Last week we left David in very sad shape. His son Absalom had rebelled against him, had gone down to Hebron and had gathered Israel to his support, who he had gradually been enticing away from his father. When he felt that he had enough strength, he announced his kingdom, and began moving with his troops towards Jerusalem.
David, rather than having a direct confrontation with his son Absalom, began to flee from Jerusalem with a great company of people with him. Leaving the city of Jerusalem, going through the valley of the Kidron, and up over the mount of Olives, covering his head with a handkerchief, and weeping as he went.
At this particular time it seemed that it gave David’s enemies all a chance to come out and get their licks in against David. Shimei who was one of the relatives of Saul came along, cursed David, threw rocks at him and his company. Abashi one of David’s generals wanted to take the guy’s head off, but David said, “No, maybe God laid upon his heart to curse me, let him go.”
We notice that David was very resigned to all of these things that were happening. He accepted them as really God’s judgment against him for his sins. For when David sinned against the Lord, and Nathan the prophet came to David, Nathan told him that, “Because of this sin the sword will not depart from your house, but your very children will rise up in rebellion against you. Your wives will be humiliated in the sight of all of the people.” So the fact that his own son is now rising up against him, David accepted this as just a part of God’s judgment. So rather than trying to fight God’s judgment upon his life, David is submitting himself totally to the judgment of God. He makes no endeavor to defend himself against this judgment of God, but he accepts it. When his men would stand up and fight, he’d say, “No, maybe God’s meaning this as a part of His judgment. Let’s fall where they will.”
He received this in a very submitting way, submitting himself unto God in these things, and submitting the whole case unto God. In this submission to the Lord, David is extremely honorable. It is just really remarkable to me how that David, this tremendous man of war, and valor, and all, just really makes no endeavor to fight, or to hold up his cause, but yields to the extent that he allows this Shimei to run along the hillside above him throwing rocks at him, and cursing him and all.
So we left David at that point, fleeing from Jerusalem, and his counselor of old times, Ahithophel turning unto Absalom, and joining with Absalom against David. Of course we pointed out that this actually was the basis of one of David’s psalms, concerning, “it was you, mine own equal who turned against me. If it were an enemy, I could’ve taken it, but you my friend, we went into the house of God together.” And David’s lament over Ahithophel turning from him.
Now as we get into chapter seventeen, Ahithophel formerly David’s counselor is now advising his son Absalom.
And he said, Now the best thing to do is to let me have ten thousand men, and let me pursue after David immediately: And we will catch him while he is weak and while he is tired: and the men that are with him will flee from him; and I’ll only kill David: [The rest of the people, when they see that David is dead, they’ll have no further cause to fight, and so they will all submit to you as king] (17:1-2):
So Ahithophel was counseling Absalom in this way. The counsel seemed good to all of the men to attack while the opportunity was there, and while it seemed right, while David was fleeing, while he was weakened, and in this weakened state, catch him now, kill only David, and then the rest falling into Absalom.
So Hushai who was David’s friend, who David sent back to sort of counter man the counsel of Ahithophel.
Hushai now suggested that,
No the counsel of Ahithophel isn’t good (17:7).
For David and his men, they are valiant men, you know how tough they are, and they are right now like a lion that has been robbed of her little cubs. They’re like a lion that has been cornered; you attack them now, and they’re going to be vicious. Their backs are against the wall, and they’re going to be even more valiant than normal if you seek to attack them now. What’s going to happen is that with their backs against the wall, they’re going to be fighting like everything. And after they wipe out the first contingent, then news is going to spread through all of Israel that your unit that went out to capture David was wiped out, and all of Israel is going to be afraid, because they know how tough and how valiant David and his men are.
So he said don’t attack them right away, but wait and summon together all of Israel. Get the whole nation down here that you might go with a great invasion against David, and thus take him. And let Absalom lead the armies against David and so that the people will see that Absalom is able to lead the people into war. So the counsel of Hushai seemed to be good, and they all went along with Hushai’s counsel to wait and gather all of Israel together, and then let Absalom lead in the battle against David.
So David did have his men stationed in Jerusalem, his CIA, and they said to these two fellas, "Run and tell David what the counsel of Ahithophel was, and let him know what’s going on."
So these two fellows went out to—well, they said go tell this wench and let her go tell him. So the story goes how they hid in a well, and so forth.
But Ahithophel [was a sore loser, because he saw that his advice was not followed, verse twenty three] when Ahithophel saw that the counsel, his counsel was not followed, he saddled his donkey, and he arose, and went home to his house, to his city, he put his house in order, and hung himself, and died, and was buried in the sepulchre of his father (17:23).
That’s what you call a poor loser. Absalom didn’t follow his counsel, and so the guy went home, set his house in order, and committed suicide.
Now probably Ahithophel was wise enough to realize that Absalom was so vain that the counsel of Hushai actually catered to the vanity of Absalom.
“Let Absalom lead the armies so the people can see how wonderful Absalom is.”
He probably at this point realized, “I’ve made a blunder in hitching myself to Absalom’s rising star. This young guy doesn’t have enough sense.” He probably realized that Absalom was going to fall. Thus, he figured if Absalom fell, then it would be his neck in the noose, anyhow, because of the fact that he had dealt so treacherously with David, and turned against David his friend, the one that he had counseled, and the one that had been so close to him. He realized that when Absalom was destroyed that he would also probably be destroyed by David for this treacherous turnaround on his part. And therefore, rather than fall into the hands of David, realizing that Hushai’s counsel was going to lead to disaster, he was only seeking to bail out before the disaster came.
Ahithophel, a very wise man, noted for his counsel; he shows certain wisdom in that he set his house in order, got everything all prepared, but then he shows great folly in taking his own life. Wise men often do stupid things. Ahithophel is a classic example.
So Absalom led the troops over Jordan, and all of the men of Israel with him [as he was pursuing after his father David.] And Absalom made Amasa the captain of his host instead of Joab: [Now Joab, of course, was captain or general over the armies of Israel under David, Joab and his brother Abashi. But now Absalom makes Amasa the general over the armies of Israel.] And Absalom pitched in the land of Gilead. [Which is the area up around the southern end of the Sea of Galilee over on the Jordanian side.] And it came to pass, when David was come to Mahanaim, that Shobi the son of Nahash of the children of Ammon, and Machir the Gileadite, brought beads, and basons, and earthen vessels, and wheat, and barley, and flour, parched corn, beans, and lentils, and parched pulse, and honey, and butter, and sheep, and cheese of the cows, for David, and for the people that were with him to eat: for they said, The people are hungry, and weary, and thirsty, in this wilderness (17:24-29).
So David numbered the people that were with him, and he set the captains over the thousands, and captains over the hundreds. And David sent forth a third part of the people under the hand of Joab, a third part under the hand of Abishai who was the brother of Joab, and a third part under Ittai the Gittite. And the king said unto the people, I will surely go forth with you myself also (18:1-2).
So now David is preparing to defend himself, and he divides the people that were with him, the men of war, into three companies, and David volunteers to go with them.
And they said, “No, you shouldn’t go into battle with us. You stay back here because really you’re the one they want. If we should fall in battle it doesn’t make any difference, they’re really not after us; they’re only after you. And if you go out there you’re just going to put yourself in jeopardy because you’re the one they’re after. And so we’ll go out and we will fight for you.
And so the king called Joab [David called Joab] and Abashi and Ittai, and he said, Deal gently for my sake with the young man, even with Absalom (18:5).
So he orders them, “Now look, you know, deal gently with him.” Even though Absalom had rebelled against his father, yet he was still his son, and David still had a great love for his son Absalom.
And so the people went out into the field against Israel: and they met them in the woods of Ephraim; and the people of Israel were slain before the servants of David, and there was a great slaughter of twenty thousand men. For the battle was scattered over the face of all the country: and the woods devoured more people that day than the sword. And Absalom met the servants of David. And Absalom rode upon a mule, and the mule went under a thick bough of a great oak, and his head caught hold of the oak, and he was taken up between heaven and the earth; and the mule that was under him went away (18:6-9).
Now you remember that Absalom grew hair profusely. In fact, when they would shave his head every year, there were three to four pounds of hair. They would shave his head, and pull it and all, each year, he had three to four pounds of hair. So hair can be an attractive thing, but it can also be a disastrous thing. For Absalom it was a disaster as he was riding on his donkey, riding under this branch of an oak tree, his hair got caught in the oak and the donkey kept going and he was there swinging by his hair from that oak branch.
And a certain man saw him, and he told Joab, and he said, Behold, I saw Absalom hanging on an oak. And Joab said to the man that told him, You saw him, why didn’t you smite him? and I would’ve rewarded you ten shekels of silver, and a girdle. And the man said to Joab, If you’d give me a thousand shekels of silver in my hand, I wouldn’t put forth my hand to touch him, because I heard what David told you that you shouldn’t touch his son Absalom. I would’ve wrought falsehood against my own life: for there is no matter that is hid from the king, and thou thyself would’ve set yourself against me (18:10-13).
So the guy says, “Hey, think I’m crazy? I know David, nothing’s hidden from him. He doesn’t want his son Absalom touched. You yourself would witness against me.”
So Joab said, I shouldn’t wait with you. And he took three darts in his hand, and he thrust them though the heart of Absalom, while he was still alive there in the midst of the oak. And the ten young men that bare Joab’s armour circled about and smote Absalom, and they killed him. And Joab blew the trumpet, and the people returned from pursuing after the Israelites: for Joab restrained the people. And they took Absalom and they cast him into a great pit, and they threw [a lot of] a great heap of stones upon him (18:14-17):
During Absalom’s lifetime we read that he had made a sort of a tower, a monument after and named it after his own name. This pillar he called “Absalom’s place.”
Now there is in Jerusalem today, in the valley of the Kidron down beneath what they call the pinnacle of the temple which is the corner of the mount that Herod built for the temple in his day, there was down there at the bottom of the Kidron, a sort of a burial place, a pillar, a monument, that is called “Absalom’s Tower.” However, most of the noted archeologists say that it dates to some period after Absalom and is not in reality the tower that is mentioned here in the Bible. However, by making of a biblical thing, more people go down to look at it.
But Absalom had a pillar that he had erected, a monument, and it’s set up in a valley. For he said, “I have no son to keep my name in remembrance.” Now this is interesting because the Scripture said that he had two sons. So either his sons, both of them, died young or he built the pillar before his sons were born. One of the two, we don’t know which it might be.
So Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said [to Joab], Let me run, and tell David the news. And Joab said to Ahimaaz, Nah, you’ll run some other day: and he called Cushi, and he said, Go and tell the king what you have seen. And so Cushi bowed himself and began to run. And Ahimaaz came back again, and he said, I want to run, please let me run, I want to tell the king. And finally Joab said, Okay run. [And Ahimaaz was a faster runner, and so before long he overtook old Cushi as he was puffing along, and left him in the dust.] And David was sitting in the gate of the city: and the guy upon the tower called down, and he said, There is a runner coming, he’s by himself. And David said, If he’s by himself, then he bears news. Pretty soon he calls and says there’s a second runner coming by himself, the first runner looks like the running of Ahimaaz. And David said, If it’s Ahimaaz it’s good news. And so Ahimaaz came puffing in, and Ahimaaz was called by David over to him, and he said to David, Every thing is well. And he fell down on his face before the king and he said, Blessed be the Lord thy God, which has delivered up the men that lifted up their hand against my lord the king (18:19-28).
“It’s all well. God has taken care of those men that have lifted up against you.”
David said, How is Absalom? And he said, Well I saw a great tumult of people (18:29)
“Well, how’s Absalom?” “Well I really don’t know, I just saw a crowd.” He said, “Stand back”, because old Cushi came in about this time.
Now here is an interesting thing to me. Ahimaaz could run well. He was a good runner, he was faster than Cushi, but his problem, he didn’t have any message. Now it doesn’t really matter how well you can run, you need to have a message when you get there. I think that some of us many times make the same mistake.
We say, “I want to run. I want to serve the Lord. Oh, I want to go out and serve the Lord. I’ve been saved for two weeks now.” We go out prematurely before we really have something to share. But so anxious we are to run that we get involved in areas where we are not really qualified. I see it over and over again, people coming and saying, “Let me run. I want to go. I want to go out and preach. I want to go out and share.” It doesn’t matter how well you might run, it’s important that you have a message when you get there, that you have something worthwhile to share. That is why so often we say, “No, just sit and learn. Sit and prepare yourself, sit and grow in your knowledge, so that when you go out, you’ll have a message to share.”
So Cushi then told David that his son Absalom was slain in the battle. And David was very moved, he went up to his chamber over the gate, and as he went up he was crying: saying, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom. would to God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son (18:31-33).
David’s grief for his son Absalom. David was there in his chamber wailing over Absalom.
So they told Joab, David’s really wailing over Absalom’s death. And Joab came unto David and he said, All right now David let’s cut this out. He said, These men have gone out and hazard their lives for you. And they’ve brought you victory over your enemies. But now they are sneaking back into town like they were criminals because of your great grief for Absalom, you’re actually making them ashamed of what they have done. And if you don’t change your behavior in a hurry, they’re all going to turn against you none of them will ever go out and hazard their lives for you again. So you get out there among them. Dry your tears, and go out and congratulate them on the battle or else you’re going to really lose out completely now, because these men that have been so loyal to you will surely turn against you. [This was actually good advice on Joab’s part.] And so David went out among the men there in the gate. And greeted them and so forth, and did really the right thing for these men who had hazard their lives for David (19:1-8).
Now there began then a movement of bringing their king back. Actually they had more or less turned from David, Israel had turned, Jerusalem had turned, and now they have started a movement to bring David back.
And so David came back to the Jordan River, as he was returning to Jerusalem, and the first one to meet him at the Jordan River was this guy Shimei who was throwing rocks and cursing him on his way out. And now that David is coming back, Shimei is down there to visit him, and to greet him, and to welcome him back.
And he fell down before the king [verse eighteen] even as he came to the Jordan river. And he said to David, Let not my lord impute iniquity unto me, neither do thou remember that which thy servant did perversely the day that my lord the king went out of Jerusalem, that the king should take it to his heart. For thy servant doth know that I have sinned: therefore, I am come this first day, and all of the house of Joseph to meet my lord the king. And Abishai [who wanted to take off his head earlier] said to David, Shall not Shimei be put to death for this, because he cursed the Lord’s anointed? And David said, What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah, that you should this day be adversaries unto me? shall there be any man put to death this day in Israel? for do not I know that I am this day king over Israel? Therefore David said to Shimei, Thou shalt not die. And the king sware unto him (19:18-23).
The next one to meet him was Mephibosheth who was the son of Jonathan. They had told David a lie, the servants of Mephibosheth had told David a lie saying that Mephibosheth had pledged allegiance to Abashi, or was trying to take over the kingdom himself after David fled.
So Mephibosheth came to David, and David said, Well how come you turned against me? And Mephibosheth said, That was a lie. I didn’t turn against you David, I’m crippled, and he said, I needed a donkey to ride on, and they deceived me [and they didn’t bring me a donkey, and therefore I was stuck.] (19:24-27):
So David forgave him when he found out that it was all just a lie that had been told to him about Mephibosheth. So they bring back David the king, and this man that had met him and offered him all of these foods, and dainties and all, David sought to bring back, and to be with David in Jerusalem.
The guy said, “Hey man, I’m eighty years old. I’m happy here, and I’m too old to enjoy the dancing girls and all at this point. Why should I go back to Jerusalem? I just as soon die here where I am.” So David thanked him for all of his goodness, and left him.
Now there had been a continual sort of division between the northern tribes of Israel and the southern tribe of Judah. This division of course was manifested in the beginning of David’s reign. David reigned for seven years over Judah before he reigned over all of Israel. Now that there has been this division in the kingdom, this old rivalry rises again. There is this fellow in the northern kingdom, of course later on under David’s grandson Rehoboam there came the complete break, and Jeroboam became king of Israel, and Rehoboam the king of Judah, from that time on there were actually two nations. They never were united again, except in a few battles. The kings would get together in battles but quite often, and more often than not, they were fighting against each other rather than fighting with each other. It became a definite divided kingdom.
Interestingly enough, in the prophecy of Ezekiel where God promises to restore the nation, God promises in the restoration of the nation, that they would be one nation, not two when they were restored. Of course since 1948, in the restoration of the nation Israel, you don’t have the northern tribes versus the southern tribes. But there is a definite unity of all of the nation of Israel. The Scriptures have been totally fulfilled, as they are unified as a nation, one ruler over them, and a unified nation, just as was predicted by Ezekiel so many years ago.
But in chapter twenty, this division is manifested by this particular fellow by the name of Sheba, who is of the tribe of Benjamin. And he blew a trumpet in Israel, which was always a signal gathering people to his cause.
He said, We have no part with David, nor of the son of Jesse: every man to your tent, O Israel. [In other words he was calling for a rebellion against David.] And so every man of Israel left David, and went up to follow Sheba: but the men of Judah stuck with their king. And David came to his house at Jerusalem; and he took the ten women who he had left in charge who were his concubines, [who were humiliated by Absalom there on the roof,] and David put them in a ward, and he fed them, but he would not have relations with them after that. So they were as though living in widowhood from that time on (20:1-3).
Now David had asked Amasa to be one of his generals over his army. Amasa was the one who was the general under Absalom. But when Absalom was killed, David asked him to be one of his generals, but Joab really wanted nothing to do with that.
And so David said to Amasa, Assemble me the men of Judah within three days, and present them here. So Amasa went out to assemble the men of Judah: but he tarried longer than the set time which had been appointed. And David said to Abishai, Now will Sheba do us more harm than Absalom did: take thou the lord’s servants, pursue thou after them, lest he gets into fenced cities and escapes us. So there went out after him Joab’s men, and the Cherethites, and the Pelethites, and all were mighty men: and they all went out of Jerusalem, to pursue after Sheba the son of Bichri. And when they were at a great stone which is in Gibeon, Amasa went before them. And Joab’s garment that he had put on was girded to him, and upon it a girdle with a sword fastened upon his loins and a sheath thereof; and he went forth and it fell out. And Joab said to Amasa, Are you in health, my brother? And Joab took Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him. But Amasa did not take heed to the sword that was in Joab’s hand: so he smote him therewith in the fifth rib, [or in the heart] and he killed Amasa. So Joab and his brother Abashi pursued after Sheba. And one of Joab’s men stood by him, and he said, He that favors Joab, and he that is for David, let him go after Joab. And Amasa wallowed in his own blood there in the midst of the highway. And each man that came up sort of stopped, so they finally threw his body over in the bushes and covered it. And Joab went ahead, pursuing after Sheba who got into a city. And Joab set up to besiege the city. Then a wise woman within the city said, Listen to me; why should you destroy a whole city in Israel, and all of us mothers of Israel. Joab said, [Hey, I don’t want to destroy you. I only want that guy that rebelled against David. And she said, “Well, just wait, and we’ll give him to you.” So she talked to the men of the town. She said, “Look, why should we get wiped out? You know these guys are tough, they’ll wipe out our city. Why should we shelter this guy Sheba, just because he wants to do his own thing against David?] And so they cut off Sheba’s head, and tossed it over the wall to Joab, and Joab returned then unto David without attacking the city (20:4-22).
Now in chapter twenty-one it is recorded that at this time,
There were three years of famine in the land; So David sought the Lord. [Why the famine?] And the Lord said, The famine was in judgment because of the treatment of Saul of the Gibeonites. For Saul had killed many of the Gibeonites (21:1).
Now this is interesting to me because when Joshua was coming in to conquer the land, God said to Joshua, “Don’t make a covenant with any of the people in the land. You’re not to make any treaties, any covenants. Wipe them out.” So after the conquest of the city of Ai, there came to Joshua these old men, with worn out shoes, with moldy bread in their hands, and ragged clothes.
They said, “We’ve come from a long distance, because we’ve heard of your fame, and how that God destroyed the Egyptians and how God is with you. Our leaders have sent us to you to make a league with you that we’ll not attack you, and you’re not to attack us.”
Joshua said, “Well, where are you from?”
They said, “Well, we’re just a long way off. In fact, when we left home, this bread was hot in our hands, but look how moldy it is. These sandals were brand new, look how worn out they are.”
The Bible says, “They took stock of their victuals and inquired not of the Lord.” And they made the covenant with them. They made the same mistake that we often make, using our own “good judgment” instead of seeking God for wisdom and advice. We look over a situation, we say, “Oh well, that’s all right. That’s obvious, Lord, what You want me to do here. I don’t need to really bother You about this. I’ll take care of this matter. I can see what’s going on here, Lord.” We don’t inquire of the Lord.
There is that verse to the song, “Oh what needless pain we bear all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.” That is so true.
So they took stock of their victuals, inquired not of the Lord, and they made this covenant with the Gibeonites. And, as they got to the next city, and they started to deploy the troops, the guy said, “Oh no, you can’t attack this city.”
“What do you mean?”
“This is our city.”
So Joshua realized that he had been snookered by these guys, and so he said, “Okay, I accept it. You’ve deceived me, but,” he said, “you guys are going to have to chop our wood for us and be our servants.” They said, “That’s fine, you know better to be your wood choppers and servants and all, than to be dead.”
Now they made the covenant. God told them not to. They made it, but the interesting thing is, once they made it, God expected them to honor it. Even though the covenant they made was wrong to begin with, even though they had no business making that covenant. Even though they made it in deception, being deceived, once they made it, they were told not to make any covenant to begin with. So they disobeyed God in making it, and in making it, they did it because they were deceived, yet God required that they honor that covenant.
It is interesting to me how that God expects us to honor the covenants that we make. Now I have so many times, people come to me for counsel and they have made a covenant of marriage, and they say, “Oh, it was a mistake. I never should’ve done it.” And they want to disannul the covenant. They want to set aside the covenant that they made, say, “Oh, that was a mistake. I should never have done it and I want to set aside that covenant.” It is interesting to me that once you make a covenant, mistake or not, God expects you to honor that covenant.
Saul broke the covenant with the Gibeonites. He began to kill some of them, and so later on, and this is years later under David’s reign, Saul had been dead for years, Saul has been dead for at least thirty years at this point, but now here comes three years of famine.
David inquires of the Lord, and the Lord said, “This is in judgment because of Saul breaking the covenant with the Gibeonites, and killing many of the Gibeonites.
And so David called the Gibeonites, and said unto them; What shall I do for you? how can I make it right with you, that you may bless the inheritance of the Lord? And the Gibeonites said unto him, We don’t want any silver or gold from Saul, nor from his house; neither do we want you to kill any man in Israel. And he said, Well what shall I do for you? And he answered, and said, The man that consumed us, and devised against us that we should be destroyed from remaining in any of the coasts of Israel, let seven men of his sons be delivered unto us, that we may hang them before the LORD in Gibeah, [the city where Saul lived]. And the king said, I will give them. But the king spared Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan because of his own covenant with Jonathan, but he took the two sons of Rizpah, whom she bare unto Saul, and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite (21:3-8):
Now we are told earlier in the Scriptures that Michal was sort of childless, as David’s punishment to her for her sort of mockery of him when he was dancing before the Lord, as he brought the Ark of the Covenant back from the Kirjath-Jearom when he was bringing it back to Jerusalem. There he was out dancing before the Lord, and when he got home, you know he was all excited. He was going to bless his family, she says, “Aha, weren’t you a pretty one out there today dancing with all of those people like you were a commoner.”
David says, “I’m going to be more common than this” and all. He refused to have relations with her. She did not have—she remained childless till the day of her death. So if you will go back in the record, you will find that these five sons were the sons of Merab, who was the daughter of Saul, who originally was supposed to be given to David for killing Goliath.
Remember Saul said, “If any man kills the giant, I’ll give my son, great rewards.” And so forth. Merab was the daughter that was supposed to have been given to David, but Saul gave him a dirty turn and gave her to someone else. She had five sons, and so these sons that were turned over now to the Gibeonites to be hung, were the five sons of Merab the woman who was supposed to be David’s wife originally. Plus the two others who were actually the sons of Saul from one of his concubines.
And so he delivered them to the Gibeonites, and they hung them all seven, in the days of the barley harvest. And Rizpah the daughter of Aiah [whose two sons were hung] took sackcloth, and spread it upon the rock, from the beginning of harvest until water dropped on them out of heaven, and she did not allow the birds of the air to rest on them by day, nor beasts of the field by night. And it was told David what Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, the concubine of Saul, had done. And David took the bones of Saul and of Jonathan, [and the bones of these fellows] and buried them all together there in one of the burial places in the sepulchre of Kish (21:9-14):
Now beginning with the fifteenth verse, we find that,
The Philistines again make war against David; and David was out in battle against the Philistines: and he began to wax faint. And Ishbibenob, who was one of the sons of Goliath, whose spear had weighed three hundred shekels of brass, he was about ready to kill David. And Abishai the son of Zeruiah helped David, and he smote the Philistine, and he killed him. And then the men of David sware unto him, saying, You’re not to go out into battle with us anymore at all, lest you quench the light of Israel (21:15-17).
So David’s getting a little old now for fighting. He’s out there, he’s out of shape, started to faint, and the son of Goliath just about got him, until Abishai came to his help. And so from this point on, they wouldn’t allow David to go out into battle.
It tells then of the death of the rest of Goliath’s relatives, all of the giants of the Philistines, even ones who had six fingers, and six toes on each hand, twenty four in all as far as his toes and fingers in number.
In chapter twenty-two we have David’s song of deliverance. Here is a psalm that is not in the Psalms, but it is here in second Samuel, and it is like the Psalms. It is one of David’s psalms of God’s deliverance.
He spake unto the Lord the words of this song in the day that the Lord delivered him out of the hands of his enemies, and from Saul: And he said, The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, the horn of my salvation, my high tower, my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence. I will call on the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from my enemies (22:1-4).
David goes on in this beautiful psalm telling of God’s help. How that when he was distressed, and he called upon the Lord, the Lord heard him, and God sent help unto him. Verse twenty-nine David declares,
For thou art my lamp, O Lord: and the Lord will lighten my darkness. For by thee I have run through a troop: by my God I’ve leaped over a wall. As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all of those who trust in him (22:29-31).
A beautiful psalm, I suggest that you read it, and enjoy it as we do enjoy the Psalms.
In chapter twenty-three,
These are the last words of David. The son of Jesse, the man who was raised up on high, the anointed [of God,] of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel. [I like that last title, “the sweet psalmist of Israel.”] The spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue (23:1-2).
So David acknowledges that God spoke by him. It was God’s word that was in his tongue. These words are confirmed in the New Testament. Peter in quoting one of the Psalms of David said, “And David by the mouth of the Holy Ghost spake saying...” attributing the words of David actually to the Holy Spirit. David here himself is attributing his words to the Holy Spirit. As you read the Psalms you realize that surely they must be inspired of God, the worship of God that is actually inspired by God. “The Spirit of the Lord spake by me. His word was in my tongue.”
The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God (23:3).
Oh, I wish that they would put that somewhere in the swearing-in ceremonies of every leader in our country. Anyone who rules over men must do so in justice and the fear of God. What a whole different climate would exist in the United States today if our leaders were each of them just ruling in the fear of God. The problem with man is that he cannot really handle authority. If you don’t believe that just go down to the city council meeting on some Monday night, and watch them as they sit there as little gods wanting everybody to bow to them, and to do their obeisance and “come to me,” and “I” and they’re expecting everybody to just caliber over them. Even in local government. But it only gets worse as you go up the ladder.
I am absolutely appalled at the corruption that exists in the local level of government. What we see in the local levels of government is only just so little compared to what you see when you get further up in the government, because man is totally incapable of ruling over men because he fails to do it in the fear of God. You see, you begin to think that you are the authority, because people are coming to you constantly for favors. People are constantly telling you how wonderful you are, building you up, in order that they might get favors from you and you begin to take the position of making the decisions in authority, not taking into account God, and the fact that you’re going to have to answer to God one day, for each decision that you’ve made. Because if you are in a position of leadership, you actually are representing God, because you’re ruling over people’s lives. Every man who rules over men should do so in justice, in the fear of God.
David said, “came to me powerfully from the Lord.” David’s rule was marked by justice and in the fear of God. David made his mistakes, true. But yet he was aware of his accountability to God, and that is something every leader, every ruler over man needs to be keenly aware of his accountability to God. Someday he’s going to answer to God.
You know there are so often the desire to escape this urban life. “Oh, if I could only live in the country. Oh, if I could only move up into central California into one of those little country towns where things are so clean, and pure and all.”
I have a friend who took the position of Chief of Police in one of these nice little country towns in central California. He’s having a terrible time with the corrupt politicians who are trying to tell him who he can arrest, and who he can’t arrest. Certain things, crimes going on in town, he’s just to overlook those completely. If there are certain people in town that park their cars in the wrong place, they’re not to get ticketed. So he just quit issuing parking tickets. Then they came all upset, “Why aren’t you?” He said, “I can’t do selective enforcement.” But you talk about corruption, it’s all over because man doesn’t have the fear of God in his heart, and doesn’t recognize the fact that he is accountable to God. When man becomes the end in himself, you’ve got corruption in the worst form. It’s a breeding ground for corruption.
I have friends in Sacramento that say no matter how sincere and honest you are, Sacramento has the capacity of corrupting the most honest man within three months. Human government is corrupt to the core. Anybody is naive, and their head is in the sand if they think any different because men are not obedient to the word of God, where the Lord came to him and declared, “He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.” If we would follow that one rule, we could clean up the whole society. If those who were ruling over men were just, and ruling in the fear of God, that would end all the corruption in government. But such is not the case, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be the case in the near future, unless Christ comes.
He shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun rises, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by a clear shining after a rain. Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, and he has ordered in all things, and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow. But the sons of Belial [or Satan] shall all of them be thorns that are thrust away, because you cannot take them up with your hands: But the man that shall touch them must be fenced with iron and the staff of a spear; and they shall utterly be burned with fire in the same place (23:4-7).
Now you have David’s hall of fame. These are the mighty men that were with David, the men that fought in his armies.
Among the chief captains was Adino: [Sounds like Italian] in one time he lifted up his spear against eight hundred men, and killed them. [He was a tough cookie.] After him was Eleazar, one of the three mighty men with David, when they defied the Philistines that were gathered together against Israel: He arose, and he smote the Philistines until his hand was weary, and the hand clave unto the sword: and the LORD wrought a great victory that day; and the people returned after him only to the spoil (23:8-10).
This guy was fighting so long that he couldn’t tell where his hand ended and the sword began. He just, his hand was locked, and he just kept wailing away until the guy just came in and took the spoil after them, and he did all of the battle. A mighty, one of the three mighties of David.
And after him was Shammah. And the Philistines had gathered together unto a piece of ground that was full of lentiles: and the people fled from the Philistines. But he stood in the middle of the ground, and defended it, and he slew the Philistines: and the Lord wrought a great victory (23:11-12).
Then it tells of another three who, when David was battling against the Philistines, and the Philistines had taken Bethlehem.
David out there in that hot sun said, Oh if I only had a drink of water from that well that is there near the gate of the city of Bethlehem. [“Oh, I’m so thirsty.”] So these three guys went in and they broke through the Philistine lines, and they got David a drink of water from that well, and brought it back out to David, wiping out several Philistines in the task. And they brought David this water from the well, and David took the water and poured it on the ground, said, Man this water cost blood, I won’t drink it. These were numbered as a part of David’s mighty men (23:15-17).
So it goes on and tells of the mighty men and of their acts. Then it just gives a list of the names of the men finally, the thirty men who were numbered with David, who were the mighty men of David.
Chapter twenty four,
Again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, and number Israel and Judah. For the king said to Joab the captain of the host, which was with him, Go now through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, and number the people, that I may know the number of the people (24:1-2).
Now Joab rightfully objected to David from this numbering process. He said, “Why do you need to know how many people there are? God is able to give you a great multitude, why do you need to know how many you have?” But David insisted that they be numbered.
Now the Lord was opposed to the census. On the basis of the fact that God had declared that He was going to multiply Abraham’s seed so that it would be as the sands of the seas, and the stars of the heavens, innumerable. For David then to seek to number the people, or to count the people, to take the census, was actually in a defiance in a way, against the promise of God, which God had declared that He was going to multiply them until they were innumerable.
But David’s pride, for whatever reason, sought to number the number of fighting men that he had both in Judah and in Israel. So he commissioned Joab to go throughout the whole land and number them all. Joab went throughout the land, took him nine months to take the census. When he came back after nine months, he found that there were five hundred thousand men in Judah who were valiant. There were some eight hundred thousand in Israel.
Now David’s heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David confessed, Lord, I’ve sinned greatly in what I have done: and now, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly (24:10).
So David after it was over with, realizes his folly, realizes his sin, and he asks forgiveness.
And so the Lord said, I’ll give you three choices, either [Number one] there’ll be seven years of famine come into the land, or you will flee three months before your enemies, or I will bring a pestilence for three days into the land, take your choice. So David said, [Well, I don’t want to fall into the hands of my enemies, because I don’t think they are merciful.] I’d rather fall into the hands of God; for he is merciful. [So, I’ll take the three days pestilence in the land. So the angel of the Lord went through the land with a plague, and began to smite the men of Israel.] The Lord sent the pestilence from morning until evening, from Dan to Beersheba seventy thousand men were wiped out in this pestilence. And when the angel stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the people, It’s enough: stay now thy hand. And the angel of the LORD was by the threshingplace of Araunah the Jebusite. David spake unto the LORD when he saw the angel that smote the people, and he said, Lo, I have sinned, I've done wickedly: but these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, be against me, and my father’s house (24:12-17).
“Lord it was me, I sinned, what have these people done? They’re just poor sheep, they haven’t done anything.” David is seeking the Lord, actually though you go back to the first verse, and the Lord was angry with Israel, no doubt for their apostasy and all. God sought this cause against Israel.
And so the prophet Gad came that day to David and said to him, Go up and raise up an altar unto the LORD at the threshingfloor of Araunah the Jebusite. And David, according to the saying of Gad went up as the Lord commanded. Araunah looked and he saw the king and he started coming toward him: and he went out, and bowed himself unto David. And he said, Why has the king come to his servant? [And so forth] And David said, I’ve come to buy your threshingfloor, that I might build an altar to the LORD, and offer a sacrifice that the plague might be stayed from the people. And Araunah said to David, [Hey, take it man, I don’t want it,] you can have it: and here you can kill these oxen, and you can take the plows and all to make the wood for the altar, and you can have them. And David said, No, I will not offer unto God that which cost me nothing (24:19-24):
I think with David this is a very interesting principle. We talk about making sacrifices unto God, but we don’t really understand what it is to sacrifice unto the Lord. Very few people actually sacrifice in giving to God. Most generally people give from their abundance. Very few ever sacrifice, or give sacrificially unto God. So often we’re giving to the Lord that which cost us nothing. It doesn’t really cost; it doesn’t really take away from me. If it should take away from me, then I’d think twice about giving it to God. Very few people are willing to actually give sacrificially to God, give God that really costs them something. In reality I feel that the poor actually always give much more to God than the rich. Even as when Jesus was with His disciples watching the people cast their money into the treasury, and the rich came by casting their great gifts in, all the people standing there going, “Oh wow, wow.”
This poor little widow came along and dropped her mite in, which today is one fortieth of a penny. You can buy forty mites for a penny. And when this widow put that mite in, Jesus turned to His disciples and He said, “Did you see that? She gave more than all of the rest of them.”
“What do you mean Lord? You got to be kidding.”
“No, I’m not kidding. You see, she dropped in all that she had. That’s her very sustenance. That’s all she’s got. That cost her. The rest of them, they’re all giving from their abundance, it didn’t cost them to give, they’re giving their surplus, their abundance; it doesn’t cost them anything. She has given of her very sustenance unto the Lord, it cost.”
That’s what the Lord measured. Thus, the poor people are those that will be rich in the kingdom of God because their giving unto the Lord has been costly. They give out of their sustenance. Whereas the rich, though you may count them in dollar amounts, give much more, God doesn’t count in dollar amounts. God counts in what it costs to give.
David declares, “I will not give unto God that which cost me nothing.” I think in that exemplified an excellent principle, that our giving to God should cost us something in order for it to be true sacrificial giving.
And thus David bought the threshingfloor from Araunah, and he bought the cattle. And there he offered the sacrifice of God, and the plague was stayed, the angel’s hand was stayed, and did not smite Jerusalem, and did not smite any further than Israel (24:24-25).
Now because of this, they did not take a census in Israel after this time. But every man was required once a year to drop a shekel into the treasury of the temple. They would count the shekels so they knew how many men there were. But they wouldn’t count people after this anymore.
It’s like we were in Israel a few weeks ago. Our guide had some obligations to fulfill, and he also wanted to be with us, and he said, “Oh, I’ll go talk to Rabbi,” he said, “they can always work a way around the law, you know.” Of course this is the very thing that Jesus was complaining about, how that they had developed traditions and all by which they could circumvent the law. So they’re still doing it, developing little traditions by which you can circumvent the law. On the Sabbath day, you cannot spend money. You’re breaking the Sabbath law if you spend money, but it’s all right to use a MasterCharge, or Visa card, because that’s not money. So they’ve got these little nuances all the way through, where you can sort of circumvent the law.
The Rabbi said, “He’ll tell you some way, well, if you do it this way, and so forth, you’re not violating, you’re okay.” So today in orthodox Jewry, they still refuse to be counted.
Now if you’re at a party, you need to play a game, a game in which the people in the room have to be numbered, you really can’t count the people so you say, “Well, you’re not one, you’re not two, you’re not three, you’re not four, you’re not five.” So you’re not counting them. Little ways around everything.
It is sad that David’s career ends in sort of tragedy. But after the sin with Bathsheba, there was a penalty to be paid though the prophet said, “The Lord has forgiven thy sins, yet the sword will never depart from your house. Your own children will rise up against you.” First of all Absalom rising up against him, next week Adonijah rising up against him. The sword, the rebellion by the northern tribes, the attack by the Philistines. The sword is constantly there. Yes, he’s forgiven, but oh the price that he paid for his sins.
It should cause us to think twice before we would entertain the thought of sinning. God will forgive of course, but sometimes the price that has to be paid is very steep.
Shall we pray?
Father we thank You again for the privilege of studying Your Word. We pray Lord that we might walk in its light. Give us, Father a richer, fuller, understanding of Your purpose, of Your plan of Your love, as You unfold it to our hearts through Thy Word. Lord, let us examine ourselves, our own lives that we might walk circumspectly before Thee. Father, we pray that You’ll help us to even examine our giving to Thee. That we would not, Lord, just give to You cast-offs, but giving that counts. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Shall we stand? May the Lord be with you, may the Lord watch over you this week, may the Lord bless you. May He fill you with His love, with His Spirit, with His grace, that you might show forth that grace of God in your dealings with others. That you might manifest the Spirit, the nature of Jesus Christ, in your relationship with others. That you might walk, even as He walked, in Jesus’ name.