Dark Days – Part One

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After some measure of reconciliation with King David, Absalom began to build his public image. For four years he sowed a spirit of discontent among the Israelites and offered himself as their hope for resolution. Absalom’s persona fed his political objective—namely, to usurp David’s throne. In response to his son’s rebellion, David fled Jerusalem—a decision, notes Alistair Begg, made not out of fear but in the wisdom and knowledge that no manmade plot can overturn God’s steadfast love and faithfulness toward His people.



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. I invite you to follow along. As I read from 2nd Samuel and chapter 15 second Samuel 15. And once again I’m going to read the whole chapter after this. Absalom got himself a chariot and horses and 50 men to run before him and absolutely used to rise early and stand beside the way of the gate. And when any man had a dispute to come before the king for judgment, Absalom would call to him and say from what city are you And when he said, your servant is of such and such a tribe in Israel, Absalom would say to him. See your claims are good and right, but there is no man designated by the king to hear you. Then Absalon would say, oh that I were judged in the land. Then every man with a dispute or cause might come to me and I would give him justice. And whenever a man came near to pay homage to him he would put out his hand and take hold of him and kiss him. Thus, Absalom did to all of Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel and at the end of four years Absalom said to the king, please let me go and pay my vow, which I have vowed to the Lord in Hebron, for your servant vowed a vow while I lived at Geisha in a row. I’m saying. If the Lord will indeed bring me back to Jerusalem, then I will offer worship to the Lord. The king said to him, Go in peace. So he arose and went to Hebron. But Absalom sent secret messengers throughout all the tribes of Israel saying, as soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then say Absalom is king at Hebron. With absalom went 200 men from Jerusalem who were invited guests and they went in their innocence and knew nothing. And while Absalom was offering the sacrifices, he sent for a health official, the Gila night, David’s counselor from his city and Dylan and the conspiracy grew strong and the people with Absalon kept increasing and a messenger came to David saying. The hearts of the men of Israel have gone after Absalon. Then, David said to all his servants who were with him at Jerusalem arise and let us flee. Or else there will be no escape for us from Absalon. Go quickly lest he overtake us quickly and bring down ruin on us and strike the city with the edge of the sword. And the king’s servants said to the king. Behold your servants are ready to do whatever my Lord. The king decides. So the king went out and all his household after him And the king left 10 concubines to keep the house and the king went out and all the people after him and they halted at the last house And all his servants passed by him and all the charity fights and all the pillow fights and all the 600 get its who had followed him from Gaff passed on before the king. Then the king said to it. Either get it, why do you also go along with us? Go back and stay with the king, for you are a foreigner and also an exile from your home. You came only yesterday. And shall I today make you wonder about with us? Since I go, I know not where go back and take your brothers with you and may. The Lord show steadfast love and faithfulness to you, but it, I answered the King, as the Lord lives, and as my Lord, the king lives wherever my Lord the king shall be, whether for death or for life. There also will your servant E and David said to it. I go, then pass on. So it’s either gets I passed on with all his men and all the little ones who were with him and all the land wept aloud as all the people passed by and the king crossed the brook of Kidron, and all the people passed on toward the wilderness and abby after came up and beholds Ada came also with all the leave icts bearing the ark of the covenant of God, and they set down the ark of God until the people had all passed out of the city. Then the king said to zero carry the Ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me back and let me see both it and his dwelling place. But if he says, I have no pleasure in you, behold here I am, let him do to me what seems good to him. The king also said, There’s a dog, the priest. Are you not a seer? Go back to the city in peace with your two sons. A Hamas, your son and Jonathan, the son of Abbie Arthur. See I will wait at the Fords of the wilderness until word comes back from you to inform me so, Z dot and Abby after carried the ark of God back to Jerusalem, and they remained there. But David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went barefoot and with his head covered, and all the people who were with him covered their heads, and they went up weeping as they went. And it was told David Rockefeller is among the conspirators with Absalon and David said, Oh, Lord, please turn the counsel of a healthful into foolishness. While David was coming to the summit where God was worshiped. Behold hush! I! The archive came to meet him with his coat torn and dirt on his head. David said to him, If you go on with me, you will be a burden to me. But if you return to the city and say to Absalom, I will be your servant. Okay, as I have been your father’s servant in time past. So now I will be your servant. Then you will defeat for me. The counsel of a hitter Fell are not Z. Doug and Abby after the priests with you there. So whatever you hear from the king’s house, tell it to Z. Doc and Abby after the priests behold their two sons are with them. They’re a Hamas zero Dark Sun and Jonathan. Abby, Arthur’s son. And by them you shall send to me everything you hear. So who should I? David’s friend came into the city just as Absalom was entering Jerusalem. Our gracious God. We thank you that you have given us your word. We thank you for the presence of the Holy Spirit. And we asked that he might illumined to us. The pages of your word and that beyond a mere human voice, we may hear your voice, the voice of the living God, the one upon whose words we depend. And we ask it in christ’s name. Amen. Well, some of us have been on this journey journey for a long time. Others have made intermittent visits to it and some perhaps are here for the first time. The story that we’ve been discovering together is the story of God setting his King David on his Holy hill. As the summers puts it in some too. But along the journey of life, things have begun to creak and to crumble. And now we have discovered that this kingdom that has been promised to David is at least on a shaky basis. And collapse seems almost to be inevitable. Not simply a collapse as a result of what is going on outside of that kingdom, but actually as a result of what is taking place inside the kingdom. And a man has been killed by Absalom. And Absalom has been away for a while in hiding and as we saw last time he has returned, Absalon is now the focus of things. He actually has made the focus as of the first verse of Chapter 13, which we didn’t make much of. But it begins now absalom. David’s son had a beautiful sister and that really is the introduction to us of a long section in which we find ourselves which ends of course, with the tragic death of Absalom himself, he had been he is actually quite a patient fellow in some respects. He had waited for two years to avenge the death of Tamar his sister. He had then managed to spend three years in the company of his maternal grandfather and he had then returned to Jerusalem as we saw and he was able to wait for two years before he got into a meeting with David. And although that ended with a kiss from David, it was clear as we ended our study last time that the gulf that exists between David as the king and Absalom, the pretender to the throne is a significant gulf. And so chapters 13 and 14 Are really a prelude to all that we now discover in chapter 15. And as we had absalom in our sights at the end of 14. So here he is at the beginning. Again, the focus is entirely on him. If this, we were making a film of this, then the opening scenes of this particular movie would just be absolutely filled with screen time for Absalom, which as we are about to discover, is exactly the way that Absalom would like for it to be. It was going to suit his purpose. Now, let me give to you the three words that I have used to guide myself through the 1st 12 verses. The first word is persona. The second word is politics and the third word is plot. Alright, so, persona. Why? Well, because we are given to us absolute terms persona. His public image is distinct from his private character. And that ought to give to his immediate cause for concern. We saw last time and again, we didn’t make much of it back in verse 25 of Chapter 14, that there wasn’t a man in all of Israel who was as talked about as absalon when it came to being handsome when it came to having good looks when it came to being a striking personality. In fact, the story writer tells us that there wasn’t a blemish in him from head to toe, everything, apparently was as perfect as it could possibly be. And he had a peculiarly significant head of hair. So much so that that features in the description of his persona, and apparently on the day, the annual day when he had his hair cut, his visit to the barber was quite an occasion, and when they weighed his hair, they were all astounded, that somebody Could have made their way through the past 12 months, carrying all of that on the top of their head. Now, with that as the description of his physical frame. We then read and look at how 15 begins after this after this. That’s simply, I don’t think gives us the time frame, which it obviously does. It tells us that this took place after these events had taken place. But after this, after what while after at least some measure of reconciliation, after he had met up with David, after there had been the kiss, as a symbol of that reconciliation. After that, he then got himself a chariot. I think it’s an amazing beginning to the whole story, isn’t it? It seems almost funny after this. Absalom. Got himself a chariot, he said to himself, You know what? I think I’m going to get a chariot. Well, what do you want to chariot for? There’s nowhere to write the thing. You live in Jerusalem? No, but I think it looks good. I mean, I think I look good in a chariot, don’t you? He’s he’s talking to himself now and himself says, yeah, I think you look great in a chariot. And how about some horses? Well, of course you need horses. What are you going to do? Just have it as a monument and sit in it. No, no, we’ll have horses. And you know what? Let’s have 50 men to trot out in front of us everywhere we call. So that no matter where we go, everyone will say, here he is. Here comes Absalom. Now what is he doing is actually building his image. He is establishing his brand. He is making sure that he has style, style. When I wrote that in my notes, I said to myself, this reminds me of Huckleberry Finn remember in Huckleberry Finn that great encounter where he’s having a conversation with a girl, he keeps telling lies, he gets himself worse and worse and worse. He tells a lie about the church. He tells a lie about the pastor, she said. But that wasn’t the pastor? He said no, it was another pastor. She says, well how many pastors are there? Oh he says I think there’s 17 pastors. Oh she says why would they want 17 pastors? What do they all do? These things are not much, they take up the offering. They do different things. Well then she says, well what are they for? And then he says why therefore style don’t you know anything and that’s it right here. What’s the chariot for is for style. Now let’s stand too far back from this. The cult of celebrity. It’s not something that is just out there in the social media world. The cult of celebrity has not been abolished from the church world, the cult of celebrity pastors. While I was sitting at my desk and thinking about this, I received actually out of the blue an email from someone and in the course of the email not knowing where I’m sitting, not knowing what I’m doing, not knowing what I’m thinking. Part of the email says this, I have become wearied of unusually younger men wanting to be somebody instead of being willing to be a nobody who simply loves the people he serves both inside and outside the pool pad, weary of those of us wanting to become a somebody just like absolutely. Now. Those of you who have been on the journey for a long time will perhaps have a little bell going off in your head And you’ve remembered something from way back. You need to go find it. I did. I finally found it and I can help you. It’s in chapter eight and it’s when Samuel responds in first, Samuel to the desire on the part of the people for a king. You will remember that Samuel was not keen on that idea. He didn’t like the idea he was a judge and so on and on that occasion he issues a warning to the people. He says, you know, if you want to follow through on this and have a king like all the other nations, because that was the key. We want to be like everybody else, we want to be as the nations of the world. If you get a king like all the other nations, then you need to just, you need to know this, that he will have chariots and horsemen to run before him. Now, you may have been saying to yourself as we’ve gone through, I haven’t seen a lot of chariots, the chariots actually, we had a thing about chariots and David was burning some of them, he was setting them aside. They were actually of no particular use at all in the territory in which they were waging warfare and certainly not in the context of Jerusalem. But here we have it. Samuel issues the warning And here we find that absalom is in the wrong side of some 20 verse seven. Some trust in chariots and some trust in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord, our God. Absalom is on the wrong side of the fence building his persona. Secondly, what about his politics? Because he is a politician, There is no question about that and a pretty good one, depending on your perspective, he is obviously more, there is more to him than simply creating news about him and his objective is to usurp the role and the rule of his father, it is to see himself in the position of king. And you will notice that in verse seven, we’re told that again his patience is displayed because for four years he was working to build his base. This doesn’t just pop up out of nowhere. He gets a chariot and decides it’s time to go. No. Over a period of four years, he was working the crowd, he was laying the foundation, he was preparing for this opportunity and we’re told what he was doing whenever people came to the city gate, which was the place where the king would execute judgments would deal with matters of justice and so on. He decides Absalom decides well, what I will do is I’ll position myself in the thoroughfare that leads to the city gate so that when people are coming, they’re looking for judgment, looking for the king, I will be able to intercept them and that is exactly what he does And we need work all the way through it. He says to them from what city are you that’s there in verse two. And when they answered that, he would say to them, you know, you have a very strong case, you have a very strong case, but you know what, you only have a slim chance of getting any resolution to it because frankly, there’s nobody here who can give you a resolution to it. However, if only I were to become notice very carefully, he doesn’t say, oh if only I were to become the king. That might be a bit precipitous. No, no, no, no. If only if I were to become the judge. Well the only one who judges is the king, so he knows what he’s saying. If only I were to become the judge, then I’d be able to settle all the matters fair and square. This is we’re used to this, aren’t we? You breed a spirit of discontent and then you offer yourself as the answer to the discontented nous. I mean you don’t have much of a chance of being heard. Well, some of the people love this so much. They obviously began to pay him homage and whenever a man verse five came near to pay homage to him, he would say, oh don’t do that, no. And now he’s going to be a man of the people. You don’t need to bow down before me, come, shake my hand, let me give you a hug. And the people began to say, what a nice fellow he is, What a super jab. Not like the other one. You can never see him, I don’t know where he is, but he’s always out there, a fine fellow, But actually we are told what was really going on in the final sentence of verse six absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel, that’s what he was setting out to do and that’s what he was successful in doing So. His persona is established. His politics are fairly straightforward and not unusual and the plot is then given to his in verse seven and following Again, you will notice that it is at the end of four years four years during which time he has been able to sow the seeds of discord and discontent. Four years during which he has had enough time. If you’d like to turn his resentment into courage previously, he had waited two for two full years, you will remember to finally in vehicle a situation where he has got into the presence of the king and now four years have elapsed. Now he comes to tell David the king that he had made a promise to God and he had made a vow. Now, clearly this is an unbelievable story. Um If I were David, I was just saying how why has it taken so long for you to pay your vow? You make a vow to God. It’s taking you four years to finally get around to it. What’s that about? And why are you going to Hebron? Can you make a vow to God in Jerusalem? I mean, God is everywhere, but there is no, there’s not, there’s no pushback. It’s interesting actually because remember in the sheep shearers incident, David system. Now, wait a minute, hang on. But in this case it just flows through why Hebron. Well Abram had a history. Hebron was the royal city before Jerusalem. Hebron is Abraham’s base. Hebron is where David was first anointed as king. This fellow knows exactly what he’s doing back in Hebron. He can make an approach and establish a base in a way that he desperately wants to do and what he’s actually doing in verses eight and nine where he says, I vowed and if the Lord will bring me back to Jerusalem, then I will offer worship to the Lord. He is essentially taking the Lord’s name in vain. Actually, as I read it through and you can check to see if I’m right on this. This is the last time he ever mentions God in the whole story of the balance of his life. The only, the only time he mentions God and he does so deviously, he takes his name in vain. Now the response of David is striking. Is it not the king verse nine said to him, go in peace. This is either an expression of the trusting nature of David’s character or perhaps that is just weary of the whole procedure or that he is supremely confident in his own position, choose one of the above. I’ve already made my choice, go in peace. Do you wanna know something else interesting? These are the last recorded words of David to his son. The last recorded words to his son Shalom go how ironic that he would be invited to go in peace when actually what he was going to do was make war, not love and you will notice that he is strategic in what he’s doing. Absolutely sent secret messengers throughout all the tribes of Israel. So he’s working the system and he is making it secure so that when the right moment comes for the trumpet to be sounded, then the cry can go up throughout these various tribes. Absalon is king at Hebron. He takes with him. We’re told in verse 11, men from Jerusalem who were invited guests. They went in their innocence and they knew nothing. They knew nothing at all. But it also would have looked good. It would have looked as though he had a real company and so on. And then just to add to the corruption of it all. He has managed to secure a hit thoughtful the Gila night, David’s counselor as one of the key players in his strategy. Now a hypothesis l interestingly was bathsheba as grandfather and how it is that a Hipfl makes this shift from being a key member of David’s cabinet to becoming part of this insurrection. It remains a question, could it possibly be that a handful resented the fact that David, the king who is supposed to execute justice did nothing to execute justice. In fact, what he executed was the very reverse and the impact that he had on a health officials family. I was going to be felt forever and a day. Well, I leave it with you there. You have the 1st 12 verses. His thoughtful gives all of his skill, all of his experience that had been so valued by David and puts it at the disposal of Absalom and the rebellion. Well, What is the response? What is the reaction of David? If you’re reading this through for the first time and some of you may have just heard it for the first time, then you have the excitement of waiting to see what happens next. And in verse 13, we’re told that David issues the command, arise and flee, arise and let us flee. Now let’s not lose sight of the fact that David knew exactly where his security lay. David knew that his security did not lie in the cedar house that he had built for himself, which is what he’s going to be leaving behind. Right, remember, I live in a really nice cedar house and the ark of the covenant was only in a tent. And we did that some time ago. Now. His security didn’t lie in his house. His security didn’t lie. Even in the mountain of the Lord. In fact, if you want to cross reference. And it’s a helpful one, you can put your finger in the third Sam. Because if you really want to know where his confidence lay, you can find out because he pens the third Sam, which we’re told is a Sam of David when he fled from Absalom his son. So we’re not in any doubt. Oh, Lord, How many are my foes? Many are rising against me. Many are saying of my soul, there is no salvation for him in God. Here we go. Where’s his security? But you o Lord are a shield about me. You are the glory and the lifter up of my head. Well, you say that should be enough then, shouldn’t it? He knows that his security is not in the mountain, It’s not in the house, it’s in the Lord. So what are you running for if you if you’re secure, why would you run? Because he’s sensible as well as secure. And he explains exactly why. Very, very clearly. So, let’s get out of here because it wouldn’t do for us to be besieged. Remember, he’s a military commander. He knows you don’t allow yourself to be trapped somewhere when the forces are coming against you. That’s just not sensible. No matter how much you say you, the Lord is a shield about you, the Lord does not disengage your brains when he promises to you security. He expects you to exercise your wisdom. The wisdom that he has given you and that’s exactly what he does. And so he says, we’re going to prevent the possibility of us all taking down at the edge of the sword verse 14 and in verse 15. His servants responding to them. Say we are ready to do whatever my Lord the king decides actually. You might just want to notice the emphasis on king there. In those three verses it comes again and again and the king’s servants said to the king, My Lord, The king decides. Then the king went out and the king left the concubines and the king went out. And remember we’ve said that repetition when we’re reading the old testament, is there in order to help us grasp things. And so it’s being said again, remember, as you read this story, who the king is, He’s the king, the king, the king, the king, the king. David is the king. He has been set by the father, by God on his holy hill. It is God who has promised him a house. Remember you’re concerned about a house for me. I will build a household for you. Keep that in mind and look again at verse 16. So, the king went out and all his household with him. Well, the Lord has promised him that he will build his household and now it looks as though the entire household is collapsing. one son is dead, The other one is seeking an insurrection. And so he says, what we’re going to do is we’re all going to go, but we’ll leave these 10 concubines behind. Don’t read too far ahead. But that was going to prove to be a really bad decision on his part, especially as it related to Absalon. But actually the king goes out and all the people go after him were beginning actually to see the king the way he used to be the king, a little more decisive. He has, he knows exactly what it is to be a fugitive. He’s done well as a fugitive in the past. He’s not unaware of the wilderness. He spent many times in the wilderness and so on their way to go. And then we’re told that they halted at the last house. It’s an interesting little note, isn’t it Again? You see, when we think about the way in which the story is told to us, there’s nothing extraneous in it. Why would you stop at the last house? Well, we’re told that they stopped at the last house in order that they might have a march past the military people know what a march past is. I know what a march past is because I used to be a life buoy. Well, he’s, they’re very good for you. But we used to go on Sundays on parade. And when we went on parade after the church service, we had a march past and the minister would come out to the front of the church and a couple of the officers as well. And then the entire group of pathetic little life boys would march passed out in the front of the street and they would look to see what they had in their little company and we felt very proud of the fact that we were part of the assembled force, so to speak. That is exactly what is happening here. But at a far, far higher level, they are on the outskirts of the city, it’s the last post, if you like. And so all the servants of David passed by him and notice who’s here. The charity fights the paella fights And 600 of the Hittites from Gaff. Now, isn’t that just fascinating? Remember when he had spent that time in Gaff, remember when he was running away, he decided if I go into enemy territory, I might be safer in enemy territory than I am here. It was quite a move and clearly it impressed many people and during that time he picked up many friends and established for himself a base that extended even beyond the tribes of Israel and what we actually are discovering here is that these foreigners, for foreigners, they were, we’re now actually more faithful to the king than the king’s own people. His kingdom collapses and the foreigners pick up the pieces Now, years after this, Isaiah is going to prophesy, you can read it in Isaiah chapter two of a day that will come when all the nations of the world will flow up to the mountain of God, Rivers don’t flow up, rivers flow down. But what an amazing picture running against the tide of history, running against the normal expectations, There will come a day, says the prophet, when the nations of the world will flow to the place of God’s authority? Now then go from there. From the profits, go into Bethlehem. Go beyond Bethlehem. Follow Jesus as he moves around, listen to him as the centurion comes and says to him, I need your help. And jesus response to him, remember the centurion says, you know well listen, you can just say and it will be fine because I have servants and I say to one man, go and he goes and I say to another man come as he comes and remember what what Jesus says, he says, I have never found faith like this in all of Israel, it’s a foreigner that tells us this. And then Jesus says truly, with no one in Israel, have I found such faith. I tell you many listen to this lesson, I tell you many will come from east and from west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the Kingdom of Heaven and here all these years before pushed, persecuted, humiliated, debased. The king struggles out and on and in the company of those whom God in his purposes has assigned to his army. Behold the mountain of the Lord! In latter days shall rise. Or perhaps just one for their little observation. I just wrote in my notes. Go back, Go back. Okay, go on. He said, where’d you get that from? Well, just from the text then the king said to it. Either get tight. Why would you go with us? Speaking as a representative of the 600 go back notice. Stay with the king. Stay with the king. But you’re the king. Well, not according to the people around here. He’s the future. Stay with the king. You’re a foreigner, you’re an exile. You’ve only just shown up and now I’m going to ask you to wonder about with us and I don’t even know where. So again he says, go back and take your brothers with you and may the Lord show steadfast love and faithfulness to you because that’s what you need. That’s what you need. You need to know the covenant love of God. You need to know that God is steadfast. You need to know that God is faithful. Don’t you suggest? Don’t you feel that David is speaking to himself. You know when you press something on somebody, you say, you know what you need. You find yourself saying. This is exactly what I need. I need to be reminded of the fact that your steadfast love never ceases that your mercies never come to an end. That you are the faithful god who has established me. I’m in this predicament. Now there is no question about that and a lot of it is all of my own doing. I made those foolish choices. I am in this mess. But you are a faithful God. It’s I you need to know that? I’m concerned that I about your spiritual welfare. But its diverse. 21 said to the King as the Lord lives and as my Lord, the king lives wherever my Lord the king shall be. Whether for death or for life, there also will your servant be. And David says, well then in that case, go on. So it’s I get I passed on with all these men and all the little ones who were with him and all the people and the land wept allowed, Well, we’ll need to come back to this in the evening to do justice to the chapter. I think you would recognize that it’s a statement there. It sounds a lot like another foreigner. Not a man, but a lady. You got her ruth. The more of it. S Naomi’s sister. Go back, go back. You come with me. I’m triple bereaved. Go back. She has no remember and treat me not to leave the or to return from following after thee. For where thou goest I will go and where thou dwell list. I will dwell. Thy people shall be my people and I God! Oh my God. It’s I says the same thing. He basically says, Well in that case I am, I’m going to trust in God. Are you trusting in God, your life, your family, your future? That’s the question. Let us pray. Lord help as to lay hold of that which you provide for us in the food of your word. As we I realized that we have here now something of an unfinished symphony. We pray Lord, that you will help us. That in the balance of our thinking, we may ponder these truths. We live in a very political world discontented and with solutions provided on all sides with the pomp and ceremony of strategy devoid of character. Lord help us to affirm today that we do you want to trust in you as you have made provision for us in jesus before we ask it in jesus name. Amen. This message was brought to you from truth For life where the learning is for living. To learn more about truth. For life with Alistair begg visit us online at truth for life dot org.

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Alistair Begg is the Senior Pastor of Cleveland's Parkside Church (located in Bainbridge, Geauga County, Ohio), a position he has had since 1983. He is the...

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