There are not many books in the Bible as dramatic as 2 Samuel. Today’s reading from 2 Samuel 16-17 makes all the prime-ministerial comings and goings in Australia politics over recent years look like a Sunday School picnic.
David having been forced to flee Jerusalem in haste, is met by Ziba, the servant of King Saul’s disabled grandson, Mephibosheth with needed provisions. However, David doubts the sincerity of the gift and interprets the action as treachery on the part of Jonathan’s son, to whom he had shown special kindness (2 Samuel 9:1-13). If Ziba was trying to carry favour with the deposed king, he succeeded, with David giving him Mephibosheth’s land (but this was later reviewed when David returned – 2 Samuel 19:24-30).
Further down the road David cops an earful from Shimei, a disgruntled relative of Saul. I like how the Message version paraphrases verses 7-8:
To the accompaniment of curses he shouted, “Get lost, get lost, you butcher, you hellhound! God has paid you back for all your dirty work in the family of Saul and for stealing his kingdom. God has given the kingdom to your son Absalom. Look at you now—ruined! And good riddance, you pathetic old man!”
While his servant Abishai wants to extract revenge for the barrage of curses and stones, however David has more pressing issues to deal with :
11 And David said to Abishai and to all his servants, “Behold, my own son seeks my life; how much more now may this Benjaminite! Leave him alone, and let him curse, for the Lord has told him to. 12 It may be that the Lord will look on the wrong done to me, and that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing today.”
In the meantime Absalom had arrived in Jerusalem to claim the throne with the help of David’s former advisor Ahithophel whose counsel we are told in verse 23:
“was treated as if God himself had spoken. That was the reputation of Ahithophel’s counsel to David; it was the same with Absalom.”
However David still had an ally in Hushai the Archite, who cleverly gains Absalom’s trust by stroking the upstart’s ego and sways Absalom to heed his advice rather than that of Ahithopel by playing on his fears (17:1-14).
David’s cry for help back in 16:12 is answered. As verse 14 makes the point it was God who determined to discredit the counsel of Ahithophel so as to bring ruin on Absalom. Hushai’s plan and warning (v.15-20) brought David time to replenish and reorganise his forces.
With his advice rejected, Ahithophel realised that David would now regain control and that having committed treason against the king he had no future, so he takes his own life (v23).
Point to ponder:
Can we like Absalom become blinded by selfish ambition and vanity? Can it cause us to discount wise counsel ?