Sunday, September 10, 2023

Absalom takes Jerusalem, David regroups at Mahanaim

Absalom is leading a rebellion against King David and at least as of the time being, he is succeeding. King David and his leaders have fled Jerusalem, in tears of sorrow. Absalom has moved in and taken the capital.

So now we’re going to see Absalom being advised by two men, Ahithophel and Hushai. But Hushai is actually still working for King David. So he’s going to try to undermine Absalom.

So Absalom takes Jerusalem and he asks Ahithophel what he should do next.

And here’s his advice in 2nd Samuel 16:21-22: Ahithophel answered, “Sleep with your father’s concubines whom he left to take care of the palace. Then all Israel will hear that you have made yourself obnoxious to your father, and the hands of everyone with you will be more resolute.” 22 So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the roof, and he slept with his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel.”

This fulfilled a judgment given against David after David’s elicit affair with Bathsheba.

The judgment from God was this from 2nd Samuel 12:11-12: “This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. 12 You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’”

And years later, that came true, when Absalom took David’s concubines and slept with them in broad daylight.

It’s a terribly evil thing to do, by Absalom, but it was from Ahithophel’s advice. It probably caused the people of Israel to fear Absalom and view him as dominant over David.

Ahithophel’s advice was highly prized in Israel. It actually says in 2nd Samuel 16 verse 23, “Now in those days the advice Ahithophel gave was like that of one who inquires of God. That was how both David and Absalom regarded all of Ahithophel’s advice.”

So that brings us to 2nd Samuel 17, and we hear some new advice.

2nd Samuel 17:1-4 says: Ahithophel said to Absalom, “I would choose twelve thousand men and set out tonight in pursuit of David. 2 I would attack him while he is weary and weak. I would strike him with terror, and then all the people with him will flee. I would strike down only the king 3 and bring all the people back to you. The death of the man you seek will mean the return of all; all the people will be unharmed.” 4 This plan seemed good to Absalom and to all the elders of Israel.”

Ahithophel says let’s strike out right away, tonight, with twelve thousand troops. Don’t give David time to retreat. Strike down only David, then bring back his companions to serve Absalom.

This is actually very good advice, but Absalom is also going to consult Hushai.

In verses 5-6: But Absalom said, “Summon also Hushai the Arkite, so we can hear what he has to say as well.” 6 When Hushai came to him, Absalom said, “Ahithophel has given this advice. Should we do what he says? If not, give us your opinion.”

Remember God is setting all this up to help King David. God judged David through the rebellion of Absalom. But God also helps David during the rebellion. It’s the same thing in our lives. Often there are things in our lives that God is judging us with, and also things God is helping us with.

What is God doing to help you in your life? I’m sure there are many things. What is in your life because of bad choices you made it the past? Many things that I fight today are because of bad choices I made in the past. But God helps me with that too. Even though it my fault in the first place!

So next we see Hushai giving Absalom bad advice. But he makes it sound good. 

From verses 7-13: “Hushai replied to Absalom, “The advice Ahithophel has given is not good this time. 8 You know your father and his men; they are fighters, and as fierce as a wild bear robbed of her cubs. Besides, your father is an experienced fighter; he will not spend the night with the troops. 9 Even now, he is hidden in a cave or some other place. If he should attack your troops first, whoever hears about it will say, ‘There has been a slaughter among the troops who follow Absalom.’ 10 Then even the bravest soldier, whose heart is like the heart of a lion, will melt with fear, for all Israel knows that your father is a fighter and that those with him are brave.”

“So I advise you: Let all Israel, from Dan to Beersheba—as numerous as the sand on the seashore—be gathered to you, with you yourself leading them into battle. 12 Then we will attack him wherever he may be found, and we will fall on him as dew settles on the ground. Neither he nor any of his men will be left alive. 13 If he withdraws into a city, then all Israel will bring ropes to that city, and we will drag it down to the valley until not so much as a pebble is left.”

Hushai is trying to buy David time to escape and get organized, so he can successfully resist Absalom. Hushai says, let’s wait, because David is a fierce warrior. Let’s gather all the troops from all around the kingdom before we attack David. This is bad advice. Giving David time to escape and plan his next move is dangerous. But it sounds good to Absalom.

In verse 14 the people respond: “Absalom and all the men of Israel said, “The advice of Hushai the Arkite is better than that of Ahithophel.” For the Lord had determined to frustrate the good advice of Ahithophel in order to bring disaster on Absalom.”

This is a direct answer to David’s prayer in 2nd Samuel 15 verse 31. When David discovered Ahithophel was among the conspirators, he prayed to God asking God to frustrate his good advice. And God answered.

The Lord God almighty is sovereign and in control of this situation. Similarly, he is in control in your life. You can trust Him completely. You can trust God will cause things to work together for good. You can also trust that you’ll face problems and difficulties, but God will be with you and will carry you through those tough times. God is carrying David through this tough time. And he’s protecting David behind the scenes.

But also remember, that if you become an Absalom, a rebel against God, God will be working behind the scenes to defeat you and stop you. God frustrates the plans of the wicked, but blesses His people in their time of need.

So now, Hushai sends word back to David, through the priests Zadok and Abiathar, for him to immediately flee the area, cross the river, and head into the wilderness.

It says in verses 15-16: "Hushai told Zadok and Abiathar, the priests, “Ahithophel has advised Absalom and the elders of Israel to do such and such, but I have advised them to do so and so. 16 Now send a message at once and tell David, ‘Do not spend the night at the fords in the wilderness; cross over without fail, or the king and all the people with him will be swallowed up.’”

The priests send word through a female servant to their two sons, Jonathan and Ahimaaz, and they’re going to send the message to David to leave the area.

In verses 17-20: “Jonathan and Ahimaaz were staying at En Rogel. A female servant was to go and inform them, and they were to go and tell King David, for they could not risk being seen entering the city. 18 But a young man saw them and told Absalom. So the two of them left at once and went to the house of a man in Bahurim. He had a well in his courtyard, and they climbed down into it. 19 His wife took a covering and spread it out over the opening of the well and scattered grain over it. No one knew anything about it. When Absalom’s men came to the woman at the house, they asked, “Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?”

The woman answered them, “They crossed over the brook.” The men searched but found no one, so they returned to Jerusalem.”

These two messengers nearly get caught by Absalom’s troops as they attempt to get word to David. But they hide inside a well to evade capture.”

This brings up the classic moral quandary, if you’re hiding jews from the nazis, and nazis come and knock on your door and ask you if there are any jews you’re hiding, is it a sin to lie to the nazis? The answer to that question is no. If you’re protecting someone’s life justly, then you are free to deceive the evil people coming to harm them.

But in general in life we should never make a practice of lying, deceit, or manipulation. The new testament reminds us to let our “yes be yes” and let our “no be no.” Which means, keep your commitments, and be honest in your words.

This woman hides the messengers of David, against the authorities, and it’s the right thing to do.

The messengers arrive to David in verses 21 and 22, which state: “After they had gone, the two climbed out of the well and went to inform King David. They said to him, “Set out and cross the river at once; Ahithophel has advised such and such against you.” So David and all the people with him set out and crossed the Jordan. By daybreak, no one was left who had not crossed the Jordan.”

David and the hundreds of people with him receive the message and cross the Jordan river, and by the sun rising the next morning they had all crossed over successfully. David was saved by God in this situation.

I often wonder what God has saved me from. So many times we probably have no idea how God has protected us. It all happens without our knowledge. But I know he has spared me in so many ways, from so many terrible things.

Let our prayer be: “Please God keep protecting us!”

He certainly will. He certainly will. Abide in Christ, and he will always protect you. And if something bad does happen, it happens with God’s permission only. Remember, the enemy needs God’s permission to do anything to us.

But God will sometimes give the enemy permission to test us. To see where our heart is. To see if we’ll hold fast to Him. Or get angry and leave. Hold fast to the Lord when you’re under attack. God will help you.

Next in verse 23 we see Ahithophel’s final end. It says, “When Ahithophel saw that his advice had not been followed, he saddled his donkey and set out for his house in his hometown. He put his house in order and then hanged himself. So he died and was buried in his father’s tomb.”

Ahithophel’s pride, I believe, had caused him to join Absalom’s rebellion. And then again his pride, caused him to be so upset and disgraced, that he went home, set everything in order, and then killed himself.

Watch out for pride in your life. It can lead you to do terrible things. Pride is always a danger for a Christian. We have to watch out for it, and be so careful to stay humble. Pray on your knees. Submit to God. Remember your place as a servant of God’s people.

And if God notices pride in your heart, he will humble you. And that’s a mercy from Him. To be grateful if he does humble you. Then repent of pride, and ask for His forgiveness. I’ve had to do that several times over the years.

Ahithophel is so ashamed that his advice wasn’t followed that he commits suicide. It’s a terrible thing. I’m sure many of us know people who have committed suicide. It’s a tragedy beyond words.

Always remember in life, what you’re going through is temporary. Many young people I hear commit suicide because of a breakup with a girlfriend or boyfriend. If only they knew that what they’re feeling is temporary, and the feeling will end. I had my heart broken a few times when I was in my teens. It always felt impossibly difficult, but after a few months, the feeling would be gone, and I would be ok. Never hurt yourself over something temporary. Remember time will pass and you’ll be ok eventually. It’s really true!

Next in verses 24-26: “David went to Mahanaim, and Absalom crossed the Jordan with all the men of Israel. Absalom had appointed Amasa over the army in place of Joab. Amasa was the son of Jether, an Ishmaelite who had married Abigail, the daughter of Nahash and sister of Zeruiah the mother of Joab. The Israelites and Absalom camped in the land of Gilead.”

So David crosses the Jordan and travels another seven miles to Mahanaim and sets up there with remaining loyalist troops.

Meanwhile Absalom has gathered a great army of Israel to destroy David. The rebel army under Absalom has crossed the Jordan river now and is moving toward Mahanaim.

Lastly in verses 27-29, we see a warm welcome for David in Mahanaim:

“When David came to Mahanaim, Shobi son of Nahash from Rabbah of the Ammonites, and Makir son of Ammiel from Lo Debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim brought bedding and bowls and articles of pottery. They also brought wheat and barley, flour and roasted grain, beans and lentils, honey and curds, sheep, and cheese from cows’ milk for David and his people to eat. For they said, “The people have become exhausted and hungry and thirsty in the wilderness.”

So David finds help from the people of the city, they bring his troops and his family plentiful food and drink. And they’re going to need it. Because the rebel army has gathered thousands of troops and is marching them. Next week we’ll see the great battle that takes place and what happens to King David, and Absalom.

In summary today, we find the following applications today from our scripture:

1. God’s judgments will always come true. The wicked will be punished by God eternally. (In the case of Ahithophel)

2. God’s mercies will always come true. The righteous will be rewarded generously by God eternally. (In the case of David)

3. Though the righteous stumble seven times, they will not fall (David was driven from Jerusalem, but he was not killed by Absalom’s troops)

4. God answers prayer (He answered the prayer of David to defeat the advice of Ahithophel

5. God is sovereign and in control (He will protect us who follow Him, and he will undermine and defeat those who are rebellious)

6. God allows us to tell a white lie (a lie to protect someone’s life from evil people is acceptable) but We should never make a practice of lying or deceit

7. God has and will protect you from dangers you didn’t even know were there

8. Stay humble in your walk with God, avoid pride at all costs

9. What you’re feeling is temporary and will pass, suicide is permanent.

10. The weapon may form against you, but it won’t prosper (the rebel army marches, but David is provided for, and ready to face them)