FOUR INCIDENTS THAT HIGHLIGHT THE DEPTHS OF HUMILIATION FOR KING DAVID AS HE FLEES INTO EXILE
Concept of humbling oneself before the Lord:
– Sometimes we have no choice – the Lord works out our circumstances to humble us.
– Sometimes we have a choice and can lash back in anger and pride or choose the course of humbling ourselves.
How do we humble ourselves before God?
King David embarks upon a journey of humiliation (both forced and chosen) as he flees into exile and his rebellious son Absalom assumes the throne in Jerusalem.
Remarkable instances of the Lord’s Providence at work. Who is more concerned about David and the kingdom? God has a lot at stake. He is able to use even the impure motives and sinful acts of men to accomplish His purposes. David demonstrates meekness in receiving the lessons that God has for him.
In His sovereignty, God was using these very difficult times to bring David to greater maturity in his faith and practice. God was using “evil” to bring about David’s “good.” Cf. Joseph with his brothers in Gen 50:20; Romans 8:28 is certainly being acted out in the life of David, and especially in our text. Included in the “all things” which God employs to accomplish our “good” and His glory are the trials and tribulations of this life. God did not allow these painful things to happen in order to destroy David, but to draw him near, to make him humble and dependent.
I. (:1-4) INCIDENT #1 – DAVID ESTRANGED FROM MEPHIBOSHETH BY THE CONNIVING OF ZIBA – OPPORTUNISTIC DECEPTION — VULNERABLE TO AMBITIOUS POLITICKING
A. (:1) Beware of Cunning Men Bearing Gifts
“Now when David had passed a little beyond the summit, behold, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth met him with a couple of saddled donkeys, and on them were two hundred loaves of bread, a hundred clusters of raisins, a hundred summer fruits, and a jug of wine.”
B. (:2) Question the Motives
“And the king said to Ziba, ‘Why do you have these?’ And Ziba said, ‘The donkeys are for the king’s household to ride, and the bread and summer fruit for the young men to eat, and the wine, for whoever is faint in the wilderness to drink.”
David wanted to know what was going on with these lavish gifts
C. (:3) Question the Commitment to Faithfulness
“Then the king said, ‘And where is your master’s son?’ And Ziba said to the king, ‘Behold, he is staying in Jerusalem, for he said, Today the house of Israel will restore the kingdom of my father to me.’”
David wanted to know why Ziba was not still faithfully ministering to Mephibosheth
Ryrie: Ziba’s accusation of Mephibosheth’s disloyalty was, according to 19:24-28, false. He was evidently trying to commend himself in the eyes of David.
Gordon: Ziba displays the calculated practicality of an opportunist who realizes David’s vulnerability to every sympathetic gesture of support.
D. (:4) Don’t Be Gullible = Accepting Answers at Face Value Without Some Investigation
“So the king said to Ziba, ‘Behold, all that belongs to Mephibosheth is yours.’ And Ziba said, ‘I prostrate myself; let me find favor in your sight, O my lord the king.’”
Was this a rash decision on David’s part or was he truly suspicious and just playing along with Ziba at this point?
Pink: David grievously misjudging one who was affectionately attached to him. David was unwarrantably influenced by “appearances.” He gave ear to an unconfirmed slander against an absent one. He at once believed the worst, without affording the accused any opportunity to vindicate himself. He was one to whom David had shown much kindness in the past, and now that a servant brought to him an evil report, the king accepted the same, concluding that the master had turned traitor. It is true that human nature is lamentably fickle, and that kindness is often rewarded with the basest of ingratitude; yet all are not unthankful and treacherous. We must not allow the wickedness of some to prejudice us against all. We should deal impartially and judge righteously of everyone alike: yet only divine grace— humbly and earnestly sought—will enable us to remain just and merciful after we have been deceived and wronged a few times.
Constable: David accepted Ziba’s report too quickly without getting all the facts perhaps because Ziba showed himself to be a friend of David by sustaining him in his flight. We sometimes accept a friend’s analysis of the motives of another person too quickly if we do not bother to get all the facts. Here David slipped because he too willingly accepted the complimentary words of a friend.
Transition: Gordon: But if Ziba sinned in the way of smooth treachery, Shimei, the next person with whom David came in contact, sinned not less in the opposite fashion, by his outrageous insolence and invective.
II. (:5-14) INCIDENT #2 — DAVID SUBMITS TO THE BRAZEN ATTACKS FROM SHIMEI – BRAZEN DEFAMATION – VULNERABLE TO ABUSIVE ATTACKS
A. (:5-8) Brazenness of Shimei In Blasting David
1. (:5a) His Vested Allegiance – to Household of Saul
“When King David came to Bahurim, behold, there came out from there a man of the family of the house of Saul whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera”
2. (:5b) His Verbal Attacks
“he came out cursing continually as he came”
3. (:6) His Arrogant Attacks
“And he threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David, and all the people and all the mighty men were at his right hand and at his left.”
4. (:7-8) His Judgmental Assessment
“And thus Shimei said when he cursed, ‘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!’”
B. (:9-12) Meekness of David Exemplified in His Remarkable Restraint
1. (:9) Opportunity to Silence Shimei
“Then Abishai the son of Zeruiah said to the king, ‘Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over now, and cut off his head.’”
Abishai = Joab’s brother (2:18)
2. (:10-12) Remarkable Restraint
a. (:10) Submitting to the Lord’s Discipline
“But the king said, ‘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?’”
Pink: God has foreordained all that comes to pass in this world, but this does not mean that He regards the wickedness of men with complacency, or that He condones their evil. No indeed. In their zeal to clear God of being the Author of sin, many have denied that He is the Ordainer and Orderer of it. Because the creature cannot comprehend His ways, or perceive how He is the Author of an act without being chargeable with the evil of it, they have rejected the important truth that sin is under the absolute control of God, and is as much subject to His moral government, as the winds and waves are directed by Him in the material sphere.
The subject is admittedly a difficult one, and if we are spared, we hope to write more at length upon it in the future. Meanwhile, we content ourself by giving a quotation from the Westminster Confession: “God’s providence extendeth itself to all sins of angels and men, and that not by a bare permission, but such as hath joined with it a most wise and powerful bounding, and other wise ordering and governing, in a manifold disposition unto His own holy ends; yet so as the sinfulness thereof proceedeth only from the creature, and not from God” (chap. 5). The holiness of God is no more sullied by directing the activities of evil men, than the beams of the sun are defiled when they shine upon a filthy swamp. The hatred of his heart belonged to Shimei himself, but it was God’s work that that hatred should settle so definitely on David, and show itself in exactly the manner and time it did.
b. (:11) Seeing the Bigger Picture – Argument from the Greater to the Lesser
“Then David said to Abishai and to all his servants, ‘Behold, my son who came out from me seeks my life; how much more now this Benjamite?”
c. (:12) Seeking the Lord’s Favor and Restoration
“Let him alone and let him curse, for the Lord has told him. Perhaps the Lord will look on my affliction and return good to me instead of his cursing this day.”
Gordon: Even in the bleakest of situations David dares to hope in divine mercy.
C. (:13-14) Wearisomeness of Ongoing Humiliation
1. (:13) Shimei Dogs David Along the Way
“So David and his men went on the way; and Shimei went along on the hillside parallel with him and as he went he cursed, and cast stones and threw dust at him.”
2. (:14) Rest at the End of a Tiresome Journey
“And the king and all the people who were with him arrived weary and he refreshed himself there.”
III. (:15-19) INCIDENT #3 – DAVID’S FRIEND HUSHAI FORCED TO SWEAR ALLEGIANCE TO ABSALOM (IN ORDER TO FUNCTION IN JERUSALEM AS A SPY) – FEIGNED DISLOYALTY
A. (:15) Triumphal Entry of Absalom
“Then Absalom and all the people, the men of Israel, entered Jerusalem, and Ahithophel with him.”
B. (:16) Profession of Loyalty by Hushai
“Now it came about when Hushai the Archite, David’s friend, came to Absalom, that Hushai said to Absalom, ‘Long live the king! Long live the king!’”
Constable: In our text, we find out who David’s real friends are. The amazing thing is that many of them are not even Jews, but Gentiles. A number of his true friends became his friend while he was facing adversity, fleeing for his life.
C. (:17) Suspicious Interrogation by Absalom
“And Absalom said to Hushai, ‘Is this your loyalty to your friend? Why did you not go with your friend?’”
D. (:18-19) Assurance of Loyalty by Hushai
1. (:18) Allegiance Not a Personal Choice
“Then Hushai said to Absalom, ‘No! For whom the Lord, this people, and all the men of Israel have chosen, his will I be, and with him I will remain.’”
Not a matter of friendship
2. (:19) Track Record of Faithful Service
“And besides, whom should I serve? Should I not serve in the presence of his son? As I have served in your father’s presence, so I will be in your presence.”
IV. (:20-23) INCIDENT #4 – DAVID’S CONCUBINES VIOLATED BY HIS SON ABSALOM IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE COUNSEL OF AHITHOPHEL (MAKING THE RIFT BETWEEN DAVID AND ABSALOM PERMANENT) – HUMILIATING DEFILEMENT
A. (:20-21) Strategic Counsel of Ahithophel
1. Soliciting Counsel
“Then Absalom said to Ahithophel, ‘Give your advice. What shall we do?’
2. Shocking Counsel
“And Ahithophel said to Absalom, ‘Go in to your father’s concubines, whom he has left to keep the house;’”
3. Shrewd Counsel
“then all Israel will hear that you have made yourself odious to your father.”
4. Successful Counsel
“The hands of all who are with you will also be strengthened.”
B. (:22) Shamelessness of Absalom
“So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the roof, and Absalom went in to his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel.”
Ryrie: In ancient times the appropriation of the royal harem demonstrated possession of the throne (cf. 3:7). The deed would also remove any possibility of reconciliation between Absalom and David.
C. (:23) Supreme Respect for Counsel of Ahithophel
“And 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.”
Gordon: But the oracular word remains the standard of measurement, and we should be wrong to conclude that this verse implies a devaluation of the oracle in favour of a wisdom ethos.
Philippians 2:3-7 – example of Christ followed by Timothy and Epaphroditus – common thread = unselfish service towards others at great cost to themselves (Mark 10:42-44)
Pathway of humbling ourselves before God is the pathway of serving others; if we do not humble ourselves; God has ways of humbling us … submit to His Providence and Power; God just wants us to be in a position where He can shower more grace upon us .. for God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble – Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God and He will exalt you in His timing