David driven from his home in Jerusalem is the shocking sight we see in this chapter of 2 Samuel. It’s almost a repeat of his desperate escape from Saul into the wilderness many years earlier. This time, tragically, he flees for safety from his own son, Absalom, who “stole the hearts of the men” (v6) in a bid to take the throne.
Over the span of four years, Absalom stirred up in the people a contention against David over existing judicial problems. It’s very possible that though manipulation was involved here, there was some truth regarding injustices. As believers, we’re to be humble enough to recognise that when others give feedback or criticism that we may disagree with, there may well be a layer of truth present that points to a legitimate fault of ours. We must do well to be quick to listen, be slow to anger, and then shift gears to be quick to respond graciously to make amends for an offense made on our part.
David, it seems missed out on a lot of this. It appears to me that as he aged he lost his personal touch with the people. Perhaps he got bored of deciding over judicial cases as it appears he may have done with military campaigns (2 Samuel 11:1). Absalom was guileful enough to capitalise on all of this by arousing and inciting dissatisfaction and disillusionment with David’s reign while also promoting himself as Israel’s hope for justice. The people listening to Absalom may have been seduced by his charm (v5), his status, military backing (v1) and compelling promises (v4).
It’s a reminder to us that we are to discern all spirits (1 John 4:1). Superficially people or situations may appear helpful and necessary. However, there may be ulterior motives or reasons that make them unhelpful or even downright harmful. Jesus taught his disciples to be as gentle as doves but as shrewd as snakes (Matt 10:16), meaning that we should operate in gentleness that’s fastened with good judgment and understanding. David missed out on sound judgement concerning Absalom and his plans. Much of Israel did too. We may all be prone to misreading situations and being misled by others or our emotions. The myriad of convincing scam emails, texts, phone calls, misleading adverts, and fake news across media platforms highlight some of the manipulative content of contemporary life that we have to carefully wade through with sound judgement.
Thankfully David acknowledged his naivety concerning Absalom and took decisive steps to counteract Absalom’s treachery (He does so, amazingly, with kind intent toward Absalom his son!). We must be quick to do likewise if realising we’ve been misguided by lies lest they take a deeper hold on our thoughts and manifest a harmful influence in our lives. In the book of Galatians we read that the church at Galatia had been deceived by false teachers who preached a false gospel, different from what Paul had preached. Today, we have a number of religious cults that have branched off from orthodox Christianity due to the same problem that the Galatians faced. Paul quickly counteracted a false gospel preached to the Galatians by writing and circulating a letter that pointed to the true gospel. As in a true note used to disprove counterfeit notes, truth dispels lies. And in Christ, our gospel (Good news), is all the wisdom we need to dismantle every counterfeit lie.
Let us strive, dear friends, to keep our eyes fixed on Christ, the founder and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). In so doing, not only shall we live in a manner that is just, kind and humble before God (Micah 6:8) but that also discerns good from evil (Hebrews 5:14).