It’s the opportunity that Hushai’s being waiting for. He’s Hushai, puts himself in place in order to deceive Absalom. When Absalom asks him for advice, Hushai basically says, look, your father and his men are mighty men, and they’re enraged about the rebellion. In this state, they can beat you, Absalom. And David’s not stupid. He won’t be with the troops tonight. He’ll be hiding somewhere. And as soon as some of Absalom’s troops start falling, word will spread like wildfire that you’re losing troops left and right. At that point, nobody is going to stick around to fight a losing battle. Everyone in the nation knows that your father is a mighty man, and that those who are with him are valiant men. They will have you beat. (Please see 2nd Samuel 17.)
So Hushai advised Absalom to call together a general mobilization of all of the armies of Israel, led by none other than Absalom. 12 So we shall come upon him in some place where he is to be found, and we shall light upon him as the dew falls on the ground, and of him and all the men with him not one will be left. 13 If he withdraws into a city, then all Israel will bring ropes to that city, and we shall drag it into the valley, until not even a pebble is to be found there.” 2nd Samuel 17:12-13 esv
I can see Absalom nodding his head in agreement. He’s pretty egoistic and he likes an entourage. He says “okay,” and the priests whom David had sent to Jerusalem flee with the information that David keep going and not spend the night in the wilderness.
And Ahithophel, knowing good and well what he’d advised Absalom was the only way to win this thing, when he sees that Hushai’s advice is followed, he freaks out and kills himself. This is telling of what he thinks is getting ready to transpire. He knows that Absalom will now lose and that all involved in the rebellion will be put to death. He can’t bear to see it all happen, so he hangs himself.
David’s top commanders are his nephews, the sons of his sister, Zeriah. Absalom, somewhere along the line, has connected with Zeriah’s sister’s son, Amasa. Amasa would be cousin to Joab, Abishai and Absalom, and also the nephew of David. The Scripture here appears to be a little confusing, but after extensive study on the sisters of David coming from Nahash, this is the most conclusive definition I’ve found:
Nahash — is thought by some to be another name of Jesse, or according to others, the name of Jesse’s wife.
—Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
So they could be daughters born before David’s mother married his father, making them half-sisters. I think more than likely, in this instance, Nahash is the name of David’s mother, and I don’t think she was an Ammonite.
David brings his people a considerable distance, with Absalom hot on their heels – and then something awesome happens.
27 When David came to Mahanaim, Shobi the son of Nahash from Rabbah of the Ammonites, and Machir the son of Ammiel from Lo-debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim, 28 brought beds, basins, and earthen vessels, wheat, barley, flour, parched grain, beans and lentils, 29 honey and curds and sheep and cheese from the herd, for David and the people with him to eat, for they said, “The people are hungry and weary and thirsty in the wilderness.” 2nd Samuel 17:27-29 esv
… hungry and weary and thirsty in the wilderness…
I tried to find a way to explain what I saw in this passage, but I couldn’t find the words. George Williams said it this way:
Refreshing as were the gifts brought by Shobi and his companions to David, more refreshing to him must have been the affection which prompted the gifts.
—George Williams, The Complete Bible Commentary
As I read this portion of the text I cannot help but think of the times I’ve felt real rejection and sadness in my ministry – and then out of the blue someone will show up at my house with a small gift, or I’ll get an encouraging text or an email. And while the gift or the message is always refreshing, God makes it clear that the person who reached out to me in that way has real affection for me…and God. That’s important to us, and God knows this. George Williams continued,
Precious to the Lord, while still rejected, is the love that expresses itself to Him by deeds and gifts however small or great.
—George Williams, The Complete Bible Commentary
Solomon was just a little tike when all this was going on around him, but he must have a great awareness of the facts because he wrote these warnings in his Proverbs:
Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him. Proverbs 22:15 esv
Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. Proverbs 23:13 esv
Amnon hadn’t been disciplined for his crimes against Tamar, and he died. Perhaps striking Amnon with a rod (the rod being representative of any punishment, not necessarily a beating, and in Amnon’s case a public rebuke, a hefty fine, and an eternal marriage) would have saved his life. Even, perhaps, would have driven the folly from his heart and turned a decent human being out of him.
Absalom certainly wouldn’t have murdered his brother.
A full pardon for Absalom was inexcusable. Even in the end, as David is sending his men in pursuit of the rebel army he gives express instructions to not harm Absalom.
But, like Amnon, where David did not dare discipline his own sons, someone else stepped in and administered the punishment instead. Absalom should have been quickly executed for the murder of Amnon. Instead he suffered a long, painful death at the hands of men, and David, naturally, is crushed. (Please see 2nd Samuel 18.) He’s lost his third lamb. Part of him has got to be wondering who is next.
Parents that don’t discipline their children and then turn them loose in a world of heathens are going to bring horrific consequences upon them. The world will see clearly what we have failed to do at home and take swift, albeit cruel, action against them.
It was told Joab, “Behold, the king is weeping and mourning for Absalom.” 2 So the victory that day was turned into mourning for all the people, for the people heard that day, “The king is grieving for his son.” 3 And the people stole into the city that day as people steal in who are ashamed when they flee in battle. 2nd Samuel 19:1-3 esv
The people who had loyally followed David out of the city and fought for him now hung their heads in shame. David was so moved by the grief of losing his rebellious son that it overshadowed the victory of having suppressed an unkind, unworthy usurper to the throne.
Joab, shrewd statesmen that he is, confronts David, and rightly so.
5 Then Joab came into the house to the king and said, “You have today covered with shame the faces of all your servants, who have this day saved your life and the lives of your sons and your daughters and the lives of your wives and your concubines, 6 because you love those who hate you and hate those who love you. For you have made it clear today that commanders and servants are nothing to you, for today I know that if Absalom were alive and all of us were dead today, then you would be pleased. 7 Now therefore arise, go out and speak kindly to your servants, for I swear by the Lord, if you do not go, not a man will stay with you this night, and this will be worse for you than all the evil that has come upon you from your youth until now.” 2nd Samuel 19:5-7 esv
David submits to this, but I think he’s just going through the motions. Never once in 2nd Samuel 19 does he ask the Lord for advice – which indicates to me that he’s still really comfortable in the disobedience with which he handled Amnon and Absalom.
Unrepentant sin weakens our moral judgments, which in turn acts as an amnesiac on our God-given duties. In David’s case, God has given him the duty to judge and to do so justly.
Meanwhile, Israel (the ten tribes minus Judah and Benjamin) is in complete turmoil, and getting pretty nervous without a king. They realize that David had delivered them from the Philistines, but they thought maybe Absalom could do a better job…but now Absalom is dead and David is out of town….
Please come back next week for And the Sword Shall Never Depart Part 3 in our series, The Lion of Judah.
If you’re interested in my fiction, please visit www.TaMaraHanscomBooks.com for a free download of the first 4 chapters of The Pretender.
© 2018 Ta`Mara Hanscom