Sunday, 27 April 2014

(118) April 28: 2 Samuel 17-18 & Luke 21:1-19

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:­­
As you read note the stages in God’s restoration of David.

To ponder:
In humility David entrusted himself to God’s favour (15v25, 16v12), and here we see God’s favour to him granted. The tension builds as Ahithophel’s advice to Absalom is pitted against Hushai’s, David’s spy. The former advises speedy attack so David’s allies flee and he can be killed. The latter subverts this by suggesting David would not be caught and might attack first, causing Absalom’s followers to fear. Instead, to buy David time, he urges Absalom to wait and gather “all Israel” to ensure David is definitely defeated. We are told why Absalom followed Hushai’s advice: It was God’s doing, “to bring disaster on Absalom” (17v14). And so we can assume it was God’s hand too that protected the priests sons who were to pass Hushai’s information to David (17v17-21). The LORD is well able to govern circumstances to protect his people.
            It seems Ahithophel realises how disastrous Hushai’s advice is, as he hangs himself (17v23) - a fitting end for a traitor of God’s anointed (think Judas, Matt 27v5). Hearing that he has some time, David then crosses the Jordan river and fortifies himself in Mahanaim. And Absalom follows with “all the men of Israel.” 17v25-29 record the key individuals standing with Absalom against David and those who assist David. These details remind us everyone’s response to Christ as God’s king is important. Indeed, it is recorded (Rev 20v12).
            David arranges his troops and wants to fight himself, but his men tell him not to as he is Absalom’s target and too important. He therefore remains in the town whilst his men march out, but gives them strict instructions to “be gentle with Absalom.” David’s army are victorious, but the twenty thousand from both sides who die stress the wide implications David’s sin with Bathsheba is having.
God’s hand against Absalom is seen in the unlikely and humiliating manner of his death (17v9). One of those who sees, tells Joab (one of David’s commanders), saying he didn’t kill Absalom for fear of David if he disobeyed his command. Joab has no such qualms, killing Absalom and having his armour bearers hack at him too. This was a just penalty for Absalom, and a sensible move, in removing his threat to the throne. But it was still to disobey God’s king.
There is an ironic contrast then between the pit Absalom was thrown in with a pile of rocks over him and the pillar we are immediately told he erected as “a monument to himself,” as he had no son (presumably those in 14v27 had died). This gives us needful perspective. No matter how great someone considers themselves, or seems according to the world, to stand against Christ will mean they are eventually reduced to nothing.
            The drama around the breaking of the news to David brings home David’s utter grief when he hears of Absalom’s death. Joab realises that because of this even news of the victory will not mean “reward” for the messenger. As the runners approach, three times David hopes it must be “good news,” but as soon as told of the victory asks after his son. Ahimaaz doesn’t have the courage to tell the whole truth, but the Cushite, not having been told David’s feelings, does. Despite all Absalom had done, David “shakes” and “grieves,” wishing he had died instead. At first read this seems incredibly gracious. But in truth, it is a slight on the nation who Absalom had led into rebellion, war and death. Moreover, it is a slight on God who was to be praised for delivering Israel and restoring the throne to David (18v28, 32). God’s honour and purposes are to be our greatest concern, as even the fallible Eli showed (1 Sam 4v12-18).
David’s grief also displays the personal pain his sin with Bathsheba eventually brought him as punishment from God. These events warn us all of the wide and destructive repercussions sin can have.
Praying it home:
Thank God that entrusting ourselves to his favour through Christ is always repaid. Pray that you would not forget the potential destructiveness of sin.

Thinking further:
None today.

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