And on this manner did Absalom to all Israel that came to the king for judgment: so Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel. — 2 Samuel 15:6
Some years ago, we had a new neighbor move into a house near the river that ran by our house, and he seemed a social and generous man. He and his wife often invited several couples over for barbecued steaks or a hot dog roast, and in cooler weather, we were included at a lovely sit-down dinner prepared by his gracious wife. Ours is a close neighborhood, and it seemed this couple entertained everyone in the surrounding homes.
After about six months of this most charitable treatment, our new neighbor began to ask favors. We noticed he flattered and dined the older man across the street who was a blacksmith. His services were given gladly and the two men, seemingly, got along famously . . . until the old man could no longer weld or repair or lend. Then the “benevolent” neighbor ceased to call on him.
Next, this new neighbor accused another neighbor of stealing from him, and he later made a fast deal to cheat another out of several hundred dollars. It was apparent that this “social and generous” man had a selfish purpose.
Absalom, David’s son, was a man with a selfish purpose. He wanted his father’s throne, and he set about getting it through devious methods. He flattered and favored the people of Israel, with the goal of wooing them away from David. Absalom patiently employed these tactics for several years, and then eventually committed treason against his own father.
Kind deeds and words of appreciation can be a blessing. However, we want to remember that God sees our hearts and knows our motives. We want to be certain that our desires are to please God and to see His purpose advanced by what we do. Let us ask God to inventory our motives and to help us live in a way that is pleasing to Him.
After Absalom had his brother Amnon murdered, he was exiled from Jerusalem, but David longed after him. Joab, David’s general, observed that and persuaded him to let Absalom come back to Jerusalem. Yet, two years after his return, Absalom still had not come face to face with his father. Eventually, Joab appealed to David for a reunion and David once again established Absalom as a member of the king’s household.
By this time, David was aging, and though he had garnered many military victories for Israel, prosperity had made the people restless. David’s popularity began to decline as resentment grew among the people over higher taxes and the recruitment of troops. Absalom assessed the situation and saw an opportunity to obtain the kingdom for himself.
Absalom was a handsome man with abundant charm. He appealed to the people’s discontentment and convinced them that if he were the king, he would treat them more fairly than they were being treated. With his chariots, horses, and fifty men, he was a compelling presence in Jerusalem, and in time he “stole the hearts of the men of Israel.” Bible scholars believe that the phrase “. . . after forty years,” in verse 7, refers to when David was anointed king of Israel. The consensus is that Absalom spent four years gaining the people’s confidence and waiting for the right time to plan his final revolt.
Hebron was where David had first established his kingdom before moving it to Jerusalem, and Hebron was where Absalom started his insurrection. He even convinced David’s most trusted adviser, Ahithophel, to join him in the revolt. Ahithophel was the grandfather of Bathsheba and may have had some resentment towards David because he had violated his granddaughter and caused the death of Uriah.
As David fled, perhaps he remembered the words of Nathan, the prophet, “Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from thine house.” It had been Bathsheba’s baby, then Amnon, and now Absalom had turned against him. But David knew that God was with him. His prayer is recorded in Psalm 3.
Another trusted adviser to David, Hushai the Archite (a Gentile of Canaanite descent), along with Zadok and Abiathar, the priests, agreed to go back to Jerusalem and pretend to be loyal to Absalom and, in the end, help restore David to his throne.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The shame of King David
B. David’s problems with his family
2. Absalom’s revolt against David
a. Absalom’s conspiracy against David (15:1-12)
(1) Absalom’s trickery (15:1-6)
(2) Absalom’s uprising (15:7-12)
b. David’s flight from Absalom
(1) David’s evacuation of the city (15:13-18)
(2) Ittai’s allegiance to David (15:19-23)
(3) Zadok and the Ark remain in the city (15:24-29)
(4) Hushai, David’s informant in the city (15:30-37)
If our motives are right, and we have a genuine love for our fellow man and for God, we will always esteem others better than ourselves and not use devious ways to get ahead in this world.