Traitors, Friends and Regrets

The end of Absalom is getting closer… notice the correct advice of Ahithophel (2 Samuel 17:1-4), he urges Absalom to attack David’s troops immediately while David is still weary and weak. Then came the crafty advice of Hushai (2 Samuel 17:5-14, 23). He advises that the attack be delayed until a large number of soldiers throughout the land can be assembled, and then Absalom himself should lead them into battle (2 Samuel 17:11). Hushai’s plan is accepted, causing Ahithophel to go home and hang himself. This leads us to the main chapter for today.

  1. Why did David want to go into battle? (2 Samuel 18:2, 5)
  2. How has David benefitted from the delay in Absalom’s attack? (2 Samuel 18:1-2)
  3. Why didn’t Joab and the people want him to go into battle? (2 Samuel 18:3)
  4. What are David’s specific instructions to Joab? (2 Samuel 18:5)
  5. What do you make of the reoccurring phrase, “the young man, Absalom?” (2 Samuel 18:5, 12, 29, 32), perhaps the youthful rebel could still be forgiven.
  6. How do you think this sounded to Joab, Abishai, and Ittai? (2 Samuel 18:5)
  7. With all the betrayal going on, why does David trust these three generals? (2 Samuel 18:5)
  8. How did Absalom die? (2 Samuel 18:9, 14, 15)
  9. What irony do you see in Absalom’s getting hung up? (2 Samuel 18:9, 14:24, 25)
  10. How does the man reporting to Joab respond to Joab’s rebuke? (2 Samuel 18:11, 12, 13)
  11. What do you make of Joab disobeying King David’s order? (2 Samuel 18:5, 12)
  12. What does Joab’s treatment of Absalom reveal about him? (2 Samuel 18:14)
  13. What do they do with Absalom’s body (2 Samuel 18:17, 18) Notice the irony; a heap of stones and a monument to himself (similar to 1 Samuel 15:12). His death as a traitor remains far more memorable than his self-absorbed life. (Deuteronomy 21:20, 21, Joshua 7:26, 8:29)
  14. Why did Ahimaaz want to run back to David, and persist in his request? (2 Samuel 18:19, 22, 23)
  15. What did Joab fear if the truth be known? (2 Samuel 18:21, 31, 32), perhaps killing the Cushite was better than killing one of his soldiers.
  16. Why did Ahimaaz lie when he was in front of the king? (2 Samuel 18:29, 20, 29)
  17. What did David have on his mind when the got the word that they had won the war? (2 Samuel 18:24, 25, 26)
  18. Why is David so preoccupied with Absalom’s safety more than his own? (2 Samuel 18:29)
  19. Why did Ahimaaz waffle in his answer after being so eager about running to tell the king? (2 Samuel 18:28, 29)
  20. Why didn’t the Cushite just say, “Absalom is dead”? (2 Samuel 18:31, 32)
  21. How did David celebrate the victory? (2 Samuel 18:33) But David should have cried these tears long ago, intervening after the rape of his daughter.
  22. This section sends a chill up the spine of any parent. Death would be easier than a life without our children.
  23. How does David feel after Joab’s rebuke? (2 Samuel 19:5, 6, 7) Was Joab right in doing so?

Here are a few life application questions:

  1. Why do you believe that our King is worth ten thousand of us? (2 Samuel 18:3)
  2. These men were pawns in the hands of King David, what will you do tangibly to demonstrate your belief that Jesus is absolutely worthy of our sacrifice?
  3. What news or information or sin are you hiding from the King? What will bring this hidden truth into the light?
  4. From what enemies has God delivered you? Like David, what has preoccupied your mind from the reality of your current situation? What role does your faith and this small group play in your victory?
  5. Think back over this long story. How could David have avoided this eventuality?
  6. What regrets do you think David had at this point?
  7. What is the lesson of this story for our lives? What break in relationship is happening in your family right now? Act quickly to make reconciliation, before it all spirals out of control.

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Resolving Old Conflicts

David was strongly attached to Absalom and he has been absent for three years, but the fear of public opinion made him hesitant to grant him a full pardon. Joab, David’s general, had obviously witnessed David’s irresponsibility toward Absalom long enough and he devised a plan to get David’s attention.

Think about these questions:

  1. How could David long for Absalom. Absalom had killed his other son, Amnon. Why isn’t he mad at him? (2 Samuel 14:1)
  2. What do we learn about God from 2 Samuel 14:14?
  3. What do you think about the whole ruse orchestrated by Joab. What was the point?
  4. How did David know Joab was involved? (2 Samuel 14:19)
  5. If David longed for Absalom, why did he have to be talked into taking him back? (2 Samuel 14:1, 21)
  6. How is the relationship between father and son now? (2 Samuel 14:21, 24, 28, 33)
  7. If you were casting Absalom in a movie, what actor might you choose? (2 Samuel 14:25)
  8. Tamar, we have heard that name before. Who was Tamar? (2 Samuel 14:27)
    There used to be a song called, “We didn’t start the fire.” Who did start the fire? (2 Samuel 14:30) What is the fire about?
  9. Have you heard the adage, “negative attention is better than no attention”? How do you see that demonstrated here? Where have you seen this demonstrated in real life?
  10. Is all better now? (2 Samuel 14:33). There may be forgiveness and reconciliation, but is it all sealed with a kiss?

Let’s look at some details in this chapter:

Joab sets up a story about a woman and her prodigal son (2 Samuel 14:2, 3). It could work; after all, he saw Nathan use a story to get David’s attention back in 2 Samuel 12:1-7.

The woman tells the story (2 Samuel 14:4-7) and David tries to blow her off (2 Samuel 14:8), perhaps David doesn’t want to be blamed for defending a guilty son!

She says that she will take any blame from sparing the son (2 Samuel 14:9). David tells the woman to bring her persecutors before him (2 Samuel 14:10).

The avenger of blood (2 Samuel 14:11) is a specific term identifying the nearest relative of the deceased who would seek to put to death the murderer (Numbers 35:6–28; Deuteronomy 19:1–13; Matthew 27:25).

She mentions that death is irreversible and that God acts in accordance with mercy (2 Samuel 14:14) as in David’s own experience (2 Samuel 12:13), and the king should do the same.

Those who were wanting to kill the woman and her son were like the people David feared whom resented what Absalom had done and would have stood against a pardon for him (2 Samuel 14:15, 16).

David finally gets it (2 Samuel 14:19), that Joab is behind this woman and her story.
Joab is excited that Absalom is coming back, as selfish as his motives really were (2 Samuel 14:22).

While Absalom returned to Jerusalem, the estrangement continued (2 Samuel 14:24, 28). Everything looked good on the outside, but none of it came form the heart. David summoned Absalom to appease him, not to accept him. Absalom wanted David to look him in the eye rather than to beg for forgiveness. He requests an audience with the king, but nothing, he finally sets fire to Joab’s field to get his attention… like acting out, or manipulation of others. It was like Absalom was saying, “accept me or kill me.” By the time David finally received Absalom, (2 Samuel 14:33) his son’s heart had already grown cold and bitter (see chapter 15).

Application Questions:

  1. This story is a story about resolving old conflicts. What could David or Joab or Absalom done to make this better?
  2. Have you known anyone who kept a fire of conflict stoked for decades?
  3. How can we settle old conflicts?

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Appointed or Anointed?

We have been studying the life of David in our Sunday morning Bible study and something struck me the other day. It’s no secret that Kim and I have been called by God to minister to the Lord through a local congregation, but if we are not careful, we can lose focus on how we got into the ministry in the first place. Let’s take a look at Saul for a moment…

In 1 Samuel 18:7, 8, 9, Saul is imploding as a leader. He’s got anger issues. He’s got jealousy issues. He’s got evil spirit issues. He’s a madman who’s got fear issues (1 Samuel 18:10, 11). I believe it is all because Saul forgot who had called him in the first place. He was more concerned about his popularity ratings with people than pleasing God. The people praised David more than the king (1 Samuel 18:7), “Saul has killed his thousands, and David his tens of thousands!”

This made Saul very angry. “What’s this?” he said. “The people credit David with ten thousands and me with only thousands. Next they’ll be making him their king!” So from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David.” Saul forgot who had made him king! Saul was afraid of the people appointing David, but Saul wasn’t appointed by people. He was anointed by God.

If you forget who called you, you’ll run into trouble. You’ll become a people pleaser. You’ll feel threatened because of your insecurities. And the fear of man will be your downfall. David was Saul’s greatest asset, but Saul was threatened because of his insecurities.

Mark Batterson at National Community Church in DC writes:

Can I offer this simple reminder to pastors? You weren’t appointed by a denomination or elected by a congregation or ratified by a board. You were anointed by God. And if you forget, you’ll leadership will implode. I’m not saying you aren’t accountable to a denomination or congregation or board. But never forget your ultimate accountability is to the one who anointed you in the first place.

For David, he understood the anointing (1 Samuel 15:17), “The Lord has anointed you king of Israel.”

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Family Secrets

This is a story of a dysfunctional family, passive parenting, sexual sin and cover up, revenge and murder; all the great stuff movies are made of, but this is real life for the family of David, found in 2 Samuel 13. Amnon rapes his half-sister, Tamar. Absalom avenges Tamar (his full sister) and flees to his maternal grandfather’s home. Then later, David permits Absalom to return to Jerusalem but bars him from the palace. David eventually meets with Absalom and is reconciled to him for a time.

Here are a few points or lessons that men are able to take away…

  1. We need to keep our sons away from, or at least discourage them from choosing “friends” that are no good for them, or will offer them poor advice (2 Samuel 13:3, 5).
  2. We need to walk the walk, because Absalom followed in his father’s footsteps; ploting to kill another person, and even bringing in other people to do our dirty work (2 Samuel 13:28).
  3. We need to protect out daughters from worthless men, and stand up for them when they have been wronged (2 Samuel 13:7, 20, 21).
  4. We need to spend time with our sons to get to know them and guide them in life (2 Samuel 13:5, 6), perhaps David did not spend much time even when he seemed to visit Amnon regularly.

Questions for your Consideration:

  • Whom did you consult regarding your love life back in school?
  • What was some of the worst advice, or best advice?
  • From what you know of blended families, what complicated love-hate relationships could occur?
  • How are blood ties stronger than anything else that binds a family?

The Main Characters in Our Story:

Tamar – A daughter of David raped by her half brother, Amnon (2 Samuel 13:14). The act was avenged by her full brother, Absalom, when he had Amnon murdered (2 Samuel 13:28, 29). These acts were part of Nathan’s prophecy that the sword would never depart from David’s house (2 Samuel 12:10).

Amnon – meaning, “trustworthy, faithful.” He was the firstborn son of King David (2 Samuel 3:2). He raped his half-sister Tamar. Tamar’s brother Absalom avenged this outrage by killing Amnon (2 Samuel 13:1-20). This incident marked the beginning of the decline of David’s family following his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah.

Absalom – meaning, “father of peace.” He was the third son of King David, who rebelled against his father and was murdered by Joab, David’s commander (2 Samuel 3:3; 13–19). Absalom apparently resented being ignored by his father and resented his brother Ammon going unpunished for raping Tamar, Absalom’s full sister. Being overindulged and ambitious, Absalom became the spokesman for the people (2 Samuel 15:1-6). They, in turn, gladly proclaimed him king in Hebron (2 Samuel 15:10), where David was first crowned (2 Samuel 2:4). Battle ensued. David left Jerusalem and sent his army to find Absalom but not to hurt him (2 Samuel 18:5), but Joab murdered him (2 Samuel 18:14). David’s lament over Absalom shows the depth of a father’s love over the loss of a son as well as regret for personal failures which led to family and national tragedies.

A few chapters from now, we will be reading of Absalom’s rebellion, civil war, and eventual death. As you read this passage look for how it all started.

Questions for Class This Sunday:

  1. How were Amnon, Tamar and Absalom related?
  2. How do you account for Amnon’s “lovesickness” regarding Tamar (2 Samuel 13:1-4)?
  3. At first blush, does this strike you as innocent “puppy love,” perverted, or what?
  4. Did Amnon have a choice as to whether or not to fall in love with Tamar?
  5. What advice does Jonadab offer to woo Tamar (2 Samuel 13:5)? Summarize Amnon’s scheme for getting Tamar?
  6. What was he thinking? What kind of good out come could he have possibly imagined?
  7. How does David unknowingly collaborate in the charade (2 Samuel 13:6-7)?
  8. Had David been visiting with Amnon regularly (2 Samuel 13:5)?
  9. Why did Amnon seek to deceive his father? How was Tamar’s statement about David (2 Samuel 13:13) a rebuke to this?
  10. What was Tamar’s suggestion? Was it a good one?
  11. How did attraction turn to hatred so quickly (2 Samuel 13:15)?
  12. Why does Tamar refuse to be banished (2 Samuel 13:16)? What greater wrong has she just experienced (Deuteronomy 22:28, 29)?
  13. How do you think Absalom knew (2 Samuel 13:20)?
  14. How does Absalom react to his sister’s rape, now (2 Samuel13:20) and two years later (2 Samuel 13:23, 28)?
  15. How does David respond? What did he feel? What did he do (2 Samuel 13:21)?
  16. Why does he not do what any self-respecting king and father would have done? Why did David do nothing but get angry? What should he have done (Leviticus 20:17)?
  17. Was it right what Absalom did?
  18. What did David do about what Absalom did?
  19. What character flaw in David do you see from this story? How might David’s character and credibility have been compromised (2 Samuel 11:4, 15, 12:9, 10, 11)?
  20. What can hyper-passivity cost us?
  21. Why do we sometimes slip into passivity when we need to take action?

Personal Meaning from This Lesson:

  • When someone wrongs you or someone close to you, what is your typical reaction? Does your reaction look more like that of David, Tamar or Absalom?
  • In what ways have you been impacted by sexual sins in the past (yours or another’s)?
  • How have you managed to control the damage? Forgive the sinner? To be forgiven?
  • Who have you ended up hating when you started out loving? How do we account for this total and sudden reversal in the relationship?
  • How can you be more reconciled with this person in your past?
  • As a parent, how do you evaluate your present example for future generations?
  • How do you identify with “David the dad” in this passage?

If We Have Time:

  1. How did Absalom arrange for Amnon’s death?
  2. Why does Absalom ask David, his officials and his sons to join him (2 Samuel 13:23, 24, 25)?
  3. Why was sheep-shearing a big event (1 Samuel 25:7, 8)?
  4. If you were David or Amnon, would you be suspicious of Absalom’s invitation (2 Samuel 13:26, 27)?
  5. Why is revenge still on Absalom’s mind? What is significant about the timing (“two years later” or when “he was in high spirits”)?
  6. What do you think of his tactics? How parallel are these tactics like Amnon and Jonadab two years earlier?
  7. Over whom was David mourning after the first report (2 Samuel 13:30)? The second report (2 Samuel 13:32, 33)? The third report (2 Samuel 13:35)?
  8. Where does Absalom go (2 Samuel 13:37, 3:3)? What might he get from his grandfather that he dare not ask for from his father?

Application:

  • How has conflict affected your family and relatives? What long-term grudges have taken their toll on your family?
  • With whom are you not on good speaking terms right now?
  • How can you bury the hatchet instead of using one?
  • From what hurts do you feel like running away? Where would you go?

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Another Moral Failure?

Over the past month, I have come across a couple of articles written by pastors reacting to a moral failure in a fellow pastor. My first reaction was disbelief. Leaving the theological and moral arguments aside, what pastor who is doing his job even has time for adultery?

I read Chuck Swindoll just this morning, regarding occupational hazards in the ministry. He warns against four “occupational hazards” that can easily bring down people who serve the public as God’s representatives… silver, sloth, self and sex.

Trace the reasons great men and women have fallen… search for the common threads in the tapestry of tragedies. You will find most often a breakdown in the realm of personal morality.

It’s important for us to remember that a moral breakdown never occurs suddenly. It comes about slowly, almost imperceptibly, like a slow leak in one of your tires. Some things are tolerated that were once not allowed. We lose the edge… we begin to slip… we shrug it off and smile instead of facing the truth. Time passes. By and by, sneaky acts of disobedience slip in, but because they are hidden and rationalized, we deny how far we’ve drifted.

It’s a slow fade into darkness. None of us would have this destination on our itinerary. Swindoll continues:

Some time back I came across an excellent list of questions a small group of men regularly asked one another. Read the questions slowly. I think you’ll agree that they are on target.

  1. Have you been with a person of the opposite sex this week in an inappropriate way?
  2. Have you been completely above reproach in all your financial dealings this week?
  3. Have you exposed yourself to any sexually explicit material this week?
  4. Have you spent time daily in prayer and in the Scriptures this week?
  5. Have you fulfilled the mandate of your calling this week?
  6. Have you taken time off to be with your family this week?
  7. Have you just lied to me?

Before you pass over it too quickly, answer each one for yourself. If you do it often, it will help you avoid the four pitfalls. All of them are addressed in those questions.

Men of Steel, the statistics are against us; in America…

  • Ten out of ten of us are struggling with how to balance work and family.
  • Nine will have children that will leave the church.
  • Five will have a serious problem with pornography.
  • Four will get divorced; affecting over one million children.
  • Only one has a biblical worldview.

We are in a battle for our souls, for our marriages, for our purity, for our children, for our integrity, for our witness in the world. Don’t let the enemy have a foothold in your life and don’t give the devil an opportunity (Ephesians 4:27). Don’t allow Psalm 69:2 to become a reality in your life.

My Sunday Bible study lesson from this past week was about David and how he walked down the pathway of heartache with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11). So on Saturday, let’s discuss where David went wrong.

  1. He was not where he was expected to be – 2 Samuel 11:1 (he was at home rather than in battle)
  2. He put himself in a vulnerable position – 2 Samuel 11:2 (he got up from his bed, opening himself to boredom and temptation).
  3. He failed to protect himself with a network of accountability – 2 Samuel 11:1, 4 (answering to no one; he grew accustomed to wanting and getting).
  4. He was lonely and made a plan, rather than falling into sin.
    • Sinned in thought – 2 Samuel 11:2
    • Sinned in word – 2 Samuel 11:3
    • Sinned in deed – 2 Samuel 11:4
  5. Could Bathsheba have prevented this from happening? This is a moot point to a man who is out of control.

I look forward to seeing you all on Saturday at 7:30 in the Welcome Center, and then several of us are going to the Game Plan for Life with Joes Gibbs, randy Alcorn, Tony Evans and Ravi Zacharias, leaving at 8:30.

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