II Samuel 17:24 - 18:33

Sunday, October 4th, 2015

MERCY IN JUDGMENT

INTRODUCTION:

Galatians 6:7-8 - 7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

David brought a mess upon himself. He was reaping what he had sown. He was getting what he deserved.

I remind you of the LORD's words in -

II Samuel 12:9-15 , 18 - (9) Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon. (10) Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me [i.e. David has despised the LORD], and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife. (11) Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun. (12) For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun. (13) And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan said unto David, The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. (14) Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die. (15) And Nathan departed unto his house. And the Lord struck the child that Uriah's wife bare unto David, and it was very sick. . . . (18) And it came to pass on the seventh day, that the child died. . . .

So, although David begged the LORD to spare the baby, the baby died. This was recorded in II Samuel 12 .

Later, Amnon, David's son, raped Tamar, David's daughter. We saw this in II Samuel 13:1-17 .

Two years later Absalom, David's son, murdered Amnon. We saw this in II Samuel 13:23-39 .

Still later, maybe as much as five years later, Absalom revolted against David and proclaimed himself king. He went in to David's concubines in a tent on the top of the house. We saw this in II Samuel 16:21-22 .

Even in God's judgment of David, however, there was mercy, as we will see in this message. As bad as it was, it could have been worse. We are so thankful that, even in our own lives, God is merciful.

James 2:13 - For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

Psalms 130:7 - Let Israel hope in the Lord: for with the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption.

Psalms 136:1-4 - (1) O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. (2) O give thanks unto the God of gods: for his mercy endureth for ever. (3) O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth for ever. (4) To him who alone doeth great wonders: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Psalms 136:26 - O give thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth for ever.

I Corinthians 11:31-32 - (31) For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. (32) But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.

No matter what David as a child of God deserved, God dealt with him mercifully.

In II Samuel 17:24-18:33 , we see that even in judgment, mercy was shown to David.

As background to our message today, let me share with you a little portion of David's family tree -

I Chronicles 2:13-17 - 13 And Jesse [i.e. David's father] begat his firstborn Eliab, and Abinadab the second, and Shimma the third, 14 Nethaneel the fourth, Raddai the fifth, 15 Ozem the sixth, David the seventh [There were actually eight sons. Why the eighth son is not mentioned in this passage is not known.]: 16 Whose sisters [i.e. the daughters of Jesse and the sisters of these seven sons of Jesse] - Whose sisters were Zeruiah, and Abigail. And the sons of Zeruiah; Abishai, and Joab, and Asahel [Asahel had already died], three. 17 And Abigail [i.e. Zeruiah's sister] bare Amasa: and the father of Amasa was Jether the Ishmeelite.

This means that Amasa and Joab were cousins. Furthermore, since their mothers were both sisters of David, this means that David was the uncle of both of them.

I. DAVID WAS PURSUED BY ABSALOM - 17:24-26

II Samuel 17:24-26 - (24) Then David came to Mahanaim [i.e. A city east of the Jordan River whose exact location is unknown.]. And Absalom passed over Jordan, he and all the men of Israel with him. (25) And Absalom [i.e. David's son] made Amasa [i.e. Absalom's cousin and David's nephew] captain of the host [i.e. captain of the army] instead of Joab [i.e. in place of Joab who was captain of the army under David]: which Amasa was a man's son, whose name was Ithra an Israelite [He is referred to as Jether the Ishmeelite in I Chronicles 2:17 . The names Jether and Ithra are similar in Hebrew, but I cannot explain this how I Chronicles 2 says Ishmeelite and II Samuel 17 says Israelite. Perhaps one of them is a grandfather, great grandfather, or earlier ancestor with some Ishmeelite blood mixed in.], that went in to Abigail the daughter of Nahash, sister to Zeruiah Joab's mother. (26) So Israel and Absalom pitched [i.e. encamped, set up camp] in the land of Gilead [a general region east of the Jordan River].

II Samuel 17:24-26 is confusing. What is clear is that Abigail and Zeruiah were sisters and that Nahash was a parent of Abigail and Zeruiah. Although Nahash is a masculine name, whether Nahash is their mother or their father is not clear. Since I Chronicles 2:16 , which we have already considered, calls Jesse the father of Abigail and Zeruiah, three possibilities for understanding the identify of Nahash have been suggested:

(1) Nahash, although a masculine name, was the name of the sisters' mother. We have names which have been used for both genders - Tracey, Lynn, Jamie.

(2) Nahash was an alternative name for Jesse.

(3) Nahash was a the name of a former husband of Jesse's wife.

Comparing I Chronicles 2:13-17 with II Samuel 17:24-26 , we know that Amasa and Joab were cousins. Furthermore, since their mothers were both at least half-sisters of David, this means that David was the uncle of both Amasa and Joab. Therefore, David has one son and one nephew ready to kill him and one nephew ready to defend him. What a mess there was in this family!

II. DAVID WAS BEFRIENDED BY SHOBI, MACHIR, AND BARZILLAI - 17:27-29

II Samuel 17:27-29 - (27) And it came to pass, when David was come to Mahanaim, that Shobi the son of Nahash of Rabbah of the children of Ammon, and Machir the son of Ammiel of Lodebar, and Barzillai the Gileadite of Rogelim, (28) Brought beds, and basons [i.e. basins or bowls], and earthen vessels [i.e. pottery], and wheat, and barley, and flour, and parched corn [i.e. roasted grain], and beans, and lentiles [i.e. Lentils are legumes usually having two seeds in each pod.], and parched pulse [i.e. roasted seeds], (29) And honey, and butter, and sheep, and cheese of kine [i.e. cheese from cows], for David, and for the people that were with him, to eat: for they said, The people is hungry, and weary, and thirsty, in the wilderness.

Just when they needed it most, God provided what they needed. God is every merciful.

I Corinthians 10:13 - There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

III. DAVID ORGANIZES HIS MEN - 18:1-2

II Samuel 18:1-2 - (1) And David numbered the people that were with him, and set captains of thousands, and captains of hundreds over them. (2) And David sent forth a third part of the people under the hand of Joab, and a third part under the hand of Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab's brother, and a third part under the hand of Ittai the Gittite. And the king said unto the people, I will surely go forth with you myself also.

In spite of His judgment upon David, God gave David opportunity to get organized so that he could win the ensuing battle. Although Absalom thought he would win the battle against David, Absalom will not win.

IV. DAVID IS PROTECTED - 18:3-8

Sometimes things happen which are particularly distasteful. Praise the Lord, He understands this. Sometimes things need to be done, but He does not require that we do them personally. Even though some things were of necessity going to take place, David would not be required to do them himself.

1. David was not required to go to battle against his son - 18:3-4

II Samuel 18:3-4 - (3) But the people answered, Thou shalt not go forth: for if we flee away, they will not care for us; neither if half of us die, will they care for us: but now thou art worth ten thousand of us: therefore now it is better that thou succour us [i.e. help us] out of the city [i.e. you should stay here in this city and help us from here]. (4) And the king said unto them, What seemeth you best I will do. And the king stood by the gate side, and all the people came out by hundreds and by thousands.

2. David would not have to order Absalom's execution - 18:5

II Samuel 18:5 - And the king commanded Joab and Abishai and Ittai, saying, Deal gently for my sake with the young man, even with Absalom. And all the people heard when the king gave all the captains charge concerning Absalom.

Now, from a practical standpoint, how are you supposed to do this with someone who is trying to kill you and the king you are defending?

3. David was not required to fight against Israel - 18:6-8

II Samuel 18:6-8 - (6) So the people went out into the field against Israel: and the battle was in the wood of Ephraim; (7) Where the people of Israel were slain before the servants of David, and there was there a great slaughter that day of twenty thousand men. (8) For the battle was there scattered over the face of all the country: and the wood devoured more people that day than the sword devoured.

V. ABSALOM IS SLAIN - 18:9-17

II Samuel 18:9-17 - (9) And Absalom met the servants of David. And Absalom rode upon a mule, and the mule went under the thick boughs [i.e. branches] of a great oak, and his head caught hold of the oak, and he was taken up between the heaven and the earth; and the mule that was under him went away. [Now, how do you get your head caught in an oak tree? Why couldn't he get out of this predicament? Was he unconscious? Did he somehow get his neck wedged into some fork in the tree? Was he caught by his hair? Note that the text says "his head caught hold of the oak," not "his hair caught hold of the oak." However it happened, it was the LORD Who put Absalom in this predicament where he was suspended in mid-air with his head in a tree from which he was not able to escape.] (10) And a certain man saw it, and told Joab, and said, Behold, I saw Absalom hanged [i.e. hanging] in an oak. (11) And Joab said unto the man that told him, And, behold, thou sawest him, and why didst thou not smite him [i.e. strike him] there to the ground? and I would have given thee ten shekels of silver, and a girdle [i.e. a belt, particularly a warrior's belt]. (12) And the man said unto Joab, Though I should receive a thousand shekels of silver in mine hand, yet would I not put forth mine hand against the king's son: for in our hearing the king charged thee and Abishai and Ittai, saying, Beware that none touch the young man Absalom. [According to verse 5, what was said is, "Deal gently {i.e. be gentle} for my sake with the young man, even with Absalom." It's not exactly the same thing as "Beware that none touch the young man Absalom."] (13) [The soldier continues speaking with Absalom, saying] Otherwise I should have wrought falsehood [i.e. I would have dealt falsely] against mine own life: for there is no matter hid from the king, and thou thyself wouldest have set thyself against me [i.e. you, Joab, would have set yourself against me]. (14) Then said Joab, I may not tarry thus with thee [i.e. I will not waste my time with you]. And he took three darts [i.e. These were not the sort of darts you might throw at a dart board; they were three spears or javelins] in his hand, and thrust them through the heart of Absalom, while he was yet alive in the midst of the oak. (15) And ten young men that bare Joab's armour compassed about [i.e. encircled or surrounded] and smote [i.e. struck] Absalom, and slew him [i.e. killed him] [It would seem to me that three spears to the heart of someone would have killed him. In any case, whether Joab killed Absalom with his three spears to the heart and the men who surrounded Absalom merely made sure that he was dead, or whether Absalom just seriously wounded him and the men finished him off, is not clear. What matters is that Absalom was dead.]. (16) And Joab blew the trumpet, and the people returned from pursuing after Israel: for Joab held back the people. (17) And they took Absalom, and cast him into a great pit in the wood, and laid a very great heap of stones upon him: and all Israel [i.e. Absalom's forces] fled every one to his tent [i.e. to his home].

This fulfilled God's appointment to bring evil upon Absalom.

I remind you of -

II Samuel 17:14 - And Absalom and all the men of Israel said, The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel. For the Lord had appointed to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, to the intent that the Lord might bring evil upon Absalom.

VI. ABSALOM'S PILLAR - 18:18

II Samuel 18:18 - Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and reared up for himself a pillar, which is in the king's dale [i.e. in the king's valley]: for he said, I have no son to keep my name in remembrance: and he called the pillar after his own name: and it is called unto this day, Absalom's place [i.e. Absalom's monument]. [So the monument was still there and able to be seen when II Samuel was written.]

Now Absalom had two pillars, one which he had erected in his own honor; and the other, a pillar of stone which was mounded over his dead body. Now Absalom is now no longer famous because of his erecting a pillar in his own honor and of having a mound of stones over his dead body. Instead, he is famous because his name has been recorded in the Bible because he murdered his brother and because he engaged in an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow King David. His name will live on in infamy, and every child brought up in Sunday school knows about him.

VII. ABSALOM'S DEATH WAS MADE KNOWN - 18:19-32

Absalom had to die, and his death had to be made known, regardless of how David felt about it. They did not have the convenience of modern communications. To send a message, they would send a runner who would deliver the message.

II Samuel 18:19-32 - (19) Then said Ahimaaz the son of Zadok, Let me now run, and bear the king tidings, how that the Lord hath avenged him of his enemies. (20) And Joab said unto him, Thou shalt not bear tidings this day, but thou shalt bear tidings another day: but this day thou shalt bear no tidings, because the king's son is dead. (21) Then said Joab to Cushi [i.e. to the Cushite, i.e. the Ethiopian], Go tell the king what thou hast seen. And Cushi [i.e. the Cushite, i.e. the Ethiopian] bowed himself unto Joab, and ran. (22) Then said Ahimaaz the son of Zadok yet again to Joab, But howsoever [i.e. but whatever happens], let me, I pray thee, also run after Cushi [i.e. the Cushite, i.e. the Ethiopian]. And Joab said, Wherefore wilt thou run [i.e. why will you run], my son, seeing that thou hast no tidings [i.e. no news] ready? (23) But howsoever [i.e. whatever happens], said he, Let me run. And he said unto him, Run. Then Ahimaaz ran by the way of the plain, and overran Cushi [i.e. the Cushite, i.e. the Ethiopian]. (24) And David sat between the two gates: and the watchman went up to the roof over the gate unto the wall, and lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold a man running alone. (25) And the watchman cried, and told the king. And the king said, If he be alone, there is tidings [i.e. news] in his mouth. And he came apace, and drew near [literally, he came coming and came near, implying, he came closer and closer]. (26) And the watchman saw another man running: and the watchman called unto the porter, and said, Behold another man running alone. And the king said, He also bringeth tidings [i.e. news]. (27) And the watchman said, Me thinketh the running of the foremost [i.e. of the first one] is like the running of Ahimaaz the son of Zadok [It is interesting that he could tell who the runner was by the style of his running.]. And the king said, He is a good man, and cometh with good tidings [i.e. with good news]. (28) And Ahimaaz called, and said unto the king, All is well. And he fell down to the earth upon his face before the king, and said, Blessed be the Lord thy God, which hath delivered up the men that lifted up their hand against my lord the king. (29) And the king said, Is the young man Absalom safe? And Ahimaaz answered, When Joab sent the king's servant, and me thy servant, I saw a great tumult, but I knew not what it was. [It doesn't seem to be quite the way it happened, does it? I am guessing that he was trying to be evasive because he did not want to tell the king that Absalom was dead.] (30) And the king said unto him, Turn aside, and stand here. And he turned aside, and stood still. (31) And, behold, Cushi [i.e. the Cushite, i.e. the Ethiopian] came; and Cushi [i.e. the Cushite, i.e. the Ethiopian] said, Tidings [i.e. Good news], my lord the king: for the Lord hath avenged thee this day of all them that rose up against thee. (32) And the king said unto Cushi [i.e. the Cushite, i.e. the Ethiopian], Is the young man Absalom safe? And Cushi [i.e. the Cushite, i.e. the Ethiopian] answered, The enemies of my lord the king, and all that rise against thee to do thee hurt, be as that young man is.

From this statement, the conclusion was naturally drawn that Absalom was dead.

VIII. DAVID'S GRIEF - 18:33

II Samuel 18:33 - And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee [i.e. in your place, instead of you], O Absalom, my son, my son!

Only a parent can understand David's grief over the loss of his son, and in this case David had to know that Absalom's death was at least partly his own fault.

Unfortunately, in order for the rebellion to end, Absalom had to die; and David had to know this; but it still wouldn't make it easy to go through.

CONCLUSION:

Praise God for His mercy even in a time of judgment.