Wednesday, June 23, 2021

2021.06.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 15:13–37

Read 2 Samuel 15:13–37

Questions from the Scripture text: Who comes to David in 2 Samuel 15:13? What does he tell him? To whom does David speak in 2 Samuel 15:14? What does he tell them to do? What does he need to do with them? Or else what will happen? What would Absalom do to the city? Who speak to whom in 2 Samuel 15:15? What are they ready to do? Where does the king go (2 Samuel 15:16)? With whom? Without whom? Where does he stop in 2 Samuel 15:17? What do they do there (2 Samuel 15:18)? Which ethnicities are specifically mentioned? And especially how many from where? Whom does the king specifically mention in 2 Samuel 15:19? What does he tell him to do? Why? What doesn’t the king want Ittai to have to do (2 Samuel 15:20)? What blessing does the king pronounce upon him? By whose lives does Ittai vow in 2 Samuel 15:21? What does he vow? Who are involved in this vow (2 Samuel 15:22)? What is the procession like, when they begin moving again (2 Samuel 15:23)? Over what do they cross? Toward what? Who else came (2 Samuel 15:24)? What did they have? What did the king tell him to do with it (2 Samuel 15:25)? What did he hope to find instead? How would he know if he found favor? But what might the opposite outcome be (2 Samuel 15:26)? And to what would the king submit in that case? What two offices does David recognize in Zadok (2 Samuel 15:27)? Where does he tell him to fulfill those offices? With whom attending him? What would David do (2 Samuel 15:28)? For whose Word, especially, would David be waiting? What do Zadok and Abiathar do (2 Samuel 15:29)? Now where does David go (2 Samuel 15:30)? Doing what? How else is his mourning expressed? Who joins him in it? What does someone say now in 2 Samuel 15:31? To Whom does David respond? For what does he ask? What does David do, when he gets to the top of Olivette (2 Samuel 15:32)? And who overtakes him there? Doing what? What does David say Hushai would be, if he went along (2 Samuel 15:33)? What does David suggest for him to say (2 Samuel 15:34, but cp. what he actually says in 2 Samuel 16:162 Samuel 16:18-19)? What effect does David hope Hushai can have? What communication chain does he set up for the spy network (2 Samuel 15:35-36)? What does 2 Samuel 15:37 call Hushai? Right before whom does he arrive?

The scene in the narrative now shifts from Absalom’s contingent to David’s contingent. The first verse gives us the transition—a messenger comes from one to the other saying, “the hearts of the men of Israel are with Absalom.” And yet, there are many indicators in the rest of the passage (and in following passages) that the heart of Yahweh is with David. We see the Lord’s mercy to David in several little vignettes.

First, there’s the loyalty of his servants—and especially of Ittai—in 2 Samuel 16:15-22. The Holy Spirit drops into 2 Samuel 16:18 that the six hundred Gittites “had followed him from Gath.” We’re reminded of the seed promise, going back to Genesis 3:15, and reinforced through Noah and Abraham. 

There is One coming in Whom all the earth would be blessed. We’re reminded of that little clause in Exodus 12:38, “A mixed multitude went up with them also.” Now here are six hundred Philistines with God’s anointed. He has chosen to bring the Christ through David, and this is just a foretaste of the gathering in of the nations. David tries to send them home, but Ittai the former-Philistine is all-in on Yahweh and His anointed (2 Samuel 16:22). 

This Ruth-Naomi moment between David and Ittai also reminds us that David has been on the run before. Yet, the Lord was with him then (giving him these six hundred faithful Gittites), and the Lord is mercifully with him now (strengthening him through their continued allegiance). When we find ourselves in moments of difficulty—even as consequences of our sin—we are attended by our God, Who for thousands of years has specialized in doing His people good through such moments.

The second vignette comes when David crosses over the Kidron (2 Samuel 16:23), and the Levites arrive. All the Levites. And the ark. What does it matter if all the nation is against you (2 Samuel 16:13), if God’s presence (here expressed in His priesthood and the mercy seat) is for you (2 Samuel 16:24, ff; cf. Romans 8:31)? 

David remembers that it is not Yahweh’s furniture that he needs so much as Yahweh’s favor (2 Samuel 16:25, cf. 1 Samuel 4), and actually sends the priests and the ark back into Jerusalem. This way, not only will the gospel ministry of the priests continue by way of the sacrifices of the tabernacle service, but Zadok the preacher will also be there to minister the Word (2 Samuel 16:27). And, if Word comes from God, Zadok can send it by way of his sons (2 Samuel 16:28).

The third vignette comes just a little ways farther, on the way up the Mount of Olives. Only at this point does David learn of the treachery of Ahithophel (2 Samuel 16:31), which compels a desperate cry of prayer that is already being answered. David crests the hill and pauses for worship (2 Samuel 16:32a), which is itself an indicator of grace. How many would pause for the worship of God in the midst of a hurried retreat/escape?

But he’s still in the middle of it, almost certainly repeating the prayer of 2 Samuel 16:31, when the prayer is answered. One look at his torn robe and dusty head (2 Samuel 16:32b) puts to rest any worries about whether Hushai has also betrayed him. David suggests that Hushai offer his services to Absalom  as a way of defeating the counsel of Ahithophel (2 Samuel 16:34, but we’ll see how Hushai sticks to the truth in 2 Samuel 16:16–19). David quickly organizes the spy network in 2 Samuel 16:35-36, and the narrative concludes with the “camera” following Hushai back down Olivette, back over the Kidron, and into Jerusalem, where Absalom shortly arrives (2 Samuel 16:37). The final note about Hushai, “the friend of David,” reminds us that God is often doing us good through people whom we can’t have with us or can’t see doing their good to us.

All of this is a great encouragement: it matters not how skilled and powerful are those who are against you, if you have the Lord with you. And it is especially an encouragement, because it is a display of great grace. Remember from chapter 12 that this is all occurring as a disciplinary action from the Lord for the incident with Bathsheba and Uriah. What a blessed glimpse of the ways of our God, Who rules and overrules all things for our good—even in the midst of disciplining us for sin.

In what situations have powerful, influential, and/or skilled enemies organized themselves against you? For what might the Lord be disciplining you? Even if that’s the case, what hope do you have in the midst of it?

Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH256 “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”

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