Journey Through the Old Testament

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1 Journey Through the Old Testament II Samuel Lesson #58 The Rebellion of Absalom For Wednesday, December 7, Read 2 Sam David was a great king, a man after God's heart but his sin regarding Bathsheba and Uriah was a terrible thing that brought sad events to David s life. God had told him, Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house. Tamar and Amnon. David had a daughter named Tamar who was a very beautiful girl. We remember that David had several children by several different wives. Tamar and David s son, Absalom had the same mother. Another son of David was Amnon (who was David s oldest son) had a different mother and was a half-brother to Tamar and Absalom. Amnon saw the beauty of Tamar and became very attracted to her, but he couldn t find a way to be with her. He almost made himself sick thinking about how much he wanted Tamar. At the suggestion of his friend and cousin, Jonadab, Amnon sent word that he was sick and wanted her to bring him food. When she came, he tricked her into being alone, and wanted to take advantage of her. She begged him not to do this to her, but he kept on. Amnon had claimed to be in love with Tamar, but when Amnon did this to her, he no longer loved her. Now, he actually hated her and told her to get out. Tamar was hurt and humiliated. She put ashes on her head (an ancient way of showing your sorrow), and she tore her beautiful robe of many colors that a princess wore. Then she laid her hand on her head and went away crying bitterly. When Absalom saw her like this he guessed what had happened, Has Amnon been with you? But finding out the truth he urged her not to tell what happened. Tamar stayed at Absalom s house, but she continued to be very sad. Absalom probably was waiting for David to do something about Amnon. We are told, Now when King David heard of all these matters, he was very angry, but unfortunately that is all that happens. David did not punish Amnon. He does not insist that he marry Tamar. David does nothing. Absalom s Plan For Revenge. Absalom could see that his father was not doing anything about this, so he began to plot how he could kill Amnon. He waited for two years. He never said anything bad to Amnon, and it looked like he was going to just let it go. Amnon was probably thinking he had gotten away with his crime. But after two years Absalom invited all of David s sons to go with him to where his sheep were being sheared. He especially requested Amnon to go. The king s sons all went, and when Amnon was beginning to be intoxicated by wine, Absalom gave order for his servants to kill him. All the king s sons fled when they saw what had happened. A report came back to

2 David that Absalom had killed all of his sons. But in time David learned that it was only Amnon that had died. Absalom fled to his grandfather (his mother s father) and stayed there with him for 3 years. David probably thought often about what Nathan the prophet had predicted that the sword would not depart from his house. He had lost his son Amnon, and his son Absalom had left. David was sad every day about what had happened to his family. Absalom Returns to Jerusalem. In time David permitted Absalom to return to his home in Jerusalem, but he was not allowed to come to see David. Absalom kept asking to see his father, and finally after two years he was allowed to see David. When they finally met after five years, David kissed his son and everything seemed to be working out. During this time Absalom was becoming very popular with the people. II Samuel 14:25 says, Now in all Israel there was no one as handsome as Absalom, so highly praised; from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no defect in him. For most of the year he wore his hair long (he only cut it once a year) and his hair was very thick. Absalom had three sons and a daughter, which he named Tamar after his sister, and that daughter was very beautiful. In addition to his good looks, Absalom was smart. He knew how to make people like him. He rode around in a chariot and had hired 50 men to go before him, which made it look like he was a very important man. Absalom would get up early each morning and go to the gates of the city where all the people gathered. He would talk to people and ask where they were from. Whenever people had a problem, he would pretend to care about them and would tell them I wish I were a judge so that I could help you. Whenever someone came to him, he would show them affection like he truly loved them. But Absalom was doing everything he could to make the people love him more than they loved King David because he wanted to take the kingdom away from his father. Absalom was not what he seemed to be. Absalom s Rebellion. Rebellion is when a person refuses to follow someone in authority (like the king). Absalom had evidently been angry at his father for many years. He didn t truly love David. Absalom asked his father for permission to go to Hebron (the city David reigned from before coming to Jerusalem), claiming he wanted to serve the Lord, but this was a lie. Then Absalom sent men all over Israel and told them when the trumpet sounded, they should go around saying, Absalom is king in Hebron. Because Absalom had grown so popular in Israel, many began to gather around him thinking he would become their king. Even one of David s government advisers (Ahithophel, who was Bathsheba s grandfather, II Sam. 11:3; 23:34) joined in the rebellion and supported Absalom as king. When David heard about what was happening, he knew that Absalom would kill him, so he left Jerusalem along with his family and servants. Many of these men were very loyal to David and said they would stand by him even if it meant death. The priests even wanted to come along carrying the Ark of the Covenant, but David told them they should go back into the city.

3 This was a very sad time for David and those who truly loved him. David thought that it was possible that he would no longer be king. His only hope was that the Lord might bring him back. As they were leaving Jerusalem going across the Kidron Valley and up the Mount of Olives, David and all his people were crying because of what was happening. Even with all this sorrow and tragedy, we are told that David stopped on one of the mountains and worshipped God. Still, there was more trouble for David and his people. As they passed through one area, a man who was part of King Saul s family came out and cursed at David. He even threw rocks at them and called David a bloodthirsty man. One of David s servants wanted to go kill him, but David said to leave him alone. I think David knew that this was all part of the trouble that God had said would come on him because of Bathsheba and Uriah. Absalom arrived at Jerusalem along with all the men that had started following him. Ahithophel advised Absalom to do all he could before the eyes of the people of Jerusalem to make it clear that he was in charge and had broken from his father. He even advised Absalom to take his father s concubines. Then he told Absalom that he, along with 12,000 men would be willing to go after David that night and kill him. But Hushai (who was really David s friend and secretly working for David) advised Absalom to start preparing to lead an army to go after David. Hushai said this because he wanted to delay them and give David more time to get his men together. Then Hushai suggested that Absalom should lead the army that went after David. Hushai knew that Absalom could be defeated this way. David s People Win the Battle. David s soldiers were divided into three groups, but they would not allow David to go with them (they wanted to protect him). As they were leaving, David begged his men to deal gently with Absalom, not to hurt him. David s men were very successful killing 20,000 of Absalom s men. The fight went on in a forest where the trees were very thick, and the Bible tells us that more died from running through the trees than died from the battle. David s men saw Absalom and started after him. As Absalom rode through the thick forest, his head caught in a branch of a tree, and as the donkey he was riding kept on running, he was left hanging in the air. Joab rushed in and threw spears at his heart, while ten of Joab s men ran up and killed him. Men ran to bring the good news of what had happened that day, but David s main concern was what had happened to Absalom. Even after all his rebellion, David still hoped that Absalom was alive. When the news came of Absalom s death, David s heart was broken: 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!" David felt so sad, and probably very guilty that his own sins had led to all this trouble in his family. David continued to stay in his house and cry for Absalom. No one treated the battle like a victory, but everyone felt ashamed. But Joab told David that he was doing wrong to act this way. His people had fought hard for him and yet all he could think about was his sorrow over Absalom. Joab said that David needed to remember that Absalom had become David s enemy. David saw that was true and went out and met with the people.

4 The New Testament Teaches Us Love or Lust. Everything that is called love is not necessarily love. Amnon thought he was in love with Tamar, but it also became obvious that he was not. Amnon was mistaking love for lust. Paul said, Each of you should know how to have control over the vessel of your body in a way that sets us apart for God and honor Him. We should not live in passion of evil desires like those who do not know God. No one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such (I Thess. 4:4-6) Absalom s Charm. The things Absalom did, like showing interest in people and being affectionate, can be very good traits to have. We should be loving and friendly. But Absalom did those things for all the wrong reasons to gain people s hearts so he could overthrow his father as king. He was guilt of selfish ambitions (James 3:14,16). Paul told the Galatians that it is a good thing when someone shows an interest and concern for you, as long as they are doing it for good and proper reasons (Gal. 4:18). We should not just pretend to love others, but should have a sincere love for them (I Pet. 1:22). Bible Quiz 1. In II Samuel 13 David has three children involved in the story: A, T, and A. 2. What did David do about Amnon s sin? (II Sam. 13:21) What did Absalom do about Amnon? (II Sam. 13:28-29) 3. After three years (II Sam. 13:38), what was Absalom allowed to do? (II Sam. 14:21-23) After two more years, what was Absalom allowed to do? (II Sam. 14:28-33) 4. Describe what Absalom was like? (II Sam. 14:25-27) 5. When II Samuel 15:6 says that Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel, what does that mean?

5 6. What did Absalom do against his father King David? (II Samuel 15:10-12) 7. When Absalom and his men went to attack David and his men, where were they? (II Samuel 18:8) 8. How was Absalom caught? (II Samuel 18:9,14-15) 9. How did David react to the news of Absalom s death? (II Samuel 18:33)

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