2 Samuel 15
-Absalom begins his rebellion in this chapter filled with intrigue and division within David’s family. The text begins with Absalom providing for himself a chariot with horses and fifty runners who went before him. He was becoming more and more militaristic, much like he’d seen in his father’s culture. He won over the hearts of the common people of Israel by rising early and standing in the gate of the city of Jerusalem to persuade those who were coming to the king for a judgment. He would call himself their “servant” and tell them that their “claims were good and right.” But, he would defame his father’s government by insisting that “no man listens to you on the part of the king.” He would inform them that he would make a much better leader as the judge over this land. He was the self-proclaimed man of justice in the society. When people would come to him and prostrate themselves before him, “he would put out his hand and take hold of him and kiss him.” “In this manner Absalom dealt with all Israel who came to the king for judgment; so Absalom stole away the hearts of the men of Israel (2 Samuel 15:1-6).”
-After 40 years of this (some ancient versions render this 4 years, which I think is much more practical and the correct rendering), Absalom came to his father, the king, and asked him to let him go to Hebron so that he could pay a vow back to the LORD, which he had made in Geshur. He told him that he had sworn to serve the LORD while he was in Geshur if he was indeed ever brought back to Jerusalem with his family. David sent him away in peace, not really thinking anything of it. So Absalom arose and went to Hebron, where David had once ruled over Judah (2 Samuel 2:1-4, 5:5). From there he sent out spies throughout all of Israel telling them that when they heard the trumpet, they should proclaim him as their new king reigning from Hebron. 200 men went innocently from Jerusalem with Absalom without knowing anything about this conspiracy to coup. Ahithophel the Gilonite, who was David’s own counselor, was summoned from his city of Giloh while he was offering sacrifices unto the LORD. The Bible tells us that this “conspiracy was strong, for the people increased continually with Absalom (2 Samuel 15:7-12).” The demonic spirit of deception was at work, and the people followed along blindly.
-A messenger soon came to David and let him know that “the hearts of the men of Israel are with Absalom.” David knew that their only hope was to arise and flee. He had been on the run certainly before in his life; he knew the routine all too well. Now he was a king in exile paying the consequences for past sins. He knew that the sword was coming against them in powerful and unmerciful force. He chose to vacate for the numbers against him were insurmountable. Discretion is the better part of valor. He realized the city would be overtaken quickly with great and violent calamity erupting in Jerusalem. So he departed eastward with full support of his servants, the priests, and the rest of his household. He only left 10 concubines behind to keep his house. A large number of supporters from different people groups left with him that had been loyal to him through the years. There is a touching episode with Ittai the Gittite who responded with compassion and dedication in following the king. While all the country who supported David were weeping with a loud voice, they passed over with the king through the Kidron valley that separates Jerusalem and Mount Zion from the Mount of Olives as one goes towards the wilderness (desert) in the east. Zadok and all the Levites came carrying the Ark of the Covenant of God, and they set it down until Abiathar came up as all the people had finished passing from the city. But the king instructed the religious leaders to return to the city with the Ark. He told them frankly, “If I find favor in the sight of the LORD, then He will bring me back again and show me both it and His habitation. But if He says thus, ‘I have no delight in you,’ behold, here I am, let Him do to me as seems good to Him.” He then sent Zadok back as a seer in peace with his son, Ahimaaz, as well as Abiathar and his son, Jonathan. David would go to the fords of the wilderness to wait for a word from them who could report from Jerusalem. Therefore, the Ark returned to Jerusalem under the watchcare of Zadok and Abiathar and remained there. David went up to the ascent of the Mount of Olives and wept as he went. His head was covered in shame and he walked barefoot as a broken-contrite man. All the people who were with him did the same thing covering their heads and weeping as they went. A tragic lamentation. It was at this time that someone came up to the king and told him, “Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.” David’s reply was classic, “O LORD, I pray, make the counsel of Ahithophel foolishness.” And then it happened as David was coming to the summit of the Mount of Olives, where God was worshipped, that Hushai the Archite met him with his coat torn and dust all over his head from mourning. David devised a plan with Hushai at this juncture. He told him, “If you pass over with me, then you will be a burden to me. But if you return to the city, and say to Absalom, ‘I will be your servant,’ then you can thwart the counsel of Ahithophel for me.” Then he let his spy know that the faithful Zadok and Abiathar were remaining there in Jerusalem with him, and that they could send their sons, Ahimaaz and Jonathan, to tell him all that was going on from the capital. “So Hushai, David’s friend, came into the city, and Absalom came into Jerusalem (2 Samuel 15:13-37).” The plot thickens.
-*Application* Loyalty and betrayal are the prominent themes from this Scripture today. Our allegiances will end up defining us as they did with the characters that we read about here. David’s recourse was always to Someone higher, more profound, wiser, and in more control. He was resigned to the Master. His brokenness shows us that pride makes excuses, while humility makes adjustments. This is a lesson for us to learn as well.
Verses to Memorize: 2 Samuel 15:6, 30-31, 37