Family Rebellion

KEY VERSE: “Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.” —II Samuel 15:6


THE rebellion in David’s family resulted from the judgment of the Lord against David for a gross violation of God’s law. He seduced Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, and in the course of time David arranged to have Uriah sent to the front lines of battle where he was killed. Subsequently David took Bathsheba to be his wife. This, of course, greatly displeased the Lord, and he sent the Prophet Nathan to David with this parable: There were two men, one rich with many flocks and herds; and the other poor with nothing except one ewe lamb which was greatly loved by the family. The rich man made a great feast and took the poor man’s Iamb for the occasion. When David heard the story, he was greatly angered, but Nathan said, “Thou art the man.”—II Sam. 12:1-7

Nathan continued to speak saying: “The sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife. Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbor … for thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun. And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord, and Nathan said unto David, The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die. And Nathan departed unto his house. And the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife bare unto David, and it was very sick.”—II Sam. 12:10-15

In this incident we get an insight to the love and mercy of God. Even though David grossly sinned against the Lord, because he was repentant from the heart, the Lord put away his sin, but not without punishment. The judgment against David was carried out in detail. The child born to David and Bathsheba died. This was a hard thing for David and he prayed to the Lord, and fasted and prostrated himself, but in the end, when the child died, he accepted the judgment of the Lord and went into the Temple and worshiped.—II Sam. 12:19-23

Family dissension and trouble continued to mount in David’s house. Amnon, one of David’s sons, defiled his half-sister. After two years, Absalom, who hated his brother Amnon because of his deed, arranged to kill him. Absalom then fled and went to Geshur and remained there for three years. “And the soul of King David longed to go forth unto Absalom: for he was comforted concerning Amnon, seeing he was dead.” (II Sam. 13:39) After a time David permitted Absalom to return to his own house but he was not allowed to see the face of the king.

When finally Absalom was reconciled to David, he apparently had great freedom of action, and being consumed with ambition and with no love or respect for his father, he began to undermine the confidence of the people in their king. And finally when the time was ripe, he organized a rebellion which was successful, and David, his household, and faithful soldiers were forced to flee for their lives. In all of this David recognized the hand of the Lord executing his judgment, and he was submissive. He apparently realized that the treachery of Absalom resulted because of his own sin and so he never ceased loving Absalom.

Eventually David and his men were forced to battle Absalom and his army. The battle was fought in the wood of Ephraim. And in the heat of the battle Absalom, riding on an ass through the wood, caught his head and hair in a forked branch and hung helpless in the tree. He was soon spotted by one of David’s men and was slain in spite of the instructions given that Absalom should not be harmed. Soon after the tide of battle turned and when runners came to David with the good news, he was greatly concerned for the safety of Absalom. When he heard that his son had died, “The king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!”—II Sam. 18:33

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