Faith in Trials (2 Samuel 15 :13 – Chapter 18)

Series: David, a man after God's heart

Introduction:

This afternoon, if you would, please open your Bibles to 2 Samuel, Chapter 15. We will begin, in verse 13, where we left off last time. You remember, I hope, that Absalom was no longer content to be a prince! He was the type of man, who wanted it all, in his own time, in his own way! You remember that Satan had used that to enter his heart and drive him out of control. Absalom’s ambition had pushed him, we said, over the line, just as it pushes so many people, nowadays, over the line. In his desire for success, Absalom was willing to plot against his own father. He was willing to lie, deceive, flatter and make false promises. He was willing to put in action, an evil scheme, to overthrow David. Out of all of this, I hope you saw, in Absalom’s example, a strong warning against misguided ambition! If so, today, I would like to move back, to the same story, and focus on another person to draw other lessons. If you go back to verse 13, you now read how David reacted! In verses13-14, it says, “….” So, David gathers his close servants and he leaves his palace. He only leaves 10 concubines behind, to take care of his houses. But for David and his friends, they march. And what I like, here, is the many people, who gather around him to show support and encouragement. It’s kind of amazing what happens. Some very unlikely allies come forth and pledge allegiance. In verse 18, it reads, “….” The unlikely allies are the Gerethites and Pelethites. They are unlikely because these people have a strong Philistine background! And you remember the Philistines have been major enemies of David, except for one of their tribe that offered him shelter, before. But now, these people are helping him, in times of civil war. Not only them, though, but, also, the Gittites, foreigners from the land of Gite, from the land of Goliath. And David must be wondering why people, like this, are helping him. He looks at Ittai, one of their leaders, and says, in verses 19-20, “….” But the leader, of the Gittites is not willing to do what the king asks. He makes a beautiful statement. He says, in verse 21, “…” In other words, Ittai says, “David, I don’t care where you have to go and I don’t care if it costs me my life. I am going to stay with you!” What an encouragement, at a time like this! And now, David marches surrounded. As he passes by villages, in Kidron’s valley, people weep for their beloved king, on the run! They seem to have remained attached.

And in verse 24, we see two other men coming, who also are still attached. It’s Zadok and Abiathar. You may remember Abiathar. Abiathar had his family killed, by Saul, because of David’s foolishness and lies. But, when the young priest was on the run, David had taken him in and he had confessed his fault and regrets to the young man. And now, more than 10 years later, we read of him, again, and he is so faithful and so attached to David. Verse 24 says, “….” So Abiathar is offering sacrifices to find the Lord’s favor. He wants David’s party to be blessed! But then, David makes a statement that is important for our lesson, this afternoon. He says, to the two priests, old- time friends, in verses 25-26, “…” What a powerful statement because, now, David is telling these two priests, “I am putting my life in the hands of God. Whatever happens, I will be OK! If I get to go back home, that is wonderful. But if God says, I can’t, then I’ll take whatever He gives me. I am ready. My life is, now, in the hands of God!” But, putting his life in God’s hands didn’t mean giving up. It never means that! Because in verses 27-28, David said, “….” Do you understand that David is still trying to win and overcome? He doesn’t want to lose! He tries everything he can, to prevent a bad fate. But at the same time he strives for victory, he says, “Whatever the Lord decides, that will be alright with me.

And now, all of the king’s party keeps on marching! Verse 30 says, “….” What a pathetic sight! Davis is weeping and walking barefoot! He has, often, had to run away, yes; but never before has he faced these conditons. The last time, he was a young man and the one pursuing him was a wicked, bad king, named Saul. But this time, he has to run because of his own son. And that hurts!

And some of his friends have turned. One is Ahithopel, his old, best advisor. But in verse 32, another of his advisors comes to him, full of sorrow. This one is still faithful. He still will follow David. Here is what we read in verse 37, “…” Now I think this man was a great friend! He was the kind of friend we all would want because David is asking the man to risk his life, to inform him, to oppose the traitor, Ahithophel. And the man does all of that without any argument, or thought for his life! Now, only true friends are willing to sacrifice like that!

So we jump to Chapter 16, where we are told that, now, David is met by Ziba, with provisions. Of course, you know that’s not out of true friendship; he’s just a vulture, trying to see what he can gain. We’ve studied that before!

But we have not studied what happened, next. In verse 5, we are told that David enters Bahurim. There, there is a man, named Shimei. He is from the old school. He is still attached to the previous king, who ruled before David. He has not made the transition, between Saul and David. He has been full of criticisms for good King David! But, I tell you, the change in leadership was God’s doing. And it was Saul who brought it about! But Shimei doesn’t care about that. He doesn’t want the facts. He is operating through his emotions. And now that David is on the bottom, he takes advantage of it. He uses this opportunity to criticize, even harder, to get more to agree with him. This series of events, he thinks, are meant to prove his point! So he curses David, as the king walks by, in tears. Not only that, but he throws stones at him. We read, in verses 6-8, “….” Needless the say, David’s soldiers get upset. They decide they are going to cut this man’s head off. So, they go and ask the king! But David is such a great man. I may have said, “That’s a good idea; you do that!” But David tells his soldiers to leave the man, alone. In verse 12, he says, “….” And there, again, he puts everything in God’s hands and he keeps on marching! And the text says that more friends rally around him.

But meanwhile, here is what happens, in Jerusalem. Absalom is getting set in the palace and acting as king. He, now, searches for advisors, on what to do next. And the advisor, who has betrayed David, is very efficient. Here is what he says, in Chapter 17, verses 1-3, “….” And Absalom hears this advice and he likes it. But he, now, has a second advisor to inquire from; but you know he is pretending to be his friend, but working for David. And when Absalom asks for advice, here is what Hushai says, in verses 7-9, “….” Now, I tell you, Ahithophel’s advice was good advice. It would have worked! David was not hiding. Hushai was lying. But the text says that God didn’t want the first advice to prevail (verse 14). So God worked in Hushai and Absalom picked the second plan!

And now, the text says that David is being informed of his son’s intention. The priests have sent a message, through their own sons, at the risk of their lives. They nearly get caught; but they manage to get through to King David. And, now, David sets his troop for battle. He says, “I’ll lead the fight for you!” But Joab and his officers say, “No, David, you’re not going, this time. It would be too hard! You can’t fight with your own son!” In Chapter 18, verse 3, it says, “…” And don’t you see the support they are giving him? They want to protect David! So, David agrees; but he gives this order in verse 5. “Deal gently with the young man, Absalom!” Can you imagine that? For the last few years, Absalom has been producing misery, in the heart of his father. Absalom has chased his own dad out of his own house. And now, he wants to kill his dad. And David knows that! And yet, this father looks at his generals and says, “Deal gently with the young man, Absalom!” And I am reminded, here, that it is so difficult to kill the love of a father, for his son! And so, to all of you, who are daughters, in this audience, this afternoon, I want to say, you can mistreat your father; you can abuse your father; and I promise you, he will still love you! And I want you to realize that the same thing is true with God! You can hurt God, with your sins; you can turn against him, with the way you live; and the God of Heaven is still going to love you, with all his heart! And David loved Absalom, in spite of all of this!

Well, the battle finally takes place! And God is on the side of David; so, the soldiers of the king scatter the soldiers of Absalom. 20,000 men fall that first day! And now, Absalom runs with his troops! And you know the story. His hair gets tangled up in a tree and he is left hanging, when his mule rides off. David’s men are right on his trail; so they get to the tree and find the young man, there. But David’s men have heard the command of the king. They will not touch Absalom. Instead they run with the news to General Joab. But Joab is not as kind. He is not willing to obey. He wants to put the matter to rest, once and for all. And so, we read, in verse 14, “…” And I want to stop here, this afternoon, with this very long story and make two points for us to go home with.

I. Put everything in God’s hands.

The first point is this: What an attitude David gives for life! For he says, “I’ll put my life in the hands of God!” All the way through this story, David has said, “I hope to go back to Jerusalem. But if I am not able to go back to Jerusalem, then whatever God wants to do, with me, is OK!” And notice, as he hoped to go back to Jerusalem, he did everything in his power to accomplish that! He made plans; he put people in certain positions; he did everything he could. But at the same time, he said, “If God doesn’t want it this way, it is OK with me!” What an attitude, by which to live!

I see it, once in a while. I think I have seen it, most frequently, in people, who have had great illness! I am talking about life-threatening illnesses! I’ve, sometimes, watched people diagnosed with cancer, begin to fight! And they fight with all of their might and with great courage! They listen to doctors; they start reading on the disease; they do everything they can to bring a cure. And yet, at the same time, they say, “I am going to do my best to beat this thing; but if I can’t, then whatever God wants, it’s alright with me!” What a faith! What an attitude, by which to live. Just like David, they have known how to put their life in the hands of God. But I wonder, today, “Am I able to function, with this attitude? You know, David was delivered because he put his life in the hands of God and I think this story is an example of how God always will deliver his people, who do that! So, there is encouragement, here! Let me tell you, God will always deliver you from pain and suffering! It may not be in this world; but He will, even if it’s in heaven. And then, it will only be better! So my first point is, put you life in the hands of God and fight!

II. Treat people right, everyday, and make friends.

My second point comes from this. David was not only helped, by God, but also by friends, in his trials. I mean, people came from all over to support him. Some were old friends, like Abiathar, Joab and Hushai. They had been with him since the beginning. But some were strangers, some unlikely figures, like the Gittites and the Pelethites. One of them was Shobi, son of Nahash. And Nahash was an Amonite king. And so, you may wonder why he came to help. But when you read the context, you understand. See, when Nahash dies, in Chapter 10, of 2 Samuel, David showed his kindness, toward Nahash’s two sons. He sent his sympathy through some servants. And to me, it seems that, now, he is being repaid for his good heart.

Not only by Shobi, but also, by Machir, of Lo-debar. And you might remember him, if you think of Mephibosheth’s previous life. You know this grandson of Saul, this son of Jonathan, named Mephibosheth, was hiding from David, in the home of Machir. He did not know how David’s heart was disposed. But you might remember how David sent soldiers to him to invite him to sit at his table, to reestablish his privilege. And so, Machir had witnessed all of that! He had witnessed the kindness and mercy of David. And now, when David is facing trouble, Machir repays the good his king has done! And it helps.

And what I am trying to say is this. David survived because of God, but also because there were people around him, friends helping him, in times of trouble. And the reason he had friends is because he treated people right. Throughout his life, he respected people. He would try to help others. We saw that he displayed kindness. And so, now, in his time of need, people returned the favor. And what I want to say to you, this afternoon, is all of you will eventually have trouble. You will have time where you’ll feel very low and when you’ll need friends. And, if you want friends, you’d better treat people right, now.

Conclusion:

So, what do I learn, this afternoon? Two things.

1. Put your life in God’s hands; let Him have His way with you.

2. Treat people right, everyday, and you’ll have friends, in times of need.

I finish with these two questions.

1. Are you putting things in God’s hands?

2. Are you really making friends, today, by the way you treat people?

I believe it takes these two things to survive! So, this afternoon, we close, as always with a song of encouragement. We encourage you to respond, if you need to, while we sing.