Morning Light – June 30th, 2015
Today: [2 Samuel Chapter Fourteen]: Grappling with False Counselors. In this chapter David continues to be manipulated by false counselors. His own military man Joab convinces him by a ruse to allow Absalom back into Jerusalem. Absalom had committed murder and was living in exile and Joab for his own reasons prevailed on David to forgive Absalom. The end result was chaos and instability in the nation. You will in your lifetime have many counselors after the example of Joab who will pander to your emotions and encourage you to make a seemingly easy choice – but the end of the matter is always more difficulty. In this chapter we learn from David’s troubles how better to deal with false counselors.
[2Sa 14:1-33 KJV] 1 Now Joab the son of Zeruiah perceived that the king’s heart [was] toward Absalom. 2 And Joab sent to Tekoah, and fetched thence a wise woman, and said unto her, I pray thee, feign thyself to be a mourner, and put on now mourning apparel, and anoint not thyself with oil, but be as a woman that had a long time mourned for the dead: 3 And come to the king, and speak on this manner unto him. So Joab put the words in her mouth. 4 And when the woman of Tekoah spake to the king, she fell on her face to the ground, and did obeisance, and said, Help, O king. 5 And the king said unto her, What aileth thee? And she answered, I [am] indeed a widow woman, and mine husband is dead. 6 And thy handmaid had two sons, and they two strove together in the field, and [there was] none to part them, but the one smote the other, and slew him. 7 And, behold, the whole family is risen against thine handmaid, and they said, Deliver him that smote his brother, that we may kill him, for the life of his brother whom he slew; and we will destroy the heir also: and so they shall quench my coal which is left, and shall not leave to my husband [neither] name nor remainder upon the earth. 8 And the king said unto the woman, Go to thine house, and I will give charge concerning thee. 9 And the woman of Tekoah said unto the king, My lord, O king, the iniquity [be] on me, and on my father’s house: and the king and his throne [be] guiltless. 10 And the king said, Whosoever saith [ought] unto thee, bring him to me, and he shall not touch thee any more. 11 Then said she, I pray thee, let the king remember the LORD thy God, that thou wouldest not suffer the revengers of blood to destroy any more, lest they destroy my son. And he said, [As] the LORD liveth, there shall not one hair of thy son fall to the earth.
In this chapter we find David mourning for his estranged son Absalom. Previously Absalom assassinated his brother Amnon and fled for his life. Like the father of the prodigal David longs for restored relationship with his wayward son. David’s general and chief military man realizes that David is heavy hearted regarding Absalom and conceives of a plan to convince David to bring Absalom back to Jerusalem. He calls on an elderly woman from a distant town to participate in a ruse to give David an “out” to bring Absalom home. David as king must maintain justice therefore he cannot lightly call for Absalom’s return lest he seem unjust before the people. In doing this Joab is following in the example of the prophet Nathan who confronted David about Bathsheba and Uriah. Nathan used a parable of a rich man taking advantage of a poor man to expose David’s sin. Joab however is no prophet. The end result of Nathan’s dealings with David was restoration and forgiveness. The end result of Joab’s dealings with David is death and civil war.
In your lifetime you will have people come to you who are convinced they know or have heard from God what you are supposed to be doing. Joab on the one hand would comfort David and convince him to do what he felt wasn’t possible as king but on the other hand would rebuke and revile David. When it came to Joab David never knew where he stood – whether Joab was his best friend or worst critic. Yet David in his lifetime never fully dealt with Joab. He allowed Joab in his mind almost as a necessary evil and did not deal with Joab’s manipulations and troublesomeness until the final hours of his life. Who is the Joab in your life? Where is the person in your life that always keeps you off balance and you never quite know what to expect? One moment they are loving and supportive, the next they are critical and derisive? They consider themselves your counselor but their counsel is more about getting your way and not so much about finding out what God truly has to say about your situation. David would have been much better off to cut off Joab early in his time as king and so you would be much benefited however difficult and painful to identify the Joab’s in your life and irrevocably sever yourself from them.
12 Then the woman said, Let thine handmaid, I pray thee, speak [one] word unto my lord the king. And he said, Say on. 13 And the woman said, Wherefore then hast thou thought such a thing against the people of God? for the king doth speak this thing as one which is faulty, in that the king doth not fetch home again his banished. 14 For we must needs die, and [are] as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again; neither doth God respect [any] person: yet doth he devise means, that his banished be not expelled from him. 15 Now therefore that I am come to speak of this thing unto my lord the king, [it is] because the people have made me afraid: and thy handmaid said, I will now speak unto the king; it may be that the king will perform the request of his handmaid. 16 For the king will hear, to deliver his handmaid out of the hand of the man [that would] destroy me and my son together out of the inheritance of God. 17 Then thine handmaid said, The word of my lord the king shall now be comfortable: for as an angel of God, so [is] my lord the king to discern good and bad: therefore the LORD thy God will be with thee. 18 Then the king answered and said unto the woman, Hide not from me, I pray thee, the thing that I shall ask thee. And the woman said, Let my lord the king now speak. 19 And the king said, [Is not] the hand of Joab with thee in all this? And the woman answered and said, [As] thy soul liveth, my lord the king, none can turn to the right hand or to the left from ought that my lord the king hath spoken: for thy servant Joab, he bade me, and he put all these words in the mouth of thine handmaid: 20 To fetch about this form of speech hath thy servant Joab done this thing: and my lord [is] wise, according to the wisdom of an angel of God, to know all [things] that [are] in the earth. 21 And the king said unto Joab, Behold now, I have done this thing: go therefore, bring the young man Absalom again.
David figures out that Joab is behind this ruse to get him to allow Absalom back into Jerusalem. The old woman flatters David about this – commending him as a wise and discerning king when at this point anything is further from the truth. After Bathsheba David is manipulated and deceived time and again. Amnon deceived David into sending his half-sister Tamar to him for evil purposes. Jonadab David’s nephew deceives and manipulates David in order to hide his own collusion in the rape of Tamar. Absalom lies successfully to David in order to bring about Amnon’s death. Joab manipulates David using the old woman and the end result is civil war and ultimately the death of Absalom himself.
Where was David’s mind in all of this? He is distracted. Due to his indulgent leniency with Amnon and Absalom it seems apparent that during these years David is still struggling with guilt and vulnerability over the matter with Bathsheba and Uriah. Whatever may be the case this is not the David who so adeptly and discerningly anticipated with God’s help every move of Saul and positioned himself so adeptly to become king by God’s hand. When you come through a set back or even a moral failure you must maintain your discernment. God forgives and you must forgive yourself and do not become so introspective that you fail to maintain the borders and boundaries of your life. People around you who should love and support you many times will not be able to help themselves when detecting your weakness and will come forward to advance their own personal agenda at your expense. Weakness in leadership fosters rebellion, manipulation and self-seeking. In spite of your miss-steps or even misdeeds you are still responsible to maintain discernment, keep your walk with God strong and not be intimidated by those who say you have no right to stand up for God or for yourself because you have made some error in judgment.
22 And Joab fell to the ground on his face, and bowed himself, and thanked the king: and Joab said, To day thy servant knoweth that I have found grace in thy sight, my lord, O king, in that the king hath fulfilled the request of his servant. 23 So Joab arose and went to Geshur, and brought Absalom to Jerusalem. 24 And the king said, Let him turn to his own house, and let him not see my face. So Absalom returned to his own house, and saw not the king’s face. 25 But in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty: from the sole of his foot even to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him. 26 And when he polled his head, (for it was at every year’s end that he polled [it]: because [the hair] was heavy on him, therefore he polled it:) he weighed the hair of his head at two hundred shekels after the king’s weight. 27 And unto Absalom there were born three sons, and one daughter, whose name [was] Tamar: she was a woman of a fair countenance. 28 So Absalom dwelt two full years in Jerusalem, and saw not the king’s face. 29 Therefore Absalom sent for Joab, to have sent him to the king; but he would not come to him: and when he sent again the second time, he would not come. 30 Therefore he said unto his servants, See, Joab’s field is near mine, and he hath barley there; go and set it on fire. And Absalom’s servants set the field on fire. 31 Then Joab arose, and came to Absalom unto [his] house, and said unto him, Wherefore have thy servants set my field on fire? 32 And Absalom answered Joab, Behold, I sent unto thee, saying, Come hither, that I may send thee to the king, to say, Wherefore am I come from Geshur? [it had been] good for me [to have been] there still: now therefore let me see the king’s face; and if there be [any] iniquity in me, let him kill me. 33 So Joab came to the king, and told him: and when he had called for Absalom, he came to the king, and bowed himself on his face to the ground before the king: and the king kissed Absalom.
Joab falls on the ground in mock obeisance to the king when in fact he has successfully manipulated David into allowing Absalom back into Jerusalem. Absalom comes back into Jerusalem with a spotless reputation and his heralded by all as a handsome, strong leader with no condemnation of his crime of killing his brother. Joab in bringing back Absalom did not assuage the king’s sorrow but simply set the stage for David to be forced from the throne and the entire country thrown into civil war. Be wary of those who come to you and seek to convince you to violate a determined course of action. Always follow your first witness. David’s first decision was to keep Absalom out of Jerusalem in order to maintain justice in Israel. His father’s heart would not allow him to execute Absalom but at the very least he would banish him from the kingdom. Always listen to your inward witness and give it more weight in decision making than those around you that encourage you to make the emotionally easy choice. In the end David is not truly restored to his son and now David has a charismatic, embittered enemy right in the royal city about to foment rebellion against his rule.
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