The trouble in David’s house has already become bad, but it will get worse. In chapter 13, his son Amnon raped his daughter Tamar. There just is no other word for what happened. It was a horrible and detestable act. 2 Samuel 13:21 states that David was very angry, yet he did nothing. David’s other son Absalom quickly finds out, and he hated Amnon for it. But he waits 2 full years to plot his revenge, and has Amnon killed. Absalom fled to Geshur, and was there another 3 three years (2 Samuel 13:38). In chapter 14, Joab intercedes, and Absalom is allowed to return. But he must stay in a separate house, and never be in David’s presence (2 Samuel 14:24). David cannot bring himself to forgive, but he never really punishes him. This went on for two more years. After Absalom dramatically gets Joab’s attention in 2 Samuel 14:29-31, He has Joab tell his father to either let him back “in” or put him to death. So a reconciliation occurs. Or does it…?
In chapter 15, we find Absalom conspiring to take the throne.His strategy – how he “stole the hearts of the men of Israel” is brilliant in verses 1-7. This went on for four more years, then he asked David to allow him to go to Hebron to worship the Lord to fulfill a vow. David allowed it, and he went. But he sent secret messengers throughout the tribes of Israel to ready for the rebellion to come. He took 200 men with him, but verse 11 says that they were innocent and did not know what was coming.
Word comes to David, and he knows that if he stays in Jerusalem , Absalom will bring his army to crush him. So he flees the city with his remaining force. Abiathar and Zadok came with the ark, but David refuses to use it as some sort of “lucky charm,” and sends them back with it, saying that the Lord will bring him back to it and the city if it is His will (verse 26). In verse 30, David and company reach and ascend the Mount of Olives weeping as they went. Then he gets more bad news. Ahithophel, his trusted counselor (and a wise man) has joined Absalom in the conspiracy. In verse 31, he prays to the Lord to make Ahiphothel’s counsel foolishness. So he send Hushai to Jerusalem to work undercover and report to Abiathar and Zadok, so they can get word to him. The evil being raised up against him in his own house for his sin with Bathsheba that was prophesied in 2 Samuel 12:11 has reached a new high.
Despite his sin, David has proven to be a great leader and king, as well as a man of God in contrast to Saul. But chapters 13-14 especially have shown him to be a lousy father. God’s word does not sugar-coat the heroes of the story of the Bible. From Noah to Abraham to Jacob, and now David, we see them “warts and all.” In the end, no matter how favored they are with God, they are just men. Sinners who need God’s forgiveness – just like us.
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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