Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Sons of David: Absalom – Smoke and Mirrors


Absalom had a rebellious heart and a treasonous intent. For him to succeed in his self promotion attempt he needed two groups of supporters:

Two groups needed for every rebellion -
  1. Those who know what they are doing and have reasons why they participate
    1. They did not like something about David
    2. They were promised prosperity, power or position by Absalom
    3. They wanted to be the ruler themselves
    4. These are used as leaders for the rebellion to draw innocents
    5. Many worship a rising sun expecting something from it which a setting sun does not promise … only setting suns reveals rising stars.
  2. Those who do not know what they are doing but can be swayed to support
    1. The innocents who would be used to legitimize the rebellion
    2. People who wanted nothing and had nothing to gain
    3. Those who recognized no difference between Absalom & David
    4. These are not the brightest people in the group and are used as pawns by the leaders of the rebellion

In order for the whole thing to work these two groups had to be unified. There had to be a common bonding experience of such magnitude that it transcended initial concern, overwhelmed opposition and demanded unquestioned support. In order to unify these two groups Absalom needed a noble cause and must appear to be chosen instead of self promoting. To accomplish this magic trick – welcome to the stage: Ahithophel, a well known public figure who is a recognized former high counsel of King David.

Ahithophel will legitimize the rebellious effort and give it a certain high quality sense about it all but how will we solidify and unify the masses of innocents and get them to support the takeover? Brilliant strategy – a strategy that has been used through the ages and is still in use today! “Let’s pray and offer sacrifice and involve God in our rebellion.” – In fact, let’s make God the head of it all and then the people will not dare withhold support – if only we can make them believe that God is running this show!

2 Samuel 15
10 Then Absalom sent spies throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, "As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then you shall say, ’Absalom reigns in Hebron!’"
11 And with Absalom went two hundred men invited from Jerusalem, and they went along innocently and did not know anything.
12 Then Absalom sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counselor, from his city — from Giloh — while he offered sacrifices. And the conspiracy grew strong, for the people with Absalom continually increased in number.

There was no devotion to God in these sacrifices. Prayer was but a pretense to infuse a god aroma into the plan, like spice sprinkled on a spoiled truffle in attempts to fool the innocent and undiscerning – it’s only Smoke and Mirrors! Absalom is a charismatic charmer who flattered his way into the hearts of these innocent and unsuspecting people. If he had been straightforward and honest with them, no one would have followed.

Ahithophel, the grandfather of Bathsheba as some say, was Prime Minister of Israel and a very opinionated man. He could not stand it when the King did not take his advice over everyone else’s. He was prideful and arrogant and believed he was wiser and smarter than everyone else. This attitude had put him at odds with King David and Ahithophel decided it was time to change his support and back a younger man who he thought he could control. All of this was behind the scenes … nonetheless without Ahithophel and his advice Absalom would never have made it. Ahithophel did not realize that this young Absalom was using him to gain credibility and legitimize the takeover. Absalom never intended on becoming Ahithophel’s puppet … and neither of them realized that they were both driving on dead end streets.

Sure this team looked good and could draw a crowd and gather support by making the takeover look like God’s idea, however time has a way of dealing with deception and in just a little while these two leaders, King Absalom and would be king maker, Prime Minister Ahithophel, would both be dead. Maybe God wasn’t the one responsible for this treason!!!

However, during the mean time things looked pretty bad and got pretty bad for King David and his family and followers. David did not want to go to war with his son or have to harm him or those innocent supporters of Absalom. David was a man after God’s own heart and his godly heart broke because of this split. Nonetheless David could not give up the crown God had given him … what could he do?

Although our lesson is not about King David but rather about his son Absalom, it behooves us to at least read the account of this man chosen by God to shepherd His children: David maintains an unselfish and magnanimous spirit towards others throughout this whole unfortunate event. David did not want to see the city or nation divided or the people hurt. Absalom however only wanted to be king at any cost. God allowed it but did not support it … however people did and the numbers grew.

2 Samuel 15
13 ¶ Now a messenger came to David, saying, "The hearts of the men of Israel are with Absalom."
14 So David said to all his servants who were with him at Jerusalem, "Arise, and let us flee; or we shall not escape from Absalom. Make haste to depart, lest he overtake us suddenly and bring disaster upon us, and strike the city with the edge of the sword."
15 And the king’s servants said to the king, "We are your servants, ready to do whatever my lord the king commands."
16 Then the king went out with all his household after him. But the king left ten women, concubines, to keep the house.
17 And the king went out with all the people after him, and stopped at the outskirts.
18 Then all his servants passed before him; and all the Cherethites, all the Pelethites, and all the Gittites, six hundred men who had followed him from Gath, passed before the king.
19 Then the king said to Ittai the Gittite, "Why are you also going with us? Return and remain with the king. For you are a foreigner and also an exile from your own place.
20 "In fact, you came only yesterday. Should I make you wander up and down with us today, since I go I know not where? Return, and take your brethren back. Mercy and truth be with you."
21 And Ittai answered the king and said, "As the LORD lives, and as my lord the king lives, surely in whatever place my lord the king shall be, whether in death or life, even there also your servant will be."
22 So David said to Ittai, "Go, and cross over." Then Ittai the Gittite and all his men and all the little ones who were with him crossed over.
23 And all the country wept with a loud voice, and all the people crossed over. The king himself also crossed over the Brook Kidron, and all the people crossed over toward the way of the wilderness.
24 ¶ There was Zadok also, and all the Levites with him, bearing the ark of the covenant of God. And they set down the ark of God, and Abiathar went up until all the people had finished crossing over from the city.
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 show me both it and His dwelling place.
26 "But if He says thus: ’I have no delight in you,’ here I am, let Him do to me as seems good to Him."
27 The king also said to Zadok the priest, "Are you not a seer? Return to the city in peace, and your two sons with you, Ahimaaz your son, and Jonathan the son of Abiathar.
28 "See, I will wait in the plains of the wilderness until word comes from you to inform me."
29 Therefore Zadok and Abiathar carried the ark of God back to Jerusalem. And they remained there.
30 So David went up by the Ascent of the Mount of Olives, and wept as he went up; and he had his head covered and went barefoot. And all the people who were with him covered their heads and went up, weeping as they went up.

David’s Prayer:
31 Then someone told David, saying, "Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom." And David said, "O LORD, I pray, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness!"

As I said earlier, this lesson is not about King David, although he figures heavily into the stories of all of his sons and none more than Absalom. However, the account God had chosen to give us of this event calls it a conspiracy. What is a conspiracy? This one was smoke and mirrors …

When one person decides they are going to self promote or that they deserve more or better or something God that has given to others, the act on their part to involve others in their decision is a conspiracy. This rebellion, as with any rebellion, began with one person and spread from there. Perhaps there were no initial intentions to divide the kingdom or kill the king but conspiracies evolve and grow with each new person added to the group. Sometimes conspiracies get out of hand and go beyond mere disgruntled talk and end up dividing families and destroying lives.

But … if God be for you, then who can be against you! And if God is not … He needs no help in removing you from planet earth!

What can we learn from these things?

  1. God does not commit to a man’s charisma
  2. God is not impressed with numbers
  3. God does not divide His Kingdom
  4. God does not support everything He allows
  5. We need to keep a humble heart and keep our future in God’s hands