The Covenant is God’s Will for Man

DAVID: II

David’s major trouble came from his apostate sons, and the pagan women and their idols. It is almost incomprehensible that the same man wrote such words:

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul, the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever; the ordinances of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.

Moreover by them is thy servant warned; in keeping them there is a great reward. But who can discern his errors? Clear thou me from hidden faults. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer (Psalm 19:7-14).

ABSALOM’S HATE FOR HIS FATHER

After this Absalom got himself a chariot and horses, and fifty men to run before him. And Absalom used to rise early and stand beside the way of the gate; and when any man had a suit to come before the king for judgment, Absalom would call to him, and say, “From what city are you>” And when he said, “Your servant is of such and such a tribe in Israel,” Absalom would say to him, “See, your claims are good and right; but there is no man deputed by the king to hear you.” Absalom said moreover, “Oh that I were judge in the land! Then every man with a suit or cause might come to me, and I would give him justice.” And whenever a man came near to the obeisance to him, he would put out his hand, and take hold of him, and kiss him. Thus Absalom did to all of Israel who came to the king for judgment; so Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.

And at the end of four years Absalom said to the king, “Pray let me go and pay my vow, which I have vowed to the LORD, in Hebron. For your servant vowed a vow while I dwelt at Geshur in Aram, saying, ‘If the LORD will indeed bring me back to Jerusalem, then I will offer worship to the LORD.” The king said to him, “Go in peace.” So he arose, and went to Hebron. But Absalom sent secret messengers throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, “As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then say, ‘Absalom is king at Hebron!’” With Absalom went two hundred men from Jerusalem who were invited guests, and they went in their simplicity, and knew nothing. And while Absalom was offering the sacrifices, he sent for Ahith-ophel the Gilonite, David’s counselor, from his city Giloh. And the conspiracy grew strong, and the people with Absalom kept increasing (II Samuel 15:1-12).

DAVID FLED FROM ABSALOM

And a messenger came to David, saying, “The hearts of the men of Israel have gone after Absalom.” Then David said to all his servants who were with him at Jerusalem, “Arise, and let us flee; or else there will be no escape for us from Absalom; go in haste, lest he overtake us quickly, and bring down evil upon us, and smite the city with the edge of the sword.” And the king’s servants said to the king, “Behold, your servants are ready to do whatever my lord the king decides.” So the king went forth, and all his household after him. And the king left ten concubines to keep the house. And the king went forth, and all the people after him; and they halted at the last house. And all his servants passed by him; and all the Cherethites, and the Pelethites, and all the six hundred Gittites who had followed him from Gath, passed on before the king.

Then the king said to Ittai the Gittite, “Why do you also go with us? Go back, and stay with the king; for you are a foreigner, and also an exile from your home. You came only yesterday, and shall I today make you wander about with us, seeing I go I know not where? Go back, and take your brethren with you; and may the LORD show steadfast love and faithfulness to you.” But Ittai answered the king, “As the LORD lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king shall be, whether for death or for life, there also will your servant be.” And David said to Ittai, “Go then, pass on.” So Ittai the Gittite passed on, with all his men and all the little ones who were with him. And all the country wept aloud as all the people passed by, and the king crossed the brook Kidron, and all the people passed on toward the wilderness.

And Abiathar came up, and lo, Zadok came also, with all the Levites, bearing the ark of the covenant of God; and they set down the ark of God, until the people had all passed out of the city. Then the king said to Zadok, “Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the eyes of the LORD, he will bring me back and let me see both it and his habitation; but if he says, ‘I have no pleasure in you,’ behold, here I am, let him do to me what seems good to him.” The king also said to Zadok the priest, “Look, go back to the city in peace, you and Abiathar, with your two sons, Ahima-az your son, and Jonathan the son of Abiathar. See, I will wait at the fords of the wilderness, until word comes from you to inform me.” So Zadok and Abiathar carried the ark of God back to Jerusalem; and they remained there.

But David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, barefoot and with his head covered; and all the people who were with him covered their heads, and they went up, weeping as they went. And it was told David, “Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.” And David said, “O LORD, I pray thee, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.”

When David came to the summit, where God was worshiped, behold, Hushai the Archite came to meet him with his coat rent and earth upon his head. David said to him, “If you go on with me, you will be a burden to me. But if you return to the city, and say to Absalom, ‘I will be your servant, O king; as I have been your father’s servant in time past, so now I will be your servant,’ then you will defeat for me the counsel of Ahithophel. Are not Zadok and Abiathar the priests with you there? So whatever you hear from the king’s house, tell it to Zadok and Abiathar the priests. Behold, their two sons are with them there, Ahima-az, Zadok’s son, and Jonathan, Abiathar’s son; and by them you shall send to me everything you hear.” So Hushai, David’s friend, came into the city, just as Absalom was entering Jerusalem (II Samuel 15:13-37).

A FRIEND BEGAN TO CURSE DAVID

When David had passed a little beyond the summit, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth met him, with a couple of asses saddled, bearing two hundred loaves of bread, a hundred bunches of raisins, a hundred of summer fruits, and a skin of wine. And the king said to Ziba, “Why have you brought these?” Ziba answered, “the asses are for the king’s household to ride on, the bread and summer fruit for the young men to eat, and the wine for those who fait in the wilderness to drink.” And the king said, “And where is your master’s son?” Ziba said to the king, “Behold, he remains in Jerusalem; for he said, “‘Today the house of Israel will give me back the kingdom of my father.’” Then the king said to Ziba, “Behold, all that belonged to Mephibosheth is now yours.” And Ziba said, “I do obeisance; let me ever find favor in your sight, my lord the king.”

When King David came to Bahurim, there came out a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shime-i, the son of Gera; and as he came he cursed continually. And he threw stones at David, and at all the servants of King David; and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left. And Shime-i said as he cursed, “Begone, begone, you man of blood, you worthless fellow! The LORD has avenged upon you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned; and the LORD has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. See, your ruin is on you; for you are a man of blood.”

And David said to Abishai and to all his servants, “Behold, my own sons seeks my life; how much more now may this Benjaminite! Let him alone, and let him curse; for the LORD has bidden him. It may be that the LORD will look upon my affliction, and that the LORD will repay me with good for this cursing of me today.” So David and his men went on the road, while Shime-i went along on the hillside opposite him and cursed as he went, and threw stones at him and flung dust. And the king, and all the people who were with him, arrived weary at the Jordan; and there he refreshed himself.

Now Absalom and all the people, the men of Israel, came to Jerusalem, and Ahithophel with him. And when Hushai the Archite, David’s friend, came to Absalom, Hushai said to Absalom, “Long live the king!” And

And Absalom said to Hushai, “Is this your loyalty to your friend? Why did you not go with your friend?” And Hushai said to Absalom, “No; for whom the LORD and this people and all the men of Israel have chosen his I will be, and with him I will remain. And again, whom should I serve? Should it not be his son? As I have served your father, so I will serve you.”

Then Absalom said the Ahith-ophel, “Give your counsel; what shall we do?” Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Go in to your father’s concubines whom he has left to keep the house; and all Israel will hear that you have made yourself odious to your father, and the hands of all who are with you will be strengthened.” So they pitched a tent for Absalom upon the roof; and Absalom went in to his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel. Now in those days the counsel which Ahithophel gave was as if one consulted the oracle of God; so was all the counsel of Ahithophel esteemed, both by David and by Absalom (II Samuel 16:1-23).

ABSALOM TOOK BAD ADVICE

Moreover Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Let me choose twelve thousand men, and I will set out and pursue David tonight. I will come upon him while he is weary and discouraged, and throw him into a panic; and all the people who are with him will flee. I will strike down the king only, and I will bring all the people back to you as a bride comes home to her husband. You seek life of only one man, and all the people will be at peace.” And the advice pleased Absalom and all the elders of Israel.

Then Absalom said, “Call Hushai the Archite also, and let us hear what he has to say.” And when Hushai came to Absalom, Absalom said to him, “Thus has Ahithophel spoken; shall we do as he advises? If not, you speak.” Then Hushai said to Absalom, “This time the counsel which Ahithophel has given is not good.” Hushai said moreover, “You know that your father and his men are mighty men, and that they are enraged, like a bear robbed of her cubs in the field. Besides, your father is expert in war; he will not spend the night with the people. Behold, even now he has hidden himself in one of the pits, or in some other place. And when some of the people fall at the first attack, whoever hears it will say, ‘There has been a slaughter among the people who follow Absalom.’ Then even the valiant man, whose heart is like the heart of a lion, will utterly melt with fear; for all Israel knows that your father is a mighty man, and that those who are with him are valiant men. But my counsel is that all Israel be gathered to you, from Dan to Beer-sheba, as the sand by the sea for multitude, and that you go to battle in person. So we shall come upon him in some place where he is to be found, and we shall light upon him as the dew falls on the ground; and of him and all the men with him not one will be left. If he withdraws into a city, then all Israel will bring ropes to that city, and we shall drag it into the valley until not even a pebble is to be found there.” And Absalom and all the men of Israel said, “The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel.” For the LORD had ordained to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, so that the LORD might bring evil upon Absalom.

Then Hushai said to Zadok and Abiathar the priests, “Thus and so did Ahithophel counsel Absalom and the elders of Israel; and thus and so have I counseled, Now therefore send quickly and tell David, ‘Do not lodge tonight at the fords of the wilderness, but by all means pass over; lest the king and all the people who are with him be swallowed up.’” Now Jonathan and Ahima-a were waiting at En-rogel; a maidservant used to go and tell them, and they would go and tell King David; for they must not be seen entering the city. But a lad saw them, and told Absalom; so both of them went away quickly, and came to the house of a man at Bahurim, who had a well in his courtyard; and they went down into it. And the woman took and spread a covering over the well’s mouth, and scattered grain upon it; and nothing was known of it. When Absalom’s servants came to the woman at the house, they said, “Where are Ahima-az and Jonathan?”

And the woman said to them, “They have gone over the brook of water.” And when they had sought and could not find them, they returned to Jerusalem.

After they had gone, the men came up out of the well, and went and told King David. They said to David, “Arise, and go quickly over the water; for thus and so has Ahithophel counseled against you.” Then David arose, and all the people who were with him, and they crossed the Jordan; by daybreak not one was left who had not crossed the Jordan.

When Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his ass, and went off home to his own city. And he set his house in order, and hanged himself; and he died, and was buried in the tomb of his father.

Then David came to Mahanaim. And Absalom crossed the Jordan with all the men of Israel. Now Absalom had set Amasa over the army instead of Joab. Amasa was the son of a man named Ithra the Ishmaelite, who had married Abigal the daughter of Nahash, sis of Zeruiah, Joab’s mother. And Israel and Absalom encamped in the land of Gilead.

When David came to Mahanaim, Shobi the son of Nahash from Rabbah of the Ammonites, and Machir the son of Ammi-el from Lodebar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim, brought beds, basins, and earthen vessels, wheat barley, meal, parched grain, beans and lentils, honey and curds and sheep and cheese from the herd, for David and the people with him to eat; for they said, “The people are hungry and weary and thirsty in the wilderness” (II Samuel 17:1-29).

ABSALOM HUNG HIMSELF BY HIS HAIR

Then David mustered the men who were with him, and set over them commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds. And David sent forth the army, one third under the command of Joab, one third under the command of Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab’s brother, and one third under the command of Ittai the Gittite. And the king said to the men “I myself will also go out with you.” But the men said, “You shall not go out. For if we flee, they will not care about us. If half of us die, they will not care about us. But you are worth ten thousand of us; therefore it is better that you send us help from the city.” The king said to them, “Whatever seems best to you I will do.” So the king stood at the side of the gate, while all the army marched out by hundred and by thousands. And the king ordered Joab and Abishai and Ittai, “Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom.” And all the people heard when the king gave order to all the commanders about Absalom.

So the army went out into the field against Israel; and the battle was fought in the forest of Ephraim. And the men of Israel were defeated there by the servants of David, and the slaughter there was great on that day, twenty thousand men. The battle spread over the face of all the country; and the forest devoured more people that day than the sword.

And Absalom chanced the meet the servants of David. Absalom was riding upon his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a great oak, and his head caught fast in the oak, and he was left hanging between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him went on. And a certain man saw it, and told Joab, “Behold, I saw Absalom hanging in an oak.” Joab said to the man who told him, “What, you saw him! Why then did you not strike him there to the ground? I would have been glad to give you ten pieces of silver and a girdle.” But the man said to Joab, “Even if I felt in my hand the weight of a thousand pieces of silver, I would not put forth my hand against the king’s son; for in our hearing the king commanded you and Abishai and Ittai, ‘For my sake protect the young man Absalom.’ On the other hand, if I had dealt treacherously against his life, (an there is nothing hidden from the king), then you yourself would have stood aloof.” Joab said, “I will not waste time like this with you.” And he took three darts in his hand, and thrust them into the heart of Absalom, while he was still alive in the oak. And ten young men, Joab’s armor-bearers, surrounded Absalom and struck him, and killed him.

Then Joab blew the trumpet, and the troops came back from pursuing Israel; for Joab restrained them. And they took Absalom, and threw him into a great pit in the forest, and raised over him a very great heap of stones; and all Israel fled every one to his own home. Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and set up for himself the pillar which is in the King’s Valley, for he said, “I have no son to keep my name in remembrance’; he called the pillar after his own name, and it is called Absalom’s monument to this day (II Samuel 18:1-18).

DAVID MOURNED FOR ABSALOM

Then said Ahima-az the son of Zadok, “Let me run, and carry tiding to the king that the LORD has delivered him from the power his enemies.” And Joab said to him, “You are not to carry tidings today; you may carry tiding another day, but today you shall carry no tidings, because the king’s son is dead.” Then Joab said to the Cushite, “Go, tell the king was you have seen.” The Cushite bowed before Joab, and ran. Then Ahima-az the son of Zadok, said again to Joab, “Come what may, let me also run after the Cushite.” And Joab said, “Why will you run, my son, seeing that you will have no reward for the tidings?” “Come what may,” he said, “I will run.” So he said to him, “Run.” Then Ahima-az ran by the way of the plain, and outran the Cushite.

Now David was sitting between the two gates; and the watchman went up to the roof of the gate by the wall, and when he lifted up his eyes and looked, he saw a man running alone. And the watchman called out and told the king. And the king said, “If he is alone, there are tidings in his mouth.” And he came apace, and drew near. And the watchman saw another man running; and the watchman called to the gate and said, “See, another man running alone!” The king said, “He also brings tidings.” And the watchman said, “I think the running of the foremost is like the running of Ahima-a the son of Zadok.” And the king said, “He is a good man, and comes with good tidings.”

Then Ahima-az cried out to the king, “All is well.” And he bowed before the king with his face to the earth, and said, “Blessed be the LORD your God, who has delivered p the men who raised their hand against my lord the king.” And the king said, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?” Ahima-az answered, “When Joab sent your servant, I saw a great tumult, but I do not know what it was.” And the king said, “Turn aside, and stand here.” So he turned aside, and stood still.

And behold, the Cushite came; and the Cushite said, “Good tidings for my lord the king! For the LORD has delivered you this day from the power of all who rose up against you. The king said to the Cushite, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?” And the Cushite answered, “May the enemies of my lord the king, and all who rise up against you for evil, be like that young man.” And the king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept; and as he went, he said, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you. O Absalom, my son, my son (II Samuel 18:19-33)!”