What do you do when you fail in a big way and your failure matters? Your mistake has big consequences for other people? How should you respond? That’s the situation David is facing in our story today.
Absalom was the third son of David born to his third wife Maacah, the daughter of the king of Geshur (2 Sam 3:3). His sister Tamar’s beauty attracted the attention of David’s first-born son, Amnon, who ended up raping Tamar and then hating her afterward. Absalom, as Tamar’s brother, waited for their father David to punish Amnon, but David took no action to avenge Tamar or hold Amnon accountable.
After two years, Absalom took his own revenge, killing Amnon in full view of all of David’s other sons and then fleeing to his grandfather the king of Geshur. After three years in exile, Absalom was allowed to return to Jerusalem but he was not allowed into the king’s presence for an additional two years.
However, now that Absalom is finally restored to his father’s good graces, Absalom begins plotting to gain David’s throne. With innuendo and insinuation he steals the hearts of the people and begin weaving tales of how good life would be if he — the young beautiful charismatic son — were king, rather than his aging decrepit father.
Scene 1 The rebellion of Absalom
- The chariot, horses and 50 men to run before him are the trappings of kingship. Absalom moves about the city as if he were king.
- Absalom intercepts the legal cases brought to his father and offers himself as an alternative to the king.
- The gesture mentioned in 15:5 is a gesture of equals.
- The phrase “stole the hearts of the men of Israel” carries the idea that he duped or deceived them, not that he captured their affections.
- David was first anointed king in Hebron.
- Ahithophel is the father of Eliam who is the father of Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:3; 2 Samuel 23:34)
Scene 2: The exile of David
- Fleeing Jerusalem spares it from the ravages of war.
- Absalom has the support of the men of Israel while David’s support is servants and foreigners.
- David has never reached for the crown in his life and does not start now.
- Unlike Absalom who seeks to take something that is not his to take, David is letting go of something God has promised him, recognizing that he serves as King at the Lord’s pleasure and will remain King if the Lord so wills.
- Ittai, a foreigner, pledges his loyalty to David, while David’s own son seeks to kill him.
- David’s takes the reverse journey of the one Jesus will take when he makes his triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey (Luke 19).
- Like the Israelites of 1 Samuel 4, David can drag the ark along with him into battle in hopes that God will rescue him as God rescues his reputation as symbolized by the ark.
- Wisely, David recognizes that restoration to the throne depends on God’s grace, not God’s furniture.
What do you do when you fail publicly and miserably?
- Humbly take responsibility, resisting the temptation to blame God and others.
- Confess and repent before God, trusting His grace to restore and redeem you.
- Seek help and accountability; resist the temptation to think you can go it alone.
For more detail and explanation, please listen to the podcast.
Previous: 2 Samuel 14 Absalom Returns
Series: The Rebellion of Absalom
Also: 2 Samuel: David as King
Scripture quotes are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.
Photo used here under Flickr Creative Commons.