TODAY’S READING: II SAMUEL 17-20
Absalom chooses to follow Hushai’s counsel over Ahithophel; Ahithophel commits suicide; David’s army battle Absalom and his followers; Joab kills Absalom; David grieves bitterly; Joab rebukes David; the revolt of Sheba; David replaces Joab with Amasa as captain of his army; Amasa is replaced with Abishai; Joab is reinstated as captain of David’s army; Sheba is killed.
HIGHLIGHTS & INSIGHTS:
As we pick up in today’s reading, Absalom’s rebellion against his father and his wicked plot to overthrow him is at an all-time high. Though God has permitted this rebellion as a part of the consequences for David’s sin in connection with Bathsheba and her faithful and loyal husband Uriah, he also used it to purge David’s kingdom and separate the loyal from the disloyal. But now the time of judgment against Absalom had finally arrived.
Many times it takes a crisis to reveal who our real friends are. Ahithophel, David’s counselor (and presumed “friend”), was invited by Absalom to be a part of his conspiracy. It is interesting and quite revealing to note the repeated usage of the personal pronouns “I” and “me” in his response:
Let “ME” choose out of 12,000 men, and “I” will arise and pursue after David this night: and “I” will come upon him while he is weary and weak handed, and will make him afraid… and “I” will smite the king only: And “I” will bring back all the people unto thee.” (17:1-3).
It sounded to Absalom as if he was the object of Ahithophel’s loyalty, but Ahithophel’s speech betrays him. “He” was the object of his own affection, and evidently was seeking to be sure “he” had a place of prominence in what appeared to be the inevitability of a new regime.
In the meantime, David had sent his true friend, Hushai, to join Absalom. This really psyched Absalom up, because now it appeared that he had been successful in gaining his father’s top two advisors. Absalom seeks the counsel of these two men for the best way to actually formalize the overthrow of his father’s kingship, and put an end to David once and for all. Ahithophel’s plan was obviously the best of the two, but in answer to David’s prayer back in chapter 15 and verse 31, “O, Lord, I pray thee, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness,” God saw to it that Absalom rejected his counsel. Hushai’s plan appealed to Absalom’s vanity, so since that is what had been driving him for the past seven years, it was the counsel Absalom followed. Absalom’s vanity is what actually led to his death! And when the vanity of Ahithophel had been crushed by Absalom’s refusal to heed “his” counsel, he went out (like Judas), and took his own life. It is amazing what people will !
do when they don’t get their own way!
Though David had given clear instruction not to kill Absalom in the midst of the battle (18:5), Joab saw the “pretty boy” hanging by the locks of his hair in a tree and immediately “shish-kabobbed” him. Joab sent Cushi to inform the king of Absalom’s “condition,” to which David was plummeted into deep depression and overwhelming grief. His grief, however, for one that was the source of such turmoil and revolt, almost cost David his kingdom (19:1-7)!
It was a time of great unrest and confusion in the kingdom. David begins his trip back to Jerusalem, and promises to appoint his nephew, Amasa, who had recently been Absalom’s general, as the captain of his army in the place of Joab, if he was successful in turning the hearts of the people of Judah (who had been extremely upset with him), to support his return to power. It certainly must have appeared to all that David punished loyalty, and rewarded rebellion. Not quite the signal he wanted to send in such a time of political unrest and instability. These moves did, however, “bow the hearts of the men of Judah” (19:14) to David’s side.
As chapter 20 begins, there is yet another rebellion. This time, it is a satanically influenced rebel by the name of Sheba, of the tribe of Benjamin, who was also successful in rallying a group of people against David. By this time, David certainly had to wonder “When will all of this nonsense be over?”
In the process of dealing with the rebellion of Sheba, David replaces Abishai in Amasa’s place as captain of the army, Amasa is killed by Joab, Joab is reinstated by David as his general, and ultimately Sheba is beheaded.
CHRIST IS REVEALED:
Through MAHANAIM, a city of refuge where David went when he was fleeing from Absalom – II Sam. 17:27 (Heb. 6:18-20 – “We… have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us… even Jesus.”)