Absalom told his father David that he needed to go to “Hebron to offer a sacrifice to the Lord and fulfill a vow I made to Him” (II Samuel 15:7b, NLT). David gave his permission and Absalom left, taking “200 men from Jerusalem with him as guests, but they knew nothing of his intentions” (II Samuel 15:11).
“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’” (II Samuel 15:9b-10).
From the looks of things, Absalom already had a pretty good following; but what people in Jerusalem didn’t realize was that the guys who’d gone with Absalom had no idea he was plotting “a rebellion.” And Absalom was just getting started.
“While Absalom was offering the sacrifices, he sent for Ahithophel, one of David’s counselors who lived in Giloh. Soon many others also joined Absalom, and the conspiracy gained momentum” (II Samuel 15:12).
Ahithophel was a key man as “one of David’s counselors,” so having him on Absalom’s side would be quite a coup. Why? He was the grandfather of Bathsheba. How do we know this? Second Samuel 11:3b identifies Bathsheba as “Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam” and Second Samuel 23:34b lists “Eliam son of Ahithophel from Giloh.”
Once Ahithophel joined Absalom and realized what he was up to, he may have decided this was his chance to get even with David for how he had treated his granddaughter. Whatever the case, he was a smart choice on Absalom’s part as he started the door swinging in Absalom’s favor: “many others also joined Absalom, and the conspiracy gained momentum.”
“A messenger soon arrived in Jerusalem to tell David, ‘All Israel has joined Absalom in a conspiracy against you!’” (II Samuel 15:13).
Like most rumors, these began with a lie and then mushroomed completely out of proportion. “All Israel” hadn’t “joined Absalom in a conspiracy” against David. But David believed what he was hearing.
“‘Then we must flee at once, or it will be too late!’ David urged his men. ‘Hurry! If we get out of the city before Absalom arrives, both we and the city of Jerusalem will be spared from disaster’” (II Samuel 15:14).
Cities were often demolished during warfare and David didn’t want to see this happen to Jerusalem; so he chose to remove himself in hopes of keeping Jerusalem “from disaster.” Those who were loyal to him went along: “‘We are with you,’ his advisers replied. ‘Do what you think is best’” (II Samuel 15:15).
“So the king and all his household set out at once. He left no one behind except ten of his concubines to look after the palace. The king and all his people set out on foot, pausing at the last house to let all the king’s men move past to lead the way. There were 600 men from Gath who had come with David, along with the king’s bodyguard” (II Samuel 15:16-18).
Seems to me that David had more than enough manpower to handle Absalom. But instead, David chose to flee. Why? In spite of his failures as a father, David loved his son and didn’t want to see any harm come to him. He preferred to tuck tail and run in personal humiliation.
A father will put himself through a lot for his children. Our Heavenly Father paid the ultimate price for ours sins. What are we doing to thank Him?
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates