2 Samuel 16
-As David passed beyond the summit of the Mount of Olives fleeing the city of Jerusalem now in exile, a servant of Mephibosheth, and caretaker of his property, met him with a couple of saddled donkeys and food supplies. His name was Ziba, and David promptly asked him why he had these provisions. Ziba told him that the donkeys were for the king’s household to ride, the bread and summer fruit were for the young men to eat, and the wine was for whoever may be faint in the wilderness and needed a drink. This Ziba was showing favor to David, but David asked an important question. He asked where his master’s (Jonathan) son was. Ziba lied and told him that he had stayed in Jerusalem with hopes that the house of Israel would be returned to him. Mephibosheth never initiated this plan, but David accepted Ziba’s lie. He gave him all that belonged to Mephibosheth, thus nullifying his previous generosity (see 2 Samuel 9), and showed a woeful lack of discernment in a flippant moment. Ziba was grateful for finding favor in the sight of the king and prostrated himself before him in respect (2 Samuel 16-1-4).
-More intrigue occurred along the exile’s path as they came to Bahurim (also known as Nob on the eastward path from Jerusalem to Jericho just past the Mount of Olives in the land of Benjamin). There, a man named Shimei from the family of Saul came out cursing David as he came through. Things got ugly as this Shimei threw stones at the king, his servants, the people, even the mighty men who were at David’s right and left hand. Shimei said, “Get out, get out, you man of bloodshed, and worthless fellow! The LORD has returned upon you all the bloodshed of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned; and the LORD has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. And behold, you are taken in your own evil, for you are a man of bloodshed!” Abishai, who was the brother of military commander Joab (2 Samuel 2:18), stood up for the exiled king at this point, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over now and cut off his head.” Exacerbated, David replied, “What have I to do with you, O sons of Zeruiah? If he curses, and if the LORD has told him, ‘Curse David,’ then who shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’” He continued with resignation, “Behold, my son who came out from me seeks my life; how much more this Benjamite? Let him alone and let him curse, for the LORD has told him.” But then he acknowledged some faith and hope as he continued his didactical discourse, “Perhaps the LORD will look on my affliction and return good to me instead of his cursing this day.” So, they went along their way not interfering with the antics of this Shemei, a man of anger and self-retribution. He continued to mock along the hillside parallel with the king cursing and casting stones and throwing dust at him. A real chaotic scene we can be sure. When the king and all the people who were with him finally arrived at their destination at the fords (2 Samuel 15:28), they were weary, but they refreshed themselves there in that desert place with an uncertain future looming (2 Samuel 16:5-14).
-The scene shifts back to Jerusalem, where Absalom was now arriving with his supporters from the men of Israel. The sought after counselor, Ahithophel, was at his side now. So too, was the spy for David’s sake, Hushai the Archite. He came to Absalom to win his favor. Absalom questioned him on this, but Hushai was able to convince him that his allegiance was with the newly self-proclaimed leader of Israel. Now Absalom sought Ahithophel’s advice on how to proceed in their newly conquered kingdom. Ahithophel advised him to go into his father’s concubines, that he had left to take care of the house (2 Samuel 15:16), to infuriate his father and strengthen the perception that he was now the man in control of the nation. This was a demonic-divisionary tatic, but also a fulfillment of Nathan’s prophecy in his rebuke of King David post the Bathsheba/Uriah incident (2 Samuel 12:11-12). They pitched a tent on the roof for Absalom, and he had sexual relations with David’s concubines in the sight of all Israel. There is a commentary of Ahithophel’s Rasputin-like counsel in the final verse, “The advice of Ahithophel, which he gave in those days, was as if one inquired of the word of God; so was all the advice of Ahithophel regarded by both David and Absalom (2 Samuel 16:15-23).”
-*Application* How do we handle times in our lives when we are weary and feel totally defeated? This is how David must have felt as he journeyed back into the desert of wandering and uncertainty. He did not lose faith, and he kept from retaliating in an uncommon demonstration of self-control and obedience to his Creator. Even when those around him wanted to take matters to a new level in retribution, he resigned his fate to the Master of his soul and was patient. Let’s pray that God will look upon any affliction we might be receiving and return good to us instead of cursing this day.
Verse to Memorize: 2 Samuel 16:12