SELF AMBITION ERUPTS IN A REBELLIOUS COUP THAT DIVIDES THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND CREATES DIFFICULT DECISIONS OF ALLEGIANCE
Review summary outline of entire book:
THE TUMULTUOUS REIGN OF KING DAVID —
GOD’ POWER AND PROVIDENCE SUSTAIN HIS KINGDOM PROGRAM AMIDST THE CHALLENGES OF DAVID’S REIGN
I. (CHAPS 1-6) KINGDOM TRANSITION – FROM SAUL TO DAVID
– David did not try to take advantage of death of Saul; no opportunistic self ambition; content to let the providence of God play out
– Civil war – power struggle with Ishbosheth
– Abner attempts to broker a peace agreement .. but Joab kills him and complicates matters
– David made king at Hebron – capital shifted to Jerusalem; great blessing – chap. 5
– Ark of the Covenant returned to Jerusalem – chap. 6
II. (CHAPS 7-10) KINGDOM BLESSINGS – CONQUESTS AND CONSOLIDATION
– Blessings of the Davidic Covenant – chap. 7
– Victory over kingdom enemies on every side – chap. 8
– Mercy shown to Mephibosheth – chap. 9
– Ammonites foolishly mistreat David’s servants – faith-based warfare tactics succeed – chap. 10
III. (CHAPS 11-17) KINGDOM UPHEAVAL – HEINOUS CRIMES / PAINFUL CONSEQUENCES / PROVIDENTIAL PROTECTION
– Sin with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah – chap. 11
– Ugly incident with Tamar and Amnon and Absalom
– Finally last week – uneasy restoration of Absalom to public favor – no genuine repentance – chap. 14
IV. (CHAPS 18-21) KINGDOM RESTORATION – SUSTAINED BY PROVIDENCE AND POWER OF GOD
V. (CHAPS 22-24) KINGDOM MEMORIES – PRAISE AND RECOGNITION / FAILURE AND RESTORATION
King David is in a very vulnerable position. He has made many mistakes ..
Political scheming and maneuvering of Absalom … look at politics today – what are some of the tactics used to gain an advantage .. what gives politicking a bad name – whether in our business setting or in govt??
What tactics did Absalom use??
I. (:1-6) ABSALOM SCHEMES TO GAIN A FOLLOWING BY SUBVERTING THE KING’S AUTHORITY
A. (:1) Making Himself Look Impressive
“Now it came about after this that Absalom provided for himself a chariot and horses, and fifty men as runners before him.”
Blaikie: To multiply horses to himself was one of the things forbidden by the law of Moses to the king that should be chosen (Deut. xvii. 16), mainly, we suppose, because it was a prominent feature of the royal state of the kings of Egypt, and because it would have indicated a tendency to place the glory of the kingdom in magnificent surroundings rather than in the protection and blessing of the heavenly King.
B. (:2) Looking for Opportunities to Gain a Following
“And Absalom used to rise early and stand beside the way to the gate; and ithappened that when any man had a suit to come to the king for judgment, Absalom would call to him and say, ‘From what city are you?’ And he would say, ‘Your servant is from one of the tribes of Israel.’”
Gordon: The cases brought to the king would normally be those which were beyond the competence of local elders, doubtless including complaints against the state. Inter-tribal rivalry may also have contributed to the disaffection which Absalom so effectively turned to his own advantage. At least, it could be concluded from verses 2f. that David was more ready to hear the cases of fellow-Judahites like the Tekoite woman of ch. 14 than those of Israelites from further afield.
C. (:3) Criticizing the Judgments of King David
“Then Absalom would say to him, ‘See, your claims are good and right, but no man listens to you on the part of the king.’”
D. (:4) Anointing himself as the Standard for Justice
“Moreover, Absalom would say, ‘Oh that one would appoint me judge in the land, then every man who has any suit or cause could come to me, and I would give him justice.’”
E. (:5) Presenting Himself as a God-Like Figure – almost worthy of worship and adulation
“And it happened that when a man came near to prostrate himself before him, he would put out his hand and take hold of him and kiss him.”
F. (:6) Summary: Applying His Scheme Consistently and Achieving the Desired Result
“And 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.”
II. (:7-12) ABSALOM DECEITFULLY POSITIONS HIMSELF TO USURP DAVID’S THRONE
A. (:7-9) Using the Cloak of Spiritual Commitment to Disguise His Self Ambition – Setting Himself Up at Hebron
Ryrie: forty years. Probably a copyist’s error and should read “four years” with the LXX, Syriac and writings of Josephus (Antiq. 7.9.1). The period probably began with Absalom’s return from Geshur.
Davis: There most likely was a very strong anti-Davidic feeling in Hebron. Many people in Hebron had probably not forgiven David for changing the capital from Hebron to Jerusalem and took this occasion to express their dissatisfaction at that move. It was for this reason that Absalom returned to the place of his birth. There he could be assured of a sympathetic ear.
Blaikie: The copestone which Absalom put on his plot when all was ripe for execution was of a piece with the whole undertaking. It was an act of religious hypocrisy amounting to profanity. It shows how well he must have succeeded in deceiving his father when he could venture on such a finishing stroke. Hypocrite though he was himself, he well knew the depth and sincerity of his father’s religion. He knew too that nothing could gratify him more than to find in his son the evidence of a similar state of heart.
B. (:10) Instructing His Key Insurgents Regarding the Timing of the Coup
“But Absalom sent spies throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, ‘As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then you shall say, ‘Absalom is king in Hebron.’”
C. (:11) Leading Astray the Innocent
“Then two hundred men went with Absalom from Jerusalem, who were invited and went innocently, and they did not know anything.”
D. (:12a) Recruiting Key Advisors
“And Absalom sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counselor, from his city Giloh, while he was offering the sacrifices.”
SermonNotebook: David wants Hushai to counter the counsel of old Ahithophel. Ahithophel was David’s counselor, but he was also Bathsheba’s grandfather. He saw the rebellion of Absalom as an opportunity to get even with David for what he had done to Bathsheba and Uriah.
E. (:12b) Summary: Achieving the Desired Result
“And the conspiracy was strong, for the people increased continually with Absalom.”
III. (:13-18) DAVID AND HIS HOUSEHOLD ARE FORCED TO FLEE THE ROYAL CITY
A. (:13) Terrifying News of the Coup’s Success
“Then a messenger came to David, saying, ‘The hearts of the men of Israel are with Absalom’”
Shows how fickle are the hearts of men to be so easily swayed by strong personalities and external appearances
B. (:14) Desperate Decision to Flee the City
“And David said to all his servants who were with him at Jerusalem, ‘Arise and let us flee, for otherwise none of us shall escape from Absalom. Go in haste, lest he overtake us quickly and bring down calamity on us and strike the city with the edge of the sword.’”
Ryrie: David fled for his life and for fear of an attack of Jerusalem if he remained at the city. Perhaps he was seeking to avert civil war and bloodshed. But he obviously expected to return to Jerusalem, for he left ten concubines to keep house (v. 16 and 16:21-22).
C. (:15) Pledge of Loyal Commitment on the Part of David’s Servants
“Then the king’s servants said to the king, ‘Behold, your servants are ready to do whatever my lord the king chooses.’”
D. (:16-17) David Sets His House in Order
“So the king went out and all his household with him. But the king left ten concubines to keep the house. And the king went out and all the people with him, and they stopped at the last house.”
E. (:18) Foreigners Comprise the Bulk of His Loyal Forces
“Now all his servants passed on beside him, all the Cherethites, all the Pelethites, and all the Gittites, six hundred men who had come with him from Gath, passed on before the king.”
[Study Psalm 3]
IV. (:19-37) WHILE UNDER TREMENDOUS TRIAL, DAVID EXHIBITS GODLY CHARACTER IN COUNSELING THREE GROUPS OF LOYAL FRIENDS
Importance of close friends during this time of severe trial in David’s life.
Blackwood: Never does a leader value personal devotion so much as when everyone who matters seems to have gone over to the enemy.
A. (:19-23) David’s Unselfishness – Receiving the Unconditional Support of Willing Loyalists – Ittai the Gittite
1. (:19-20) David’s Concern for Ittai
“Then the king said to Ittai the Gittite, ‘Why will you also go with us? Return and remain with the king, for you are a foreigner and also an exile; return to your own place. You came only yesterday, and shall I today make you wander with us, while I go where I will? Return and take back your brothers; mercy and truth be with you.’”
2. (:21) Ittai’s Unconditional Support
“But Ittai answered the king, and said, ‘As the Lord lives, and as my lord the king, lives; surely wherever my lord the king may be, whether for death or for life, there also your servant will be.’”
3. (:22-23) David’s Via Dolorosa – The Beginning of the Sad Journey
“Therefore David said to Ittai, ‘Go and pass over.’ So Ittai the Gittite passed over with all his men and all the little ones who were with him. While all the country was weeping with a loud voice, all the people passed over. The king also passed over the brook Kidron, and all the people passed over toward the way of the wilderness.”
Blaikie: The interview between David and Ittai was most creditable to the feelings of the fugitive king. Ittai was a stranger who had but lately come to Jerusalem, and as he was not attached to David personally, it would be safer for him to return to the city and offer to the reigning king the services which David could no longer reward. But the generous proposal of David was rejected with equal nobility on the part of Ittai.
Deffinbaugh: David called Ittai aside and urged him to stay in Jerusalem or to return to his own land. This was not his fight. He did not need to endanger himself or those with him. David urged him not to follow, but Ittai would not hear of abandoning David. Note how similar his response to David is to Ruth’s response to Naomi:
16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following
you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people
shall be my people, and your God, my God.
17 “Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the LORD do
to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me” (Ruth 1:16-17).
B. (:24-29) David’s Humility – Submitting to God’s Providence – God’s Presence Belongs in God’s City – Zadok and Abiathar – Priests of God
1. (:24) Significance of the Presence of the Ark and the Support of the Priests
“Now behold, Zadok also came, and all the Levites with him carrying the ark of the covenant of God. And they set down the ark of God, and Abiathar came up until all the people had finished passing from the city.”
2. (:25-26) David Casts His Fortunes on the Providence of God
a. Jerusalem is the Proper Place for the Ark – It belongs in the city of God – not Under the Control of David
“And the king said to Zadok, ‘Return the ark of God to the city.”
b. David Submits to the Appropriate Disposition of the Providence of God
1) Possibility of Finding Favor
“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.”
2) Possibility of Not Finding Favor
“But if He should say thus, ‘I have no delight in you,’ behold, here I am, let Him do to me as seems good to Him.”
3. (:27-28) Significant Role for Zadok and Abiathar Back in Jerusalem
“The king said also to Zadok the priest, ‘Are you not a seer? Return to the city in peace and your two sons with you, your son Abimaaz and Jonathan the son of Abiathar. See, I am going to wait at the fords of the wilderness until word comes from you to inform me.’”
4. (:29) Priests and the Ark Return to Jerusalem
“Therefore Zadok and Abiathar returned the ark of God to Jerusalem and remained there.”
Gordon: But such resignation as there is in David is balanced by a healthy resolution to do what he can to win back his kingdom. If Zadok and Abiathar returned to the city they could act as intelligence-gatherers, using their sons as runners to pass on the information to David. The same sort of combination of the pious and the prudential as is seen in verses 25-29 was put to good effect by Nehemiah: “And we prayed to our God, and set a guard as a protection against them day and night” (Ne. 4:9).”
C. (:30-37) David’s Wisdom – Planting a Loyal Mole – Hushai the Archite – Brave Friend of David
1. (:30) Sad Occasion
“And David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, and wept as he went, and his head was covered and he walked barefoot. Then all the people who were with him each covered his head and went up weeping as they went.”
2. (:31) Threat of Ahithophel
“Now someone told David, saying, ‘Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.’ And David said, ‘O Lord, I pray, make the counsel of Ahithophel foolishness.’”
3. (:32-36) Commissioning of Hushai to Remain as Advocate and Spy for David
4. (:37) All the Players in Place
“So Hushai, David’s friend, came into the city, and Absalom came into Jerusalem.”