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20. David Loses Power and Control

January 19, 2010

Text:    II Samuel 14:1-17:29

Outline:             I. Joab Intercedes; Absalom Returns      II Samuel 14:1-33

II. Absalom Grabs Power      II Samuel 15:1-15

III. David Leaves; Absalom Returns      II Samuel 15:16-16:23

IV. Absalom Reveals His Heart      II Samuel 17:1-29

Context/Discussion/Comments:

Joab sees David’s inability to focus on his kingly responsibilities because of his estranged relationship with his son, Absalom, who is in line to succeed him as king of Israel. So Joab finds a woman in Tekoa [unknown to David] to seek out the king and act out a scenario as a widower who lost one son to another and whose family is against the remaining son, her only source of livelihood. David offers to intercede on her behalf for her son’s life and against her family. The woman then asks permission to speak again. It is granted and she asks David why he and his family have not granted like mercy to Absalom. She also asks another favor and that is her inheritance be returned before the Year of Jubilee. The king realized and confirms this conversation has been set up by Joab who was probably standing nearby within earshot. Joab is given the assignment to bring Absalom back to Jerusalem but to his own house, not to the palace. Absalom lived in Jerusalem two years before he even saw his father, David. Absalom finally gets Joab to set up a meeting between David and him after setting fire to Joab’s fields. Evidently, Absalom wanted assurance from his father David that he would succeed him as king. This doesn’t happen so Absalom proceeds to seek the approval of others.

Absalom gains in stature and in followers including a small band of fighting men. He resides at the city gate giving judgments for those who do not have a king’s representative where they live. In so doing, Absalom toots his own horn for becoming and being a just judge, and most likely to gain support to be the next king of Israel. Absalom begins acting king-like publicly and after four years in Jerusalem, asks David to let him go to Hebron and worship the Lord. David agrees. Absalom’s loyal followers number 200 and secretly he has those throughout Israel proclaim him as King of Hebron. Even David’s counselor Ahithophel becomes involved in Absalom’s conspiracy. David is told that Absalom has gained much power in Hebron and David chooses to leave Jerusalem rather than fight there. [Remember, Hebron is where David began his rule as King of Judah.]

David leaves with his followers and asks Ittai and his army to go home to Gath. But Ittai pledges loyalty to David and stays. David also asks the priests to go back and be his spies in Jerusalem. Zadok, the ARK, and the Levites go ahead of David, offer sacrifices at the edge of Jerusalem, and go back home to await David’s return. David entered Jerusalem rejoicing but now he leaves weeping and mourning. He prays that his trusted counselor, Ahithophel, will give Absalom poor counsel. David meets with Hushai and sends him to Absalom to profess loyalty to him in hope of frustrating Ahithophel’s advice. Zadok and Abiathar will keep David informed concerning all that Hushai hears at the Palace. David left Jerusalem and now Absalom enters the city.

David meets Ziba who is caring for Jonathan’s crippled son, Mephibosheth. Ziba brings David and his followers food. David learns Mephibosheth is in Jerusalem expecting to become the new king instead of Absalom so David declares all his estate now belongs to Ziba. As David nears Benjamite territory, he is cursed by a member of Saul’s clan who has declared his loyalty to Absalom. David grants him mercy because Absalom is a greater problem at the moment.

Absalom questions but accepts the loyalty of Hushai and asks for advice from David’s former advisor, Ahithophel. He advises Absalom to sleep with his father’s concubines which David had left behind to care for the palace. He does so on the roof of the palace so all Israel would know he was in complete control as king. Ahithophel also advises Absalom to take 12000 men and pursue David and kill him so as to solidify all Israel’s loyalty to Absalom. Hushai is summoned to give his advise concerning Ahithophel’s proposal. Hushai advises against Ahithophel saying a loss in battle with David means Absalom loses the throne. He advises that Absalom should gather a very large army and personally lead his troops into battle to show his fearlessness and ability to lead and, thus, guarantee a victory over his father’s men. Hushai’s advice is accepted and David is forewarned by Zadok and Abiathar with instructions to cross the Jordan River. Absalom tries but fails to intercept the couriers of Hushai’s message. Ahithophel’s advice was rejected so he hangs himself. Absalom pursues David across the Jordan River and camps in Gilead. The people of Ammon, once David’s enemy, and some Gileadites provide food for David’s army.

Lessons/Applications:

1. The bond of love between parent and child is stronger than the evil that separates them [example of David and Absalom]. But repentance for sin is required to restore true fellowship and love. Such is the picture between our heavenly Father and we who claim to be His Children. Fellowship with God the Father requires repentance for our sin.

2. Respect among one’s fellowman does not necessarily translate to respect from the King, the Lord Jesus Christ.

3. One’s increase in respect, stature, responsibility, and influence in life will come from the hand of God, not the praise of men. Using and making known one’s capabilities is acceptable but promoting one-self into a position not given reveals a deceitful and evil heart.

4. Listen to the advice of your friends but seek the Lord and His confirmation before deciding to fight or flee evil. Let the victory be the Lord’s, not man’s.

5. Failure to stand up for what is right brings out criticism from all sides, including a loss of respect from those who are/were loyal to your leadership.

6. One’s desire for personal gain such as power, prestige, and possessions will eventually cause one to make poor decisions. Evil hearts make evil decisions resulting in evil actions.

7. Repentance of sin is the only means of changing one’s heart from hatred to love, from evil intentions to good intentions, or from unrighteousness to righteousness. Failure to repent leads to destruction, especially spiritual destruction.

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