This exile that David was experiencing had several of the marks of the curses promised in Deuteronomy. The author reports: “As David was going up the Mount of Olives, he was weeping as he went; his head was covered and his feet were bare. All the people who were with him also had their heads covered and were weeping as they went up” (2 Samuel 15:30). Does this not sound like the way that slaves would be carried off by a conquering foe? Is it possible to find this paralleled in Deuteronomy? There one reads of “hunger, thirst, nakedness, and poverty” (28:48a).
David, with all of his riches, was fleeing Jerusalem with nothing. In fact, this is evidenced by the fact that shortly thereafter, “Ziba, the servant of Mephibosheth… had a couple of donkeys that were saddled, and on them were two hundred loaves of bread, a hundred raisin cakes, a hundred baskets of summer fruit, and a container of wine” (16:1b), so as to provide for the king and his people during their journey into exile for lack of faithfulness to their covenant responsibilities.
In the midst of the travel of his travail, David, having begun to recognize where his faults had been and what it was that had brought him to this horrible predicament, begins to strategize. He has already sent the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem for good reason, and implores the Creator God to turn the advice of one of his chief advisers, Ahithophel, who was now supporting and advising Absalom, into foolishness. In addition, he employed the priests, Zadok and Abiathar, to serve as his spies within Jerusalem.
As David begins to remember the God of Israel and His faithfulness, he also begins to be fully cognizant of the exilic nature of what is happening to him, and vice versa. No doubt this experience is going to serve him well, if in fact his God does restore him to the throne, which at this point was certainly not a foregone conclusion. Remember, even if David is removed from the throne, the promise is that the God of Israel would make a dynasty of his house, which he could very well do through Absalom, who, at this point, has carried out a successful rebellion and insurrection without shedding any blood.
In considering that, it is worth once again making note of the strategy which might very well have been being employed by Absalom. Absalom has, quite possibly, positioned himself as a new Moses that is leading a new exodus for Israel, with a delivery from a new Pharaoh, that being David, who had become an oppressor in Israel. Remember, Israel began to suffer oppression in Egypt when a Pharaoh came to power that did not know Joseph.
Naturally, it was not so much that said Pharaoh did not know Joseph, but more that he had forgotten what had been wrought on behalf of Egypt, with Egypt gaining an empire through the power and deliverance of the God of Joseph and Israel. In making his case, Absalom could certainly point to David’s less than just actions and point out that David had forgotten the faithful, powerful, delivering, kingdom giving God of Israel---the very God that had delivered David from Saul and from his own earlier time of exile and oppression.
Furthermore, as one examines the potential of Absalom positioning himself as a new Moses and leading a new exodus, it should be remembered that Israel’s Egyptian exodus was carried out with no bloodshed. Moses had attempted such and failed, earning only a personal exile which eventually resulted in his calling by the covenant God. Israel did not rise up en masse to overthrow and defeat Egypt by means of violence. They did not have to resort to war. Rather, their God worked for them. The Creator God brought Egypt low through plagues and the eventual death of the firstborn.