Now, Absalom begins to grow in power. He gets fifty men and a chariot with horses.
Early in the morning, he regularly goes out and stands beside the palace gate. He meets with people who are there to meet the king and tell him their problems.
Absalom reassures people about the justness of their suits, but tells them that no one is appointed to listen to their issues. If he was the judge, he says, he would be able to help them.
He kisses all the people who come to him, and steals the hearts of the people of Israel.
After four years in Jerusalem, Absalom asks David if he can go to Hebron. David gives him permission, but when Absalom goes there, he sends out messengers to announce that Absalom has become the new king of Israel at Hebron.
Absalom brings unwitting people with him, and gets David's counselor Ahithophel to go with him, as well.
His rebellious conspiracy grows in power.
Got a Plan—Run Away Fast as You Can
When David's messengers tell him about Absalom's increasing power and how he's won Israel's favor, David orders his people to flee Jerusalem—however, he leaves ten concubines behind to keep watch over the palace.
On the way out, David stops and tells one of his officials—Ittai the Gittite—to go back to his people, the Gittites, since it wouldn't be fair to force him to wander around with David.
However, Ittai pledges to continue with David and to serve him forever. David lets him stay with him, bringing along all his men.
The priests Zadok and Abiathar are about to bring the Ark along too, but David tells them to stay in the city—if God wants him to return, he'll see the Ark again. (So, they remain with the Ark in Jerusalem.)
David and his people walk weeping up the Mount of Olives. When David hears that Ahithophel has joined Absalom, he prays to God, asking God to make Ahithophel's counsel sound foolish.
After reaching the top of the Mount of Olives, David sends his official Hushai the Archite, to go back to Jerusalem and pretend to serve Absalom when he takes over. Hushai can work with Zadok and Abiathar, and use their sons to help them spy and bring news back to David.
So Hushai goes back to Jerusalem, arriving just before Absalom does.