Absalom returned to Jerusalem only to be shunned by his father David. By the time Absalom forced a move toward reconciliation, it’s not clear how sincere it was on David’s part and it most assuredly wasn’t sincere on the part of Absalom. Absalom had allowed himself to become filled with bitterness and he was determined to take David down.
Absalom “stole the hearts of all the people of Israel” (II Samuel 15:6b, NLT). Sitting at the city gate each morning, “When people tried to bow before him, Absalom wouldn’t let them. Instead, he took them by the hand and kissed them” (II Samuel 15:5). As he built himself up with phony humility, he subtly tore his father down:
“When people brought a case to the king for judgment, Absalom would ask where in Israel they were from, and they would tell him their tribe. Then Absalom would say, ‘You’ve really got a strong case here! It’s too bad the king doesn’t have anyone to hear it. I wish I were the judge. Then everyone could bring their cases to me for judgment, and I would give them justice!’” (II Samuel 15:2b-4). Absalom was starting to look really good to the people of Israel.
During all those years since the rape of his sister Tamar, Absalom had certainly learned patience. It wasn’t until “After four years, Absalom said to the king, ‘Let me go to Hebron to offer a sacrifice to the Lord and fulfill a vow I made to him. For while your servant was at Geshur in Aram, I promised to sacrifice to the Lord in Hebron if he would bring me back to Jerusalem” (II Samuel 15:7-8).
David, clueless as to what Absalom was plotting, gave his permission: “‘All right,’ the king told him. ‘Go and fulfill your vow’” (II Samuel 15:9a).
“So Absalom went to Hebron. But while he was there, he sent secret messengers to all the tribes of Israel to stir up a rebellion against the king. ‘As soon as you hear the ram’s horn,’ his message read, ‘you are to say, ‘Absalom has been crowned king in Hebron.’ He took 200 men from Jerusalem with him as guests, but they knew nothing of his intentions” (II Samuel 15:9a-11).
How many times have we all been warned to be careful of the company we keep? “200 men from Jerusalem” went with Absalom to Hebron, “but they knew nothing of his intentions.” Since they had accompanied Absalom, though, it was naturally assumed that they were politically siding with him.
The guys who had gone along with Absalom on the trip to Hebron “to sacrifice to the Lord” soon found themselves in the midst of a conspiracy. Messengers had been covertly sent to every Israelite tribe, telling them to announce that “Absalom has been crowned king in Hebron.” Had he? No, but Absalom had made sure the whole country would believe he had.
David’s whole world was about to be turned upside down.
“What you don’t see with your eyes, don’t witness with your mouth.” (Jewish proverb)
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates