2 Samuel 16–Trials Bring Out the Best and the Worst

David was fleeing for his life.  His son was out to kill him and take the kingdom. David was in deep pain and feeling very alone.  Then Jonathan’s son’s steward met David on the road.  He provided food, drink, and transportation for David and his people. David was amazed and asked Ziba, why are you doing this? Ziba replied because you needed it.  Then David asked if Mephibosheth sent him and Ziba said NO, He is in the city hoping to regain the throne for his family.  
 
David had lifted Saul’s grandson from poverty and restored him to wealth.  He let him eat at the king’s table and assigned him a personal staff. So to have Mephibosheth betray him was very sad.  So, David gave his position and possessions to Ziba, the steward. Then another of Saul’s relatives chased the group cursing and harassing David. David’s men wanted to kill him. David protected his attacker,  saying–“If God is allowing him to live then the Lord must think this is ok!
 
In difficult times, true friends and enemies are often revealed. Some we expect, others really are surprising and disheartening. We should employ David’s strategy–Bless those that are friends and allow God to deal with those that we find are our enemies.  We need not take time to be bitter or vengeful. Instead, we simply keep moving forward and allow God to complete His plan.  Then, in the end, we will be safe and will know who our true friends and allies are and we can bless them as they blessed us!
 
God Bless You

 When David had gone a short distance beyond the summit, there was Ziba, the steward of Mephibosheth, waiting to meet him. He had a string of donkeys saddled and loaded with two hundred loaves of bread, a hundred cakes of raisins, a hundred cakes of figs and a skin of wine.

The king asked Ziba, “Why have you brought these?”

Ziba answered, “The donkeys are for the king’s household to ride on, the bread and fruit are for the men to eat, and the wine is to refresh those who become exhausted in the wilderness.”

The king then asked, “Where is your master’s grandson?”

Ziba said to him, “He is staying in Jerusalem, because he thinks, ‘Today the Israelites will restore to me my grandfather’s kingdom.’”

Then the king said to Ziba, “All that belonged to Mephibosheth is now yours.”

“I humbly bow,” Ziba said. “May I find favor in your eyes, my lord the king.”

Shimei Curses David

As King David approached Bahurim, a man from the same clan as Saul’s family came out from there. His name was Shimei son of Gera, and he cursed as he came out. He pelted David and all the king’s officials with stones, though all the troops and the special guard were on David’s right and left. As he cursed, Shimei said, “Get out, get out, you murderer, you scoundrel! The Lord has repaid you for all the blood you shed in the household of Saul, in whose place you have reigned. The Lord has given the kingdom into the hands of your son Absalom. You have come to ruin because you are a murderer!”

Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and cut off his head.”

10 But the king said, “What does this have to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the Lord said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who can ask, ‘Why do you do this?’”

11 David then said to Abishai and all his officials, “My son, my own flesh and blood, is trying to kill me. How much more, then, this Benjamite! Leave him alone; let him curse, for the Lordhas told him to. 12 It may be that the Lord will look upon my misery and restore to me his covenant blessing instead of his curse today.”

2 Samuel 15 Part 2–Absalom’s Rebellion

The Saddest part of David’s sin was that he lost the ability to keep peace within his family. His son, Absolom now sought his throne. He had gained the hearts of the people,  and now he was moving to overthrow his father’s kingdom.  Amazingly, His plan was sound. He built slow and by the time the rebellion began Absolom had great momentum.  So, David fled. He took the rest of the family and departed Jerusalem. Make no mistake, David was still a beloved king, but it had become clear that his son was going to take the throne. David had never felt so defeated and betrayed. David Had to focus though and began the systematic withdraw from his home.
 
The far-reaching hands of sin can be deadly. But, even when we are spared, the pain and loss we suffer can never be worth the immediate gratification we seek.  That is why we hide God’s word in our heart. That is why we seek him first.  That is why we are always looking to be released form encumbrances and the sin that entangles us.  We want to honor God’s call–do not conform any longer to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Romans 12:1.
 
God is faithful to forgive our sin when we repent, but, he never promises to take away sins effects on our lives. The greatest victory we can ever experience is the victory of following God closely.  The greatest defeat is walking away from his leadership.  Help me, Lord to follow your lead!
 
God Bless You

Then Absalom sent secret messengers throughout the tribes of Israel to say, “As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpets, then say, ‘Absalom is king in Hebron.’” 11 Two hundred men from Jerusalem had accompanied Absalom. They had been invited as guests and went quite innocently, knowing nothing about the matter. 12 While Absalom was offering sacrifices, he also sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counselor, to come from Giloh, his hometown. And so the conspiracy gained strength, and Absalom’s following kept on increasing.

David Flees

13 A messenger came and told David, “The hearts of the people of Israel are with Absalom.”

14 Then David said to all his officials who were with him in Jerusalem, “Come! We must flee, or none of us will escape from Absalom. We must leave immediately, or he will move quickly to overtake us and bring ruin on us and put the city to the sword.”

15 The king’s officials answered him, “Your servants are ready to do whatever our lord the king chooses.”

16 The king set out, with his entire household following him; but he left ten concubines to take care of the palace. 17 So the king set out, with all the people following him, and they halted at the edge of the city. 18 All his men marched past him, along with all the Kerethites and Pelethites; and all the six hundred Gittites who had accompanied him from Gath marched before the king.

19 The king said to Ittai the Gittite, “Why should you come along with us? Go back and stay with King Absalom. You are a foreigner, an exile from your homeland. 20 You came only yesterday. And today shall I make you wander about with us, when I do not know where I am going? Go back, and take your people with you. May the Lord show you kindness and faithfulness.”[c]

21 But Ittai replied to the king, “As surely as the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king may be, whether it means life or death, there will your servant be.”

22 David said to Ittai, “Go ahead, march on.” So Ittai the Gittite marched on with all his men and the families that were with him.

23 The whole countryside wept aloud as all the people passed by. The king also crossed the Kidron Valley, and all the people moved on toward the wilderness.

I Samuel 15 Part 1–He Stole the Hearts of the People of Isreal

Absalom simply was not OK! While his father had welcomed him back to the kingdom, the wedge that had been forged between Absalom and David was a permanent one.  Absalom began to slowly, systematically and completely build a plan to undermine David and his kingdom.  Absalom became a man of the people. He sat outside the city gate and listened to the aggrieved people. He showed empathy and seemed to care for them.  Something they did not seem to get from their king.  Absalom also built a following and as the scripture says it, “He stole the heart of the people!”
 
The consequences of sin are so far-reaching. David had no idea his behavior would actually take away all that truly mattered to him.  In the course of his time after Bathsheba, he lost his peace, his son, and his hold over the people of Israel.  Fortunately for David–God was still in charge. It was God’s grace that ultimately spared David’s life and his kingdom.  It is the same with us. Our sin undermines our lives. We literally destroy the very things we hope to attain by trying to gain them outside of God’s plan.  He tells us–“Seek FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you!” Matthew 6:33. David continued to seek God, Absalom did not. In the end–God prevailed. If we will seek the Lord with our hearts, then He will prevail and we will have full and meaningful lives.  We will not have to steal our life’s dreams–God will provide!
 
God Bless You

In the course of time, Absalom provided himself with a chariot and horses and with fifty men to run ahead of him. He would get up early and stand by the side of the road leading to the city gate. Whenever anyone came with a complaint to be placed before the king for a decision, Absalom would call out to him, “What town are you from?” He would answer, “Your servant is from one of the tribes of Israel.” Then Absalom would say to him, “Look, your claims are valid and proper, but there is no representative of the king to hear you.” And Absalom would add, “If only I were appointed judge in the land! Then everyone who has a complaint or case could come to me and I would see that they receive justice.”

Also, whenever anyone approached him to bow down before him, Absalom would reach out his hand, take hold of him and kiss him. Absalom behaved in this way toward all the Israelites who came to the king asking for justice, and so he stole the hearts of the people of Israel.

At the end of four[a] years, Absalom said to the king, “Let me go to Hebron and fulfill a vow I made to the Lord. While your servant was living at Geshur in Aram, I made this vow: ‘If the Lord takes me back to Jerusalem, I will worship the Lord in Hebron.[b]’”

The king said to him, “Go in peace.” So he went to Hebron.

10 Then Absalom sent secret messengers throughout the tribes of Israel to say, “As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpets, then say, ‘Absalom is king in Hebron.’” 11 Two hundred men from Jerusalem had accompanied Absalom. They had been invited as guests and went quite innocently, knowing nothing about the matter. 12 While Absalom was offering sacrifices, he also sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counselor, to come from Giloh, his hometown. And so the conspiracy gained strength, and Absalom’s following kept on increasing.

2 Samuel 14 Part 2–Absalom is Finally Home

David brought Absolom back from Exile. Still, however, he would not have anything to do with his son.  As time passed, Absalom grew angrier. So, He set Joab’s field on fire. When Joab confronted Absalom, Absalom let him have it.  Why did you bring me home only to be exiled in my own town?!?! So Joab went to King David and told him what happened and that Absalom was right.  David summoned Absalom and he kissed his son restoring him and truly welcoming him home.
 
When we are obedient, we cannot limit it to just putting on a front. David brought Absalom back, but not really.  It was not about the place only, it was about his position as well.  David had to welcome Absalom back personally to restore him.  In our lives, we have to do more than simply go through the motions.  We have to honor God and His plan in our lives.  When we do, He will bless us, but, until we do, He will not! David had to welcome Absalom back. We have to follow God completely and trust Him fully.  God simply does not accept half effort.  Help me Lord, to trust You completely and follow You closely!
 
God Bless You

In all Israel, there was not a man so highly praised for his handsome appearance as Absalom. From the top of his head to the sole of his foot there was no blemish in him.26 Whenever he cut the hair of his head—he used to cut his hair once a year because it became too heavy for him—he would weigh it, and its weight was two hundred shekels[b] by the royal standard.

27 Three sons and a daughter were born to Absalom. His daughter’s name was Tamar, and she became a beautiful woman.

28 Absalom lived two years in Jerusalem without seeing the king’s face. 29 Then Absalom sent for Joab in order to send him to the king, but Joab refused to come to him. So he sent a second time, but he refused to come. 30 Then he said to his servants, “Look, Joab’s field is next to mine, and he has barley there. Go and set it on fire.” So Absalom’s servants set the field on fire.

31 Then Joab did go to Absalom’s house, and he said to him, “Why have your servants set my field on fire?”

32 Absalom said to Joab, “Look, I sent word to you and said, ‘Come here so I can send you to the king to ask, “Why have I come from Geshur? It would be better for me if I were still there!”’ Now then, I want to see the king’s face, and if I am guilty of anything, let him put me to death.”

33 So Joab went to the king and told him this. Then the king summoned Absalom, and he came in and bowed down with his face to the ground before the king. And the king kissed Absalom.

2 Samuel 14 Part 1–When the Truth Sits Before Us

David was feeling the pain of his sin. He failed his family by taking Bathsheba, He failed them again by not dealing with Amnon. Now, He let his son Absolom–the one that dealt with Amnon, sit in Exile. Joab, David’s loyal servant and friend, saw the pain David was causing himself and he set up a plan to help the king see what he had done. Joab sent a woman to describe the scenario that David had created. Once she described the scene–David immediately worked to right the situation–As he was thinking it through, He realized it was his situation as well.
 
Sometimes, we are in a situation that God has provided an answer to correct. During the course of our day, we are so involved in our lives that we simply cannot see God’s plan or answer.  It is in those times, that someone has to reveal the obvious to us.  When they do, we simply need to be grateful and execute God’s plan as set out.  There is no need to be ashamed, but, we need simply look at the truth set before us and follow the Lord, humbly and gratefully.  God will honor our decision to follow and we will once again be blessed.  All the while, knowing the truth was sitting right in front of us!
 
God Bless You

Joab son of Zeruiah knew that the king’s heart longed for Absalom. So Joab sent someone to Tekoa and had a wise woman brought from there. He said to her, “Pretend you are in mourning. Dress in mourning clothes, and don’t use any cosmetic lotions. Act like a woman who has spent many days grieving for the dead. Then go to the king and speak these words to him.” And Joab put the words in her mouth.

When the woman from Tekoa went[a] to the king, she fell with her face to the ground to pay him honor, and she said, “Help me, Your Majesty!”

The king asked her, “What is troubling you?”

She said, “I am a widow; my husband is dead. I your servant had two sons. They got into a fight with each other in the field, and no one was there to separate them. One struck the other and killed him. Now the whole clan has risen up against your servant; they say, ‘Hand over the one who struck his brother down, so that we may put him to death for the life of his brother whom he killed; then we will get rid of the heir as well.’ They would put out the only burning coal I have left, leaving my husband neither name nor descendant on the face of the earth.”

The king said to the woman, “Go home, and I will issue an order in your behalf.”

But the woman from Tekoa said to him, “Let my lord the king pardon me and my family, and let the king and his throne be without guilt.”

10 The king replied, “If anyone says anything to you, bring them to me, and they will not bother you again.”

2 Samuel 13 Part 2–Somebody Had to Do It

So, Amnon simply went on with his life after he raped Tamar. The king failed to take action and no one else seemed to care. Then 2 years later, Absolom, Tamar’s brother set a plan and had Amnon killed. All of David’s sons were together and Absolom had his men kill Amnon. the rest of the sons fled and Absolom also fled to a distant land. David was left with the loss of two sons, Amnon and Absolom. The sadness David felt, however, was for the loss of Absolom.  David knew that he should have taken action. His failure to do so drove a wedge between father and son.
 
We have to take responsibility for what we do. David needed to deal with Amnon–what Amnon did was punishable by death. Had David done what was right–his son Absolom would have been his greatest ally–now, they were divided! We have to be brave and face what is in front of us.  We cannot avoid it thinking it will go away.  We must be strong and courageous. We take responsibility and follow God closely. When that happens, We see God do amazing things.  When we fail to do so, we see things get turned ways they should never be turned. 
 
God Bless You

Two years later, when Absalom’s sheepshearers were at Baal Hazor near the border of Ephraim, he invited all the king’s sons to come there. 24 Absalom went to the king and said, “Your servant has had shearers come. Will the king and his attendants please join me?”

25 “No, my son,” the king replied. “All of us should not go; we would only be a burden to you.” Although Absalom urged him, he still refused to go but gave him his blessing.

26 Then Absalom said, “If not, please let my brother Amnon come with us.”

The king asked him, “Why should he go with you?” 27 But Absalom urged him, so he sent with him Amnon and the rest of the king’s sons.

28 Absalom ordered his men, “Listen! When Amnon is in high spirits from drinking wine and I say to you, ‘Strike Amnon down,’ then kill him. Don’t be afraid. Haven’t I given you this order? Be strong and brave.” 29 So Absalom’s men did to Amnon what Absalom had ordered. Then all the king’s sons got up, mounted their mules and fled.

30 While they were on their way, the report came to David: “Absalom has struck down all the king’s sons; not one of them is left.” 31 The king stood up, tore his clothes and lay down on the ground; and all his attendants stood by with their clothes torn.

32 But Jonadab son of Shimeah, David’s brother, said, “My lord should not think that they killed all the princes; only Amnon is dead. This has been Absalom’s express intention ever since the day Amnon raped his sister Tamar. 33 My lord the king should not be concerned about the report that all the king’s sons are dead. Only Amnon is dead.”

34 Meanwhile, Absalom had fled.

2 Samuel 13 Part 1–When the Unforgivable Happens

There is no good news in this story.  God promised David that because of his great sin that his own house would always be in turmoil. So was the case with Amnon and Tamar.  Amnon simply disregarded all rule of propriety and raped his sister. He should have been immediately killed and Tamar cared for. Neither happened. David was furious, Tamar’s Brother Absolom crushed and bitter–but nothing was either said or done to Amnon.
 
Sometimes things get so horrible that all are left in wonder of how to proceed.  In this case, David should have taken quick and extreme action.  Here David sat with his own guilt and shame and did not respond.  We cannot simply do nothing when such evil is committed.  A wise man said once, “Evil thrives when good men do nothing!” Had David taken action immediately, so much pain would have been healed and his kingdom would not have suffered so intensely.  Still, even in the present day, we often choose to do nothing, rather than take the tough stand and make the unpopular decision to do what is right. It is that behavior that has allowed crime to soar, suicide to skyrocket and evil to reign in the world. 
 
God’s people need to hit their knees and pray–then, we need to take a stand and call evil–EVIL. Not a bad choice, not a poor decision–EVIL. We need to train our kids and ourselves to take responsibility for our lives and our actions.  Help me Lord to do that very thing!
 
God Bless You

In the course of time, Amnon the son of David fell in love with Tamar, the beautiful sister of Absalom the son of David.

Amnon became so obsessed with his sister Tamar that he made himself ill. She was a virgin, and it seemed impossible for him to do anything to her.

Now Amnon had an adviser named Jonadab son of Shimeah, David’s brother. Jonadab was a very shrewd man. He asked Amnon, “Why do you, the king’s son, look so haggard morning after morning? Won’t you tell me?”

Amnon said to him, “I’m in love with Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.”

“Go to bed and pretend to be ill,” Jonadab said. “When your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘I would like my sister Tamar to come and give me something to eat. Let her prepare the food in my sight so I may watch her and then eat it from her hand.’”

So Amnon lay down and pretended to be ill. When the king came to see him, Amnon said to him, “I would like my sister Tamar to come and make some special bread in my sight, so I may eat from her hand.”

David sent word to Tamar at the palace: “Go to the house of your brother Amnon and prepare some food for him.” So Tamar went to the house of her brother Amnon, who was lying down. She took some dough, kneaded it, made the bread in his sight and baked it.Then she took the pan and served him the bread, but he refused to eat.

“Send everyone out of here,” Amnon said. So everyone left him. 10 Then Amnon said to Tamar, “Bring the food here into my bedroom so I may eat from your hand.” And Tamar took the bread she had prepared and brought it to her brother Amnon in his bedroom. 11 But when she took it to him to eat, he grabbed her and said, “Come to bed with me, my sister.”

12 “No, my brother!” she said to him. “Don’t force me! Such a thing should not be done in Israel! Don’t do this wicked thing. 13 What about me? Where could I get rid of my disgrace? And what about you? You would be like one of the wicked fools in Israel. Please speak to the king; he will not keep me from being married to you.” 14 But he refused to listen to her, and since he was stronger than she, he raped her.

15 Then Amnon hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her. Amnon said to her, “Get up and get out!”