2 Samuel 14-18
(Absalom's Rebellion)
April 4th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

An informant came to David with the report, ďThe Israelites have given their hearts to Absalom, and they are following him.Ē

-2 Samuel 15:13 (NAB)

Summary of Chapters

In this group of chapters Absalom gathers an army, rebels against his father, David, and temporarily becomes king. Davidís army, led by Joab, defeats Absalom and reclaims Jerusalem and the entire kingdom.

When the story begins Absalom is living in Geshur because he had killed his half-brother, Ammon, who had raped his sister Tamar. Joab employs an eloquent woman to convince King David to request the return of Absalom:

    Then the woman said, Let thine handmaid, I pray thee, speak one word unto my lord the king. And he said, Say on.

    And the woman said, Wherefore then hast thou thought such a thing against the people of God? for the king doth speak this thing as one which is faulty, in that the king doth not fetch home again his banished.

    For we must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again; neither doth God respect any person: yet doth he devise means, that his banished be not expelled from him.

    - 2 Samuel 14:12-14 (KJV)

David eventually sees that Joab had sent this woman, but he agrees to her proposal and Joab personally brings Absalom back. It must have been an awkward situation for all involved. David never punished Absalom, but never wished to see him either. Joab also had given him the cold shoulder. While he was being ignored Absalom hatched a coup and made himself king of Israel. David fled in advance of the the coup in order to avoid bloodshed and the ruin of Jerusalem.

David sent a spy to work among Absalomís advisors, and eventually created a scenario where Absalom could be defeated. When Joab found Absalom hanging in a tree he killed him, despite orders from David not to do so. When David heard the news he wept and was physically shaken, even though Absalom had turned against him.

Reflection and Application

The rebellion is a consequence of Davidís sin and his failure to discipline Ammon and Absalom for their sins. We can learn from Davidís mistakes that itís better to correct children early than to let them go on unchecked. We can also seek to avoid giving others the silent treatment as David and Joab did to Abasalom. If they had a beef with him they should have addressed it directly instead of ignoring him. This treatment may not have been the only reason that Absalom rebelled but it must have been a contributing factor.

How do you think David felt when he learned that his own son had turned against him? His complete reaction is not recorded in 2 Samuel, but if we peek ahead to the Psalms we can get a glimpse of his feelings. For example, in Psalm 55, which is presumed to have been written after David fled Jerusalem:

    Listen to my prayer, O God,
       do not ignore my plea;
      hear me and answer me.
    My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught
      because of what my enemy is saying,
      because of the threats of the wicked;
    for they bring down suffering on me
      and assail me in their anger.

    - Psalm 55 1-3

In this Psalm David expresses his pain but also indicates trust in the LORD to resolve the situation by vindicating him and punishing his enemies who deceive people with their smooth talk. David had many flaws, but he knew that all rebellions against Godís plan eventually fail. This fact holds true today. God eventually wins against evil. He will thwart any plans that we have to rebel against him. He will continue to love us even when we fight against him, and will try to bring us back in his fold without harming us, just as David wanted to bring back Absalom alive.

Absalom ended up losing his life while hanging from a tree, as did another descendent of David 1,000 years later. It doesnít have to end up that way for us, thanks to that man who allowed himself to be nailed to a cross. He has taken on our sins and has shown us the way to his father. We donít need to rebel.

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What situations can you remember where you were invited somewhere and then ignored?
    2. How can we ensure that those around us are not ignored in the way that Abslom was?
    3. What role have you had in the rebellion against God? Have you led a contingent of troops against him? Were you a foot soldier just following orders or a spy in the enemy camp working for God? Or was it some other role?
    Recommended Prayer
    Father in heaven, we acknowledge you as our leader. Help us to follow you with fidelity and not rebel.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: 2 Samuel 19-20 (Shebaís Rebellion)

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