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2 Samuel 17-19: The Lord's choice for King Print E-mail
2 Samuel
Sunday, 03 September 2017

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The past few weeks have been particularly difficult for many people in our country. The events in Charlottesville were disturbing, reminding us that people continue to hate people for the color of their skin. Watching men and women line the streets to proclaim their hatred for non-whites was ugly and difficult to comprehend. Then a hurricane hit Texas this week and wreaked havoc on an entire state. The city of Houston was flooded, people died trying to escape, and thousands upon thousands continue to be stranded from their homes and lives. And the effort to recover is only just beginning. Yet, in light of all of this (and so much more that is going on throughout our world), Christian continue to believe in an important truth: God is on His throne. Some will mock us for such a belief when confronted with such tragedy and loss. And I understand that struggle. But I still hold to the biblical truth of Godís sovereign rule over all for at least a couple of reasons. First, I believe the bible is true and it teaches us of Godís forever reign, even in dark times. Second, I continue to see evidence of His providence. Men and women have stood up against racism and called it what it is: sin against the Creator. Thousands of volunteers have poured into the areas impacted by Harvey to serve those in need. I am thankful that Godís people are involved in both of these battles and I see it as evidence of His continued providential reign.

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In the dark days of King David, we see evidence of Godís hand at work as well. We left off the story last week with the King on the run from his son, Absalom, who has set up shop in Jerusalem, surrounded himself with supporters, and even stolen the kingís women. But something must be done about David. He is the only real threat remaining for Absalom and action must be taken to prevent that. The only problem? David is the Lordís anointed. God told David through Samuel that he would be king (see 1 Samuel 16:1-13). And he told him through Nathan that his kingdom would last forever (see 2 Samuel 7:12-16). All that sounds good, but currently David is hiding out from his own son and things arenít going that well. Did Davidís sin with Bathsheba ruin Godís plans? Was God not ready for Absalomís quest to be king? No and no. We see clear evidence in our passage this morning of Godís opposition to Absalom and His support of David. How do we see this in the text?

God opposes Absalom by defeating Ahithophel (17:1-14)

We noted last week that Absalom had two counselors: Ahithophel and Hushai. David had prayed that God would thwart the counsel of Ahithophel and the Lord answered that prayer by sending him Hushai (see 15:31-32). But the question remains: who will Absalom actually listen to?

We get an answer to that question in chapter 17. Ahithophel comes to Absalom with a plan to take out David. The plan is simple: take 12,000 men and go after him immediately since the people will be tired and unorganized. It seems like a good plan because it is a good plan. Had Absalom followed Ahithophelís advice, David would probably have been defeated. But before he makes his decision, the new king wants to hear from his other adviser. Look at verse 5. He calls in Hushai, tells him what Ahithophel said and asks his opinion. Hushai calmly and cooly rejects Ahithophelís plan and offers a different one in its place, namely letís wait until we can gather all the troops of Israel and then go after David with all our might. So which one will it be?

We are told immediately that Absalom chooses to follow the advice of Hushai. Look at verse 14a. But we need to see that more is going here than just two advisers trying to win the new kingís favor. Look at verse 14b. This verse controls everything that is happening in chapters 17-19. Notice that the best advice was actually Ahithophelís, but the Lord ordained for it to be defeated for His good purposes and in answer to Davidís prayer (15:31). God opposes Absalom as king and do He ordains that Hushaiís advice is followed. The truth that God is against Absalom controls all that happens in chapters 17-19.

God supports David by helping his servants (17:15-29)

It seems that Hushai does not know if Absalom is going to follow his advice so he quickly sends word to David to warn him. Unfortunately those men run into some trouble and are almost caught by Absalom. But the Lord intervenes through another supporter of David (who just happens to own a well that is an excellent hiding place) and they make it to the king with the news. David and all the people cross the Jordan seeking safety. Meanwhile, the author tells us that when Ahithophel heard of Absalomís decision, he ordered his things and took his own life. He had been rejected by the new king and he probably knew that the old king now had the advantage, which would not turn out good for him, so he took his life. Human wisdom will only get you so far.

The chapter closes with God providing some essentials for David and the people through some unexpected means. Look at verses 27-29. The Lord can use many different ways to meet the needs of His people (even from those outside of Israel). And these physical needs do matter. God is preparing a feast for David even while he is on the run, sound familiar (see Psalm 23:5)? Notice that the list provided includes some needed items in Texas right now! In all of this God is supporting His anointed king David.

God opposes Absalom by defeating him in battle (18:1-33)

David gathers his troops and gets them ready for battle in 18:1-5. The men convince him not to fight and he gives them an unfortunate, but understandable, command: ĎDeal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom.í Nothing like hearing that as you march into battle. But again, the Lord is with David and his men and they defeat Absalomís army. Look at verses 6-8. It was a decisive victory for Davidís servants and notice that the forest played a significant role, which could either because David chose the terrain or because God gave them favor (probably both).

After we know who wins, the author then tells us the fate of Absalom. Look at verse 9. Crazy, but providential. The man with the long flowing hair (14:26) got his head caught in a tree while his donkey left him behind. So what will happen? Well, the servant that found him was unwilling to do any harm to him because he feared what David would do to the man who killed his son. But Joab was not afraid. He took three javelins and killed Absalom as he hung in the tree. Then he sounded the horn to end the pursuit and declare the victory for David.

The rest of the chapter tells us of David receiving the news from the battle. Two men race to tell him what happened and the winner (one of the guys who brought the warning to David earlier) is afraid to tell him about Absalom, but the second messenger tells him. David responds with terrible grief. Look at verse 33. God has opposed Absalom by defeating him in battle and giving David victory, but David struggles to rejoice in Godís support.

God supports David by returning him as king (19:1-43)

Davidís public grieving over Absalomís death is a problem. Instead of returning with joy and singing, the men return from the field of battle as if they lost and fled. If something doesnít change, David could lose the support of these men. Who wants to fight for a king who mourns a victory? But Joab intervenes. Look at 19:5-8. Joab is not afraid to confront David. And like with Nathan, this confrontation is actually helpful. If David does not show some support for the men, he is going to lose them. The Lord provides a man to confront David so that that will not happen. We must see the necessity of confrontation in the life of David. We must be willing to do the hard work of speaking with people when they are trouble (especially when they are in sin). We do this in love for the good of the person, even if it is not always well-received. Likewise, we must be willing to listen when others confront us as well, just as David did.

On the trip back to Jerusalem, David is met by three people. First, Shimei, the man who had cursed David when he was leaving, now comes back to David groveling for mercy. Davidís servant still wants to kill him, but David again shows him grace. Second, Mephibosheth, who had been accused of turning on David by Ziba, comes and proves that Ziba was lying. He did support the king and so David gives him back half of his land, which he receives graciously. Finally, Barzillai, the man who brought supplies to David, comes to meet David. David offers to care for him in Jerusalem, but he refuses due to his age. He sends a man, perhaps a family member, in his place and David agrees to care for him. The only other issue is the growing faction between Judah and the rest of Israel. They are mad at each other for how they have handled the current situation. It seems to be a bit of foreshadowing for the future.

Conclusion
The Lord opposes Absalom for his opposition to His anointed, King David. There is a lesson in this for us. God has sent us a greater Son of David, Jesus our Savior, who is now the Anointed One (Messiah). He died on a cross for our sins and rose again on the third day for our justification. Do not make the mistake of Absalom and Ahithophel and many others in rejecting the Lordís anointed. Turn from your sins today and follow hard after Jesus. The Lord supported David as His anointed king over Israel. And He continues to support His anointed, Jesus Christ, and all who are found in Him. Things may look tough. Hard times have come and will continue to come for Godís people. But the Lord will not forsake His anointed. The forever King has come and the forever King is coming again. And until that Day, He will not lose even one of His own. We see evidence of that all around us and throughout Godís Word. May we be encouraged by such truth to keep following hard after Jesus, the Lordís anointed. 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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