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 Then the king said to Ittai the Gittite, “Why do you also go with us? Go back and stay with the king, for you are a foreigner and also an exile from your home.  You came only yesterday, and shall I today make you wander about with us, since I go I know not where? Go back and take your brothers with you, and may the LORD show steadfast love and faithfulness to you.”  But Ittai answered the king, “As the LORD lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king shall be, whether for death or for life, there also will your servant be.”  And David said to Ittai, “Go then, pass on.” So Ittai the Gittite passed on with all his men and all the little ones who were with him.  And all the land wept aloud as all the people passed by, and the king crossed the brook Kidron, and all the people passed on toward the wilderness.
 And Abiathar came up, and behold, Zadok came also with all the Levites, bearing the ark of the covenant of God. And they set down the ark of God until the people had all passed out of the city.  Then the king said to Zadok, “Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the eyes of the LORD, he will bring me back and let me see both it and his dwelling place.
There are two great shows of loyalty here as King David is fleeing Jerusalem. His son Absalom is rumored to be planning a takeover, so the house of David is leaving to avoid a civil war. There are many that are aligned with David, so it is quite a crowd.
Some of the people in that crowd are with a guy named Ittai. Ittai showed up the day before and became a part of David’s court. He has only been there one day! David tells him he should stay behind because he probably won’t be considered an ally to David’s house.
Ittai doesn’t leave so easily. He sort of gives a vow about sticking with the king until his death! This is a repeat of the kind of thing he would have said the day before as he became an official in David’s court. Ittai is saying, just because my oath to you is one day old doesn’t make it any less binding. Just like a marriage is a marriage whether it’s a week old or half a century old, Ittai sticks with his king.
A little later the priests show up with the Ark of the Covenant. Now, remember how much David cared about having God’s presence close to him! When they bring David the Ark, he sends them back. David’s loyalty is to God and God’s kingdom. David acknowledges that whoever the King of Israel may be, he is going to need God’s presence. David is telling those priests:
It’s better for Israel to have God’s presence than for me to have it for myself.
The power punch is in the very next verse. It says that David went up to the Mount of Olives and wept. He gave up his own claim to kingship and the presence of God that was with him for the sake of saving Israel.
Almost 1,000 years later, Jesus would gather a few of His men, leave Jerusalem and go to the Mount of Olives. He would show His loyalty to God by giving up His very claim to His own life. He told the disciples that He had to leave, so that the Holy Spirit, the presence of God, could come and be on them. David didn’t know it, but he was not just acting like a great king when he left Jerusalem in peace. He was acting like the Great King of Peace.