David’s declining strength is evident from the outset today as Absalom begins mounting an insurgency right under his nose. For four years, Absalom aligns himself with the disgruntled and disenchanted in the land, then recruits them to Hebron to anoint him king. David is warned of the conspiracy, and he commands his family and court to flee Jerusalem.
Much of these chapters is devoted to David’s flight, so there might be something significant or emblematic going on here. The author recounts the people who came to greet him, to pledge their allegiance to him, and even to heap scorn on him. There is Hushai, the loyal adviser who has yet a part to play. Ziba, who bears ill news of his master, Mephibosheth. Six hundred Gittites, who had followed David from Gath decades before. Abiathar, and Zadok, bearing the Ark of God.
Listen also for the emotional toll of this moment on the king. He weeps when summitting the Mount of Olives, barefoot and with his head covered. He tells Abiathar to return the Ark to Jerusalem, for if the LORD says, “’I have no pleasure in you,’ behold, here I am, let Him do to me what seems good to Him.” And when Shimei, a man of the family of the house of Saul heaps abuse on him, David does not respond except to hope “that the LORD will look on the wrong done to me, and that the LORD will repay me with good for his cursing today.”
Yesterday’s reading ended with Absalom entering Jerusalem as a distrustful fugitive; today he enters as king. Not content simply to possess his father’s throne, he aims to show that he has “made himself a stench to his father,” pitching a tent on the palace roof for he and David’s concubines in the sight of all Israel.
Now think back to when this descent for David’s family started, in chapter 11 – on this very same roof.
Our verse for this week is John 14:6: “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
2 Samuel chapters 15 and 16. Now let’s read it!
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.