Peter Misselbrook's Blog
May 11 2019 - 2 Samuel 15:1-23 – Absalom's revolt

Absalom had killed his half-brother Amnon and fled from his father David. After three years, David longed for Absalom to return home. Joab, the commander of Israel's army persuaded David to allow his son to return to Jerusalem. David agreed but said that Absalom must return to his own house in the city; he could not come to the king's palace to see his father. Only two years later was David persuaded to allow Absalom to come to court and greet him. This is where we pick up the story in 2 Samuel 15.

Absalom appears to be the oldest of David's surviving sons and probably expected to succeed his father as king. But, having allowed a single meeting between them, David seems to have then sent Absalom away and ignored him. So Absalom decides to take matters into his own hands.

Absalom sets himself up with a chariot and horses and has fifty men run ahead of him. He is behaving like a king and parading his power and splendour before all the people. Then he set himself up as a judge and counsellor in the gateway of the city of Jerusalem – the traditional place where people came for judgement. In these ways "he stole the hearts of the people of Israel" (v.6) – he is beginning to become more popular with the people than his aging father.

After four years, Absalom went off to Hebron with 200 men from Jerusalem. From there he "sent secret messengers throughout the tribes of Israel to say, ‘As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpets, then say, “Absalom is king in Hebron.”’" (v. 12).

When David heard of Absalom's conspiracy and that he had the support of many of the Israelites, he decided that he must flee from Jerusalem so that Absalom does not come and wage war against the city. So David, his household and his band of supporters left Jerusalem. Among those supporters were 600 Gittites, led by a man called Ittai, who had accompanied David when, many years before, he had left Gath. David tried to dissuade Ittai saying, "Go back and stay with King Absalom. You are a foreigner, an exile from your homeland… shall I make you wander about with us, when I do not know where I am going? Go back, and take your people with you." (vv 19-20). But Ittai replies in words similar to those spoken by Ruth to Naomi, "As surely as the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king may be, whether it means life or death, there will your servant be" (v. 21).

David had failed to discipline his sons and to bring them up to love and serve the Lord. They had seen how he behaved and had followed his example by descending into rape and murder. And David had done nothing. Now the judgment which God had pronounced on him through Nathan is working its terrible consequences: "The Lord told David, 'You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now, therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.'" (2 Samuel 12:9-10).

Praise God that we have a perfect King to rule over us in the Lord Jesus, one who has left us an example of humble obedience towards God and loving service of others. If Ittai could promise unfailing love for David, with all his faults, and declare that he would follow him in life and in death, how much more should we be ready to declare our love for the Lord Jesus and promise never to forsake him. After all, he has promised never to leave or forsake us; he has promised that nothing in life or in death will separate us from his love.

Father, we thank you for our Saviour and King, the Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you that no power on earth or in hell can threaten his kingship or rob him of his kingdom. Help us by your Spirit to follow him closely and to live lives that reflect his holy character and glory.

Peter Misselbrook