Bible Study Series - David, Shepherd, Servant, King
Absalom takes the throne - The past and future usurper
by F Gordon
One of the consequences of David’s sin with Uriah and Bathsheba was that God would allow adversity to rise within David’s own house (2 Samuel 12.11). This we see being played out in part with the terrible sin of Amnon, David’s son, who raped Tamar, Absaloms sister. Absalom hated his brother for this deed and it festered for 2 years in his mind until he came up with a plan to murder his brother (2 Samuel 13.22-29).
We have two main characters who opposed David, the first one Saul persecuted him and tried to kill him. The second is Absalom, David’s son. He rose up to usurp the throne and in this way is a picture of Satan who wants to place himself in a position of authority to be worshipped. After killing his brother Amnon, Absalom fled to Geshur for 3 years and then returned to Jerusalem for 2 more years. David did not want to see his son’s face during this time. He was giving Absalom the silent treatment for murdering his brother.
Perfect and without blemish
2 Samuel 14. 25-26 Now in all Israel there was no one who was praised as much as Absalom for his good looks. From the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him. 26 And when he cut the hair of his head--at the end of every year he cut it because it was heavy on him--when he cut it, he weighed the hair of his head at two hundred shekels according to the king's standard.
No one was praised for his good looks as much as Absalom. From his little toe to his head there was no blemish. His hair grew in abundance and outwardly he was 10/10, a beautiful specimen of manliness. But his life was like a grave covered with beautiful flowers that hides the decay and corruption within. In this way he is a picture of Satan who was also called perfect and without blemish.
Ezekiel 28.12-13 "Son of man, take up a lamentation for the king of Tyre, and say to him, 'Thus says the Lord God: "You were the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. 13 You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The sardius, topaz, and diamond, Beryl, onyx, and jasper, Sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes Was prepared for you on the day you were created.
Here the writer goes beyond the natural ‘King of Tyre’ to describe Satan the unseen ruler. He was perfect, the wisest and most beautiful of God’s creation. He was the chief angel in charge of worship in heaven.
Ezekiel 28.14-15 "You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. 15 You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, Till iniquity was found in you.
He was of the highest order, the anointed cherub that covers. He was perfect in all his ways, from his creation until iniquity was found in him. The sin that was found in Satan was the first and original sin - pride (Isaiah 14.12-14).
Ezekiel 28. 16 "By the abundance of your trading You became filled with violence within, And you sinned; Therefore I cast you as a profane thing Out of the mountain of God; And I destroyed you, O covering cherub, From the midst of the fiery stones.
Arnold Fruchtenbaum in his book, ‘Footsteps of the Messiah’ comments on this verse, “In Hebrew the term trading or traffic means to go from angel to angel slandering God in order to win their allegiance. Eventually one third followed him in rebellion. In this way he became the originator of lying and the ‘father of lies’ as stated in John 8.44.”
A mission to be worshipped
2 Samuel 15.1 After this it happened that Absalom provided himself with chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him.
This would have been quite a spectacle to see but its origin is pride; wanting to be seen as important and influential among men. Absalom wanted to be seen unlike Samuel the prophet who walked from town to town. Absalom like Satan wants to be seen and worshipped and this type of image may play out in the last days as the antichrist sets himself up to rule the world.
2 Samuel 15.2-4 Now Absalom would rise early and stand beside the way to the gate. So it was, whenever anyone who had a lawsuit came to the king for a decision, that Absalom would call to him and say, "What city are you from?" And he would say, "Your servant is from such and such a tribe of Israel." 3 Then Absalom would say to him, "Look, your case is good and right; but there is no deputy of the king to hear you." 4 Moreover Absalom would say, "Oh, that I were made judge in the land, and everyone who has any suit or cause would come to me; then I would give him justice."
Absalom was very shrewd; he rose early and sat in the gate and then reached out to troubled people. He sympathised with them saying that their case was right and if only there was a person to hear them. Oh by the way if I were judge you would get justice. So he stole away the hearts of the men of Israel from David.
This is Satan’s method, to create a want or need to get the throne. Absalom tried to show that he cared but only with the intention of elevating himself to the throne. This is what Satan did with Eve, he questioned God’s word to her, he created a want and need, the fruit looked good and it would make her wise so she sinned. This is Satan’s way of deception with mankind and he will deceive again in the last days by creating a need that will elevate him to the throne to be worshipped. There will also be a social aspect to the antichrist: he will act as though he cares for our needs but it will be a deception. His real mission is to be worshipped.
Daniel 8.23-25 "And in the latter time of their kingdom, When the transgressors have reached their fullness, A king shall arise, Having fierce features, Who understands sinister schemes. 24 His power shall be mighty, but not by his own power; He shall destroy fearfully, And shall prosper and thrive; He shall destroy the mighty, and also the holy people. 25 "Through his cunning He shall cause deceit to prosper under his rule; And he shall exalt himself in his heart. He shall destroy many in their prosperity. He shall even rise against the Prince of princes; But he shall be broken without human means.
The false prophet
While Absalom stole the hearts of Israel he still needed a religious man to support him in taking the throne from his father. This man was Ahithophel which means brother of folly. As 2 Samuel 16.23 tells us, he was a close counsel to David, a man who knew the thoughts of God and was revered as God’s voice to the people. Psalms 55.12-14 shows us how deeply David was hurt that his close companion, who was involved in Godly matters, would betray him.
Psalms 41.9 Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, Who ate my bread, Has lifted up his heel against me.
Jesus quoted this passage in John 13.18. Just as David was betrayed by Ahithophel, we have the same event being played out in Jesus' life with the betrayal by Judas. Both Ahithophel and Judas had an appearance of being men of God but both were betrayers. Ahithophel is a type of the false prophet in revelation that assists the beast to take the throne. The false prophet will come in a similar manner, having an appearance of Godliness. Ahithophel’s advice to Absalom was first to behave in a perverted manner 2 Samuel 16.21-22, then secondly to resort to violence against David in 2 Samuel 17.1-2. So also as Revelation 13.7 states, violence will come to the saints in the tribulation. However, Ahithophel’s advice was overridden by Hushai (2 Samuel 17.15-16) and later in 2 Samuel 17.23, when he realised his advice was not followed, Ahithophel put his house in order and hung himself just as Judas the betrayer did.
2 Samuel 18.9-18 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 armour surrounded Absalom, and struck and killed him. 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.
Absalom’s pride sought to usurp the throne but here we see it led to his death. His hair which grew in abundance and gave him such praise was caught in a tree which left him hanging and vulnerable. Joab eventually put three spears through him. In his lifetime Absalom erected a monument to himself so he would be remembered. The man that is consumed with himself and not God has nothing but empty works to show for his life.
Let us flee
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."
The rebellion had grown strong and the message came to David “the hearts of the men of Israel are with Absalom”. What will David do? Will he gather his mighty men and fight for what is his, will he crush his son’s rebellion and cling to the throne or will he look for the bag that he always had packed when Saul persecuted his life? David did what he had always done concerning the throne, he left it in God’s hands. He refused to fight for the throne, that was God’s business. So he took flight and fled.
2 Samuel 15.23 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.
David and his faithful followers crossed over the brook Kidron which means mourning or dark place. This was a journey of betrayal and trial for David and one of great humiliation. Jesus also made this same journey after Judas had left to betray him. He also crossed the brook Kidron with his followers on his way to Gethsemane. It was also a walk of betrayal, one of testing as to God’s will for Him and one of humiliation as he was to be made sin on our behalf so that we could be reconciled to God.
A commitment to God’s will
2 Samuel 15. 24-26 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 favour 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."
We see David laying down his life to the will of God for him. It was up to God, “let him do to me as seems good to Him”. This is the language of John 12.23-25 which Jesus, as he made this walk over the Kidron, had to face. If it is possible Jesus said, remove this cup from me but not my will but yours be done.?
2 Samuel 16.5-8 Now when King David came to Bahurim, there was a man from the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei the son of Gera, coming from there. He came out, cursing continuously as he came. 6 And he threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David. And all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left. 7 Also Shimei said thus when he cursed: "Come out! Come out! You bloodthirsty man, you rogue! 8 The Lord has brought upon you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned; and the Lord has delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom your son. So now you are caught in your own evil, because you are a bloodthirsty man!"
When we are going through testing and trials events sometimes seem to keep rolling in one after the other. So it was for David. While he was fleeing his son Shimei came cursing and throwing stones at David. He was a descendent of Saul and his accusation was unjust for David was gracious with Saul refusing on many occasions to harm him.
2 Samuel 16.9 Then Abishai the son of Zeruiah said to the king, "Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Please, let me go over and take off his head!"
This was all too much for Abishai to handle. He reacted like we do at times when we are called names and unjust things are said about us. We naturally want to lash out, put them in their place and defend our self esteem.
2 Samuel 16.10-11 But the king said, "What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? So let him curse, because the Lord has said to him, 'Curse David.' Who then shall say, 'Why have you done so?' " 11 And David said to Abishai and all his servants, "See how my son who came from my own body seeks my life. How much more now may this Benjamite? Let him alone, and let him curse; for so the Lord has ordered him.
David however recognises that all this injustice is coming from the hand of God. This is God’s discipline and he refused to react and get even. Instead, he laid down his life so that God may have his will. David was entering into Christ's sufferings; they both made this journey of being betrayed, mocked and humiliated. At times God’s will for us will be the same.
1 Peter 2.20-25 For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. 21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 22 "Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth"; 23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness--by whose stripes you were healed. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
This is our calling saints, to enter into Christ’s suffering. David and Jesus did not revile or threaten in return but committed themselves to God’s will. Remember He is the shepherd and overseer of our souls.