Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Absalom (part 14)

Surely, the curses and stones being hurled at David from this man served as a vivid demonstration of the Deuteronomic curses and the exile in which those curses are enfolded.  Thus, this man, as David rightly surmised, was being used by Israel’s God (at that point), to bring David’s failures to mind.  One could also think of Goliath uttering curses at David and Israel, along with David’s felling him with a stone from his slingshot. 

Additionally, Abishai’s use of the term “dead dog,” which the author was sure to mention here in the telling of this story, had to have been a reminder to David of Mephibosheth’s response to him, when David restored Mephibosheth to his lands and gave him a place at the king’s table.  Mephibosheth referred to himself as a “dead dog” that was undeserving of such treatment by the king.  That event, perhaps more so than any other in the life of David, saw him demonstrating the compassion of the covenant God of Israel in a way that would most definitely have served to allow him to shine as a light to the nations and to reflect the glory of his God into the world, as he lifted up the grandson of his enemy. 

If that was a consideration, David could not then help but be reminded of the way he had honored his God and his kingship before he began robbing (wives and lives and justice) from his people.  Yes, to return to an issue previously raised, which was that of David himself going into exile, in light of a later promise to Israel that the sign of their exile would be the eternal rule of a Davidic king, David was eventually returned to Jerusalem and re-established as king.  If David himself could go into exile and be exodus-ed from that exile and restored to the kingship, then so too could Israel (Judah) be later exiled to Babylon and subjected to a foreign nation, while trusting in their God’s promise to return them to their land.  

Now after Absalom entered Jerusalem, he sought the counsel of Ahithophel, saying “Give us your advice.  What should we do?” (2 Samuel 16:20b)  Ahithophel provides a two part answer.  The first part of his answer is “Have sex with your father’s concubines whom he left to care for the palace” (16:21a).  Absalom, quite pleased with this suggestion (for obvious and perhaps not so obvious reasons), seizes on the idea and follows through on it.  The author reports that “they pitched a tent for Absalom on the roof, and Absalom had sex with his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel” (16:22).  Why does Ahithophel suggest this?  Why does Absalom do it?  It is suggested and undertaken because of what it was that the prophet Nathan had said to David after David’s taking of Uriah’s wife and life. 

Through Nathan, the Creator God had said to David, “you have despised Me by taking the wife of Uriah the Hittite as your own!” (12:10b)  Though it does not provide a direct correlation, it would not be too far-fetched to suggest that this despising of Israel’s God by David bears very little difference from Israel’s forsaking of their God and their worship of idols, by which they most assuredly despised Him.  If this is correct, then it is only right that David experience what his God promises to His people for idolatry, which is cursing (exile).  So Nathan continues, saying “This is what the Lord says: ‘I am about to bring disaster on you from inside your household!’” (12:11a)  Certainly the Absalom situation, which has been created and fueled by the Tamar and Amnon situation and the resulting fall-out, could be described as disaster from inside the household.  Furthermore, the covenant God says, “Right before your eyes I will take your wives and hand them over to your companion.  He will have sexual relations with your wives in broad daylight!” (12:11b)  Why?  Because “Although you have acted in secret, I will do this thing before all Israel, and in broad daylight” (12:12).  This is obviously fulfilled.

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