Sin has a price. That price must be paid. David had to deal with a great deal of sin. He was sinned against, his people were sinned against, and he himself sinned. But David was a man after God’s own heart and he coped with sin in the way his LORD wanted him to.
After the defeat of Absalom and his followers, David mourned his son so deeply that the people felt they could not celebrate the victory and the end of the terrible battle they had fought. Joab spoke to David and David listened, got himself together and took his place as king as he should. He then forgave the people who had followed Absalom. But there remained animosity between Israel, who had betrayed David and Judah who had remained loyal.
David, though showed no favoritism to Judah. He was a fair and forgiving king. He cared about the people and saw them as his responsibility. He forgave each person who penitently came to him. And he found out that with some such as Mephibosheth, he had been mistaken. Jonathan’s son had stayed behind in Jerusalem because Ziba had told him to. He had mourned the king’s absence the entire time (2 Samuel 19).
2 Samuel 20 tells us about some people were not so penitent. Sheba, who was a Benjamite like Saul decided the recent troubles were the perfect time to allow him to become king. He blew a trumpet and announced, “We have no portion in David, and we have no inheritance in the son of Jesse; every man to his tents, O Israel!” He appealed to Israel’s greed. What would they get out of following a Judahite? So Israel decided to follow Sheba and once again they rebelled. But Joab pursued and without a battle killed Sheba. Without David’s orders or consent, he also killed Amasa who had been Absalom’s general.
David had to deal with the concubines whom his son had defiled. He could no longer go to them. But concubines were not in God’s plan for him. They were an indulgence that was against God’s plan. David didn’t punish them but he couldn’t keep them as he had before. He set them up in a house and provided for them, but no longer went to them. They lived out their days as if they were widows. Although Absalom had defiled them, it was David who should not have had concubines in the first place. David repented of that sin and did what he could for his victims.
In 2 Samuel 21:1-14 David and Israel were faced with a famine. For three years the famine continued and year after year David asked The LORD about it. He answered David, “There is bloodguilt on Saul and on his house, because he put the Gibeonites to death.” The Gibeonites were Canaanites who tricked Joshua into allying with them instead of killing them (Joshua 9). Though they deceived Joshua, the pledge to align with them held. Saul had chosen to ignore the covenant and tried to conquer them. Israel was now paying for Saul’s sins. So David went to the Gibeonites in order to avenge them. Verses 3-6 read,
And David said to the Gibeonites, “What shall I do for you? And how shall I make atonement, that you may bless the heritage of the Lord?” 4 The Gibeonites said to him, “It is not a matter of silver or gold between us and Saul or his house; neither is it for us to put any man to death in Israel.” And he said, “What do you say that I shall do for you?” 5 They said to the king, “The man who consumed us and planned to destroy us, so that we should have no place in all the territory of Israel, 6 let seven of his sons be given to us, so that we may hang them before the Lord at Gibeah of Saul, the chosen of the Lord.” And the king said, “I will give them.”
I can’t imagine David’s sorrow. It seems there was something constantly against him, something constantly causing more deaths, and now he had to willingly let seven men die to save Israel and do what was right for the Gibeonites. It wasn’t his sin this time, it was Saul’s. Verses 7-9 tell us what happened next.
But the king spared Mephibosheth, the son of Saul's son Jonathan, because of the oath of theLord that was between them, between David and Jonathan the son of Saul. 8 The king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bore to Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Merab the daughter of Saul, whom she bore to Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite; 9 and he gave them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them on the mountain before the Lord, and the seven of them perished together. They were put to death in the first days of harvest, at the beginning of barley harvest.
Putting those men to death brought David no joy. But Saul had sinned and his descendants had to pay the debt he incurred. Does that seem unfair? God is Just and who are we to question Him? I have a feeling those seven men were not so innocent. Ezekiel 18:4 reads,
Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die.
Sin has a price and that price is death. Israel was The LORD’s chosen, but God loved the Gibeonites as well. They had been sinned against. Israel had to live up to who God was and that meant living up to the covenants they made. David lived up to his covenant with Jonathan and spared his son, Mephibosheth. He turned to the sons of two of Saul’s daughters Rizpah and Merab.
Rizpah watched her sons and nephews hang and mourned them, though she was careful not to interfere with the sentence and cause more death for other family members. She sat in mourning, watching the bodies and keeping scavengers away until rain finally fell. When David heard about it, he took the bodies of the seven men, plus Jonathan and Saul’s bones and gave them a proper burial, interring them in the family tomb in Zela.
Sin incurs debt and that debt must be paid. When those who had betrayed David went to remorsefully asked David for his forgiveness, he gave it. He reinstated positions and lands and gave others places in his army. Some refused to repent and they paid with death. All of Israel was paying for Saul’s sin until David obeyed God by sacrificing seven sons of Saul.
In God’s kingdom too, sin incurs a debt. That debt is death. Jesus, the only one who could, paid the price for all and we have to do accept that gift is repent, believe, and confess Jesus is Lord (1 John 2:2, Romans 10:9). But all around us, people are dying in their sin and paying the price. In John 4:35-38 Jesus said,
Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. 36 Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”
We are God’s chosen and like Israel had a duty to live up to God’s image, we have a responsibility to live up to the image of Christ. David did so as he pursued God’s heart. Though people sinned, even against him he forgave because he had been forgiven. Because David was a man after God’s own heart, he did all God’s will (Acts 3:22). Believer, are you doing all God’s will? Do you know that even the sins that seem to be directly against you are really against the LORD? He wants to forgive those sins not have those people suffer His wrath (2 Peter 3:9). Let us stand arm in arm with God and rejoice with Him over the harvest.
If you are reading with me daily, you know that we are reading about David’s life. Yesterday we read about how his son the conceited and proud Absalom has been conspiring to become Israel’s king. Today we pick up the tale in 2 Samuel 16:15-23. David and most of those loyal to him in his household had fled and Absalom entered Jerusalem to make himself sovereign. When he entered he met Hushai, David’s friend and servant whom David had asked to spy for him. Absalom was an intelligent man though not wise and said, “Is this how you demonstrate loyalty? Why aren’t you with your friend?” Hushai answered Absalom with wisdom, appealing to his ego. He said, “No, for whom the LORD and this people and all the men of Israel have chosen, his I will be, and with him I will remain. And again, whom should I serve? Should it not be his son? As I have served your father, so I will serve you.” (Verses 18-19). Hushai knew full well the LORD had chosen David. He said he would serve Absalom as he served David; he would continue to serve David while he served Absalom. Absalom accepted this because his self-important character chose to accept it and turned to his advisor Ahithophel, whom David and Hushai had prayed would give foolish counsel to Absalom. Verses 20-23 read,
Then Absalom said to Ahithophel, “Give your counsel. What shall we do?” 21 Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Go in to your father's concubines, whom he has left to keep the house, and all Israel will hear that you have made yourself a stench to your father, and the hands of all who are with you will be strengthened.” 22 So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the roof. And Absalom went in to his father's concubines in the sight of all Israel. 23 Now in those days the counsel that Ahithophel gave was as if one consulted the word of God; so was all the counsel of Ahithophel esteemed, both by David and by Absalom.
Absalom loved the fool-hardy idea! David liked the idea because it would show the people of Israel that Absalom was unworthy of being king, he was lustful, had no boundaries, and was disrespectful of anyone other than himself. 2 Samuel 17 continues with more of Ahithophel’s advice given in front of Hushai, David’s faithful friend. He said, “Let me handpick twelve thousand men and go after David tonight. I’ll come on him when he’s bone tired and take him by complete surprise. The whole army will run off and I’ll kill only David. Then I’ll bring the army back to you—a bride brought back to her husband! You’re only after one man, after all. Then everyone will be together in peace!” (Verses 1-3 The Message).
Ahithophel’s advice sounded good to Absalom because it appealed to his ego, it had a ring of “greater good” to it, and it even sounded a little godly. But it was not from The LORD, it was from Satan who hoped to destroy the Davidic line, in hopes of destroying the promise of the Messiah. But, not only couldn’t he do that, it was already too late; Solomon and Nathan Jesus’ ancestors had already been born. There is no way to stop God’s Word from accomplishing its purpose. God had promised the Messiah and He would eventually come.
Absalom asked Hushai what he thought of Ahithophel’s counsel and Hushai, knowing that the plan might work said, “That won’t work, David and his men are like hungry desperate bears, they’re experienced and they might ambush your valiant men and slaughter them. You’re better off to gather every man in Israel and you bravely lead them yourself. He won’t be able to hide anywhere! He nor any of his followers will survive.”
Verse 14 reads,
And Absalom and all the men of Israel said, “The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel.” For the Lord had ordained to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, so that the Lord might bring harm upon Absalom.
Hushai sent word to David via Zadok and Abiathar the priests to cross the river to keep Absalom’s army from drowning. You see, Hushai trusted God and knew that when the fight finally came, David would be victorious because the LORD was with him. Zadok and Abiathar got the message to Ahimaaz and Jonathan. But they were seen by one of Absalom’s men. Before they could get the message to David they would have to hide from him. They hid in the well of a woman who reported that they had gone on to the river. The next day they left the well and finally got the message to David and his men who all managed to safely cross the Jordan River and camped at Mahanaim. There Shobi son of Nahash from Ammonite Rabbah, and Makir son of Ammiel from Lo Debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim brought beds, blankets, food, and wine so that they could refresh and keep up their strength.
Ahithophel realized his advice had not been chosen. His ego was wounded and rather than face disgrace with Absalom, he killed himself. In the meantime, Absalom’s army also made it safely across the Jordan and camped at Gilead.
2 Samuel 18 continues the chronicle. David split his army into thirds to send them out to fight. He was going to lead them personally but the men warned him against the move. Verse 3 reads,
But the men said, “You shall not go out. For if we flee, they will not care about us. If half of us die, they will not care about us. But you are worth ten thousand of us. Therefore it is better that you send us help from the city.”
David heeded their advice and commanded his men to deal gently with Absalom, his son and everyone heard the order. The battle took place in the forest of Ephraim and David’s men won. The casualties were heavy though, twenty thousand men died in that battle. Absalom was not among those who had died. He rode his mule and his long thick hair got him into trouble. Verses 9-15 read,
And Absalom happened to meet the servants of David. Absalom was riding on his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a great oak, and his head caught fast in the oak, and he was suspended between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him went on. 10 And a certain man saw it and told Joab, “Behold, I saw Absalom hanging in an oak.”11 Joab said to the man who told him, “What, you saw him! Why then did you not strike him there to the ground? I would have been glad to give you ten pieces of silver and a belt.” 12 But the man said to Joab, “Even if I felt in my hand the weight of a thousand pieces of silver, I would not reach out my hand against the king's son, for in our hearing the king commanded you and Abishai and Ittai, ‘For my sake protect the young man Absalom.’13 On the other hand, if I had dealt treacherously against his life (and there is nothing hidden from the king), then you yourself would have stood aloof.” 14 Joab said, “I will not waste time like this with you.” And he took three javelins in his hand and thrust them into the heart of Absalom while he was still alive in the oak. 15 And ten young men, Joab's armor-bearers, surrounded Absalom and struck him and killed him.
That young man was wise. He knew he had been ordered not to harm Absalom and if he had Joab would have let him take the fall for it. No amount of money would be enough to go against David’s orders and die. Joab on the other hand chose revenge and anger over wisdom and obedience and put three javelins through the prince, then had his armor bearers finish him off. Joab blew the trumpet and called David’s army back from pursuing Absalom’s army. When Israel heard that shofar, they knew they had lost and all of them took off and hid in their homes.
Zadok’s son Ahimaaz could hardly wait to tell the king what had happened. He begged Joab to let him tell David the news. But Joab, knowing how upset David would be over Absalom’s death said, not today. Instead Joab sent a Cushite to tell David the battle had been won. But Ahimaaz continued to beg Joab for the opportunity to tell David and perhaps be rewarded for the news. He would not listen to Joab’s advise.Joab said, “Listen, you will not be rewarded but go on if you must.” He had sent the Cushite for that reason, because he knew that David would not see the good news of the defeat through the terrible news of his son’s death.
So Ahimaaz ran and even outran the Cushite to reach David. Verses 28-30 in The Message read,
Then Ahimaaz called out and said to the king, “Peace!” Then he bowed deeply before the king, his face to the ground. “Blessed be your God; he has handed over the men who rebelled against my master the king.”
29 The king asked, “But is the young man Absalom all right?”
Ahimaaz said, “I saw a huge ruckus just as Joab was sending me off, but I don’t know what it was about.”
30 The king said, “Step aside and stand over there.” So he stepped aside.
The Cushite arrived and delivered the news of David’s victory, but David said, “What about Absalom? How is he?”
The ignorant Cushite answered, “May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up against you for evil be like that young man.” (Verse 32).
David was heartbroken. He cried out, even wishing that he himself might have died instead of Absalom.
Absalom had taken bad advice from the beginning. He turned to people who would appeal to his self-importance and conceit. He asked people who looked for rewards and accolades for their guidance. Proverbs 13:20 says,
Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise,
but the companion of fools will suffer harm.
David turned to the LORD and to people who also turned to the LORD. The people who advised David were faithful to David and had his best interests, not theirs, in mind. Proverbs 27:9 reads,
Oil and perfume make the heart glad,
and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.
Believer, where are you getting your counsel? Are you turning to The Counselor and to friends who turn to Him? Are your friends true and unafraid to sometimes tell you what you may not want to hear or do they entreat your ego? Remember this,
Faithful are the wounds of a friend;
profuse are the kisses of an enemy. (Proverbs 27:6).
And do not forget,
A man of many companions may come to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24).
Believer, you do not need to turn to the world for wisdom; true wisdom comes only from God. He is indwelled in you and your fellow believers. Including the Lord in your relationships makes you all stronger and wiser. Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived knew the importance of true friends who all turn to The Counselor for their help. In Ecclesiastes 4:9-13, he wrote,
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. 13 Better was a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king who no longer knew how to take advice.
Today we will continue to read about David and Absalom. 2 Samuel 14:25-27 describe a little bit about Absalom.
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.
Yesterday we read about David’s sin with Bathsheba, his repentance and his punishment. The Lord forgave David, completely but he still had to deal with the curse (the consequences) of his sin. Our sins do not go without consequences. God forgives and though we must deal with the curse of sin, God will still bless us. The curse cannot overcome or win over God’s blessings, ever.
After David and Bathsheba’s son died, God blessed them by giving them. Solomon 2 Samuel 12:24-25 describes the special love the Lord had for Solomon.
Then David comforted his wife, Bathsheba, and went in to her and lay with her, and she bore a son, and he called his name Solomon. And the Lord loved him 25 and sent a message by Nathan the prophet. So he called his name Jedidiah, because of the LORD.
Jedidiah means beloved of the LORD. He was a special blessing for David and Bathsheba after losing their first son. God continued to bless David as He gave him the royal city of Ammon called Rabbah, the Ammonite crown, and eventually all of Ammon. But David’s sin had resulted in a curse 2 Samuel 12:10-12 records that curse.
“Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’11 Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. 12 For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.’”
Today we see some of that curse come to pass. 2 Samuel 13 records the tale of David’s son Amnon and his desire for his half-sister Tamar. Amnon’s cousin and close friend Jonadab came up with a plan and carried it out. Amnon pretended to be ill and asked David to send him Tamar to cook for him. She did as her father requested. When she made food for her brother, he refused to eat. He sent everyone out of the house and asked Tamar to feed him in his bedroom. But when she went in to do that, Amnon raped her. His lust became hatred and he sent his sister out of the house to live in shame. Verses 18-22 continue the account.
Now she was wearing a long robe with sleeves, for thus were the virgin daughters of the king dressed. So his servant put her out and bolted the door after her. 19 And Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the long robe that she wore. And she laid her hand on her head and went away, crying aloud as she went.
20 And her brother Absalom said to her, “Has Amnon your brother been with you? Now hold your peace, my sister. He is your brother; do not take this to heart.” So Tamar lived, a desolate woman, in her brother Absalom's house.21 When King David heard of all these things, he was very angry. 22 But Absalom spoke to Amnon neither good nor bad, for Absalom hated Amnon, because he had violated his sister Tamar.
Absalom was angry. He was furious with Amnon but since Amnon was the firstborn son, David would not punish him and so he was angry with his father as well. He repressed his fury as he plotted his revenge. Two years passed and Absalom saw his chance for vengeance. He was having the sheepshearers come and there would be a party to celebrate. He invited his family but David would not consent to having the entire family there. Absalom finally convinced David to let Amnon and the rest of his brothers and half-brothers attend.
When Amnon was drunk, Absalom commanded his servant kill his brother. The rest of his brothers saw it and fled for their lives. Absalom had not been able to kill his father but he had killed the man who raped and shamed his sister.
But the news that reached David was much different. He heard that every one of his sons had been killed. He was in agony, but his nephew Jonadab told him that only Amnon was dead and that Absalom had repaid him for Tamar’s rape. Verses 34-39 resume the story.
But Absalom fled. And the young man who kept the watch lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, many people were coming from the road behind him by the side of the mountain. 35 And Jonadab said to the king, “Behold, the king's sons have come; as your servant said, so it has come about.” 36 And as soon as he had finished speaking, behold, the king's sons came and lifted up their voice and wept. And the king also and all his servants wept very bitterly.
37 But Absalom fled and went to Talmai the son of Ammihud, king of Geshur. And David mourned for his son day after day. 38 So Absalom fled and went to Geshur, and was there three years. 39 And the spirit of the king longed to go out to Absalom, because he was comforted about Amnon, since he was dead.
David had lost Amnon and now he had lost Absalom. He longed to reunite with Absalom and tell him he was forgiven, but how could he? Absalom would be killed if he came back to Jerusalem. Joab saw David’s grief-stricken heart and wanted to help him. 2 Samuel 14 picks up the account. Joab got the help of a wise woman and told her to dress and behave like a mourning woman and told her what to say to the king. She told him a story about her two sons, one who killed the other exiled and threatened with death. Verses 11-17 reads,
Then she said, “Please let the king invoke the Lord your God, that the avenger of blood kill no more, and my son be not destroyed.” He said, “As the Lordlives, not one hair of your son shall fall to the ground.”
12 Then the woman said, “Please let your servant speak a word to my lord the king.” He said, “Speak.” 13 And the woman said, “Why then have you planned such a thing against the people of God? For in giving this decision the king convicts himself, inasmuch as the king does not bring his banished one home again. 14 We must all die; we are like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God will not take away life, and he devises means so that the banished one will not remain an outcast. 15 Now I have come to say this to my lord the king because the people have made me afraid, and your servant thought, ‘I will speak to the king; it may be that the king will perform the request of his servant. 16 For the king will hear and deliver his servant from the hand of the man who would destroy me and my son together from the heritage of God.’ 17 And your servant thought, ‘The word of my lord the king will set me at rest,’ for my lord the king is like the angel of God to discern good and evil. The Lord your God be with you!”
She began by reminding David of his power in God. David had the position and right to carry out God’s will and to make judgements and decisions in God’s name. David was moved by her story. He was also a very smart man and recognized Joab in her words and understood he could bring Absalom home again. As God had forgiven David, he could forgive his son as well.
David had to live the curse of his sin but he could overcome it through the LORD. God forgives. And David forgave as well. We have no right to withhold forgiveness from anyone considering all we were forgiven for. In Matthew 6:14-15 Jesus said it this way,
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Forgiveness overcomes the curse of sins. Jesus’ blood overcomes all sin and His Resurrection overcame death. We pursue God’s heart, we put on the new self which is the image of Christ and we will experience conquering the curse of our sins with the blessing of salvation in Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:55-58 reads,
When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
So David forgave Absalom and allowed him to come back to Jerusalem, though he was not allowed in the king’s presence. He still owed a debt of blood for Amnon. He himself had never asked for forgiveness or shown remorse for the murder of his brother. But he wanted to be in the household of the king again.
He didn’t want it because he longed to be with his father, he wanted it because he assumed he would been next in line to be king. He was vain and self-obsessed and wanted to live like a prince again. We will continue this thrilling chronicle tomorrow.
Today, remember that sin has consequences; the curse of sin is real. But Jesus overcame sin and death. His forgiveness is our blessing. Sin separated us from God, but forgiveness opens the way for us to be reconciled to Him. Repent, believe, and confess and we become the sons and daughters of the King of kings through the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38 reads,
And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
None of us is perfect nor can anyone of us say we do not sin. If that isn’t true for you, stop reading right now, this devotional isn’t for you. This devotional is for those of us who have stumbled, fallen short, or even turned away from the Lord.
David, though he was a man after God’s own heart, who did all of God’s will, also sinned. Sin can really throw us for a loop, especially the “big” ones. Those sins that affect other people, those sins that affect our entire lives, and those sins that could label us as just as evil as the rest of the world can stop our forward progression with Christ if we let them. It depends on our response to our sins. We’ll begin today reading in 2 Samuel 11. Verses 1-4 read,
In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.
2 It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king's house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. 3 And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” 4 So David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she had been purifying herself from her uncleanness.)
David, for whatever reason was denying part of who he was in God. Instead of leading his army in battle as was the norm for the spring, David was in Jerusalem. He was walking on his roof and there she was, this beautiful woman bathing and purifying herself. David was tempted. He could have gone inside and laid with one of his wives. He could have gone inside and written to Joab to find out how the battle was going. He could have embraced who he was as a mighty warrior and joined Joab in the battle. He had many doors out of the sin he was about to commit but he didn’t take the way out. He ordered her to come to him and she did.
Whenever we are tempted as David was, there is a way out. God will not let us be tempted beyond what we are able to withstand. He will always provide a way out of the situation so we won’t have to sin. 1 Corinthians 10:11-14 says,
Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.
We don’t have to sin; we can avoid it. But we all do anyway. We close our eyes to who we are in Christ. We close our eyes to the ways out. We give in to our flesh and satiate those desires, and we sin. But sin has consequences. Bathsheba, the woman David took found out she was pregnant. She sent a message to the king and now he was stuck. Her husband Uriah was at war and that meant he couldn’t be the father. He would find out what Bathsheba had done and might disgrace her and divorce her or even kill her. David panicked. He didn’t pray about it and ask God what to do. He came up with a plan. He called Uriah to him. Verses 8-13 record what happened.
Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” And Uriah went out of the king's house, and there followed him a present from the king. 9 But Uriah slept at the door of the king's house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house. 10 When they told David, “Uriah did not go down to his house,” David said to Uriah, “Have you not come from a journey? Why did you not go down to your house?” 11 Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah dwell in booths, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field. Shall I then go to my house, to eat and to drink and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing.” 12 Then David said to Uriah, “Remain here today also, and tomorrow I will send you back.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 And David invited him, and he ate in his presence and drank, so that he made him drunk. And in the evening he went out to lie on his couch with the servants of his lord, but he did not go down to his house.
David was desperate to have Uriah sleep with his wife so that he would assume the baby was his. But Uriah wouldn’t give himself that pleasure when the rest of the army couldn’t enjoy their homes and wives. Even drunk, Uriah did not go see Bathsheba. So David had to come up with something else to save Bathsheba and to keep his secret safe. He wrote a letter to Joab to put Uriah with the stronger more valiant men in the frontlines. Uriah was not the same caliber fighter as the men on the frontlines. His experience was further back. And so being less of a warrior, he was killed in battle.
Joab, perhaps didn’t know why David wanted Uriah dead but it was clear to him that he did. He, himself had murdered someone and when he sent his message to David letting him know how the battle went and that men had died with a postscript “and by the way Uriah died too” he let David know that his murderous plan had succeeded. Verses 26-27 read,
When the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she lamented over her husband. 27 And when the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.
David and Bathsheba’s reputations were safe. 2 Samuel 12 continues the harrowing tale. David had sinned and that sin had snowballed into more sin. David had lied, brought people into his lies, murdered a man, and spread the blood guilt to another person as well. David had stopped pursuing God’s heart. But God had not stopped pursuing David’s heart. God does not give up on us. He knows who we are truly meant to be, because He made us. He loves us deeply and so He will discipline us and bring us back to Himself. Proverbs 3:11-14 reads,
My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline
or be weary of his reproof,
12 for the Lord reproves him whom he loves,
as a father the son in whom he delights.
13 Blessed is the one who finds wisdom,
and the one who gets understanding,
14 for the gain from her is better than gain from silver
and her profit better than gold.
The Lord loves us and He disciplines those whom He loves. He disciplines because He wants our faith perfected, He wants us to be the image of Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:3). He wants us to know the joy of that profound unity with Him (Romans 6:5). Hebrews 12:10-11 says,
For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
So while David lived satisfying his flesh, God did not give up on Him. Verses 1-12 in The Message read,
1-3 and sent Nathan to David. Nathan said to him, “There were two men in the same city—one rich, the other poor. The rich man had huge flocks of sheep, herds of cattle. The poor man had nothing but one little female lamb, which he had bought and raised. It grew up with him and his children as a member of the family. It ate off his plate and drank from his cup and slept on his bed. It was like a daughter to him.
4 “One day a traveler dropped in on the rich man. He was too stingy to take an animal from his own herds or flocks to make a meal for his visitor, so he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared a meal to set before his guest.”
5-6 David exploded in anger. “As surely as God lives,” he said to Nathan, “the man who did this ought to be lynched! He must repay for the lamb four times over for his crime and his stinginess!”
7-12 “You’re the man!” said Nathan. “And here’s what God, the God of Israel, has to say to you: I made you king over Israel. I freed you from the fist of Saul. I gave you your master’s daughter and other wives to have and to hold. I gave you both Israel and Judah. And if that hadn’t been enough, I’d have gladly thrown in much more. So why have you treated the word of God with brazen contempt, doing this great evil? You murdered Uriah the Hittite, then took his wife as your wife. Worse, you killed him with an Ammonite sword! And now, because you treated God with such contempt and took Uriah the Hittite’s wife as your wife, killing and murder will continually plague your family. This is God speaking, remember! I’ll make trouble for you out of your own family. I’ll take your wives from right out in front of you. I’ll give them to some neighbor, and he’ll go to bed with them openly. You did your deed in secret; I’m doing mine with the whole country watching!”
David had been so wrapped up in his own desires that he had not even seen his sins. But when God showed it to him, he humbled himself and was convicted! And He immediately confessed and repented of his sins. Verses 13-15a read,
David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die.14 Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child who is born to you shall die.” 15 Then Nathan went to his house.
God forgave David, but He knew full well that His punishment had to stand. David and Bathsheba’s child would die. It is a horrible and severe penalty but God knew best. Verses 15b-20 continue the narrative.
And the Lord afflicted the child that Uriah's wife bore to David, and he became sick. 16 David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. 17 And the elders of his house stood beside him, to raise him from the ground, but he would not, nor did he eat food with them. 18 On the seventh day the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they said, “Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spoke to him, and he did not listen to us. How then can we say to him the child is dead? He may do himself some harm.” 19 But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David understood that the child was dead. And David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” They said, “He is dead.” 20 Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate.
David knew why the child was sick and he knew that the child’s death would be his penance. Yet he prayed hard that the Lord would let his beloved son live. But God did not change his mind. David’s servants couldn’t understand why David had lamented and fasted while the baby was alive and stopped at the baby’s death. So David explained in verses 22-23,
“While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ 23 But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”
When David stopped pursuing God and began chasing his own desires, God remained faithful, He did what David needed Him to do and brought Him back. 1 Corinthians 1:4-9 reads,
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— 6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
God loves you! He wants you to be blameless on the Day of Jesus Christ. He wants you to live up to the purpose He has for you. When we are faithless, He is faithful ( 2 Timothy 2:13). When we are weak, He is strong (2 Corinthians 12:9). He disciplines but never without a purpose. That purpose is your perfection and His glory. Being a man after God’s own heart meant that when David realized his sin, he was convicted. He didn’t wallow in guilt and shame. He confessed and repented and turned back to God. Being a person after God’s own heart means we too will confess and repent. Rather than flounder about in condemnation, we’ll turn back to the Lord and keep walking, keep letting Him perfect us, and keep glorifying Him.
As I read the Bible every day, I take what God teaches me, what He says, and write it out. I then share that with you. It gives me a deeper understanding of the Word and I hope that it will encourage you as it does me, to put your love and faith into action.