It seems like once David is back in power that he has to consolidate his forces because he has a bunch of outliers who want to seize power. A sign of indiscipline is a group of people who think they can fill the vacuum that the king left or is leaving. So, David has all these nations line up asking for forgiveness and kissing his ring, except he also has the likes of Sheba who thinks he can take advantage of the times and jump into power. David in the end pursues him and his head is thrown over a wall.
Look at vs.3 where we find David getting home and putting his concubines in a room and locking them up, as if they were widows, until they all died. I guess this is because Absalom had followed the counselors advice and slept with them as a sign of conquest and a sign that he was the one who was in power. David couldn't get past that and so locked them up and they died like widows. David, once again, was a serial sinner, but Scripture kind of presents this is as somewhat common place.
Joab killing Amasa who delayed in getting the troops that David needed, is a pretty classic tale since we read that his entrails poured out on the ground. Vs.12 gives us Amasa wallowing in his blood in the highway and it was creating a real pile up as people were more interested in his death than pursuing the enemies of David. I wonder if this is where the term rubbernecking came from...
Now that David has won his victory you see all of the nations who had turned their backs on him, even the one who had cursed him and his troops out as they passed him by, all come and ask for forgiveness and promise their allegiance to him. What would you do? If your family, your friends, your neighbors, those in your church, at your work, all turned their backs on you and basically said that you deserve whatever you get and we aren't going to help you. Somehow you crawl out of your hole and now you find yourself on top and each of those people come back to you and want to be on your good side again. What would you do?
I'll tell you what David did. He said, come on back, absolutely no hard feelings. We were all in a sensitive place and we never could know what would happen. Now Joab scolded David because he was weeping over Absalom to the point where they were feeling that if Absalom had survived but all of his troops had perished then David may have been happier. That isn't great for morale. So David goes out and publicly thanks the troops and gives them encouragement that he is not only on their side but also their leader.
At that point all of those who turned their back on David come and greet him. Now all those who had been with him all along ask him if it is right that the people who turned their backs on him should claim him since they were the ones who were by his side all along. Jealousy goes a long way for those who were alongside the king for all this time. What a great lesson in not being upset when other people get things that you don't feel like they deserve. Just be grateful for the blessings that come your way, and celebrate the blessings that other people receive.
This is the second time that we see David weep over his enemies, even if his enemies were the previous king, Saul, and his own son, Absalom. He tells everyone publicly that they are to deal kindly with Absalom. But remember Joab had a history with Absalom and it wasn't a good one. Joab was basically forced out and here we find him as one of the primary generals for David.
When they find Absalom hanging from a tree, a pretty funny image as you see his donkey walking without a care and without a passenger, then 10 young men slaughter him. This is so that no one person would be blamed for his death. It was not just the sword of Joab that caused the death, although it probably was. Joab had learned his lesson from those who had killed the ones chosen by the Lord and so in turn David had turned and killed those who brought the news and who had raised their hand against the chosen ones of the Lord.
The battle ended up being a slaughter and David once again is the victor. But his victory is a bitter one as he also ends up losing his son in the process. But hey, he still has a multitude of sons from his many wives from which to choose. Absalom was a trouble maker anyway as we saw.
We find ourselves with David on the run and Absalom trying to figure out how best to defeat David. Keep in mind this is a son going after his father. His primary counsel told the now king to pursue David right away and to take David out and then the remaining troops would come home with their tail between their legs and swear allegiance to Absalom. He likes that advice, but asked another counselor for a second opinion. He gave different advice. He said to gather all of Israel and that Absalom should be the one to pursue him and then publicly kill David so that forever the people would be tied to him. Absalom actually like that even better.
The one who had given the first advice and who was used to being listened to, packed up his belongings, got on a donkey, went home, and killed himself. He no longer felt needed. The one who gave the new king advice was actually on David's side and so David was warned of what was going to happen next.
You can palpably feel a build up of what is going to take place and you have to know that it doesn't bode well for Absalom. If you didn't know that then all you would need to do is look at vs.14 where we read that:" the Lord had ordained to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, so that the Lord might bring ruin on Absalom." You have a sense that ruin is about to fall on Absalom as he pursues his father to grab all the power he could.
Absalom, David's son, comes and takes over Jerusalem while David is fleeing Jerusalem and mocked by a someone who was allied with Saul. While David is being cursed by this man as he makes his way toward the Jordan, Absalom takes over the the throne. But Absalom not only takes over the throne but also takes over the counsel of David as well. The head counselor, Ahithophel, swears his allegiance to Absalom and the new king asks for wisdom. So, now what should I do.
Do you notice the first piece of advice that the head counselor gives the new king? Go in and have your way with the 10 concubines that David left behind. This way the people of Israel will really know that you are in charge. It is very interesting advice from a man of God. In fact, we read later on that this voice, the voice of Ahithophel who just gave this tawdry advice, was seen as the voice of God. Absalom follows his advice to a tea.
I'm a little surprised by David's reaction to the conspiracy of Absalom. So, once again we see that Absalom really is a trouble maker. After 4 years he asks that he would be able to go to Hebron to worship God there. David gives him permission. Now, Absalom had set the stage by standing in front of the gates and greeting everyone who entered with an embrace and a statement that he really should be made the one who judges over the affair of people. The Scripture states that the people really liked that and really liked him.
As he made his way to Hebron he got the military behind him and David's primary counselor on his side. He was to sound the trumpet which was supposed to proclaim that Absalom was being crowned king. When David hears it he flees Jerusalem afraid that the masses would turn on him and support Absalom. Those with David carried the ark of the covenant out of Jerusalem to go with David, but David told them to take it back to Jerusalem.
We see a bit of a loyalty to the position which was instilled by God in David's actions. Remember with Saul he refused to harm him because he was the king's anointed. I think in this instance he may have wondered if God had removed him from power and so didn't want to go against God's will. Let's see where this takes us. I am not going to take any rash actions, but I am going to wait and see if God's plans are revealed to me more fully. Maybe I'm not supposed to be king anymore. I don't want to get in the way of God's plans.
King David often seems to find himself in situations where people accuse him of wrongdoings but they do so in parable form. Here an ally of Absalom lines up a woman to ask for a ruling from King David, which in turn would actually be a ruling against him. David is once against convicted of his sin just as he was in regards to Bathsheba and with the census later on. As a result Absalom is allowed to return back into the fold. But as soon as he returns into the fold, or at least two years after he returns to the fold, he starts up trouble.
He burns the fields of the person who got him accepted by David, Joab, because he refused to answer when he called him. As a result it actually worked! Absalom is called before David and David kisses him as sign of being accepted. If you look at vs.25 it is a bit curious that he is described as "beautiful... from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head." Don't forget Absalom's daughter Tamar. She will come into the story a little later on.
Absalom becomes a protagonist and Amnon becomes a villain. We find the latter absolutely smitten by his sister and will not rest until he is able to rape her. He does. I'm sorry, but there is a lot of this in David's family. Do you notice that it just might be a genetic thing where David's family thinks that they are somehow entitled to do anything that they want to whomever they want, including the women who say no, this is not what I want.
I remain encouraged that we live in a time where more and more it is not normal for women to be treated in this way. We still do not see complementarity and there is still a double standard which does not affect the man as much as the women, but the awareness of this injustice and the ability for many people in society now to see it as such, is a huge change from where we were even 10 years ago. But as we read this chapter we see that women continued to be treated as property who were not able to express their own desires and wishes.
Good for Absalom in sticking up for his sister, even if it did cause him to go into exile for 3 years. Notice that David is more upset with the absence of Absalom than he is with the action of Absalom in killing his brother. David was distraught because he got fake news that all of his sons were dead. Not sure if that was done to kind of soften the news that only one of his sons were dead. In any case we find ourselves at the end of this chapter with all of the sons intact except for Amnon. Notice that the other kings are weeping. I think the reason for this is that they are terrified of Absalom and want to make sure that they are protected by their father from Absalom. No one really put together that this was a single concentrated action against one brother who had done another family member wrong.
A lot happens in this chapter and most of it is not related. Remember, David rapes Bathsheba and kills her husband. Chapter 12 begins with the very simple statement that this did not please the Lord. So God uses David's prophet, Nathan, to not only accuse him and tell him of his punishment, but also to tell him the story. Jesus teaches consistently in parables and here we find Nathan doing the same. He sets David up to fire him up about someone who takes advantage of a poor little lamb. David tells Nathan that the owner of the lamb who was wronged should be paid double.
That would be nice if the owner were alive, but Uriah was killed. Nathan accuses David and David takes it. I mean, he doesn't try to justify it or even say that it didn't happen, but rather states that he had sinned against the Lord. Nathan tells David, that's okay, you won't die, but you will be punished. This is crucial. David still is punished even though he confesses and says, for all intents and purposes, that he was sorry. The punishment is not insignificant. The child who was born of this rape will be killed. And sure enough, it happens.
Next step is that another child is conceived and born from David and Bathsheba and that is the famous Solomon. Already early on we read in vs. 24 that "the Lord loved him." David wins a crown in the next verses and the chapter ends. What drama there is in this chapter. But keep in mind that each step leads us to a recognition that while David is King, God is in charge. That would be a good thing for leaders to remember.
We find ourselves in the chapter that is probably best known in II Samuel. David rapes Bathsheba. We find that she is the grandaughter of Ahithophel, one of David's most trusted advisers. She is married to one of his best soldiers, Uriah, who served under Joab who comes up constantly as the leader of David's army. I would think that when David commands Joab to basically kill Uriah (draw away from him in battle), that he would not have been pleased at all. I can't imagine that happening to a commander today. He probably would have had something to say about it. But Joab's loyalty is without question.
Apparently also is Uriah's loyalty as he refused to spend time with his wife while the rest of his men are on the battle field sleeping out in the open. David's plan doesn't materialize and so he is left with not only the rape of Bathsheba, but also with the murder of her husband. She joins David's household once her time of mourning was completed. She was, after all, pregnant with the king's child.
Notice that what puts David into action is her message that she was pregnant. She knew that if Uriah came home and there was a baby it would have been obvious that the baby was not his. But why would David care as king? Bathsheba could have dealt with that issue on her own. There are two ways to think about this: 1 ) David was afraid of Uriah and was concerned that Bathsheba would tell him that the baby was the king's and then he would have to deal with Uriah, or 2) he actually loved Bathsheba to the point where he wanted to help cover for her so that she would not get the wrath of her husband when it was discovered that she had a baby out of wedlock.
Regardless in all of this the decision making is completely out of the hands of the one who was the victim.