The Promised Land “reflections” 29
S a m u e l .. King David 1
2 Samuel 13:1 to 15:37
People often remark on the decadence and immorality evident in society at large today. A situation which appears to get worse with time. Then, as we ‘reflect’ on the Scripture passage today, we might identify with “The preacher” who wrote in Ecclesiastes 1:9 “There is nothing new under the sun”.
The events described in our study passage are unseemly. There doesn’t appear to be much by way of encouragement … and yet, it is a passage filled with lessons to be learned. And those lessons can only be learned by those willing to be honest with themselves. The specifics are graphically described. Mercifully, very few of us encounter such experiences in our lifetime. But the principles of behaviour are symptomatic of many other comparable situations, and provide a warning regarding consequential outcomes. In this situation, for King David, ‘catastrophic’ appears to be an apt description. Envy, jealousy, malice, and pride. Throw in a case of incestuous rape, followed by malicious rejection, and it’s hard to imagine a more volatile and poisonous mixture. So let’s look at what we can learn from this.
David became King in Hebron at the age of 30 years. He lived there for about 7 1/2 years, during which time he had six sons. First Amnon, followed by Daniel, then Absalom, Adonijah, Shephatia and Ithream. Each one with a different mother. Absalom also had a sister Tamar, but we are not told exactly when she was born, but assume her to be much younger. She certainly was a granddaughter of the king Talmai of Geshur. These are the principal people concerned in the events we ‘reflect’ upon this week. David had many other children after he moved to Jerusalem, where he reigned for a further 33 years.
Now here is a lesson that we can learn. Is it possible that King David, that ‘man after God’s own heart’, could have taken his relationship with God for granted? Could he have become complacent in that relationship? Because the consequences of his action were catastrophic, and bore grave consequences for others. It would be naive to think that the ‘sin of David’ on which we ‘reflected’ last week was not widely known. It is also reasonable to consider that, such was the horror and enormity of it, that David’s standing was diminished as a result. In the words of Nathan “the enemies of the Lord had been given great occasion to blaspheme” … and some of those ‘enemies’ were evidently to be found within David’s own family. I speculate that they were emboldened to take license where previously they would not have. And of one thing we may be sure, where a weakness appears, so does Satan, to exploit that weakness.
The first ‘victim’ was the innocent Tamar, the younger half sister of Amnon. He had a willing accomplice in David’s nephew, the scheming Jonadab. A family affair we might think. We know very little about Tamar after this, other than “she remained desolate in her brother Absolom’s house”, rather than have the life she might have anticipated as a daughter of the King. Appearing so soon in the narrative after David’s gross indiscretion, makes it impossible not to connect the two matters. And it didn’t end there. Remember the Lord had told David “the sword shall never depart from your house” (ch 12:10). Amnon’s brother Absolom, brooded over the matter for two full years before finding the occasion to have him killed. Not by his own hand directly, but by others, just as David had dealt with Uriah the husband of Bathsheba. This slaughter of Amnon was witnessed by “all the King’s sons”, who promptly fled the scene. That led to David being informed that ALL his sons had been killed. What anguish that caused him. In the event, the sons eventually returned to Jerusalem, but Absolom fled to Geshur, the home of his maternal grandfather, Talmai, where he remained for three years.
Are you getting the thread of the evil and discord which is unfolding as a direct result of the ‘sin of David’? For me, this adds to the important lesson of caution this narrative brings about behavioural requirements on those who belong to the Lord. And if it can happen in David’s life …..!
Joab, the commander of David’s army, was a complex character who seemed to have a great loyalty to David, but at the same time was not averse to being disobedient if he considered that to be in David’s best interest. David longed to be reunited with his favoured son Absolom, and Joab knew it. Thus it was that Joab concocted a scenario whereby he coached a lady from Tekoa to spin a tale to David which resulted in David authorising Joab to go to Geshur to bring Absolom back. However, on his return, Absolom did not meet his father David for some few years, during which time he grew resentful of his father and began a long plot of stealth and deceit to take over the kingdom. Eventually, David was persuaded that such an event was possible, so rather than engage in hostilities within the city of Jerusalem, he chose to leave altogether. This was an almost unthinkable situation when one considers the relationship David had enjoyed with the Lord. And yet, as we have noted, the consequences of David’s great sin, appear endless.
The detail in our passage today is worth reading in order to understand the way in which matters began to unravel, and how King David completely lost control of the situation. For any willing to learn, this provides the most solemn lesson of how important it is to “stay within the boundaries where God’s love can reach and protect us”. (Jude 21 Living Bible)