So, Absalom got everyone to look at him, and then he named his daughter Tamar – thereby keeping what Amnon had done at the forefront of everything. With Amnon’s sin kept alive and well, people may not even notice that Absalom is a murderer and an insurrectionist.
28 So Absalom lived two full years in Jerusalem, without coming into the king’s presence. 29 Then Absalom sent for Joab, to send him to the king, but Joab would not come to him. And he sent a second time, but Joab would not come. 30 Then he said to his servants, “See, Joab’s field is next to mine, and he has barley there; go and set it on fire.” So Absalom’s servants set the field on fire. 31 Then Joab arose and went to Absalom at his house and said to him, “Why have your servants set my field on fire?”
32 Absalom answered Joab, “Behold, I sent word to you, ‘Come here, that I may send you to the king, to ask, “Why have I come from Geshur? It would be better for me to be there still.” Now therefore let me go into the presence of the king, and if there is guilt in me, let him put me to death.’” 2nd Samuel 14:28-32 esv
Basically, Absalom is telling Joab, look, if you don’t get me in to the see the king I’m going to make your life miserable. But look closely at Absalom’s last words to Joab: if there is guilt in me. IF? There’s not one ounce of repentance in this character. Please recall, he murdered his brother and he’s in an open rebellion against his father, the king.
33 Then Joab went to the king and told him, and he summoned Absalom. So he came to the king and bowed himself on his face to the ground before the king, and the king kissed Absalom. 2nd Samuel 14:33 esv
All is well in the family once again – as long as we can just get along. David’s going to throw his daughter and the Word of God under the bus and pretend like everything’s going to be okay now.
But David sticking his head in the sand is going to get him bitten in the rear end.
As soon as King David has displayed the very public pardon Absalom rigs himself up to look like royalty.
After this Absalom got himself a chariot and horses, and fifty men to run before him. 2nd Samuel 15:1 esv
Hertzberg, a professor of the Old Testament in Kiel, Germany, said that this was not typical in the Israelite courts, and that Absalom probably learned it from his pagan grandfather, the King of Geshur.
He begins with this presentation to give the appearance of a man who carries himself in a royal way. He makes judgment calls at the city gate, where he does not have authority, ingratiating himself to the locals. His behavior is equivalent to the present-day term slumming. Here’s this wealthy, powerful man, but he’s not too proud to embrace the peasants.
4 Then Absalom would say, “Oh that I were judge in the land! Then every man with a dispute or cause might come to me, and I would give him justice.” 2nd Samuel 15:4 esv
What he’s saying is that David is no longer worthy of the throne – and perhaps David isn’t at this time, but it doesn’t matter. God has anointed him just the same as he anointed Saul.
Because David’s head is in the sand he doesn’t see Absalom stealing the hearts of the men of Israel.
Absalom hoodwinks his father into letting him go over to Hebron to worship, but it’s just a ruse that begins the rebellion.
10 But Absalom sent secret messengers throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, “As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then say, ‘Absalom is king at Hebron!’” 11 With Absalom went two hundred men from Jerusalem who were invited guests, and they went in their innocence and knew nothing. 12 And while Absalom was offering the sacrifices, he sent for Ahithophel [Bathsheba’s grandfather] the Gilonite, David’s counselor, from his city Giloh. And the conspiracy grew strong, and the people with Absalom kept increasing. 2nd Samuel 15:10-12 esv
Absalom knows who his allies are. Bathsheba’s grandfather, I would imagine, has watched, from an intimate purview the king’s behavior spiral. Jewish historians assert that Ahithophel was disgusted with David’s behavior, and he wanted revenge for his family. He immediately joins the ranks of the rebellion.
I think that another reason Ahithophel wants revenge (and please be careful with this information because there is the very real chance that I might be wrong in this) but Ahithophel’s son, Eliam, Bathsheba’s father, disappears from the royal records, and he had been among the mighty men. Could it be that the battle David sent Uriah into also took the life of Eliam, Ahithophel’s son? And this is part of what leads Ahithophel to break ranks with David and join the rebellion?
When David finds out about Ahithophel, he’s horrified, but he decides to leave Jerusalem in a split second. I think his actions were not only those of a skillful soldier (putting the Jordan between himself and the rebels) but also to save the lives of the subjects he truly loved. He didn’t want the city to be put to the sword. Also, I think David knew that God was dealing with his sin. He was king, he could have fought for the throne, but he decides to put his life in God’s hands, just as he did when he went on the run from Saul.
David leaves Jerusalem with all of his servants, leaving 10 concubines behind to keep the palace.
They weren’t left behind just to keep house. David had an intricate network of spies, and the word keep is shāmar—Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary — the exact same word is used in Judges 1:24. The context in Judges is that the people of Israel are attempting to take the Promised Land from its current inhabitants.
22 The house of Joseph also went up against Bethel, and the Lord was with them. 23 And the house of Joseph scouted out Bethel. (Now the name of the city was formerly Luz.) 24 And the spies saw a man coming out of the city, and they said to him, “Please show us the way into the city, and we will deal kindly with you.”Judges 1:22-24 esv
And the spies = shāmar
In this text of 2nd Samuel 15:16 indicates that the concubines were left there to observe and report on the comings and goings of what happened in the palace while David was gone.
I don’t think David ever imagined that Absalom would do the heinous thing that he’s about to do in Chapter 16, which could be why he was comfortable leaving them to keep the house. These concubines were trusted women whom Absalom had lived around for his entire life – one of whom was the mother of his half-brother, Jerimoth.
As David flees Jerusalem, a considerable amount of the populace leaves with him as well. Apparently Absalom has NOT stolen all the hearts!
As David flees, he writes a song for the Lord:
A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son.
3 O Lord, how many are my foes!
Many are rising against me;
2 many are saying of my soul,
there is no salvation for him in God. Selah
3 But you, O Lord, are a shield about me,
my glory, and the lifter of my head.
4 I cried aloud to the Lord,
and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah
5 I lay down and slept;
I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.
6 I will not be afraid of many thousands of people
who have set themselves against me all around.
7 Arise, O Lord!
Save me, O my God!
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
you break the teeth of the wicked.
8 Salvation belongs to the Lord;
your blessing be on your people! Selah
Psalm 3 esv
Rather than becoming bitter at his enforced exile, David submitted meekly to what God had allowed. … In this psalm we find David’s trust in the Lord was unshaken as the storm broke over him.
—William McDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary
Please come back next week for And the Sword Shall Never Depart Part 1 in our series, The Lion of Judah.
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© 2018 Ta`Mara Hanscom