In the latter part of his reign, David became easily manipulated, and sin’s corrosive effects continued to erode his kingdom. Two years after Amnon violated Tamar, her brother Absalom took matters into his own hands by vengefully killing him. Examining the tragic events of 2 Samuel 13, Alistair Begg reminds us that just like David’s sons, we’re all sinners, and judgment and vengeance belong to God alone. Jesus is the only King who can truly set things right. In Him, mercy and justice are perfectly executed.
The following message by Alistair begg is made available by truth for life. For more information, visit us online. At truth for life dot org. Our scripture reading this morning is in 2nd Samuel And in Chapter 13. And beginning our reading at the 23rd verse. And reading through to the end of the chapter two, Samuel 13 And Verse 23. After too few years, Absalom had sheep shearers at bay. Al Hazar, which is near Ephraim. And Absalom invited all the king’s sons and Absalom came to the king and said, behold your servant has sheep shearers. Please let the king and his servants go with your servant. But the king said to Absalom? No, my son, let us not all go lest we be burdensome to you. He pressed him, but he would not go, but gave him his blessing. Then Absalom said, If not please let my brother Amnon go with us. And the king said to him, why should he go with you? But Absalom pressed him until he led a man. Amnon, and all the king’s sons go with him. Then Absalom commanded his servants, Mark, when am Knin’s heart is merry with wine. And when I say to you, strike Amnon, then kill him. Do not fear, have I not commanded you be courageous and be valiant. So the servants of Absalom did to Amnon, as Absalom had commanded. Then all the king’s sons rose and each mounted his mule and flair while they were on the way. News came to David. Absalom has struck down all the king’s sons and not one of them has left. Then. The king arose and tore his garments and lay on the air and all his servants who were standing by tore their garments. But Jonah dab, the son of shimmy. David’s brother said, Let no, my Lord, suppose that they have killed all the young men. The king’s sons. For Amnon alone is dead. For by the command of Absalom, this has been determined from the day he violated his sister Tamar. Now therefore, let not my lord, the king. So take it to heart is to suppose that all the king’s sons are dead. For Amnon alone is dead. But Absalom fled. And the young man who kept the watch, lifted up his eyes and looked and behold! Many people were coming from the road behind him by the side of the mountain and Jonah Dobbs said to the king. Behold the king’s sons have come out as your servant said. So it has come about. And as soon as he had finished speaking, Behold, the king’s sons came and lifted up their voice and wept. And the king also, and all his servants wept very bitterly. But Absalom fled and went to Talma. The son of a king of Geisha and David mourned for his son. Day after day. So Absalom fled and went to Glacier and was there three years. And the spirit of the king longed to go out to Absalon because he was comforted about Amnon since he was dead, we recognize that we will not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God Grant, now that we may hear your word and in listening to your voice be transformed by it for we pray in jesus name, amen perhaps like me, you’re able to remember a time when we listened to or watched what was called the news. In fact if you listen to NPR as I do from time to time at certain points around the day it plays a little jingle from the U. K. And then it simply announces things very much in that way. This is London and this is the news. There’s something very sort of reassuring about it until they start with the actual delivery of the material because in those days to a certain degree at least the news could be either good or bad, dull or sad. But it was the news. It this was before fake news. This was actually before something that I think is even worse called breaking news. You know like why does it have to be breaking, I mean did the media think that we are so dumb that we just need that breaking thing going up there to pay any attention to it at college. The breaking news. So I said to myself, I wonder how it would go in 2nd Samuel 13 something like this reports are just coming in of a brutal murder at a large gathering out in the country. The victim Is known two years ago to have raped a family member. This is apparently a revenge killing carried out by friends of the rape victim’s brother, rumors are circulating Of more than one death. This at the moment is unconfirmed. There will be more details in our next breaking news bulletin. Of course, this wasn’t breaking news. It’s actually, it was not remotely fake news, but it is part of the biblical record of what is happening in the kingdom that we’ve been discovering for some months now, namely David’s kingdom. And what we’ve been learning most recently is that the bible presents all of its heroes, warts and all. There’s no airbrushing of the portraiture. We are left to see David not only as that young man ascending the throne, but now as an increasingly aging man with his kingdom tumbling into ruin. And as we observe this, we are made painfully aware of the damaging and the corrosive effects of sin that the implications and applications of man’s Rebellion against God is undeniable. Now, last time, in dealing with the difficult verses of the first half of the chapter, we saw it simply to follow the narrative rather than to try and superimpose an outline on it. Having done that in the first half, I want to do it again in the second and so as I say, if you have your bible open, you ought to be able to follow very straightforwardly all that is there for us to consider. You will notice that are reading begins with the phrase after two full years. After two full years. two full years of what? For Tamar. two full years living distressed and ruined in her brother’s house. We know that because Absalom had taken her in after this violation. And so every morning and every evening for two full years, the implications of what had unfolded in her life were undeniable to her two full years. For David’s anger to smolder, remember that David’s reaction to the news was that he was very angry and anger has a way of smoldering and rising and ebbing and flowing. But you can imagine that even after this time still, that anger lingers and two years for absalon to nurse his hatred of AMN in his brother. Because as we saw at the end of our study last time, he would not speak to Amnon and presumably he has chosen never to speak to amnesty because his hatred continues. Now, it is at that point that for absalom, a plan that he has had in mind for some time, opportunity knocks. That’s what I wrote in my notes. Just to guide me. Opportunity knocks here in verse 24. It knocks in the form of an annual event. An annual event called the sheep shearing. We’ve seen this before. You. I’m not going to go rehearse to it, but you will remember that it was in this context that we were introduced to Abigail and her husband, Abigail, who would become one of David’s wives way back actually in the book of Genesis. There is another incident rather similar to 2nd Samuel 13 that Fascinatingly also takes place within the context of the sheep shearing. Now, as we read this, are we to assume as we come just on the text that Absalom is putting together an event. He seizing the opportunity of the event to let go of things in the past. Let the bygones be bygones is what he’s trying to do. Simply bring people together for a time of reconciliation in a time of celebration. Well, of course, we know that that is not the case. And in verse 24 he invites his father along with all the king’s sons. You will notice, as you read through the text, that that phrase comes a number of times, all the king’s sons. And we’ve said before that repetition in our reading of old testament narrative is there in order that we might pay attention to it. It doesn’t mean we should divert from where we are, but simply recognizing this, that the future of David’s kingdom lay in all the king’s sons. If anything were to happen to all the king’s sons, then David’s kingdom is kaput. And so it is mentioned in this way a number of times, he invites his father along with the whole uh entourage. Two come. David decides, no, he doesn’t want to. Uh, you see there, he just says, I think it would be a burden a burden to you. What kind of burden would it be? Well, maybe just the numbers, perhaps expense involved, I don’t know. Absalom decides to press him on it. And he said, no, I’m not going to go, but I’ll give you my blessing. Then Absalom comes to probably what is the real issue here? I don’t know whether he uses the invitation to his father in the hope that his father will not come. But certainly his real interest is in verse 26, then absalom said, if you’re not going to come, then please let my brother Amnon go with me. And of course, it’s almost inevitable that David would reply as he did. Why, why should he go with you? Why should he go with you? Why, why are you singling him out? Well, it’s a fair question, isn’t it? In light of the feud that had gone on now for some two years between Amnon and Absalom? It’s a strange thing. I thought you didn’t speak to him. I thought you folks had no relationship with one another. Why would you want him to come to this event? He couldn’t possibly. That is, David be unaware of absolute hatred of his brother. Well, you noticed that in verse 27, absalom actually just dodges that question by pressing him, maybe. He said something like this. Listen, Father, I’m inviting all the king’s sons. If Amnon didn’t come, he’d be the he’d be the odd man out. No, I think it’s important that amnesty is there. And so we’re told that David relents. He was pressed and he let Amnon and all the king’s sons go with him. Now let’s just pause and recognize that David is building a bad track record on this front, isn’t he? Once again, he is manipulated by his son by one of his sons. He had previously been manipulated into putting the marriage, putting the the the the Amnon and Tamar together in the one place. And now he is doing the very same thing in putting Absalon and Amnon together in the one place. Remember, Jonah, Dab says, you know, get your father, David to tell Tamar to go and see em not. So, David is inculcated in the process. Now, once again, he wants to make sure that somehow or another. David is party to this. And it is questionable whether the actual original text means he let him go or he actually sent him. Whichever way it is. Once again, you see that something is happening to David, something that is disheartening is happening to him. What is happening to David? Well, we remember the 27th verse of Chapter 11. That the thing that David did displeased the Lord that David is now no longer living as it were under God’s smile, he’s living under God’s frown that God in his mercy had accepted David’s expression of repentance. But as we’ve said routinely, God did not then prevent the consequences from David’s sin from being set aside. And so what we see is that he is a weakened person. He’s no longer resolute, He’s easily manipulated. He is either unwilling or unable to take control in short order. He’s not living to a good old age. Maybe he doesn’t listen to anybody. Maybe now he’s peerless. Maybe now he’s friendless. Maybe now he just doesn’t really care what any of his wife’s have to say. Maybe he’s just tired. Maybe he’s just fed up how different he is from. For example, Caleb remember Caleb one of the two spies Caleb and Joshua that go in to see what’s going on in prospect of the entry into the promised land. 12 men went to spying. Kane and 10 were bad too, were good. And Caleb was one of the two good men you say? Well, that was quite super, wasn’t it? Yes. And do you find him later on still a super soul? You can read it for yourself in Joshua 14 where Caleb says I was 40 years old then and the Lord has kept me alive and I’m still as strong today. And it may be that the Lord will be with me. It was wonderful I was, I am, I am. I look to him while I was studying this week. I got a letter from one of our friends an email actually. But it was not just a jotted notes who had some substance to it, john shearer who has preached here for us to to our great help and encouragement. And as he wrote to me, he was commenting on the fight that he has now been officially retired from Pastoral Ministry for 10 years. But he writes, there is much yet to be done and the race is not finished. I remind myself of the words of Jim Elliot. You cannot surrender your life in an instant that which is lifelong can only be surrendered in a lifetime. You cannot surrender your life in a moment in an instant. That which is lifetime is lifelong and vice versa. Now I pause on that because let’s let’s just acknowledge that David’s demise is a warning to us all. Somebody just showed me a photograph this morning that was taken staggeringly in 1996. I don’t say this to my commendation, but I looked at it and I and I said to myself, that must have been taken the year that I arrived because the rear there, I arrived I was 31 at that point I looked about 2022 or maybe 14 on a on a on a better day. But I looked at the thing and I said, goodness gracie I was 44 years old there and some of you were too, but we’re not anymore. So the question is are we going to go the David route? Are we going to go to Caleb route? We’re going to allow ourselves to be jaded, disappointed. Disenfranchised, lose our zeal, lose our verve, say to ourselves, Who cares? It’s all over now. Nothing left to say. Just our dreams and the orchestra playing. Well, I hope not. I hope not. That’s what it says. He let him go. And what happens? Well, in the same way that when he sent, when he sent um, Tamar two Amna, he couldn’t know the disaster that was about to unfold. And when he allowed Amnon to go to the sheep shearing, he couldn’t know what was about to unfold Tragically. If you look at verse 28, I wrote in my notes like father, like son, like father like son. Then Absalom commanded his servants. Mark, when ambulance heart is merry with wine. Remember that? With your idea? What did he do try to get him drunk? Hey, let’s party see if he could ease the slopes. That’s the same thing here. Maybe father and son had even talked about how that unfolded. I don’t know. And David had given clear instructions on that occasion, hadn’t he? He said to the the guy Abner. Take care of it up there. Just 1, 2, 3 dead. What do you find in the text exactly the same. Strike and then then kill him. Do not fear. Have I not commanded you be courageous and be valiant. Amazing, isn’t it? This is a murder we’re talking about here. This is not this is not a launch into battle. This is not Joshua. Chapter one. Be strong and very courageous for the Lord. Your God is with you wherever you’re going. No, this is we’re going to kill my brother, isn’t. It isn’t the perversity of the human heart and mind so amazing. I mean, our capacity for deceit is phenomenal. As I suggested to you the last time when in that horrible act of violation, I’m the news is language that is endearing, that is sort of sensitive at the same time while he is physically overpowering the girl. I mean it’s horrendous. And now what does Absalom do? He uses the language of honor, be strong, be courageous. I’m the heir to the king. I’ve told you get about your business and what happened in the previous incident, the first half of the chapter five minutes after, Am Nin hated Tamar And you look there in verse 29 B and essentially five minutes after the servants had done what absalom told them to do, they made a run for it. Then all the king’s sons arose and each mounted his mule and he fled. Now it is in that context. Then in verse 30 that the news comes to David while they were on their way. So they are going one way absalom? Actually he’s making a run for it too. But he’s going in a different direction. And while they were on their way, the picture now takes us back. If there’s a movie, we cut back to Jerusalem now. And the watchman on the Gates is aware of the fact that news is coming of what has been taking place. And the word that comes is that Absalom has struck down all the king’s sons and not one of them is left. Well, this turned out to be fake news and whoever reported it was ill informed perhaps. And I’ve noticed that when people are given an opportunity with the microphone to describe what happened, I think there is a sort of inherent tendency not just to say, well, the truck ran through the light and banged into a lamppost, but now is your one moment to explain. It was coming at our ferocious speed. It skidded to the left, it skidded to the right, just say what it said, we don’t need all that. And I think this fellow presumably has his moment and so he decides, I’ll just embellish it a little bit, what news is there in one murder? Let’s let’s let it be known that all the king’s sons are dead. The, the newspaper that we had in Yorkshire when I was a boy was, you know, I couldn’t find a scoop to save its to save it circulation. I mean, we used to have headlines in the local newspaper said like, man had bacon and eggs for breakfast or or a a tree fell in the river. You know, it was like, whoa, this is good stuff. But the fact that, that David actually reacts immediately and dramatically as he does. Then the king rose tore his garments, lay on the earth. His servants did the same thing that speaks to the fact that he was aware of the feud between his sons. He questioned Absalon probably when he did suspicious of his motives. But now it doesn’t actually question the reporter. He said, well, would he? Well, yeah, actually, I think he would. And I’ll tell you why. Because if you remember the beginning of second Samuel about 100 years ago, a second, Samuel and David hears the news of Saul’s death And the young man who told them to Samuel 1 6 said by chance, I happened to be on the mountain and so on. And David actually presses the man and says, are you really got this accurate? Well, here we have it. The news comes to him that there has been a complete loss of his entire lineage. How could this possibly be? Of course we’re going to discover that it isn’t. But for the time being, you recognize that the promise of God had been that when your days are fulfilled and you lie down, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body and I will establish your kingdom. That was the promise of God. So the promise of God is that through his lineage, he will establish his kingdom And now all the king, all the rest of the kingdom is gone apparently. And David must have had occasion to say, you know, I have deserted. Yahweh is trust I have incurred. Yeah, we’s displeasure. But as he stands there in the company of his servants, he’s about to discover that things are not as reported. And that is where we have mr crafty back on the scene when Jonah Dab, the son of shin mia, David’s brother shows up. He is of course Absalom is cousin. He is officially the spin doctor. He does provide the actual account of what has taken place, but he does it in such a way as to let if you like David down lately. They haven’t killed all the king’s sons only am none. And of course he says, This is something that is a slow train coming. You see that there in verse 32 for by the command of absalom this has been determined from the day he violated his sister Tamar. We’ve been expecting this, he says. And it would seem reasonable, reasonable. Not the main thing and a plane thing, but it would seem reasonable to suppose that Jonah Dabs ability to explain this is because he has been in on it from the very get go that he’s been in on it from the start that he’s the fixer. He’s the get it done man. He made it possible for ammunition to violate tamer and now he fixes things for Absalon in the killing of amnesia, things are not as bad as you seem. King don’t be too heartbroken. You see his language there don’t be too heartbroken. You’re not without an heir, only Amnon is dead. And this becomes very clear as the king’s sons return to Jerusalem in that context, it allows Jonah dab the opportunity to say, I told you so. You see that in verse 36 john Adams said to the king Behold the king’s sons have come out as your servant said. So it has come about, it hasn’t been a host sales slaughter, even if it was a dreadful killing. Nevertheless, here are the facts. Now, here’s just a thought in passing. It’s even possible, isn’t it that Absalom is using what happened to Tamar as a mechanism to justify his killing Amnon, because I am Nin is heir to the throne number two. Number three Air to the throne. We know nothing of him since second Samuel three. And the presumption is that he is dead. Therefore, Absalom is now clearing his way to assume the throne for himself. And as we go on in our studies. What I’ve just suggested to you may either come to you with a sense of Yes, I think so. Or you may determine that it isn’t the case. But here’s the fact Absalom had no place at all to execute justice in this way. The fact that it was wrong for it to take place. Which it was the fact that it caused such pain to his sister, which it did. The fact that it made him hate his brother, which was also true. None of that legitimized Absolem taking matters into his own hands. And there is a reminder to us here isn’t there that when the scripture say vengeance is mine says the Lord, I am the one who will take care of things. Eventually, when God sets to write his world, all of the injustices, all of the hatreds, all of the attempts at vengeance meted out by humanity will be dealt with absolutely perfectly. And in the meantime, we need to acknowledge that we very rarely if ever get vengeance. Right, Well, I’m going to take care of it. In fact, as my friend says in our hands, vengeance just becomes another expression of our own sinfulness. Now, what happens is that Absalom fled? In fact, my title this morning was Amnon is dead and Absalom fled. You said. Well, what? You could have just said that and we could have had the benediction. I understand, but I want to try and encourage you to read your bible. Absalom fled verse 34. Absalom fled verse 37. Absalom fled verse 38. So what do we know? We know that Absalom fled. He fled in another direction. He fled to a place that was beyond David’s jurisdiction. He fled to his maternal grandfather and to his kingdom. He fled in such a way that he put himself beyond the reach of David, Which is perhaps the answer to the difficult closing verse 39 where it says in the spirit of the king, longed to go out to absalon. Well, maybe he didn’t go out to him because he was beyond his jurisdiction absolute, fled Tamar still somewhere and David mourned for his son day after day. Which son do you think it was? Well, you see, I think it must be. We’ll surely and then. But why not? Absolem too? Again, If you know anything of the story that is to come. Both of his sons were the occasion of his grief. I have a picture of David in my mind. He’s just sitting, he’s sitting gazing, sit engaging, but not in the way that he gazed when he was up on the top of the building, gazing down at that pretty girl bathing now that gazes long in the past. No, he gazes now. He gazes really Probably. I don’t think he fixes his eyes on anything. He just gazes. He gazes into the distance. He’s a jumble of reactions. A mixture of emotions. All the glory days are also far away now. Like that picture they just showed me. He’s no longer the handsome ruddy boy who steps out onto the field of battle, Who speaks to the giant and says, The Lord delivered me and the Lord will deliver me now. He’s a shadow of himself. He can’t get the balance right between being merciful to his sons and executing discipline upon his sons. So when he should say no, you’re not doing this, he says, oh, go ahead. Well, what are we to do with this? We’ve got to do with it, what we do with it every single time you say, Well, that’s very repetitive. No, it’s purposefully repetitive. In fact, I met a lady in the last couple of days and she came to me and she said, you know, I’ve been following along in 2nd Samuel, but I’ve also been reading chronicles. And she says, you know, I’m getting thoroughly depressed with the Kings of Israel. No matter which one comes up, it’s another disaster. Another disaster. It is thoroughly disheartening. What am I supposed to do with this? I said, oh, I think a member of my congregation could tell you what to do with this. I hope they could, they would say all lesson madam. The reason for this. The reason that the spotlight is roaming as it were, all through the pages of the old testament. Looking for a king settling on a king. Moving on to another king is because none of those kings is the king that we need. None of those kings is the one for whom we’re looking. And so the whole point of it is, You should feel in a measure that way in order that you say, well, where is there then this king who will reign supreme, Who will set justice to write, Who will magnify the wonder of God’s dealings? And the answer of course, is in jesus, because only in the work of jesus do we find mercy and justice executed properly? It is beneath the cross of jesus that not only do we find a place to stand, but it is beneath the cross of jesus that love and justice meet one another. How else could it be that God would save sinners? Except that he the sinless one bore my sin in his own body on the tree in order that I might enjoy what it is to be brought into his family and to live in his presence. And here’s my final observation, I said to myself, you know, people are going to sit there and say, yeah, I kind of get this, but it’s so way out there. I mean, it’s it’s uh what, what has it got to do with me? Well, it’s got everything to do with you? Everything to do with you because we share absolute terms nature, even if we don’t duplicate what he did you see? Where do you get that from? Well, where do you think we get it from? But particularly when paul instructs titus to make sure that his congregation are eager to do good to make sure that his congregation are really warm and welcoming to the people on food truck sunday to make sure that his congregation do not engage with people in the community in a spirit of sort of obnoxious piety or with a snooty down luke on the lives of men and women. In order to ensure that this is what he says, remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities. Vengeance is mine says the Lord, you’re not going to have to storm the capitol building. Just relax, just relax, remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of nobody. To avoid quarreling to be gentle, to show perfect courtesy towards all people. For, he says, now here’s the punch four. We ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy hated by others and hating one another. We share absolute sense nature, even though we do not duplicate his deed and what’s the distinguishing reality. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God, our savior appeared, he saved us not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and the renewal of the holy spirit whom he poured out on us richly through jesus christ our savior. So that being justified by his grace, we may become heirs of the king according to the hope of eternal life. So he says, make sure your congregation gets this and that way they won’t talk down to people and neither will you titus and neither my shoe back because this is what you are a total center apart from the redeeming grace of christ. That’s why we sang. There’s a higher throne because there is and that’s why in a moment we will end with our closing song. Just a brief prayer, Lord Grant that we might hear the voice of jesus that bids us come to him so that when we acknowledge what we are by nature, we might become all that he designs by Grace. Grant that we might become to the place where love and justice meet and that we might bring others to the same place for in christ’s name we ask it, amen this message was brought to you from truth. For life where the learning is for living, learn more about truth for life with Alistair begg visit us online at truth for life dot org