Joab was still around, supporting the king. He knew David well (and David conversely knew Joab well). David mourned the loss of Absolom, who had been gone for 3 years. Joab decided to use a trick from God and Nathan’s bag, but he uses a wise woman from Tekoa to tell a story which shows David the truth. The woman follows his instructions and when David gives a verdict on her (fake) situation, she points out that David is punishing Israel by keeping Absolom in exile.
The Message version of these verses are:
“We all die sometime. Water spilled on the ground can’t be gathered up again. But God does not take away life. He works out ways to get the exile back.” (verse 14)
These are lovely words. David then saw that it was Joab’s plan but he was gentle with Joab, accepting his old friend’s advice. But although Abosolom returned home, David still would not see him. After two years, Absolom sets fire to Joab’s barley field to get Joab to bring him to David. David then relented and Absolom was allowed in his presence again.
David’s behaviour showed that he did not forgive Absolom. Absolom was correct in saying he was still in exile as far as David was concerned. David did not really take Joab and the wise woman’s advice to heart, because he did not have mercy on Absolom. He knew how God had mercy on him after his behaviour, yet he could not extend his own mercy to Absolom.
The wise woman and Joab’s words about the damage to Israel foretold the consequences of David’s rejection of Absolom. I wonder, could David have slowed the cycle of murder and betrayal that had begun with Amnon if he had forgiven Absolom and welcomed him home after a suitable period of exile?
Reading this chapter with the judgement of God on David fresh in my mind, I can see how the consequences of David’s behaviour are starting to create strife in his family. One could say that perhaps it could be seen that David’s behaviour in killing Uriah and keeping Bathsheba sets in motion the continuation of such bad behaviour in his sons.
David’s first born Amnon, tricked Tamar, his half-sister (Absolom’s sister) into being alone with him and raped her. His friend and cousin, Jonadab, helped him plan it all. Amnon then rejected Tamar, who went to live with Absolom. Absolom was furious but asked Tamar to keep it secret. David heard about it and did not punish Amnon. Ultimately Absolom had his servants kill Amnon at a family celebration he held. David wanted revenge on Absolom so Absolom fled for 3 years to stay with Talmai, son of Ammihud, king of Geshur.
Did David have any self recrimination about all this destruction? He knew God’s word. He must have known that God gave clear commandments about behaviour in order to maintain society, and this behaviour started within the family. This chapter is key in marking the start of a line of deaths and betrayals in the house of David. Even David, who knew God so well, was not immune to the flaw within us. This does give us a get-out clause that it is pointless trying to overcome sin – but rather it highlights just how merciful Jesus’ life and death were. Without Jesus, we had God’s mercy but no way-out. With Jesus we can depend on Him and the Holy Spirit and make progress growing into the people God made us to be. David is a reminder that on our own we are truly lost.
Not surprisingly, God was furious with David and told him so via Nathan. As a result of David’s behaviour, God said that David’s family would be plagued by killing and murder, He also said that someone would take David’s wives and sleep with them in public. Finally David was told that the child born to Bathsheba as a result of their adultery would die.
There is no sign that David rejected God’s judgement. He knew he had sinned and the consequences of it. He did however pray and fast for his child’s life. However once the child had died, he accepted it and comforted Bathsheba. His servants were bewildered by his behaviour. When they asked him about it, he explained that while the child lived he prayed and fasted for God to have mercy, but once the child was dead it was over and he had to accept the finality of God’s decision.
Whilst I am sad that David of all people could fall, I can learn from his responses to God’s judgement. He did not fight God or say it is unfair. He knew it was more than fair. He did not let the worry of the consequences eat his mind and drive him crazy. He accepted that God’s word was final and returned to being a man who listened to God. He went on to write more Psalms and pour out his heart to God.
The part of the story which really shows God’s infinite mercy was that David and Bathsheba’s next child was blessed with God’s special favour. God wanted Solomon to be called Jedidah which means God’s Beloved. Wow.
One evening when David had decided to stay home rather than go and fight as the author of 2 Samuel thought he should have, David saw Bathsheba bathing on a nearby roof.
This sighting causes him to commit adultery and murder. He orders Joab to send Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, to the worst part of the battle and let him be killed.
How did this happen to David? A man after God’s heart? How did he slide down this slope of sin?
I guess we can suggest that he was being lazy rather than fighting and maybe being king had gone to his head a little. But this is David? He did not let being anointed by Samuel go to his head. He was consistently God’s man.
It serves as a stark warning that if David could fall into such temptation how careful should we be. Our human nature is cracked with sin like a broken mirror, and even though God forgives us through Jesus, we can so easily slip as David did. I cannot imagine that David was meditating daily on God’s word when this happened. Perhaps his laziness with regard to fighting reflected an inner laziness?
Hello everyone – thank you for your patience with my rather flaky timekeeping over the past few months. The latest challenge has been that my mum discovered breast cancer. It is really early stage and would not have been found without her injury, but treatment begins next week. We have been through all the tests and now it is surgery, radio therapy and medication. And since I am so easily distracted I lost my way to keep blogging.
I am slowly finding my feet.
In chapter 8, verse 11, we read that David defeated the Ammonites, however in this chapter Hanun becomes king of the Ammonites and decides to to things a little differently. David sent a delegation to express sympathy to Hanun on the death of his father the king. David was being kind, as usual. But Hanun had some rather stupid advisors who encouraged Hanun to believe the worst of David and that he was sending these men to spy.
Hanun completely humiliated the men by shaving halve their beards and hair off, as well as cutting half their clothing away. David told the men to stay in Jericho while their beards grew back to save them the humiliation of coming back to court. Then David appeared to wait, perhaps he was waiting on God. He certainly was not a man to be easily provoked.
Then Hanun hired twenty thousand Aramean soldiers from Beth Rehob and Zobah, a thousand men from the king of Macaah and twelve thousand from Tob. Now David responded by sending Joab with the entire army. Joab and his brother Abishai succeeded in driving the Arameans away and the Arameans fled back inside their city. Joab returned to Jerusalem – job done.
But now Hadadezer joined the Arameans with more fighting men. He had obviously been waiting to get a rematch with David. Shobach, Hadadezer’s commander now lead the army at Helam. David took all Israel (I hope this means the whole army) across the Jordan to meet this force. Shobach was killed along with fifty seven thousand of their soldiers and charioteers.
At this time the vassals of Hadadezer made peace with David and the Arameans did not support the Ammonites again.
David sought out Ziba who had been Saul’s servant and asked whether anyone had survived from Saul’s family. He discovered that Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth, was alive. He was lame because his nurse had dropped him when they were fleeing attackers (chapter 4). David wanted to show kindness to Mephibosheth for the sake of Jonathan, his dear friend.
David restored Saul’s land to Mephibosheth, who had been living at the house of Makir so had not had a home of his own. David also told Ziba that he, his sons and his servants would now serve Mephibosheth and work his lands so that he was cared for. He also invited Mephibosheth to eat at his own table daily.
It is credit to David’s behaviour thus far that anyone would tell him where Saul’s family lived. They knew he was not going to kill Mephibosheth as was the usual procedure when faced with a challenge to his position as king. Perhaps they were less worried because Mephibosheth was lame and could not lead an army, so David could not possibly see him as a threat. But Mephibosheth had a son, Mica, who could have potentially become the focus of a pro-Saul faction. However I think it was that everyone knew David was a man of his word and also that he had killed the men who came to him with the death of Saul and his family on their hands, and this is why they so easily told him about Jonathan’s son.