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2 Samuel 13-16: Dark Days for the King Print E-mail
2 Samuel
Sunday, 27 August 2017

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The fulfillment of prophecy can be mysterious and unexpected at times. Things do not always happen in the way that we might expect. Tolkien captures this idea well in his Lord of the Rings series. Among the enemies in the books were creatures called Ringwraiths, who were constantly hunting the all-important ring that the lead character possessed. A prophecy had been made about their king that he would not die at the hands of a man. Thus, he could go into battle without any fear because he knew no man could kill him. But in the last book, in one of the final battles, the King of the Ringwraiths is confronted by a soldier after the wicked creature had just mortally wounded a good king. When the soldier steps forward to protect the body of his king, the Ringwraith laughs and tells him that no man can harm him. Then the soldier laughs in return and says: ďBut no living man am I! You look upon a woman. You stand between me and my lord and kin. Begone, if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you, if you touch him.Ē And smite him she did (with the help of a hobbit). The evil creature took false confidence in the prophecy and walked right into his death at the hands of a female, who had pretended to be a man so that she could fight. The prophecy was fulfilled, just not in the way that we might have expected.

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The Lord sends Nathan the prophet to tell King David the consequences that he will face for his adultery and murder. Look at 12:10-12. The Lord tells David that the sword shall never depart from your house. He also tells him the evil will come against him out of your own house and that his wives will be given to his neighbor. How will these prophecies and judgments play out in the life of David? What is going to happen to fulfill Nathanís words to David? We do not have to wait long to find the answer. We will see these prophecies fulfilled before we reach the end of 2 Samuel. In fact, we will see them at least partially fulfilled in our passage today. I want to consider these fulfillments under two headings: the sword and the shame.

The sword: Absalom kills Amnon (ch. 13)

The heir to Davidís throne at this point is his son Amnon. He is the next in line to be king over Israel. Unfortunately, he has a problem with lust comparable to his fatherís. Look at 13:1-2. Three characters are introduced here: Absalom, Tamar, and Amnon. Absalom and Tamar are children of the king and have the same mother. Amnon is also a son of the king, but he has a different mother. Tamar is a very beautiful and Amnon is attracted to her. The only problem is that she is a virgin, not to mention his half-sister, so that he cannot do anything to her, words which foreshadow the evil that is to come.

Another character (Jonadab) is introduced at this point who comes up with a plan for Amnon to spend time with Tamar. The plan is simple: Amnon should act like he is sick and ask his father if Tamar can take care of him, which is exactly what happens. Things get ugly after that. Look at verses 10-14. Amnon tries to convince Tamar to sleep with him, but when she refuses, he rapes her. It is an ugly, terrible act, and, as she points out, will ruin their lives. After the act, Amnon cannot even stand to look at Tamar, which makes things even worse. He kicks her out of his house and she leaves broken and weeping.

Her brother, Absalom, steps in at this point. Look at verses 20-22. He has her live with him and plots his revenge on Amnon. We must note Davidís inaction here. We are not given any reasons why he did not deal with Amnon, but it is not hard to guess: perhaps he just loved his son and thought no action was best or perhaps he still felt guilty over his own sexual sin. Either way, he did not act and revealed his struggle to be a faithful father.

Meanwhile, Absalom is planning his revenge. After two years have passed, he has a feast and invites the king. When the king says he cannot come, he invites the sons of the king and particularly Amnon who can take his fatherís place at the feast. David is apparently ignorant of Absalomís anger, or maybe he just thinks that this is a gesture of forgiveness and restoration, so he agrees to send Amnon. At the feast, Absalom gets his revenge. Look at verses 28-29. One of Davidís sons has killed one of his other sons. Remember the prophecy? The sword shall never depart from your house...I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. For whatever reason, David did not see it coming, but the prophecy is fulfilled and Amnon is dead. The chapter closes with Absalom fleeing Jerusalem and David mourning the situation.

The shame: Absalom becomes king (ch. 14-16)

The next chapter tells the story of how Absalom returns to Jerusalem. Joab, the commander of the kingís army, sends a woman to talk David into bringing Absalom back. Much like Nathan did, she tells a story and when the king passes judgment, she tells him to apply that same judgment to himself, which he does. He sends Joab to go and get Absalom, but when he returns David does not allow him to dwell in his presence. Look at verse 24. This note is important for two reasons. First, Absalom is greatly angered by Davidís actions. He will force Joab into demanding a meeting with King David, but even then things are not good between them. Second, by having Absalom dwell in his own house, David effectively makes him his neighbor, which will be an important note as events progress.

So Absalom is in Jerusalem and is angry with King David for shunning him. Ever the man with a plan, he decides to garner popular support. So, like any good politician would do, he manipulates the situation so that the people are tricked into supporting him. Look at 15:1-6. This is a classic political move: exploit a perceived weakness and convince people that they need the change that only you can bring. And it works to perfection for Absalom, for he stole the hearts of the men of Israel. After doing this for four years, he takes a trip to the city of Hebron, where David first became king, and the masses who now support him make him king. Two things are worth note. First, Absalom invited two hundred men to go with him who did not know what was going on who would have probably fought for David if they would have been in Jerusalem. Second, Davidís primary counselor, Ahithophel, abandons David and supports Absalom.

Beginning in 15:13, the author tells us of David fleeing Jerusalem. It is hard to be certain why he fled, but two possibilities seem likely: either he did not want to fight against his son or he did not have the manpower to win. Other factors could have played a part: he did not want to make war on his fellow Israelites or he felt like this was the judgment of God and he should not resist. Whatever the reason, David chooses not to fight. As he is leaving, he runs into several people who will play a role in the coming days. Ittai, a Philistine commander, gives David his support and will help him defeat Absalomís army. Two priests agree to go back to Jerusalem with the ark and send David updates about what is happening in the city.

When David prays for God to turn Ahithophelís counsel into foolishness, he meets Hushai, who also goes back to David and will gain Absalomís trust, which will lead to his downfall. Two more meetings take place in chapter 16: Ziba, the man who was in charge of Mephibosheth, who lies to David and tricks him into giving him land, and Shimei, who curses David as a man of blood. Davidís response to the latter is interesting. His soldiers want to kill him, but David will not let them. Look at 16:11-12. David is unwilling to kill Shimei because it seems that he recognizes that what is happening is part of Godís judgment for his own sins.

After David leaves, Absalom sets up shop in Jerusalem. When he is considering how to establish his rule in the city, Ahithophel gives him some interesting (and wicked) advice. Look at verse 21-22. The counselor advises the new king to sleep with King Davidís women who had been left behind to care for the palace. And he tells him to do this in public so that all can see. Remember the prophecy? I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. The prophecy concerning Davidís shame was fulfilled by Absalom, his son and his neighbor. He did it for all to see, in the open, under the sun.

Conclusion
Of course, the story is not over. We will see next week what happens to Absalom and the continuing fulfillment of Nathanís prophecy. But what lessons can we learn from these consequences? Let me mention three. First, the Lord will keep his Word. Things may not have played out exactly like we would expect, but the judgments came to pass. The sword fell (and will continue to fall) and the shame was exposed for all to see. Even David seems to recognize that what is happening is from the Lord and is the fulfillment to Nathanís words. Second, true repentance accepts consequences and seeks to act in obedience. David accepts the consequences for his sins, but he struggles with acting in obedience. His inaction with Amnon indicates his struggle as a parent, as the king, and as a follower of the Lord.

This failure to act also has consequences in Davidís life as we see in this story. Repentance is not just accepting consequences, it is committing to move forward in obedience through Godís help. Finally, the only hope that David or anyone of us have is Godís grace. These are dark days for the king. He is facing terrible, but just, consequences for his sin. His only hope is that God will be merciful, which is our only hope as well. Jesus has come to pay for our sins at the cross and we know that God accepts that payment since He raised Him up from the grave on the third day. The mercy that we so desperately need is found through faith in Jesus. By turning from our sins and believing in Him, we can be forgiven and have hope even when we are facing consequences for our sin. Why? Because we know that He is a good and gracious God, just like David knew. Amen.

1 J. R. R. Tolkien, The Return of the King (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1994), p. 823.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 04 October 2017 )

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