Monday, June 9, 2014

Absalom (part 13)

The only blood that was shed throughout the entirety of the time in which the plagues of Egypt ran their course was that of the lambs that were shed on behalf of the households of Israel.  The only bloodshed that preceded deliverance and exodus was that of sacrifice.  What bloodshed can be seen in the run-up to Absalom’s insurrection?  Only that of sacrifice---when Absalom offered sacrifices in Hebron (2 Samuel 15:12).  Quite rightly, if one desires to take a step here to make a connection to Jesus, Jesus could have spoken to a people that considered themselves to be a people in exile, under oppression, and reminded them that their God delivered their nation and gave them exodus without the people having to rise up in rebellion in order to cast off that yoke.   

Following the death of the firstborn in Egypt, Pharaoh sent Israel out of the land.  Their exodus was begun through the intervention of the Creator God alone.  Israel did not have to resort to the force of arms for even a single moment.  Neither did Absalom.  David departed from Jerusalem, going into exile much like Pharaoh, his army, and the land of Egypt (which was soon to be over-run by the Amalekites), and Absalom entered into Jerusalem without having to physically raise his hand against his father (15:37). 

Absalom could use this fact to point out that yes, Israel’s God was showing favor upon him, and by extension showing favor to Israel---delivering a kingdom into his hand.  This could have been used as evidence that he had, in fact, been raised up like Moses, and that David had been deposed from the position of power, much like Pharaoh.  Beyond that, Absalom could make it very clear that he did not lift up his hand against the Lord’s anointed, following the noble example that had been set by his previously non-oppressive father, who, when given the opportunity to act otherwise, had refrained from striking out against Saul. 

Back to David and back to his exilic experience, this study meets up with him as he “reached  Bahurim” (16:5).  “There a man from Saul’s extended family named Shimei son of Gera came out, yelling curses as he approached.  He threw stones at David and all of King David’s servants, as well as all the people and the soldiers who were on his right and left.  As he yelled curses, Shimei said, “Leave!  Leave!  You  man of bloodshed, you wicked man!  The Lord has punished you for all the spilled blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you rule.  Now the Lord has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom.  Disaster has overtaken you, for you are a man of bloodshed!’” (16:5b-8) 

Those that were with David, quite understandably, did not appreciate being cursed at and having stones thrown at them.  One of them, Abishai, who was ever the loyal fellow, said “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king?  Let me go over and cut off his head!” (16:9b)  Not only did David not allow him to do this, he said “If he curses because the Lord has said to him, ‘Curse David!’, who can say to him, ‘Why have you done this?’” (16:10b)  To that David added, “Leave him alone so that he can curse, for the Lord has spoken to him.  Perhaps the Lord will notice my affliction and this day grant me good in place of his curse” (16:11b-12).  With his final remark, and its mention of affliction, the reader is offered a small glimpse of David’s insight into this exile. 

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