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2 Samuel 15:1314, 2426, 3037; 19:78acomment (0)

August 26, 2010

By James Barnette

Related Scripture: 2 Samuel 15:1314, 2426, 3037; 19:78a

Bible Studies for Life
Associate Professor, Department of Religion, Samford University

Face Crises with Courage
2 Samuel 15:13–14, 24–26, 30–37; 19:7–8a

Continue to Trust God (15:13–14, 24–26)

David realized that a coup was in motion and “the hearts of the men of Israel [were] with Absalom” (13). Discerning the gravity of the situation, David recognized that he was facing a crisis unlike any other that he had encountered. He knew that the same Absalom who killed Amnon would kill his brothers and, quite possibly, him. Now for the first time, David, the mighty king and premier military leader, was forced to issue orders for his family, officials and bodyguard to flee. His concern extended to all inhabitants of Jerusalem. If Absalom attacked the city, then hundreds of innocent people would be slaughtered. To protect his people, David abandoned the throne. David had always been a big supporter of the Levites (1 Sam. 22:20–23) and had given them high authority in his administration. Now, in the king’s own moment of crisis, Zadok and other Levites were there to offer him support. David had overseen the triumphant entry of the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem. Now it appeared that he would have to oversee the departure of the Ark from the holy city. Zadok and the Levites had carried the Ark away in order to bolster David’s claim to the throne. However, he instructed Zadok to take the Ark back into the city. He did not want the Ark of God treated like a good-luck charm as in the days of Eli when the glory departed from Israel. David had no desire to manipulate God. Rather, in his moment of trial, David cast himself completely on the will of God. He was prepared to entrust himself to God’s way and take the outcome that was willed for him.

Don’t Isolate Yourself From Others (15:30–37)
David led his loyalists up the Mount of Olives, moving eastward toward the Jordan River. He made no attempt to disguise his grief. Covering the head and going barefoot were symbols of sorrow and despair in ancient Israel. Although he was a strong and courageous man, David wept openly. He wrote of shedding tears in Psalm 6, which might well have been an exile psalm. Adding to his distress was the news that Ahithophel, his most important counselor, was now aligned with Absalom. What do you do when one of your closest confidants betrays you? It is best to do what David did: pray. Soon thereafter, God answered David’s prayer with the appearance of Hushai the Arkite, who displayed his solidarity with David by appearing before him with his robe torn and dust on his head. Hushai desired to go with David, but David told him that doing so would be a “burden.” Each person who joined David’s cause added to the practical issues of providing enough food, shelter and protection. Some have suggested that Hushai’s age would have slowed David’s movements from place to place as he avoided Absalom. Ever the strategist, David instructed Hushai to return to Jerusalem, pledge allegiance to Absalom and act as a mole in Absalom’s inner circle. Zadok and Abiathar would serve as two of David’s additional “plants,” though their priestly roles would keep them away from the palace. Any information that Hushai gleaned from within the palace would be passed on to Zadok and Abiathar and their sons would carry it to David.

Fulfill Your Responsibilities (19:7–8a)
David’s general, Joab, witnessed the king dressed as a mourner and heard the cries of sorrow as he entered Jerusalem. Joab knew firsthand that David’s grief over Absalom’s death was demoralizing to the troops. They had fought to restore David to the throne, yet he appeared to show ingratitude and contempt. Joab found such behavior both inexcusable and intolerable. To snap David out of his funk, Joab addressed him with tough words that no one else dared to say. Joab’s talk was tougher than even Nathan’s (2 Sam. 12:1–15) and certainly more direct. He scolded the king for not celebrating and showing gratitude. David responded to Joab’s tough words, proceeding to sit at the gateway, which signified a return to normalcy. In this moment of crisis, it was Joab’s clearheaded toughness that saved the throne for David.

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