Verses 1-12 Betrayed by Neglect
What on earth happened to David. Is he just lying in a bed somewhere withering or wandering between wives focused on himself? How on earth can Absalom take 50 men, go to the gate every day and hold court- running down the king and exalting himself? I know the Word says that he stole away the hearts of the men of Israel, but David didn't even seem to show up. He wasn't doing anything to protect the hearts of the men of Israel from this usurper.
And just as he had with Tamar and with Absalom and the shearer evemt, he doesn't do much to investigate why Absalom wants all these men, moves to a new city, calls for David's advisor... Maybe God made him blind to all that was going on in his kingdom or maybe he was neglecting his oversight of God's nation.
I know the bible describes how beautiful Absalom is; but I wonder if he would have had as much success if David paid a little more attention to his children, especially one that had proved so evil before.
It's easy for me to judge, since I only see a snippet. Which is always the problem with judging. There's so much we don't know. But it seems like David is one of those kind of great men we see throughout history who is a great man; but maybe not a good man. It takes giving your whole life to transform a broken nation, uphold treaties and other peace keeping tasks...maybe there just wasn't a lot of room to be a good husband and father. (Although God call's him a man after God's own heart...so it's hard to even say that much.) Either way, something went wrong and David let Absalom steal the kingdom, from the text so far.
Verses 13-23 Escape
Verse 13 says a messenger reported to David that Absalom had stole the hearts, as if it were just a sudden thing. Where were these messengers all along?
Maybe we find a hint to the problem in verse 14. It says that David collected all his servants and fled. To me, it should have said David rounded up all his soldiers and fought. That's the old David. Why was he surrounded by servants. I know he was the king and it's right for him to have servants, but there's something missing here. He doesn't even list soldiers in his entourage. He's settled into palace life and left himself and his nation undefended.
It does say in verse 14 that he felt it was better for the city for him to flee than to put Absalom in a position to lay siege on the city.
Oh Dear Lord. he took his whole household except 10 concubines? "to keep the house"? Really? That seemed appropriate? Are they just pawns on the chessboard to be sacrificed. What possible logic would make this ok?
And just like that, the king was once again running for his life and the remnant of Israel was wondering in the wilderness.
Verses 25-26 A Man After God's Own Heart
In verse 25 we finally see a shadow of the old David, the man after God's own heart. Zadok brought the Ark of God with him. David stopped him and told him to take it back. After everything they went to to properly bring the Ark to Jerusalem, David probably remembered how awful things might get if they were casually carrying the Ark as they fled to parts unknown.
But David also seem to recognize that the whole situation was bigger than them, bigger than Absalom. He acknowledged that God was in control. He didn't cling to the throne as Saul did. He trusted that God would bring him back to the Ark if that was God's will. And if God's will was that it was his son's turn to reign, then so be it.
Having been pretty frustrated with David the last few chapters, which I have been on for a few weeks, these two verses are a healing salve. Maybe he wasn't doing a great job as king with regards to Absalom. But what he knew about the Lord didn't waver. We're all just wretches, blessed to be called and saved by our Lord. We're going to make a lot of mistakes and it's not surprising that he was making big ones at the end of his life...but who God was never wavered in his mind.
I find a lot of hope and comfort in that. Maybe not comfort for this world; but comfort in the eternal.