As we enter verse 10, we begin our study in the midst of Absalom’s political manipulation. His political clout is growing due to self-promotion and criticism of David’s lack of political delegation in certain areas of the kingdom. Under the guise of fulfilling a vow of worship to God, Absalom secures blessing from David to travel to Hebron…
10 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.
Vereses 10-12 tell the climax to Absalom’s political coup. After journeying safely out of David’s reach (20 miles), his “secret messengers” had established a set time for pronouncements to made throughout Israel that Absalom was anointed king in Hebron. Not only did Hebron offer the protection of distance, but the city was well fortified at this time by strong walls. The pronouncement of Absalom as king, would have also included a call to arms for those from whom he had support. Absalom further covers his bases by removing, at the time of his pronouncement, 200 influential leaders from Jerusalem. This weakens David’s ability to respond and also silences their possible support to King David. Verse 12 serves special interest. The narrative pauses to highlight the treason of Ahithophel, this could be because of his political influence within David’s monarchy, or because he was an important cog in the building of support for Absalom. Although Ahithophel’s motive for betrayal is not specifically listed, it is interesting to note that he is the grandfather of Bathsheba. Perhaps David’s unlawful relationship with Bathsheba or the murder of Uriah played some role in his decision.
APP: Manipulating support is not the same as divine blessing from God.
APP: In a fast-food world, let us not forget how to be patient and content. Absalom would have been next in line to inherit the davidic kingdom, however, he is unwilling to wait until it may be rightfully his.
13 And a messenger came to David, saying, “The hearts of the men of Israel have gone after Absalom.”
“the men of Israel” – may very well be a reference to the nation’s army. This would explain David’s response in the following verse.
14 Then David said to all his servants who were with him at Jerusalem, “Arise, and let us flee, or else there will be no escape for us from Absalom. Go quickly, lest he overtake us quickly and bring down ruin on us and strike the city with the edge of the sword.”
15 And the king’s servants said to the king, “Behold, your servants are ready to do whatever my lord the king decides.”
David’s remaining servants demonstrate their trust and loyalty to him by demonstrating their willingness to obey whatever decision he felt to be correct.
16 So the king went out, and all his household after him. And the king left ten concubines to keep the house.
The leaving of concubines behind displays David’s desire to avoid bloodshed within the capital’s walls, yet insure palace duties were accomplished.
24 And Abiathar came up, and behold, Zadok came also with all the Levites, bearing the ark of the covenant of God. And they set down the ark of God until the people had all passed out of the city.
In their haste, and perhaps they knew worship to be a central aspect of the king’s life, or perhaps they understand the importance of the ark in gaining support for David, the priests gather the ark as they prepare to flee.
25 Then the king said to Zadok, “Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me back and let me see both it and his dwelling place.
26 But if he says, ‘I have no pleasure in you,’ behold, here I am, let him do to me what seems good to him.”
David’s object of faith was God Himself, not the physical ark.
David and Absalom serve a classic example of trust in God. Absalom displayed no trust and attempted to manipulate his environment to bring about his desires. David displays an inner trust in God that is not contingent upon his circumstances.
27 The king also said to Zadok the priest, “Are you not a seer? Go back to the city in peace, with your two sons, Ahimaaz your son, and Jonathan the son of Abiathar.
28 See, I will wait at the fords of the wilderness until word comes from you to inform me.”
29 So Zadok and Abiathar carried the ark of God back to Jerusalem, and they remained there.
30 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.