Absalom assumes royal state

1 And it came to pass after this, that Absalom [ Avshalom] prepared him chariots and horses [merkavah and susim], and 50 men [ish] to run before him.

The preparation of chariots and horses was the presentation of royal dignity; the similar action of Adonijah when he contemplated usurping the throne (cp. 1Kings 1:5). The appearance of the lordly and handsome Absalom, in kingly dignity, preceded by fifty runners, travelling slowly in a chariot, became a familiar sight in Israel. His handsome appearance and condescending manner won the hearts of the people who are ever ready to respond to such public displays of pomp and fleshly glory. *

4 [Avshalom] said moreover, Oh that I were made judge [Shofet] in the land, that every man [ish] which hath any suit or cause [riv or mishpat] might come unto me, and I would do [bring] him justice!

The sword has commenced to inflict David's family, as was forecast at the time of his trespass with Bathsheba. The saddest experience arguably, was the time of his son's conspiracy. Absalom set himself to betray his father's confidence and undermine his influence. Having been restored to royal favour after his murder of his half-brother Amnon, Absalom now meditated seizing the throne.

With the murder of Amnon, he was now the eldest son, and normally heir to the throne, but perhaps he had heard that he would be superseded by the fifth son of Bathsheba (cp. 1Chr. 22:9). *

6 And on this manner did [Avshalom] to all Israel [kol Yisroel] that came to the king for judgment [HaMelech for mishpat]: so [Avshalom] stole the hearts of the men of Israel [lev anshei Yisroel].

No day in the Old Testament is so minutely described as the flight of the exiled David. It is equalled only by the events describing the day Christ died, rejected by the very nation he had come to save. We have in David a sad vicissitude of human affairs, and a fearful proof of their instability. The greatest king who ever lived, a profound politician, an able general, the hero and deliverer of his people, is rejected and repudiated by a fickle public for a vain and cowardly upstart.

* GEM - www.logos.org.au

21 And Ittai answered the king, and said, As Yahweh liveth, and as my lord the king liveth, surely in what place my lord the king shall be, whether in death or life, even there also will thy servant be.

The events connected with Absalom, tragic though they were, were not without a purpose; and even a certain amount of comfort, for David. The truest depths of friendship are only experienced in adversity; and the loyalty of Ittai the Gittite, and the faithful kindness of Barzillai the Gileadite, would go far toward bearing David up against the infidelity of his son. We are so constituted, in the mercy of God, that sorrow will add a keenness to the comfort of common blessings that are only shallowly appreciated in times of ease.

And the occasion, too, made possible one incident which, while galling at the time, brought out the underlying nobility and gentleness of David's character and would give him much satisfaction later as a bitter trial faithfully and commendably borne. That was the cursing of Shimei of the house of Saul, who viciously taunted David as he fled from Absalom, and insolently stoned him. When Abishai desired permission to destroy him, David said --

"Behold, my son -- which came forth of my bowels -- seeketh my life. How much more now may this Benjamite do it? Let him alone, and let him curse; for the Lord hath bidden him. It may be that the Lord will look on mine affliction, and the Lord will requite me good for his cursing this day."

Weak and human though he was in many respects, he was at heart in full harmony with the mind of God. He realized that these trials were a necessary chastening from God to tame his unruly desires, and that the better he endured them, the shorter they would have to be.

As we look back, David seems to stand out apart from all others in the history of Israel. Moses truly is a far more majestic and awe-inspiring figure; Abraham exemplifies the nobility of a patient, enduring faith through a long and weary pilgrimage; but it is into the heart of David that we enter most closely. His life seems crowded with every variety of experience, and ranges from the purest God-fearing courage of his youthful encounter with Goliath to the ugly depths of adultery and murder.

His life was a battle between the highest and most intimate spiritual conceptions of God on the one hand, and all the strong currents of human nature on the other. That he repeatedly failed is true, but what is far more important is that he freely and humbly recognized his failures and continued to press on, accepting every form of tribulation with unresentful resignation.

Bro Growcott - The sword shall never depart