar lived in Absalom's house, sad and lonely.
21When King David heard what had happened, he was furious. 22And Absalom hated Amnon so much for having raped his sister Tamar that he would no longer even speak to him.
23Two years later Absalom was having his sheep sheared at Baal Hazor, near the town of Ephraim, and he invited all the king's sons to be there. 24He went to King David and said, “Your Majesty, I am having my sheep sheared. Will you and your officials come and take part in the festivities?”
25“No, my son,” the king answered. “It would be too much trouble for you if we all went.” Absalom insisted, but the king would not give in, and he asked Absalom to leave.
26But Absalom said, “Well, then, will you at least let my brother Amnon come?”
“Why should he?” the king asked. 27But Absalom kept on insisting until David finally let Amnon and all his other sons go with Absalom.
Absalom prepared a banquet fit for a king28and instructed his servants: “Notice when Amnon has had too much to drink, and then when I give the order, kill him. Don't be afraid. I will take the responsibility myself. Be brave and don't hesitate!” 29So the servants followed Absalom's instructions and killed Amnon. All the rest of David's sons mounted their mules and fled.
30While they were on their way home, David was told: “Absalom has killed all your sons — not one of them is left!” 31The king stood up, tore his clothes in sorrow, and threw himself to the ground. The servants who were there with him tore their clothes also. 32But Jonadab, the son of David's brother Shammah, said, “Your Majesty, they haven't killed all your sons. Only Amnon is dead. You could tell by looking at Absalom that he had made up his mind to do this from the time that Amnon raped his sister Tamar. 33So don't believe the news that all your sons are dead; only Amnon was killed.”
34In the meantime Absalom had fled.
Just then the soldier on sentry duty saw a large crowd coming down the hill on the road from Horonaim. He went to the king and reported what he had seen.35Jonadab said to David, “Those are your sons coming, just as I said they would.” 36As soon as he finished saying this, David's sons came in; they started crying, and David and his officials also wept bitterly.
37-38Absalom fled and went to the king of Geshur, Talmai son of Ammihud, and stayed there three years. David mourned a long time for his son Amnon; 39but when he got over Amnon's death, he was filled with longing for his son Absalom.
Joab Arranges for Absalom's Return
1Joab knew that King David missed Absalom very much, 2so he sent for a clever woman who lived in Tekoa. When she arrived, he said to her, “Pretend that you are in mourning; put on your mourning clothes, and don't comb your hair. Act like a woman who has been in mourning for a long time. 3Then go to the king and say to him what I tell you to say.” Then Joab told her what to say.
4The woman went to the king, bowed down to the ground in respect, and said, “Help me, Your Majesty!”
5“What do you want?” he asked her.
“I am a poor widow, sir,” she answered. “My husband is dead. 6Sir, I had two sons, and one day they got into a quarrel out in the fields, where there was no one to separate them, and one of them killed the other. 7And now, sir, all my relatives have turned against me and are demanding that I hand my son over to them, so that they can kill him for murdering his brother. If they do this, I will be left without a son. They will destroy my last hope and leave my husband without a son to keep his name alive.”
8“Go back home,” the king answered, “and I will take care of the matter.”
9“Your Majesty,” she said, “whatever you do, my family and I will take the blame; you and the royal family are innocent.”
10The king replied, “If anyone threatens you, bring him to me, and he will never trouble you again.”
11She said, “Your Majesty, please pray to the LORD your God, so that my relative who is responsible for avenging the death of my son will not commit a greater crime by killing my other son.”
“I promise by the living LORD,” David replied, “that your son will not be harmed in the least.”
12“Please, Your Majesty, let me say just one more thing,” the woman said.
“All right,” he answered.
13She said to him, “Why have you done such a wrong to God's people? You have not allowed your own son to return from exile, and so you have condemned yourself by what you have just said. 14We will all die; we are like water spilt on the ground, which can't be gathered again. Even God does not bring the dead back to life, but the king can at least find a way to bring a man back from exile.15Now, Your Majesty, the reason I have come to speak to you is that the people threatened me, and so I said to myself that I would speak to you in the hope that you would do what I ask. 16I thought you would listen to me and save me from the one who is trying to kill my son and me and so remove us from the land God gave his people. 17I said to myself that your promise, sir, would make me safe, because the king is like God's angel and can distinguish good from evil. May the LORD your God be with you!”
18The king answered, “I'm going to ask you a question, and you must tell me the whole truth.”
“Ask me anything, Your Majesty,” she answered.
19“Did Joab put you up to this?” he asked her.
She answered, “I swear by all that is sacred, Your Majesty, that there is no way to avoid answering your question. It was indeed your officer Joab who told me what to do and what to say. 20But he did it in order to straighten out this whole matter. Your Majesty is as wise as the angel of God and knows everything that happens.”
21Later on the king said to Joab, “I have decided to do what you want. Go and get the young man Absalom and bring him back here.”
22Joab threw himself to the ground in front of David in respect, and said, “God bless you, Your Majesty! Now I know that you are pleased with me, because you have granted my request.” 23Then he got up and went to Geshur and brought Absalom back to Jerusalem. 24The king, however, gave orders that Absalom should not live in the palace. “I don't want to see him,” the king said. So Absalom lived in his own house and did not appear before the king.