1 Samuel 18-19 part 11

 

Last week as we can see from our map we left David and his men at Mahanaim where they refreshed themselves with food and water from those who supported David and Absolom and his men were chasing them down and were camped somewhere here the land of Gilead. Now tonight we will see this battle unfold as we start with,

 

2 Samuel 18:1 And David numbered the people who were with him, and set captains of thousands and captains of hundreds over them.2 Then David sent out one third of the people under the hand of Joab, one third under the hand of Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab's brother, and one third under the hand of Ittai the Gittite. And the king said to the people, "I also will surely go out with you myself."3 But the people answered, "You shall not go out! For if we flee away, they will not care about us; nor if half of us die, will they care about us. But you are worth ten thousand of us now. For you are now more help to us in the city."4 Then the king said to them, "Whatever seems best to you I will do." So the king stood beside the gate, and all the people went out by hundreds and by thousands. 5 Now the king had commanded Joab, Abishai, and Ittai, saying, "Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom." And all the people heard when the king gave all the captains orders concerning Absalom.

 

Here we learn that David divides his men up into groups of 3 and sends them out to battle. Now I know how easy it is for us to get lost who is who so just for a second I want to remind you of who these people are. First of Zeruriah is Davidís sister and both Joab and Abishai are her sons which means both of them are Davidís Nephews. Now this man named Ittai was just a man who had decided to follow David and his men. You might recall he and all his people including their children went with them.

 

Now David wanted to be involved in this battle but the people didnít want him to go. They wanted him to remain behind in the city for his own safety. Now David puts an impossibletask on his army as he doesnít want them to kill his son Absalom. This would make it to where he men would have to fight with care which would endanger their lives. It just seems that David is struggling with the reality that his son must die and that there is no way they can ever be reconciled after what he has done with his concubines.

 

2 Samuel 18:6 So the people went out into the field of battle against Israel. And the battle was in the woods of Ephraim.7 The people of Israel were overthrown there before the servants of David, and a great slaughter of twenty thousand took place there that day.8 For the battle there was scattered over the face of the whole countryside, and the woods devoured more people that day than the sword devoured.

 

The location of this battle is not known for sure but as you can see on the map the region of Ephraim was on the west side of the Jordan river but some say this forest was on the east side. The reason for this is because if you remember both Davidís men and Absolomís men were on the east side of the Jordan at this time so it would make more since for this place to be somewhere east of the Jordan. But regardless of its location there was great loss of life as we see that 20,000 of Absolomís men died that day. Now we are not told how but our text tells us that more people were killed in the woods than by the sword.

 

2 Samuel 18:9 Then Absalom met the servants of David. Absalom rode on a mule. The mule went under the thick boughs of a great terebinth tree, and his head caught in the terebinth; so he was left hanging between heaven and earth. And the mule which was under him went on.10 Now a certain man saw it and told Joab, and said, "I just saw Absalom hanging in a terebinth tree!"11 So Joab said to the man who told him, "You just saw him! And why did you not strike him there to the ground? I would have given you ten shekels of silver and a belt."12 But the man said to Joab, "Though I were to receive a thousand shekels of silver in my hand, I would not raise my hand against the king's son. For in our hearing the king commanded you and Abishai and Ittai, saying, 'Beware lest anyone touch the young man Absalom!'13 "Otherwise I would have dealt falsely against my own life. For there is nothing hidden from the king, and you yourself would have set yourself against me."14 Then Joab said, "I cannot linger with you." And he took three spears in his hand and thrust them through Absalom's heart, while he was still alive in the midst of the terebinth tree.15 And ten young men who bore Joab's armor surrounded Absalom, and struck and killed him.

 

Absalom was on the run and he was riding his mule through the woods which is very dangerous because you never know what you might run into and this is what happened to him. He got his head caught in a tree and mule ran on. Now we have know idea what the length of his hair would have been at this time but if his hair was very long not only would his head of been caught is certainly possible that his hair was tangled up in the tree as well. Can you imagine how vulnerable and helpless he felt as he dangled their from that tree.

 

When the men report to Joab that they saw him hanging there Joab gets mad that they didnít kill him but his men were afraid that if they had the Joab would passed the blame on to them and make them out to be the bad guy while he remained innocent. So, Joab takes 3 sharpened wooden sticks and he thrust them through the heart of Absalom. Now it not talking about his actual heart this simple means the middle of his body as we read he was still alive after this but 10 of Joabís men finished the job and he was dead.

 

2 Samuel 18:16 So Joab blew the trumpet, and the people returned from pursuing Israel. For Joab held back the people.17 And they took Absalom and cast him into a large pit in the woods, and laid a very large heap of stones over him. Then all Israel fled, everyone to his tent.18 Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and set up a pillar for himself, which is in the King's Valley. For he said, "I have no son to keep my name in remembrance." He called the pillar after his own name. And to this day it is called Absalom's Monument.

 

Since Absalom was dead there was no reason to continue to kill more people so Joab call the people off and they bury Absalom in a pit. Now in verse 18 we told what Absalom had planned for his burial which he seems to have built in honor of his dead sons but instead he lies in a ditch now.

 

2 Samuel 18:19 Then Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said, "Let me run now and take the news to the king, how the LORD has avenged him of his enemies."20 And Joab said to him, "You shall not take the news this day, for you shall take the news another day. But today you shall take no news, because the king's son is dead."21 Then Joab said to the Cushite, "Go, tell the king what you have seen." So the Cushite bowed himself to Joab and ran.22 And Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said again to Joab, "But whatever happens, please let me also run after the Cushite." So Joab said, "Why will you run, my son, since you have no news ready?"23 "But whatever happens," he said, "let me run." So he said to him, "Run." Then Ahimaaz ran by way of the plain, and outran the Cushite.

 

Zadok was the high priest and Ahimaaz was his son and he was loyal to David and he wanted to tell David about what had happened. At first Joab didnít want him to go until the next day but after he sends the Cushite to give one version of the story and then he decides to go ahead and let Ahimaaz run to the king as well. Apparently Ahimaaz was faster runner and he knew all the shortcuts because he beat the Cushite to David.

 

2 Samuel 18:24 Now David was sitting between the two gates. And the watchman went up to the roof over the gate, to the wall, lifted his eyes and looked, and there was a man, running alone. 25 Then the watchman cried out and told the king. And the king said, "If he is alone, there is news in his mouth." And he came rapidly and drew near.26 Then the watchman saw another man running, and the watchman called to the gatekeeper and said, "There is another man, running alone!" And the king said, "He also brings news."27 So the watchman said, "I think the running of the first is like the running of Ahimaaz the son of Zadok." And the king said, "He is a good man, and comes with good news."

 

Here is where we see the suspense building. I can imagine how David heart was pounding in anticipation of what news these 2 men had. Ahimaaz must have had a particular style of running as the watchman was able to recognize him from afar off based on how he was running. We also see that David was being optimistic as thought he might be receiving good news.

 

2 Samuel 18:28 And Ahimaaz called out and said to the king, "All is well!" Then he bowed down with his face to the earth before the king, and said, "Blessed be the LORD your God, who has delivered up the men who raised their hand against my lord the king!"29 The king said, "Is the young man Absalom safe?" Ahimaaz answered, "When Joab sent the king's servant and me your servant, I saw a great tumult, but I did not know what it was about."30 And the king said, "Turn aside and stand here." So he turned aside and stood still.

 

Ahimaaz had his chance to the whole truth but perhaps out fear he lies to David telling him he doesnít know what happened to his son but that they were victorious against them. Now it the Cushite turn.

 

2 Samuel 18:31 Just then the Cushite came, and the Cushite said, "There is good news, my lord the king! For the LORD has avenged you this day of all those who rose against you."32 And the king said to the Cushite, "Is the young man Absalom safe?" So the Cushite answered, "May the enemies of my lord the king, and all who rise against you to do harm, be like that young man!"33 Then the king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept. And as he went, he said thus: "O my son Absalom -- my son, my son Absalom -- if only I had died in your place! O Absalom my son, my son!"

 

Even though Absalom had rebelled against him and committed acts of sin worthy of death David could not find any joy in the death of son and tore him to peaces as he wished he could have died in his place. This same thing hold true today. I have heard of many wicked children who have committed some of the most unthinkable crimes but no matter how stained they are with sin most momís and dadís will still be there for them and love them no matter what and I donít know of any parent who want their child to die before they do. So, I think we can kind of relate to Davidís heartbreak here.

 

2 Samuel 19:1And Joab was told, "Behold, the king is weeping and mourning for Absalom."2 So the victory that day was turned into mourning for all the people. For the people heard it said that day, "The king is grieved for his son."3 And the people stole back into the city that day, as people who are ashamed steal away when they flee in battle.4 But the king covered his face, and the king cried out with a loud voice, "O my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son!"5 Then Joab came into the house to the king, and said, "Today you have disgraced all your servants who today have saved your life, the lives of your sons and daughters, the lives of your wives and the lives of your concubines,6 "in that you love your enemies and hate your friends. For you have declared today that you regard neither princes nor servants; for today I perceive that if Absalom had lived and all of us had died today, then it would have pleased you well.7 "Now therefore, arise, go out and speak comfort to your servants. For I swear by the LORD, if you do not go out, not one will stay with you this night. And that will be worse for you than all the evil that has befallen you from your youth until now."

 

Under normal circumstance this victory should have been followed up by great happiness that the battle was over but because of Davidís mourning it caused everyone else to mourn because it gave his men the sense that he wasnít pleased with what they had done. These men had risked their life for David and he was sending them the message that his rebellious son was greater than they were this why Joab rebuke David sharply for his behavior and David recognizes his mistake and sits at the gate so that as the soldiers go by that they will know that he approves of their victory.

 

2 Samuel 19:8 Then the king arose and sat in the gate. And they told all the people, saying, "There is the king, sitting in the gate." So all the people came before the king. For everyone of Israel had fled to his tent.9 Now all the people were in a dispute throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, "The king saved us from the hand of our enemies, he delivered us from the hand of the Philistines, and now he has fled from the land because of Absalom.10 "But Absalom, whom we anointed over us, has died in battle. Now therefore, why do you say nothing about bringing back the king?"11 So King David sent to Zadok and Abiathar the priests, saying, "Speak to the elders of Judah, saying, 'Why are you the last to bring the king back to his house, since the words of all Israel have come to the king, to his very house?12 'You are my brethren, you are my bone and my flesh. Why then are you the last to bring back the king?'13 "And say to Amasa, 'Are you not my bone and my flesh? God do so to me, and more also, if you are not commander of the army before me continually in place of Joab.' "

 

Here we see that all the tribes start remembering all the battles that David had won and what he done for them and they wanted him restored as the king. The only one lacking was Judah and they are questioned of why they have not asked for David back as well. To appease Judah and to take a stab at Joab David gives Amasa Joabís position as commander which doesnít make very much since because Amasa was a traitor and Davidís enemy and he had just lost the battle against Joabís men which shows he wasnít that competent. Even though Joab wasnít perfect he was very loyal to David but that didnít seem to matter to him. Just a side note Amasa was Joabís cousin. This decision seemed to work on Judah as we read in,

 

2 Samuel 19:14 So he swayed the hearts of all the men of Judah, just as the heart of one man, so that they sent this word to the king: "Return, you and all your servants!"15 Then the king returned and came to the Jordan. And Judah came to Gilgal, to go to meet the king, to escort the king across the Jordan.

 

David was on his way back to his thrown but even more show up to help as we continue in verse,

 

2 Samuel 19:16 And Shimei the son of Gera, a Benjamite, who was from Bahurim, hastened and came down with the men of Judah to meet King David.17 There were a thousand men of Benjamin with him, and Ziba (zie-bah) the servant of the house of Saul, and his fifteen sons and his twenty servants with him; and they went over the Jordan before the king.18 Then a ferryboat went across to carry over the king's household, and to do what he thought good. Now Shimei (shim-i-uh) the son of Gera fell down before the king when he had crossed the Jordan.19 Then he said to the king, "Do not let my lord impute iniquity to me, or remember what wrong your servant did on the day that my lord the king left Jerusalem, that the king should take it to heart.20 "For I, your servant, know that I have sinned. Therefore here I am, the first to come today of all the house of Joseph to go down to meet my lord the king."21 But Abishai the son of Zeruiah answered and said, "Shall not Shimei (shim-i-uh) be put to death for this, because he cursed the LORD's anointed?"22 And David said, "What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah, that you should be adversaries to me today? Shall any man be put to death today in Israel? For do I not know that today I am king over Israel?"23 Therefore the king said to Shimei, (shim-i-uh) "You shall not die." And the king swore to him.

 

Here we have these men showing their respect for David and they are there to help him and men back to Jerusalem. Now Ziba represented the house of Saul and was a servant of Mephibosheth, Jonathansí lame son. You might recall from last week that Ziba lied about Mephibosheth and got David to give Ziba his land. Now Shemei was that man who cursing David and his men and throwing rocks at them. Now Shimei had 1000 men there with him and we see that he begs David for forgiveness for what he had done. Now Abiishai wanted to kill him since he had cursed the anointed king but David forgives him and allows him to live as long as he lives but we learn at the end of his life he ask Solomon to kill him.

 

2 Samuel 19:24 Now Mephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the king. And he had not cared for his feet, nor trimmed his mustache, nor washed his clothes, from the day the king departed until the day he returned in peace.25 So it was, when he had come to Jerusalem to meet the king, that the king said to him, "Why did you not go with me, Mephibosheth?"26 And he answered, "My lord, O king, my servant deceived me. For your servant said, 'I will saddle a donkey for myself, that I may ride on it and go to the king,' because your servant is lame.27 "And he has slandered your servant to my lord the king, but my lord the king is like the angel of God. Therefore do what is good in your eyes.28 "For all my father's house were but dead men before my lord the king. Yet you set your servant among those who eat at your own table. Therefore what right have I still to cry out anymore to the king?"29 So the king said to him, "Why do you speak anymore of your matters? I have said, 'You and Ziba divide the land.' "30 Then Mephibosheth said to the king, "Rather, let him take it all, inasmuch as my lord the king has come back in peace to his own house."

 

Here David find out about the deception of Ziba and learn that Mephibosheth had stayed loyal to him all this time after all. Now we are not given the reason why David makes this decision but he decides to give half of Saulís property to Ziba and the other half to Mephibosheth. Then Mephibosheth makes it clear that he is not concerned about the property but only that King has returned in peace.

 

2 Samuel 19:31 And Barzillai (bar-zill-ay-eye) the Gileadite came down from Rogelim and went across the Jordan with the king, to escort him across the Jordan.32 Now Barzillai was a very aged man, eighty years old. And he had provided the king with supplies while he stayed at Mahanaim, for he was a very rich man.33 And the king said to Barzillai, "Come across with me, and I will provide for you while you are with me in Jerusalem."34 But Barzillai said to the king, "How long have I to live, that I should go up with the king to Jerusalem?35 "I am today eighty years old. Can I discern between the good and bad? Can your servant taste what I eat or what I drink? Can I hear any longer the voice of singing men and singing women? Why then should your servant be a further burden to my lord the king?36 "Your servant will go a little way across the Jordan with the king. And why should the king repay me with such a reward?37 "Please let your servant turn back again, that I may die in my own city, near the grave of my father and mother. But here is your servant Chimham; (kim-ham) let him cross over with my lord the king, and do for him what seems good to you."38 And the king answered, "Chimham shall cross over with me, and I will do for him what seems good to you. Now whatever you request of me, I will do for you."39 Then all the people went over the Jordan. And when the king had crossed over, the king kissed Barzillai (bar-zill-ay-eye) and blessed him, and he returned to his own place.40 Now the king went on to Gilgal, and Chimham (kim-ham) went on with him. And all the people of Judah escorted the king, and also half the people of Israel.

Barzillia was one of the men who came to Davidís aid with food and water and so David wanted to honor him and his family by having them join him in Jerusalem. Barzillia however didnít want to do this because of his age he was 80 years old at this time. Instead he sends Chimham over to be David servant. Now it is believed that this man was most likely Barzillia son and this implied by,

 

1 Kings 2:7 "But show kindness to the sons of Barzillai (bar-zill-ay-eye) the Gileadite, and let them be among those who eat at your table, for so they came to me when I fled from Absalom your brother.

 

2 Samuel 19:41 Just then all the men of Israel came to the king, and said to the king, "Why have our brethren, the men of Judah, stolen you away and brought the king, his household, and all David's men with him across the Jordan?"42 So all the men of Judah answered the men of Israel, "Because the king is a close relative of ours. Why then are you angry over this matter? Have we ever eaten at the king's expense? Or has he given us any gift?"43 And the men of Israel answered the men of Judah, and said, "We have ten shares in the king; therefore we also have more right to David than you. Why then do you despise us -- were we not the first to advise bringing back our king?" Yet the words of the men of Judah were fiercer than the words of the men of Israel.

 

As we come to the end of this chapter we see the division that is between the northern and southern tribes. This is just the beginning of their jealousy and hatred toward one another. We end with Judah apparently getting in the last word in their argument over David and thus ends our lesson for this evening.