Pity Absalom. Born into privilege, he was also born in notoriety, the son of David and Bathsheba. He had to endure the rape of a sister, and was guilty of the murder of his brother. He knew exile, and then, once returned, he had the pain of never being properly reconciled to his father. Add to this prince’s troubles the frustration of seeing that his father wasn’t doing his job, and that there was no job for him to do. So what was ‘normal’ for Absalom? And what would you do, if you were Absalom?
He was restless, and probably very insecure. He wanted to make an impact, and probably deep down, wanted his country to thrive, seeing that his father’s once strong leadership had given way to reclusive indecision. He forms a plan to win over his countrymen (vv.1-6), and is a great success (v.6).
Success brings contempt, even of his own father. The Hebron trip is a ruse, probably to achieve what he had planned all along. He steals two hundred unsuspecting men to his cause, and also steals David’s main advisor (vv.11-12). Surely David must come out of his palace fighting?
No. David flees. One unsubstantiated report, and the king goes to pieces (vv.13-14). His whole entourage leaves Jerusalem. Note three scenes the historian lingers on, concerning Ittai, Zadok and Hushai (vv.19-37). What we learn about each is that they are brave, and eager to do the right thing for their King. Their bravery effectively shows up the lack of heart and courage this king has. We must wait for another king, who, though betrayed by one He loved, walked up the Mount of Olives. Unlike David, He didn’t flee His responsibilities, but went outside the city in order to meet them. He fought for those who made themselves His enemies, and conquered for them by dying. This is bravery, and this is our King.
A Prayer to Pray
Lord Jesus Christ, King, Conqueror, Saviour, I embrace all that You are for all that I need. Thankyou for Your most brave dying love. Like insecure and proud Absalom, how often my heart rises against You. Teach me the joy of trusting surrender to Your love. Amen.