Now in all Israel there was no one so much to be praised for his handsome appearance as Absalom. From the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him. 26 And when he cut the hair of his head (for at the end of every year he used to cut it; when it was heavy on him, he cut it), he weighed the hair of his head, two hundred shekels by the king's weight. 27 There were born to Absalom three sons, and one daughter whose name was Tamar. She was a beautiful woman.
Absalom was very handsome and kept his hair thick and long to show off his beauty. He felt entitled. Two years had gone by and he had not been allowed in David’s presence. He decided it was time his banishment ended and called for Joab to talk to him. But Joab, being loyal to David didn’t come. He tried again but again Joab didn’t come. So what did Absalom do to get the attention of the man who was responsible for allowing him to come back home again? He set Joab’s fields on fire.
Now Joab responded. 2 Samuel 14:31-33 tell what happened.
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.’” 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.
Absalom saw it as no big deal to set Joab’s fields on fire. It makes you wonder if he saw the big deal in killing his brother. But he was allowed into David’s presence because he was willing to let the king kill him. But Absalom knew his father would not have him killed. The arrogant man assumed he could talk him out of it if David did decide to kill him.
Absalom’s pride and narcissism grew even more. He still held a grudge against David for not punishing Amnon for Tamar’s rape. He would not let it go. Absalom decided he ought to be king and he began working toward that end. 2 Samuel 15 continues the story. Absalom got himself a chariot and fifty horses to lead it. He would set himself up in front of the gate each day and any person who was coming to present a dispute before David would see him first. He would make judgements on each dispute before the party could go to David. So all of Israel admired Absalom and he won their hearts.
Four years passed and Absalom was ready to move to the next part of his plot. He asked permission to make an offering to the LORD at Hebron and it was granted. Verses 10-12 read,
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 the Gilonite, David's counselor, from his city Giloh. And the conspiracy grew strong, and the people with Absalom kept increasing.
David quickly realized that his son had become his enemy and he fled. He fled not only to save his life but to save the city from war. But David did not go alone. Verses 15-23 read,
And the king's servants said to the king, “Behold, your servants are ready to do whatever my lord the king decides.” 16 So the king went out, and all his household after him. And the king left ten concubines to keep the house. 17 And the king went out, and all the people after him. And they halted at the last house.
18 And all his servants passed by him, and all the Cherethites, and all the Pelethites, and all the six hundred Gittites who had followed him from Gath, passed on before the king. 19 Then the king said to Ittai the Gittite, “Why do you also go with us? Go back and stay with the king, for you are a foreigner and also an exile from your home. 20 You came only yesterday, and shall I today make you wander about with us, since I go I know not where? Go back and take your brothers with you, and may the Lord show steadfast love and faithfulness to you.” 21 But Ittai answered the king, “As the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king shall be, whether for death or for life, there also will your servant be.” 22 And David said to Ittai, “Go then, pass on.” So Ittai the Gittite passed on with all his men and all the little ones who were with him. 23 And all the land wept aloud as all the people passed by, and the king crossed the brook Kidron, and all the people passed on toward the wilderness.
David had done so many great things for Israel and his people, yet he did not presume anyone should be loyal to him. Even though he was the king, David did not feel entitled. He was broken-hearted at the situation with his son. Verses 30-31 read,
But David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, barefoot and with his head covered. And all the people who were with him covered their heads, and they went up, weeping as they went. 31 And it was told David, “Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.” And David said, “O Lord, please turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.”
David turned to God first and then planted his spies into Absalom’s house. Hushai would work with Zadock and Abiathar the priests to keep David abreast on Absalom’s plans and ensure that the counsel he received was not wise.
David remained loyal to his vows, friends, and subjects but even the ones whom he treated especially well did not always remain faithful to him. They longed for power and self-exaltation. David longed to glorify the LORD.
We continue reading in 2 Samuel 16. Ziba, Mephibosheth’s servant brought David donkey’s, bread, raisins, and wine to help David and his people in the wilderness. David asked about Mephibosheth’s whereabouts and Ziba answered, ““Behold, he remains in Jerusalem, for he said, ‘Today the house of Israel will give me back the kingdom of my father.’” (Verse 3). Can you imagine? David had treated Jonathan’s son as his own, let him eat at his table, and gave him land and fields, and still all he wanted was to be king instead of David. So David rewarded Ziba by giving him everything that had belonged to Mephibosheth.
There were many people who sought bad for David. David trusted God. He was hurt by those he had counted as close turning their backs but he didn’t worry that God would not keep him. Verses 5-14 in The Message read,
When the king got to Bahurim, a man appeared who had connections with Saul’s family. His name was Shimei son of Gera. As he followed along he shouted insults and threw rocks right and left at David and his company, servants and soldiers alike. To the accompaniment of curses he shouted, “Get lost, get lost, you butcher, you hellhound! God has paid you back for all your dirty work in the family of Saul and for stealing his kingdom. God has given the kingdom to your son Absalom. Look at you now—ruined! And good riddance, you pathetic old man!”
9 Abishai son of Zeruiah said, “This mangy dog can’t insult my master the king this way—let me go over and cut off his head!”
10 But the king said, “Why are you sons of Zeruiah always interfering and getting in the way? If he’s cursing, it’s because God told him, ‘Curse David.’ So who dares raise questions?”
11-12 “Besides,” continued David to Abishai and the rest of his servants, “my own son, my flesh and bone, is right now trying to kill me; compared to that this Benjaminite is small potatoes. Don’t bother with him; let him curse; he’s preaching God’s word to me. And who knows, maybe God will see the trouble I’m in today and exchange the curses for something good.”
13 David and his men went on down the road, while Shimei followed along on the ridge of the hill alongside, cursing, throwing stones down on them, and kicking up dirt.
14 By the time they reached the Jordan River, David and all the men of the company were exhausted. There they rested and were revived.
It was during this time, that David wrote Psalm 3. Many people could go against David but he knew God was with him.
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[a]
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
David put his faith in God, that allowed him to be faithful to others. He didn’t have to worry about people being disloyal because only God’s faithfulness mattered. If God was with David, what relevance could thousands of enemies hold?
Believer, I have been in situations where it seemed the entire world was against me, wishing bad for me, and even doing all they could to make bad things happen. But when the bad stuff happened, when I felt all alone, and when their evil words tried to pour over me, I turned to God, my Shield, my Sovereign, and my Sustainer. He worked good out of what others meant for bad. He gave me a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that I may be called an oak of righteousness, and the planting of the Lord, all for God’s glory (Isaiah 61:3). He does the same for you. Trust that God is Faithful and True.