KINGS OF PAGAN ISRAEL: III
David’s flight from his son Absalom was the experience and the period described in his “Good Shepherd Psalm.” It was not the Lord who put David in that valley of death, or the green pastures, or the still waters. David created these situations all by himself. He was not in control of himself, or of his children, or of his wives (Deuteronomy 17:17).
The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want; he makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies; thou anointest my head with oil, my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD for ever (Psalm 23:1-6).
DAVID NEGLECTED HIS DUTY BY MOURNING
It was told Joab, “Behold, the king is weeping and mourning for Absalom.”
So the victory that day was turned into mourning for all the people; for the people heard that day, “The king is grieving for his son.” And the people stole into the city that day as people steal in who are ashamed when they flee in battle. The king covered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice, “O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!” Then Joab came into the house to the king, and said, “You have today covered with shame the faces of all your servants, who have this day saved your life, and the lives of your sons and your daughters, and the lives of your wives and your concubines, because you love those who hate you and hate those who love you. For you have made it clear today that commanders and servants are nothing to you; for today I perceive that if Absalom were alive and all of us were dead today, then you would be pleased. Now therefore arise, go out and speak kindly to your servants; for I swear be the LORD, if you do not go, not a man will stay with you this night; and this will be worse for you than all the evil that has come upon you from your youth until now.” Then the king arose, and took his seat in the gate. And the people were all told, “Behold, the king is sitting in the gate”; and all the people came before the king (II Samuel 19:1-8)?
DAVID RETURNED TO JERUSALEM TO FACE TROUBLE
Now Israel had fled every man to his own home. And all the people were at strife throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, “The king delivered us from the hand of our enemies, and saved us from the hand of the Philistines; and now he has fled out of the land from Absalom. But Absalom, whom we anointed over us is dead in battle. Now therefore why do you say nothing about bringing the king back?”
And King David sent this message to Zadok and Abiathar the priests, “Say to the elders of Judah, ‘Why should you be the last to bring the king back to his house, when the word of all Israel has come to the king? You are my kinsmen, you are my bone and my flesh; why then should you be the last to bring back the king?’ And say to Amasa, ‘Are you not my bone and my flesh? God do so to me, and more also, if you are not commander of my army henceforth in place of Joab.’” And he swayed the heart of all the men of Judah as one man; so that they sent word to the king. “Return, both you and all your servants.” So the king came back to the Jordan; and Judah came to Gilgal to meet the king and to bring the king over the Jordan.
And Shime-i the son of Gera, the Benjaminite, from Bahurim, made haste to come down with the men of Judah to meet King David; and with him were a thousand men from Benjamin. And Ziba the servant of the house of Saul, with his fifteen sons and his twenty servants, rushed down to the Jordan before the king, and they crossed the ford to bring over the king’s household, and to do his pleasure. And Shime-i the son of Gera fell down before the king, as he was about to cross the Jordan, and said to the king, “Let not my lord hold me guilty or remember how your servant did wrong on the day my lord the king left Jerusalem; let not the king bear it in mind. For your servant knows that I have sinned; therefore, behold, I have come this day, the first of all the house of Joseph to come down to meet my lord the king.” Abishai the son of Zeruiah answered, “Shall not Shime-i be put to death for this, because he cursed the LORD’S anointed?” But David said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah, that you should this day be as an adversary to me? Shall anyone be put to death in Israel this day? For do I not know that I am this day king over Israel?” And the king said to Shime-i, “You shall not die.” And the king gave him his oath.
And Mephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the king; he had neither dressed his feet, nor trimmed his beard, nor washed his clothes, from the day the king departed until the day he came back in safety. And when he came from Jerusalem to meet the king, the king said to him, “Why did you not go with me, Mephibosheth?” He answered, “My lord, O king, my servant deceived me; for your servant said to him, ‘Saddle an ass for me that I may ride upon it and go with the king.’ For your servants is lame. He has slandered your servant to my lord the king. But my lord the king is like the angel of God; do therefore what seems good to you. For all my father’s house were but men doomed to death before my lord the king; but you set your servant among those who eat at your table. What further right have I, the, to cry to the king?” And the king said to him, “Why speak any more of your affairs? I have decided: you and Ziba shall divide the land.” And Mephibosheth said to the king, “Oh, let him take it all, since my lord the king has come safely home.”
Now Barzillai the Gileadite has come down from Rogelim; and he went on with the king to the Jordan, to escort him over the Jordan. Barzillai was a very aged man, eighty years old; and he had provided the king with food while he stayed at Mahanaim; for he was a very wealthy man. And the king said to Barzillai, “Come over with me, and I will provide for you with me in Jerusalem.” But Barzillai said to the king, “How many years have I still to live, that I should go up with the king to Jerusalem? I am this day eighty years old; can I discern what is pleasant and what is not? Can your servant taste what he eats or what he drinks? Can I still listen to the voice of singing men and singing women? Why then should your servant be an added burden to my lord the king? Your servant will go a little way over the Jordan with the king. Why should the king recompense me with such a reward? Pray let your servant return, that I may die in my own city, near the grave my father and my mother. But here is your servant Chimham; let him go over with my lord the king; and do for him whatever seems good to you.” And the king answered, “Chimham shall go over with me, and I will do for him whatever seems good to you; and all that you desire of me I will do for you.” Then all the people went over the Jordan, and the king went over; and the king kissed Barzillai and blessed him, and he returned to his own home. The king went on to Gilgal, and Chimham went on with him; all the people of Judah, and also have the people of Israel, brought the king on his way.
Then all the men of Israel came to the king and said to the king, “Why have our brethren the men of Judah stolen you away, and brought the king and his household over the Jordan, and all David’s men with him?” All the men of Judah answered the men of Israel, “Because the king is near of kin to us. Why then are you angry over this matter? Have we eaten at all at the king’s expense? Or has he given us any gift?” And the men of Israel answered the men of Judah, “We have ten shares in the king, and in David also we have more than you. Why then did you despise us? Were we not the first to speak of bringing back our king?” But the words of the men of Judah were fiercer than the words of the men of Israel (II Samuel 19:9-43).
SHEBA OPPOSED DAVID AS BEING A WORTHY KING
Now there happened to be there a worthless fellow, whose name was Sheba, the son of Bichri, a Benjaminite; and he blew the trumpet, and said, “We have no portion in David, and we have no inheritance in the son of Jesse; every man to his tents, O Israel!” So all the men of Israel withdrew from David, and followed Sheba the son of Bichri; but the men of Judah followed their king steadfastly from the Jordan to Jerusalem.
And David came to his house at Jerusalem; and the king took the ten concubines whom he had left to care for the house, and put them in a house under guard, and provided for them, but did not go in to them. So the were shut up until the day of their death, living as if in widowhood.
Then the king said to Amasa, “Call the men of Judah together to me within three days, and be here yourself.” So Amasa went to summon Judah; but he delayed beyond the set time which had been appointed. And David said to Abishai, “Now Sheba the son of Bichri will do us more harm than Absalom; take your lord’s servants and pursue him, lest he get himself fortified cities, and cause us trouble.” And there went out after Abishai, Joab and the Cherethites and the Pelethites, and all the mighty men; they went out from Jerusalem to pursue Sheba the son of Bichri. When they were at the great stone which is in Gibeon, Amasa came to meet them. Now Joab was wearing a soldier’s garment, and over it was a girdle with a sword in its sheath fastened upon his loins, and as he went forward it fell out. And Joab said to Amasa, “Is it well with you, my brother?” And Joab took Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him. But Amasa did not observe the sword which was in Joab’s hand; so Joab struck him with it in the body, and shed his bowels to the ground, without striking a second blow; and he died.
Then Joab and Abishai his brother pursued Sheba the son of Bichri. And one of Joab’s men took his stand by Amasa, and said, “Whoever favors Joab, and whoever is for David, let him follow Joab.” And Amasa lay wallowing in his blood in the highway. And anyone who came by, seeing him, stopped; and when the man saw that all the people stopped, he carried Amasa out of the highway into the field, and threw a garment over him. When he was taken out of the highway, all the people went on after Joab to pursue Sheba the son of Bichri.
And Sheba passed through all the tribes of Israel to Abel of Bethmaacah; and all the Bichrites assembled, and followed him in. And all the men who were with Joab came besieged him in Abel of Bethmaacah; they cast up a mound against the city, and it stood against the rampart; and they were battering the wall, to throw it down. Then a wise woman called from the city, “Hear! Hear! Tell Joab, ‘Come here, that I may speak to you.’” And he came near her; and the woman said, “Are you Joab?” He answered, “I am.” Then she said to him, “Listen to the words of your maidservant.” And he answered, “I am listening.” Then she said, “They were wont to say in old time, ‘Let them but ask counsel at Abel’; and so they settled a matter. I am one of those who are peaceable and faithful in Israel; you seek to destroy a city which is a mother in Israel; why will you swallow up the heritage of the LORD?” Joab answered, “Far be it from me, far be it, that I should swallow up or destroy! That is not true. But a man of the hill country of Ephraim, called Sheba the son of Bichri, has lifted up his hand against King David; give up him alone, and I will withdraw from the city.” And the woman said to Joab, “Behold, his head shall be thrown to you over the wall.” Then the woman went to all the people in her wisdom. And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri, and threw it out to Joab. So he blew the trumpet, and they dispersed from the city, every man to his home. And Joab returned to Jerusalem to the king.
Now Joab was in command of all the army of Israel, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was in command of the Cherethites and the Pelethites; and Adoram was in charge of the forced labor; and Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was the recorder; And Sheva was secretary; and Zadok and Abiathar were priests; and Ira the Jairite was also David’s priest (II Samuel 20:1-26).
DAVID BROKE THE ACT OF TOLERANCE WITH GIBEON
Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year; and David sought the face of the LORD. And the LORD said, “There is blood guilt on Saul and on his house, because he put the Gibeonites to death.” So the king called the Gibeonites. Now the Gibeonites were not of the people of Israel, but of the remnant of the Amorites; although the people of Israel had sworn to spare them, Saul had sought to slay them in his zeal for the people of Israel and Judah. And David said to the Gibeonites, “What shall I do for you? And how shall I make expiation, that you may bless the heritage of the LORD?” The Gibeonites said to him, “It is not a matter of silver or gold between us and Saul or his house; neither is it for us to put any man to death in Israel.” And he said, “What do you say that I shall do for you?” They said to the king, “The man who consumed us and planned to destroy us, so that we should have no place in all the territory of Israel, let seven of his sons be given to us, so that we may hand them up before the LORD at Gibeon on the mountain of the LORD.” And the king said, “I will give them.”
But the king spared Mephibosheth, the son of Saul’s son Jonathan, because of the oath of the LORD which was between them, between David and Jonathan the son of Saul. The king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bore to Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Merab the daughter of Saul, whom she bore to Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite; and he gave them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them on the mountain before the LORD, and the seven of them perished together. They were put to death in the first days of harvest, at the beginning of barley harvest.
Then Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth, and spread it for herself on the rock, from the beginning of harvest until rain fell upon them from the heavens; and she did not allow the birds of the air to come upon them by day, or the beasts of the field by night. When David was told what Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, the concubine of Saul, had don, David went and took the bones of Saul and the bones of his sons Jonathan from the men of Jabesh-ilead, who had stolen them from the public square of Beth-shan, where the Philistines had hanged them, on the day the Philistines killed Saul on Gilboa; and he brought up from there the bones of Saul and the bones of his son Jonathan; and they gathered the bones of those who were hanged. And they buried the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan in the land of Benjamin in Zela, in the tomb of Kish his father; and they did all that the king commanded. And after that God heeded supplications for the land (II Samuel 21:1-14).
MORE WARS WITH THE PHILISTINES
The Philistines had war again with Israel, and David went down to gather with his servants, and they fought against the Philistines; and David grew weary. And Ishbi-benob, one of the descendants of the giants, whose spear weighed three hundred shekels of bronze, and who was girded with a new sword, thought to kill David. But Abishai the son of Zeruiah came to his aid, and attacked the Philistine and killed him. Then David’s men adjured him, “You shall no more go out with us to battle, lest you quench the lamp of Israel.”
After this there was again war with the Philistines at Gob; then Sibbecai the Hushathite slew Saph, who was one of the descendants of the giants. And there was again was with the Philistines at Gob; and Elha-nan the son of Jaareoregim, the Bethlehemite, slew Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam. And was again war at Gath, where there was a man of great stature, who had six fingers on each hand, and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number; and he also was descended from the giants. And when he taunted Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimei, David’s brother, slew him. These four were descended from the giants in Gath; and they fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants (II Samuel 21:15-22).
ADONIJAH, TRUE HEIR OF DAVID
Now King David was old and advanced in years; and although they covered him with clothes, he could not get warm. Therefore his servants said to him, “Let a young maiden be sought for my lord the king, and let her wait upon the king, and be his nurse; let her lie in your bosom, that my lord the king may be warm.” So they sought for a beautiful maiden throughout all the territory of Israel, and found Abishag the Shunammite, and brought her to the king. The maiden was very beautiful; and she became the king’s nurse and ministered to him; but the king knew her not.
Now Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, “I will be king’’ and he prepared for himself chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him. His father had never at any time displeased him by asking, “Why have you done thus and so?” He was also a very handsome man; and he was born next after Absalom. He conferred with Joab the son of Zeruiah and with Abiathar the priest; and they followed Adonijah and helped him. But Zadok the priest, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and Nathan the prophet, and Shime-i, and Rei, and David’s mighty men were not with Adonijah.
Adonijah sacrificed sheep, oxen, and fatlings by the Serpent’s Stone, which is beside En-rogel, and he invited all his brothers, the king’s sons, and all the royal officials of Judah, but he did not invite Nathan the prophet or Benaiah or the mighty men or Solomon his brother.
Then Nathan said to Bathsheba the mother of Solomon, “Have you not heard that Adonijah the son of Haggith has become king and David our lord does not know it/ Now therefore come, let me give you counsel, that you may save your own life and the life of your son Solomon. Go in at once to King David, and say to him, ‘Did you not, my lord the king, swear to your maidservant, saying, “Solomon your son shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne’? Why then is Adonijah king?’ Then while you are still speaking with the king, I also will come in after you and confirm your words.”
So Bathsheba went to the king into his chamber (now the king was very old, and Abishag the Shunammite was ministering to the king). Bathsheba bowed and did obeisance to the king, and the king said, “What do you desire?” She said to him, “My lord, you swore to your maidservant by the LORD your God, saying, ‘Solomon your son shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon your throne.’ And now, behold, Adonijah is king, although you, my lord the king, do not know it. He has sacrificed oxen, fatlings, and sheep in abundance, and has invited all the sons of the king, Abiathar the priest, and Joab the commander of the army; but Solomon your servant he has not invited. And now my lord the king, the eyes of all Israel are upon you, to tell them who shall sit on the throne of my lord the king after him. Otherwise it will come to pass, when my lord the king sleeps with his fathers, that I and my son Solomon will be counted offenders.”
While she was still speaking with the king, Nathan the prophet came in. And they told the king, “Here is Nathan the prophet.” And when he came in before the king, with his face to the ground. And Nathan said, “My lord the king, have you said, ‘Adonijah shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne’? For he has gone down this day, and has sacrificed oxen, fatlings, and sheep in abundance, and has invited all the king’s sons, Joab the commander of the army, and Abiathar the priest; and behold, they are eating and drinking before him, and saying, ‘Long live King Adonijah!’ But me, your servant, and Zadok the priest, and Benai-ah the son of Jehoiada, and your servant Solomon, he has not invited. Has this thing been brought about by my lord the king and you have not told your servants who should sit on the throne of my lord the king after him (I Kings 1:1-27)?”