by Dr. Samuel Lee   08/25/2001     0 reads


2 Samuel 12:15-20:26

Key Verse: 18:33; 19:4


  1.  (12:15-25) Why did God strike David's child? What did David do before and after the child died? Why? What does this reveal about David's faith in God? How did God show his love and forgiveness?
  1.  (13:1-39) Why was Amnon's "love" for Tamar not real love? What was Jonadab's role? How did David react? Why was Absalom involved? What did he do? What can we learn here about the fruits of David's sin?
  1.  (14:1-33) How and why did Joab arrange Absalom's return? Why did David refuse to see him? Why was Joab wrong to bring him back? How did Absalom finally get an audience with the king? (28-33) What do his ac­tions show about him?
  1.  (15:1-12) How did Absalom steal the hearts of the men of Israel? Where and how did he carry out his conspiracy against the king? Who joined him, and why? What strength­ened the conspiracy?
  1.  (15:13-37) Why did David decide to flee instead of fight? Who was loyal to him? What can we learn from Ittai? (21) How did the people respond? (23) What did Zadok and the Levites do? (24)
  1.  Why did David send Zadok and the ark back to Jerusalem? What other positive action did David take? Describe his ascent up the Mount of Olives. What was his prayer? Who was Hushai? Why did he go back?
  1.  (16:1-14) As David left Jerusalem, how did Ziba show his colors as an opportunist? (1-4) How did David respond to Shimei's cursing? (11,12) What can we learn here about David's faith?


  1.  What was Ahithophel's first advice? (16:20-22) His next advice? (17:1-4) Why was his advice so valued? (16:23) How did Hushai help David? (17:5-13) Who co-worked with him? (17:15-22) Why did Absa­lom take his advice? (17:14) Why did Ahithophel com­mit sui­cide? (17:23)
  1.  (17:24-18:18) Who was Amasa? Who encouraged David? (17:27-29) What special request did David make of his commanders? (18:5) How did Absalom meet his death? (18:9-17) What kind of man was Joab?
  1.  (18:19-20:26) How did David respond to the news of victory? Why and how did Joab rebuke him? To whom and how did David show generosity upon his return? What was Sheba's rebellion? How did Joab restore his position as commander? What contrast do you see in David and Joab?
  1.  What can we learn from these chapters about the fruits of sin? How did God help David in his adversity? What can we learn from David's faith? From his father's heart?



2 Samuel 12:15-20:26

Key Verse: 18:33; 19:4

"The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gate­­way and wept. As he went, he said: 'O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you--O Ab­sa­lom, my son, my son!'...The king covered his face and cried aloud, 'O my son Absalom! O  Absalom, my son, my son!'"

Romans 6:23a says, "For the wages of sin is death..." These days many people commit light and heavy sins and just forget about it. But it does not work that way. If one sins, sin bears fruits. One who committed sin must eat the fruits of his sin. Those who are around one who commit­ted sin also must share the fruits of sin he had committed. David com­mitted sin and repented his sin before God. When David humbly re­pented of his sin before God, God graciously forgave his sins and prom­ised that he would not die because of his sins. Our God the Almighty loves sinners, but he hates the sin in a person's heart. In today's pas­sage we learn how God loved David, and at the same time, how he hated the sin in David's heart. God severely punished David until the fruits of sin in David were purged away. The fruits of sin also crucially affected David's family and others. When we read today's passage, it seems that God is too severe in punish­ing people's sins. In today's message we learn a very important spiritual lesson. David was in unbearable adversi­ties. But he depended on God absolutely. Also, David loved Absalom more than his kingship or him­self. In this passage we learn that David reveals himself to be a man after God's own heart, despite himself.

I.  Absalom returns to Jerusalem (12:15-16:14)

First, the death of David's child. (12:15-31) After Nathan had gone home, the Lord struck the child that Uriah's wife had borne to David, and he became ill. What did David do when the child of romance became criti­cally ill? David did not call the royal physicians and magic artists in an attempt to heal his child. Mostly many Christians bring their sick chil­dren to the hospital, then they pray for their healing. But David was dif­ferent.  Before the Almighty God, he prayed, fasting and spending many nights lying on the ground. His loyal sub­jects encouraged him to eat, but he refused. On the seventh day, the child died. David's servants were afraid to tell him the news that his son was dead. But David sensed that his son was dead when he saw people whispering among themselves. His officials were perplexed, wondering what he would do. When his son was sick, he fasted and did not sleep. Then what would he do if he heard about his son's death? But to their surprise, David got up and stopped his fasting and weeping, changed his clothes and went to the house of God and wor­shiped. To his men, it was a great surprise. So they asked, "Why are you acting this way? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept, but now that the child is dead, you get up and eat!" He answered, "While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, 'Who knows? The Lord may be gra­cious to me and let the child live.' But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me." David had faith in the sovereignty of God. David believed that God gives man life and takes away man's life according to his time sched­ule. David accepted God's act as his sovereign rule upon his son. Then God blessed him and gave him another son, Solomon, through Bath­sheba.

Second, Absalom kills Amnon. (13:1-39) David's sin bore bad fruit. Now the fruits of his sin spread, and many had to eat the fruits of his sin. Of course this doesn't support the the­ory of cause and effect, but it ex­plains God's truth in the Old Testament before Jesus' coming. In the course of time Amnon son of David became very sick with love. He liked one of his sisters, Tamar, the beautiful sister of Absalom son of David. Amnon became so sick with love that he lost his rea­son. There was a friend of Amnon called Jonadab, who was mischievous, devious and sadistic. He spoke to Amnon, used by Satan, to seduce his sister Tamar. Temp­ted by Jona­dab, Amnon molested his sister Tamar. Then some­thing strange hap­­pened in his heart. Amnon hated her with intense ha­tred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her. So he put her out and bolted the door after her. Tamar put ashes on her head and tore her richly ornamented robe of a prin­cess, put her hand on her head and went away, weeping aloud as she went.

These days secular humanists claim that physical love is the best. But physical love does not last long. There are so many peo­ple who are gripped with separation anxiety, and the di­vorce rate is high­er than we could imagine. So many gor­geous and beautiful looking boys and girls are from bro­ken fami­lies. Physical love is not real love; it is only the expres­sion of promis­cuity. Amnon is a good example of this.

When David heard what had happened, he was furious. (13: 21) But David did not rebuke or punish his son. Probably David was not com­pletely healed spiritually, even though his sins  were forgiven.  He was too weak  to rebuke  and punish Amnon. So he just ignored him. But Ta­mar's bro­ther Absalom's anger begot murder. Absalom said nothing, but he held his hatred for Amnon in his heart for two years until it grew too big to bear. One day he carefully planned Amnon's death. The occasion was a feast, to which all of his brothers were in­vited. Some of Absalom's men were told to strike Amnon when he was drunk. When his servants struck the drunken Amnon, he died. Everyone fled. At the news, Da­vid's heart sank. Absalom went into exile, hiding from his father. King David mourned for his son every day. After Absalom fled and went to Geshur, he stayed there three years. And the spirit of the king longed to go to Absalom, for he was consoled concerning Amnon's death. (13:37-39)

Third, Joab arranges Absalom's return. (14:1-33) Joab, the commander-in-chief of David's army, wanted to change the present situation. (20) Because David was unhappy on account of Absalom, the whole nation was unhappy. As a king, David had many things to do, but all he did was to long for his oldest son Absalom. Joab got tired of looking at David's sorrowful face, so he decided to do something. (2) Joab used a woman who was a good actress. He thought she would be able to con­vince David to bring back his son, who had murdered his bro­th­er. The wo­man's message touched David's heart, especial­ly, her message, "A dead man's life spilled out on the ground cannot be recovered; but the living can be restored." (14:14) After listening to her petition, David sympa­thized with her and promised to protect her remaining son. Then David sensed that it was Joab's ploy, and he agreed to bring Absalom back.

But David would not grant him the people's welcome, nor did he see Absalom's face. 14:24 reads, "But the king said, 'He must go to his own house; he must not see my face.' So Absalom went to his own house and did not see the face of the king." David wanted to see him so­ in­tensely, but he could not see Absalom's face because sin created a distance between them; it is human tragedy. Joab was a humanly loyal soldier to King David. But whatever he did, he did in his own way. He never knew King David's heart. His bringing Absalom fused in­surrec­tion and rebellion in the kingdom of David. Human loy­alty is in fact based on selfishness. Therefore we must learn how to be loyal to God first, and next, to be faithful to each other.

Fourth, Absalom's conspiracy. (15:1-37) Absalom spent four years mak­ing himself  very popular among those whose hearts were bitter and who were oppressed, those full of petitions and complaints. Absalom­ dress­ed in the robe of a prince and stood by the city gate. There, he listened to the griev­ances of people coming into the city to petition the king for jus­tice. Then he blocked their way and drew their attention to himself and promised that if he had power, he would see that justice was done for each person. His campaign promises stirred peo­ple's hearts. Using his privilege as a prince, he stole the hearts of the men of Israel. (15:1-6)

One day Absalom made Joab mad enough to come to him, and he finally got his chance to see the king by Joab's arrange­ment. (14:23-33) After that, he went to the king and got permission to go to Hebron. Then he sent secret messengers throughout the tribe of Israel to say, "As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpets, then say, 'Absalom is king in Hebron.'" Two hundred men from Jerusalem had accompanied Absa­lom. They had been invited as guests and went quite in­nocently, know­ing nothing about the matter. Among them was Ahithophel, the king's wisest counselor. And so the conspira­cy gain­ed strength, and Absa­lom's following kept on increas­ing. (15:7-12)

Fifth, David leaves Jerusalem. (15:13-37) David was a great warrior and a man of keen insight. He grasped the pres­ent situation, that Absalom's conspiracy was gaining strength and his rebellion would succeed for the time being. Of course, if he fought against Absalom, he could strike him and his fol­lowers down overnight. But David never wanted to see his people fight, shedding their blood, nor did he want the holy city Jerusa­lem bathed in blood. So he curbed his kingly pride and decided to take flight. A king would rather die than take flight. But because David was a shepherd of his people and because he was a man of God, he chose to take flight, hum­bling himself.

Ittai the Gittite was a foreigner. But he was one of the mighty men in David's elite fighting corps. So he had no reason to get involved in politics. But he wanted to follow David. 15:21 reads, "But Ittai replied  to the king, 'As sure­ly as the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, wher­ever my lord the king may be, whether it means life or death, there will your servant be.'"

Look at verse 23.  "The whole countryside wept aloud as all the people passed by.  The king also crossed  the Kidron Valley, and all the people moved on toward the desert." It was indeed a time of distress for King David. But there were many people who were loyal to him. Zadok the high priest was one of them. He brought the ark of the Lord to follow David, but David ordered him to go back to the city. 15:25,26 reads, "Then the king said to Zadok, 'Take the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the Lord's eyes, he will bring me back and let me see it and his dwelling place again. But if he says, "I am not pleased with you," then I am ready; let him do to me whatever seems good to him.'" In his adver­sity, David experienced the deep love of God and honored him as God. He depended on God for his future absolutely. He acknowledged that he was at the mercy of God. If God was pleased, he would bring him back to Jerusalem; if he was not pleased, he would die in the desert. He thought the ark of God belonged to God and to Jerusalem, the holy city. He had no right to bring the ark of God with a miracle-seeking men­tality. He depended on God in the time of his adver­sity.

But David was not lazy. And he was not fatalistic about his situa­tion. The king asked Zadok the priest, "Go back to the city with your son Ahimaaz and Jonathan son of Abiathar to see about Absalom's move­ment." David said, "I will wait at the fords in the desert until word comes from you to inform me." So Zadok and Abiathar took the ark of God back to Jerusalem and stayed there. David sent another man, Hush­ai, one of the wisest strate­gists, back to Jerusalem. David said to him, "If you go with me, you will be a burden to me. But if you return to the city, you can help me." David sent him to Absalom so that he might frustrate Ahitho­phel's stra­tegy, because David knew he was the best strategist among his men. Hushai arrived at Jerusalem to carry out his mission at the moment Absalom was entering the city.

Sixth, troublesome persons. (16:1-14) When a great man is in trouble, those around him show their true colors. Ziba came with needed sup­plies and accused Mephibosheth, saying that he thought the house of Israel would give him back his grandfa­ther's kingdom. Ziba was an op­portunist. Because of his self­ishness, David was burdened with sorrow.

As King David approached Bahurim, Shimei son of Gera cursed him as he came out. He pelted David and all the king's officials with stones, though all the troops and David's guard were on David's right and left. "Get out, get out, you man of blood,  you scoundrel!  The Lord  has repaid you for all the blood you shed in the household of Saul, in whose place you have reigned. The Lord has handed the kingdom over to your son Absalom. You have come to ruin because you are a man of blood!" Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said to the king, "Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and cut off his head." 16:11,12 reads, "David then said to Abishai and all his officials, 'My son, who is of my own flesh, is trying to take my life. How much more, then, this Benjamite! Leave him alone; let him curse, for the Lord has told him to. It may be that the Lord will see my distress and repay me with good for the cursing I am receiving today.'" David ac­cepted this punishment as God's punishment and asked God's mercy on him through this event. David did not look at Shimei but looked at God and asked God's mercy on him.

II.  David returns to Jerusalem (16:15-20:26)

First, Ahithophel and Hushai. (16:15-17:23) Ahithophel was a counselor with a reputation for always being right. (16:23) His counseling was like that of one who inquires of God. That was how David thought. David knew that as long as Ahitho­phel was with Absalom, he and his men would be annihilated. So David prayed that the Lord would turn the coun­sel of Ahitho­phel into foolishness. (15:31) Even if Absalom didn't want to fight against his father David, there was no choice. He could not but fight against his father King David. Man does not make the situation; the situation produces heroes, con­spira­tors and rebels, friends and enemies. Acknowledging that he had to fight against his father, Absalom took Ahithophel's advice to sleep with his father's­ concu­bines, so that his relationship with his father would be irrevocably broken, and so that Absalom could not but fight for the throne. Nathan had prophesied that this would happen to shame Da­vid. (12: 11,12) Ahitho­phel's next advice was to attack immediately. 17:1-3 reads, "Ahitho­phel said to Absalom, 'I would choose twelve thousand men and set out tonight in pursuit of David. I would attack him while he is weary and weak. I would strike him with terror, and then all the people with him will flee. I would strike down only the king and bring all the people back to you. The death of the man you seek will mean the return of all; all the people will be unharmed.'" If Absalom had taken this advice, he probably would have won the war.

Absalom also asked the advice of Hushai, who was David's friend. David had sent him back to Jerusalem to serve as a spy. (15:32-37) Hush­ai knew Absalom's weakness very well. He knew Absalom was very fearful inwardly. When Absalom asked his advice, he gave the opposite counsel. 17:7,8 reads, "Hu­shai replied to Absalom, 'The advice Ahitho­phel has given is not good this time. You know your father and his men; they are fighters, and as fierce as a wild bear robbed of her cubs. Be­sides, your father is an experienced fighter; he will not spend the night with the troops.'" Then Hushai con­cluded his advice in verse 10, "Then even the bravest sol­dier, whose heart is like the heart of a lion, will melt with fear, for all Israel knows that your father is a fighter and that those with him are brave." Absalom and the men of Israel adop­ted Hushai's advice. It was because the Lord had determined to frustrate the good advice of Ahitho­phel in order to bring disaster upon Absalom. (17:14) God was punishing David so as to purge away the fruits of his sins. But God was with David as a good shepherd when David was in deep trou­ble. Because God was with David, David won the war before fight­ing.

Second, Absalom's death. (17:24-18:18) David was unwilling to wage war against his son and his men. But there was no choice for him. He had to restore the holy city Jerusalem and the kingdom of David for the sake of God. He remained no more in sentimental humanism. David mus­tered the men who were with him and appointed over them commanders of thousands and com­manders of hundreds. David sent the troops outa third under the command of Joab, a third under Jo­ab's bro­ther Abishai son of Zeruiah, and a third under Ittai the Gittite. (18:1-3) The king told the troops, "Be gentle with the young man Absalom for my sake." (18:5b)

The army marched into the field to fight, and the battle took place in the forest of Ephraim. There the army of Israel was defeated by Da­vid's men, and the casualties that day were great--twenty thousand men. The battle spread over the whole countryside, and the forest claim­ed more lives that day than the sword. During the war, Absalom happened to ride through the forest. As the mule went under the thick branches of a large oak, Absalom's head got caught in the tree. He was left hanging in midair,  while the mule kept on go­ing. When Joab was told that Absa­lom was caught in the tree, he went where Absalom was, and while Ab­salom was still alive in the oak tree, Joab plunged three javelins into Absalom's heart. And ten of Joab's armor-bearers surrounded Absalom, struck him and kil­led him. They took Absalo­m, threw him into a big pit in the forest and piled up a large heap of rocks over him. It's a tragic story that Absalom was killed in that manner. God made him able and hand­some. In all Israel there was not a man so high­ly praised for his hand­some ap­pear­ance as Absalom. He had long hair which all people en­vied. (14:25,26) He could have used his ability and hand­some ap­pearance for the glory of God instead of at­tempt­ing to kill his own father.

Third, David weeps. (18:19-19:8a) Joab knew that even the news of vic­tory would not be good news to David if he learned of Absalom's death. So he did not want Ahimaaz son of Zadok to run with the news. Joab appointed a Cushite to run to the king and report everything. But Ahimaaz was elat­ed by the victory, and he outran the Cushite. While David was sitting between the inner and outer gates, Ahimaaz came to him and reported about the great victory. Then the king ask­ed, "Is the young man Absalom safe?" Ahimaaz answered, "I saw great confusion just as Joab was about to send the king's servant and me, your servant, but I don't know what it was." The Cushite also came to David. The king asked the Cushite, "Is the young man Absalom safe?" The Cushite re­plied, "May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up to harm you be like that young man." (18:19-32)

The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: "O my son Absalom! My son, my son Ab­salom! If only I had died instead of you--O Absalom, my son, my son!" (18:33) As the king was weeping and mourning for Absalom, for the whole army the victory that day was turned into mourning, because the king was grieving for his son. The soldiers stole into the city that day as men steal in who are ashamed when they flee from battle. The king cov­ered his face and cried out with his dead heart, "O my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son!" As a king, David's weep­ing seems to be­ nast­y. But it is an exact description of God's mind toward sinners. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever be­lieves in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (Jn 3:16) It is obvious that when God sent his one and only Son to save men from their sins, he cried, as David cried for his son Absalom.

Joab, a soldier, did not understand David's heart. He did not un­derstand that David was a father before he was a king. He did not under­stand that David was a man of God and a shep­herd before he was a king with dignity. Joab rebuked David, saying, "I see that you would be pleas­ed if Absalom were alive today and all of us were dead. Now go out and encourage your men. Other­wise, this will be worse for you than all the calamities that have come upon you from your youth till now." So the king got up and took his seat in the gateway. And they all came before him. Joab was a cruel man; anyway, God used him to restore David to his kingship, over­coming his senti­mentalism.

Fourth, David returns to Jerusalem. (19:8b-43) David had been­ betrayed by many people in his time of adversity. Now that Absalom was dead and the rebellion had ended, the people turned again to David for leader­ship, for he was their shep­herd. When David was ready to return to Jeru­salem, the men of Judah took the initiative to bring him back to Jerusa­lem. Then the people of Israel complained about it. People think and move according to the situation. When David was going into exile, they sided with Absalom. Now that David was com­ing back to Jerusalem, they wanted to show favor to David first. People are like pieces of cloud floating around in the sky according to the weather situation. (19:8b-15)

On the way back to Jerusalem, David met several people. One was Shimei. He repented of the way he had acted when David was fleeing Jerusalem. (16:5-14) He deserved severe punishment--at least lifetime imprisonment or twenty years' hard labor. But David unconditionally forgave him. If anyone wants to be a leader, he must be clear about reward and pun­ishment. He should punish those who deserve punish­ment; he should reward those who deserve reward. This is the basic principle of leadership. But David was different. One of his generals, Abi­shai, asked him, "Shouldn't Shimei be put to death for this? He curs­ed the Lord's anointed." David re­plied, "Should anyone be put to death in Israel today?" (19: 22) David knew that victory came from God; God delivered the kingdom of David from enemies and from much blood­shed. So to David, it was the day of God's grace upon him and his people. When David thought about God's grace, he could not be a petty man by punishing petty men. This event seems to be small, but in it David reveal­ed himself to be a man of God and a good shepherd of his people. He did not act according to his feel­ings, but according to the truth of God.

Mephibosheth went down to meet the king. The king asked him, "Why didn't you go with me, Mephibosheth?" He told him that he want­ed to go, but his servant betrayed him. But David didn't try to figure out who was lying and who was tell­ing the truth; he just forgave him. David also met Bar­zillai, who had  helped him.  David want­ed to pay back his debt to his kindness. In one act after another David revealed that he was a man of God and shepherd of his people.

Fifth, Joab restores his position as commander. While King David was bestowing favor upon many people, Joab murdered Amasa. Joab dis­obeyed David and killed Ab­salom. So King David removed him from the position of com­mander-in-chief and gave his position to Amasa, who was Ab­salom's army commander. At that time, once again a national crisis occurred. Sheba started a rebellion. David sent Amasa to muster the army, but Amasa was late. So David sent out Abishai, Jo­ab's bro­ther, in com­mand of the whole army. When Joab met Amasa, he was ready to destroy him. Joab grabbed Amasa's beard with one hand, and with the other he stabbed him in the stomach. After this, Joab pursued Sheba to the city of Abel. He besieged the city. Then a woman asked him not to destroy the city. So Joab made a proposition, "If you hand Sheba over, the city will be safe." Then the people of the city cut off the head of Sheba and threw it to Joab. In this way, a tragic war was avert­ed, and Joab restored his position as the com­mander-in-chief over Da­vid's army. David had to overcome his personal animosity toward Joab and keep him as the head over his army. If David were a petty man, another tragic event might have happened because of Joab. But David had a heart to embrace Joab.

In this passage we learn that God is love, and at the same time God is holy. God loves his children, but God doesn't ignore the sin in his children's hearts. Because of this, God loved David, but God punished him beyond de­scrip­tion.

In this passage we also see a picture of human life. In human life there are many ups and downs. There are times of sorrow and joy, times of victory and adver­sity. Living in this world, most people become vic­tims of the situ­ation. But David was different. He believed that God is liv­ing. David is the best example of one who believed that God is living. In David's life, his son Absa­lom's rebellion and death might have been the most heart-breaking event. He was out to destroy his father David. But David humbled him­self and made just one request, "Be gentle with the young man Absalom for my sake." (18:5b) When David heard the news of his son Absalom's death, he felt that his heart was dead; he began to cry end­lessly, wishing that he had died instead of Absalom. Here we learn that David was a man after God's own heart. He was the exact represen­tation of God's love toward sinners. David was in adversities, but he did not turn away from God; rather, he loved God and loved people more than himself.