SCRIPTURE REFERENCES FOR THIS SERMON:
2 Samuel 15:1-17:29
15:1 Some time later Absalom managed to acquire a chariot and horses, as well as 50 men to serve as his royal guard. 2 Now Absalom used to get up early and stand beside the road that led to the city gate. Whenever anyone came by who had a complaint to bring to the king for arbitration, Absalom would call out to him, “What city are you from?” The person would answer, “I, your servant, am from one of the tribes of Israel.” 3 Absalom would then say to him, “Look, your claims are legitimate and appropriate. But there is no representative of the king who will listen to you.” 4 Absalom would then say, “If only they would make me a judge in the land! Then everyone who had a judicial complaint could come to me and I would make sure he receives a just settlement.”
5 When someone approached to bow before him, Absalom would extend his hand and embrace him and kiss him. 6 Absalom acted this way toward everyone in Israel who came to the king for justice. In this way Absalom won the loyalty of the citizens of Israel.
7 After four years Absalom said to the king, “Let me go and repay my vow that I made to the Lord while I was in Hebron. 8 For I made this vow when I was living in Geshur in Aram: ‘If the Lord really does allow me to return to Jerusalem, I will serve the Lord.’” 9 The king replied to him, “Go in peace.” So Absalom got up and went to Hebron.
10 Then Absalom sent spies through all the tribes of Israel who said, “When you hear the sound of the horn, you may assume that Absalom rules in Hebron.” 11 Now 200 men had gone with Absalom from Jerusalem. Since they were invited, they went naively and were unaware of what Absalom was planning. 12 While he was offering sacrifices, Absalom sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s adviser, to come from his city, Giloh. The conspiracy was gaining momentum, and the people were starting to side with Absalom.
13 Then a messenger came to David and reported, “The men of Israel are loyal to Absalom!” 14 So David said to all his servants who were with him in Jerusalem, “Come on! Let’s escape! Otherwise no one will be delivered from Absalom! Go immediately, or else he will quickly overtake us and bring disaster on us and kill the city’s residents with the sword.” 15 The king’s servants replied to the king, “We will do whatever our lord the king decides.”
16 So the king and all the members of his royal court set out on foot, though the king left behind 10 concubines to attend to the palace. 17 The king and all the people set out on foot, pausing at a spot some distance away. 18 All his servants were leaving with him, along with all the Kerethites, all the Pelethites, and all the Gittites—some 600 men who had come on foot from Gath. They were leaving with the king.
19 Then the king said to Ittai the Gittite, “Why should you come with us? Go back and stay with the new king, for you are a foreigner and an exile from your own country. 20 It seems as if you arrived just yesterday. Today should I make you wander around by going with us? I go where I must go. But as for you, go back and take your men with you. May genuine loyal love protect you!”
21 But Ittai replied to the king, “As surely as the Lord lives and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king is, whether it means death or life, there I will be as well!” 22 So David said to Ittai, “Come along then.” So Ittai the Gittite went along, accompanied by all his men and all the dependents who were with him.
23 All the land was weeping loudly as all these people were leaving. As the king was crossing over the Kidron Valley, all the people were leaving on the road that leads to the desert. 24 Zadok and all the Levites who were with him were carrying the ark of the covenant of God. When they positioned the ark of God, Abiathar offered sacrifices until all the people had finished leaving the city.
25 Then the king said to Zadok, “Take the ark of God back to the city. If I find favor in the Lord’s sight he will bring me back and enable me to see both it and his dwelling place again. 26 However, if he should say, ‘I do not take pleasure in you,’ then he will deal with me in a way that he considers appropriate.”
27 The king said to Zadok the priest, “Are you a seer? Go back to the city in peace! Your son Ahimaaz and Abiathar’s son Jonathan may go with you and Abiathar. 28 Look, I will be waiting at the fords of the desert until word from you reaches me.” 29 So Zadok and Abiathar took the ark of God back to Jerusalem and remained there.
30 As David was going up the Mount of Olives, he was weeping as he went; his head was covered and his feet were bare. All the people who were with him also had their heads covered and were weeping as they went up. 31 Now David had been told, “Ahithophel has sided with the conspirators who are with Absalom.” So David prayed, “Make the advice of Ahithophel foolish, O Lord.”
32 When David reached the summit, where he used to worship God, Hushai the Arkite met him with his clothes torn and dirt on his head. 33 David said to him, “If you leave with me you will be a burden to me. 34 But you will be able to counter the advice of Ahithophel if you go back to the city and say to Absalom, ‘I will be your servant, O king! Previously I was your father’s servant, and now I will be your servant.’ 35 Zadok and Abiathar the priests will be there with you. Everything you hear in the king’s palace you must tell Zadok and Abiathar the priests. 36 Furthermore, their two sons are there with them, Zadok’s son Ahimaaz and Abiathar’s son Jonathan. You must send them to me with any information you hear.”
37 So David’s friend Hushai arrived in the city, just as Absalom was entering Jerusalem.
16:1 When David had gone a short way beyond the summit, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth was there to meet him. He had a couple of donkeys that were saddled, and on them were 200 loaves of bread, 100 raisin cakes, 100 baskets of summer fruit, and a container of wine.
2 The king asked Ziba, “Why did you bring these things?” Ziba replied, “The donkeys are for the king’s family to ride on, the loaves of bread and the summer fruit are for the attendants to eat, and the wine is for those who get exhausted in the desert.” 3 The king asked, “Where is your master’s grandson?” Ziba replied to the king, “He remains in Jerusalem, for he said, ‘Today the house of Israel will give back to me my grandfather’s kingdom.’” 4 The king said to Ziba, “Everything that was Mephibosheth’s now belongs to you.” Ziba replied, “I bow before you. May I find favor in your sight, my lord the king.”
5 Then King David reached Bahurim. There a man from Saul’s extended family named Shimei son of Gera came out, yelling curses as he approached. 6 He threw stones at David and all of King David’s servants, as well as all the people and the soldiers who were on his right and on his left. 7 As he yelled curses, Shimei said, “Leave! Leave! You man of bloodshed, you wicked man! 8 The Lord has punished you for all the spilled blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you rule. Now the Lord has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. Disaster has overtaken you, for you are a man of bloodshed!”
9 Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and cut off his head!” 10 But the king said, “What do we have in common, you sons of Zeruiah? If he curses because the Lord has said to him, ‘Curse David!,’ who can say to him, ‘Why have you done this?’” 11 Then David said to Abishai and to all his servants, “My own son, my very own flesh and blood, is trying to take my life. So also now this Benjaminite! Leave him alone so that he can curse, for the Lord has spoken to him. 12 Perhaps the Lord will notice my affliction and this day grant me good in place of his curse.”
13 So David and his men went on their way. But Shimei kept going along the side of the hill opposite him, yelling curses as he threw stones and dirt at them. 14 The king and all the people who were with him arrived exhausted at their destination, where David refreshed himself.
15 Now when Absalom and all the men of Israel arrived in Jerusalem, Ahithophel was with him. 16 When David’s friend Hushai the Arkite came to Absalom, Hushai said to him, “Long live the king! Long live the king!”
17 Absalom said to Hushai, “Do you call this loyalty to your friend? Why didn’t you go with your friend?” 18 Hushai replied to Absalom, “No, I will be loyal to the one whom the Lord, these people, and all the men of Israel have chosen. 19 Moreover, whom should I serve? Should it not be his son? Just as I served your father, so I will serve you.”
20 Then Absalom said to Ahithophel, “Give us your advice. What should we do?” 21 Ahithophel replied to Absalom, “Sleep with your father’s concubines whom he left to care for the palace. All Israel will hear that you have made yourself repulsive to your father. Then your followers will be motivated to support you.” 22 So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the roof, and Absalom slept with his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel.
23 In those days Ahithophel’s advice was considered as valuable as a prophetic revelation. Both David and Absalom highly regarded the advice of Ahithophel.
17:1 Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Let me pick out 12,000 men. Then I will go and pursue David this very night. 2 When I catch up with him he will be exhausted and worn out. I will rout him, and the entire army that is with him will flee. I will kill only the king 3 and will bring the entire army back to you. In exchange for the life of the man you are seeking, you will get back everyone. The entire army will return unharmed.”
4 This seemed like a good idea to Absalom and to all the leaders of Israel. 5 But Absalom said, “Call for Hushai the Arkite, and let’s hear what he has to say.” 6 So Hushai came to Absalom. Absalom said to him, “Here is what Ahithophel has advised. Should we follow his advice? If not, what would you recommend?”
7 Hushai replied to Absalom, “Ahithophel’s advice is not sound this time.” 8 Hushai went on to say, “You know your father and his men—they are soldiers and are as dangerous as a bear out in the wild that has been robbed of her cubs. Your father is an experienced soldier; he will not stay overnight with the army. 9 At this very moment he is hiding out in one of the caves or in some other similar place. If it should turn out that he attacks our troops first, whoever hears about it will say, ‘Absalom’s army has been slaughtered!’ 10 If that happens even the bravest soldier—one who is lion-hearted—will virtually melt away. For all Israel knows that your father is a warrior and that those who are with him are brave. 11 My advice therefore is this: Let all Israel from Dan to Beer Sheba—in number like the sand by the sea—be mustered to you, and you lead them personally into battle. 12 We will come against him wherever he happens to be found. We will descend on him like the dew falls on the ground. Neither he nor any of the men who are with him will be spared alive—not one of them! 13 If he regroups in a city, all Israel will take up ropes to that city and drag it down to the valley, so that not a single pebble will be left there!”
14 Then Absalom and all the men of Israel said, “The advice of Hushai the Arkite sounds better than the advice of Ahithophel.” Now the Lord had decided to frustrate the sound advice of Ahithophel, so that the Lord could bring disaster on Absalom.
15 Then Hushai reported to Zadok and Abiathar the priests, “Here is what Ahithophel has advised Absalom and the leaders of Israel to do, and here is what I have advised. 16 Now send word quickly to David and warn him, “Don’t spend the night at the fords of the wilderness tonight. Instead, be sure you cross over, or else the king and everyone who is with him may be overwhelmed.”
17 Now Jonathan and Ahimaaz were staying in En Rogel. A female servant would go and inform them, and they would then go and inform King David. It was not advisable for them to be seen going into the city. 18 But a young man saw them on one occasion and informed Absalom. So the two of them quickly departed and went to the house of a man in Bahurim. There was a well in his courtyard, and they got down in it. 19 His wife then took the covering and spread it over the top of the well and scattered some grain over it. No one was aware of what she had done.
20 When the servants of Absalom approached the woman at her home, they asked, “Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?” The woman replied to them, “They crossed over the stream.” Absalom’s men searched but did not find them, so they returned to Jerusalem.
21 After the men had left, Ahimaaz and Jonathan climbed out of the well. Then they left and informed King David. They advised David, “Get up and cross the stream quickly, for Ahithophel has devised a plan to catch you.” 22 So David and all the people who were with him got up and crossed the Jordan River. By dawn there was not one person left who had not crossed the Jordan.
23 When Ahithophel realized that his advice had not been followed, he saddled his donkey and returned to his house in his hometown. After setting his household in order, he hanged himself. So he died and was buried in the grave of his father.
24 Meanwhile David had gone to Mahanaim, while Absalom and all the men of Israel had crossed the Jordan River. 25 Absalom had made Amasa general in command of the army in place of Joab. (Now Amasa was the son of an Israelite man named Jether, who had married Abigail the daughter of Nahash and sister of Zeruiah, Joab’s mother.) 26 The army of Israel and Absalom camped in the land of Gilead.
27 When David came to Mahanaim, Shobi the son of Nahash from Rabbah of the Ammonites, Makir the son of Ammiel from Lo Debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim 28 brought bedding, basins, and pottery utensils. They also brought food for David and all who were with him, including wheat, barley, flour, roasted grain, beans, lentils, 29 honey, curds, flocks, and cheese. For they said, “The people are no doubt hungry, tired, and thirsty there in the desert.”