Absalom’s Attack and David’s Response
2 Samuel 15:13-37
Rev. Dr. Ernest Brodie Jr.
David’s past sin and his inability to effectively deal with the sins of others led to Absalom’s revolt. Absalom grew up as King David’s son and had been given many privileges. He was in line to be the next king, but that was not good enough for him. He gathered troops and prepared to take the throne by force. If you give your children everything they want, in time they will hate you. Why? They will always want more, and eventually, you will not be able to meet their expectations, and they will despise you. The opposite is also true. If you constantly harass your children and continually point out their faults, they will rebel. Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
Facing a full scale revolt, what was David to do?
David left Jerusalem (2 Samuel 15:13-14)
Jerusalem was a well fortified city with high walls and towers. It was situated high in the mountains. Why would David choose to leave?
David was not sure who would be on his side. To defeat Absalom, he needed to focus on the battle to come, not on who would stab him in the back. Do you remember that his #1 counselor, Ahithophel, had deserted him and sided with Absalom? It is important in warfare to know your enemy as well as your own troops. It is essential to know who is on the Lord’s side and who is ready for battle.
David had always fought his battles in rugged terrain and away from the city. Even when he battled Goliath, he refused to use the armor of Saul that he had not tested. In battling the devil, we must use that which is tried and true from the Word of God. James 4:6-10: “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”
David cared about the safety of the people and the city. He was concerned that if he remained in the city, it would bring harm to others. If he left the city, he was sure Absalom would not destroy it. As much as possible, we must keep battles out of our homes. Some battles may involve the home, but the home should not be a war zone.
David gathered an army (2 Samuel 15:16-23)
Who went with David?
• David’s old defense force of 600 men (verse 18). They were tried and true men that had been with him for years.
• Ittai the Gittite (verse 19-22). He could have stayed behind, but he chose to follow David and stand with him in battle. In the face of conflict, there is nothing more encouraging than to have the assurance of people who are willing to stand with you.
Who stayed in Jerusalem?
• Ten concubines (verses 15-16). David left them behind to keep the house. These women were married to the king, but they had no property rights. Their children were not eligible to sit on the throne. Having concubines was an ancient custom that was never condoned by Scripture. These women would have slowed David down and gotten in the way of the battle. David assumed Absalom would leave them alone and that they would be safe until he could return. There are always problems when one steps out of the bounds of Scripture.
• Zadok, the High Priest, his sons, and the Ark of the Covenant. (verses 24-29) They were not warriors or soldiers, and David sent them back to the city. As priests, they were more valuable as prayer warriors. David did not want to remove the Ark of the Covenant away from the people. In times of danger, the people needed to pray, and the Ark of the Covenant symbolized access to God.
• Hushai (verses 30-37). Hushai became David’s intelligent spy. David had him return to the city to counteract and countermand the counsel Ahithophel would give Absalom. Ahithophel, Bathsheba's grandfather, likely had contempt for David and his past sin. Our sins affects others.
David set an example for us to follow when under attack.
• We must estimate the severity of the situation. Satan is like a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8).
• We must take appropriate action. Submit to God, resist the devil, draw near to God, clean up our life, control our emotions, humble ourselves, and do not go after our own team (James 4:6-12).
• We must remove that which hinders our ability to take a stand. Colossians 3:3-6: “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:
• We must remain focused. Colossians 3:2: “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”
2 Timothy 3:12 reminds us that those living for God will suffer persecution and be under attack at some point. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” How we respond will determine the outcome of the battle. The Lord uses these things in our lives to make us vessels fit for His use.