Day 77-- Family Feuding-- “The Only Comfort” 2 Samuel 15-19
March 18, 2021, 8:40 AM

Day 77 Family Feuds “The Only Comfort” 2 Samuel 15:1-19:43

David seems to be losing his edge, and he is clearly aging. We see changes in the way he makes decisions, in his emotional response to his son’s death, in his forgiveness of his enemies. The fact that he allows Joab to live after the death of Absalom is astonishing to me, but he merely demotes him. Does that sound like the same King David who ordered the killing of the Amelekite after that man claimed to kill Saul?

Does the overwrought, weeping King David who mourns the loss of his son sound like the same person who fasted and mourned while his infant son by Bathsheba hovered between life and death, yet upon the death of that child immediately said this: “But now he is dead; why should I fst? Can I bring him back again?” (12:23)

The argument can be fairly made that David had a lifelong relationship with this son, this beautiful Absalom, and was entirely blinded by his love for him. So David is not just a king, he is a father, and as he ages, relationships are of more value than conquests.

David seems aware of this passage of time and of age. Like a wise Moses, he led his people, the chosen ones of God, out of the city of Jerusalem. The verb “passed” or “passed by” or “passed on” is used several times in this passage to indicate the movement of David’s people, much like the crossing of the Red Sea.

David also, wisely, keeps the Ark of the Covenant in its place in Jerusalem, sensing that it is the rightful place for the presence of the LORD, and that it is not a possession to guarantee victory to him. The people pay homage to the Ark as they pass by, and David tells Zadok (righteous) and Abiathar (the father is great) to be the priests who keep watch over the Ark. David knows that if he is called back to Jerusalem as king, that God will prosper him there, but if it is his fate to be permanently exiled, or to die, that Jerusalem, the city of Peace, is the proper place for God’s presence to be located.

That does not mean God is not with David. The picture of David weeping as he climbs the Mount of Olives is poignant—remember that David never loses his faith in the truth and sovereignty of the LORD—and his prayer to God about Ahithophel (brother of folly) is immediately answered in the appearance of Hushai (hasty) , who bravely acts on David’s behalf as both a spy and an influencer. Absalom is blinded by his own ambition, and we never hear a word of his prayer to the LORD. This is an important distinction between the father and the son. David remains devoted to the LORD,  and would accept even defeat at his own son’s hand if the LORD ordained it. In fact, David calls for the warriors to deal gently with Absalom, a wish that is ignored by the warriors for they know there will be no true peace when there is such a division in David’s house.

Absalom’s death is an embarrassing and public spectacle—a man caught and hampered by the very hair of which he is proud is unable to move due to his ‘beauty’. Where does conceit lead us ultimately? Absalom’s story is a textbook case of self-centered service, and it was foretold in the earlier chapters of 2 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. You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’”

We are also reminded of the ram caught in the thicket as Abraham is about to kill Isaac. In this case the son of David must die in order that the House of David will continue.

Note also David’s kindnesses, some of them misplaced, as he believes Ziba (fight or strength),  and has to rescind his decision upon meeting Mephibosheth and hearing the accurate account of what happened from Jonathan’s son.

The reading ends with an ominous tone, however, as David returns to Jerusalem and the people of Israel and Judah argue over their stakes in the kingdom: “But the words of the people of Judah were fiercer than the words of the people of Israel.” (19: 43b)

The current battle may be over, but the war will continue to be fought.

Be blessed, and be a blessing to others,

ML

 

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