The past has a way of catching up on us. We feel we’ve come to terms with old feelings, old loves, old enemies, and that all is changed. But then one day we discover that the past never vanished; it just went into hiding for a while.
This power-shift between Absalom and David causes the past to surface. David has a sudden reminder of Saul’s family, as the servant Ziba brings him unexpected gifts for the journey (vv.1-2). His joy is tempered with deep sadness, as he learns that Mephibosheth, Saul’s grandson and recipient of so much of David’s kindness, is betting on Absalom to return his own family’s wealth to him (vv.3-4). One of life’s hard lessons is that love does not secure loyalty.
Next is an extraordinary scene, with Shimei ranting and screaming at David (vv.5-14). Like Mephibosheth, Absalom’s challenge to the king is his chance to settle old grievances. David’s reaciont? He appears either as man of humble faith, or as a broken man whose courage has failed him. Both are likely to be the case. David is holding onto what was once his bright faith in happier days, but knows that he’s no longer the man who can cope with conflict. His heart will break further, when he learns of Absalom insulting him in one more public and shaming assault on his rule (vv.15-23).
Life is painful, and those we try to love bring us most pain. Jesus Christ knew the pain of desertion. He witnessed friends seeking old loves and loyalties, when the pressure got too much. His Word warns us of our vipers’-nest hearts, and cautions us against complacency. Before we disgrace ourselves, and our King, when temptation comes we must “put on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet” (1 Thess. 5.8). Jesus Himself did.
A Prayer to Pray
Spirit of God, I barely know my heart. And how my heart gets broken, tempted and distracted. Fix my eyes on Jesus, who will never disappoint me. Keep me humble and close to Him, pressing on to the end. Amen.