2 Samuel 16: Seven Types of Evil that Appear When a Society Removes God’s Appointed Leaders

Introduction: This chapter describes different events that followed David’s overthrow from power to show how chaos will reign when a society removes God’s appointed leaders. The prophet Zechariah and Jesus both warned that God’s sheep or His people will be scattered when His leaders are removed from power: ‘“Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, and against the man, My Associate,’ Declares the LORD of hosts. ‘Strike the Shepherd that the sheep may be scattered; and I will turn My hand against the little ones.”’ (Zech. 13:7) “Then Jesus said to them, ‘You will all fall away because of Me this night, for it is written, ‘I will strike down the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered.”’’ (Matt. 26:31; Mk. 14:37). From the events following David’s overthrow, God reveals seven examples of the types of chaos and evil that unfold when a society removes God’s appointed leaders. These include: (1) deceit, (2) hatred, (3) uncertainty, (4) unforgiveness, (5) vanity, (6) lawlessness, and (7) licentiousness.

First, during his escape, David encountered a servant of one of Saul’s descendants who used deceit to obtain control over Saul’s family inheritance. Without God’s appointed leaders to provide moral guidance to the people, people will do what feels right in their own eyes. For some, this will include evil acts of deception and fraud. Second, David then met a distant relative of Saul who slandered David and threw rocks at him. Without God’s appointed leaders to provide moral guidance to the people, many will let their emotions control them. For some, this will include being governed by feelings of hate and vengeance. Third, because he was under God’s judgment for his evil acts, David did not know whether God had sent the man who cursed and threw rocks at him. David then showed mercy in the hope that God would later show mercy to him. Because of his sins, David could no longer stand confident and judge the evil around him. From David’s doubt, God warns that a people or leaders living under judgment will become doubtful about His protection and His will. Fourth, despite being shown David’s mercy, the relatives of Saul continued to show bitterness toward David. From this example, God warns that the removal of God’s leaders will cause His people to become consumed with unforgiveness. Fifth, one of David’s advisors was able to trick Absalom into bringing him into his inner circle by appealing to his vanity. From this example, God warns that a people without His appointed leaders will be deceived by their own vanity and pride. Sixth, after seizing power, one of Absalom’s advisors told him to sleep with David’s concubines, who were also Absalom’s mothers-in-law. From this example, God warns that a society without His appointed leaders will disregard His law and act immorally. Finally, Absalom followed the evil advice that he received and slept with David’s concubines in plain view for everyone to see. From this event, God warns that without His appointed leaders people will publicly practice licentiousness and evil.

1. Deceit: Without Godly Leaders, People Will Engage in Deceit and Fraud. 2 Sam 16:1-4.

  • Ziba deceives David with supplies and slander to win Saul’s inheritance. After fleeing Jerusalem, David came across a servant of Saul’s last grandson, who used gifts and deceit to trick David into giving him Saul’s family inheritance: “1 Now when David had passed a little beyond the summit, behold, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth met him with a couple of saddled donkeys, and on them were two hundred loaves of bread, a hundred clusters of raisins, a hundred summer fruits, and a jug of wine. The king said to Ziba, ‘Why do you have these?’ And Ziba said, ‘The donkeys are for the king’s household to ride, and the bread and summer fruit for the young men to eat, and the wine, for whoever is faint in the wilderness to drink.’ Then the king said, ‘And where is your master’s son?’ And Ziba said to the king, ‘Behold, he is staying in Jerusalem, for he said, ‘Today the house of Israel will restore the kingdom of my father to me.’’ So the king said to Ziba, ‘Behold, all that belongs to Mephibosheth is yours.’ And Ziba said, ‘I prostrate myself; let me find favor in your sight, O my lord, the king!’” (2 Sam 16:1-4). To David, Ziba’s actions seemed noble and heroic. In fact, Ziba coldly deceived David for his own material gain and violated an oath of service that he made for Mephibosheth.

Ziba deceived David, and he broke his vows to protect Mephibosheth1

  • Ziba’s broken vows to both David and Mephibosheth. Ziba’s deceit was both evil and a breach of his vow before God. David previously made a covenant of love with Saul’s son Jonathan (1 Sam. 18:3). As part of this covenant, Jonathan agreed to support David as king, and David agreed not to kill or harm any of Jonathan’s descendants (1 Sam. 20:15-17). Long after he became king, David discovered that a poor and crippled son of Jonathan named Mephibosheth lived in hiding from him (2 Sam. 9:1-4). David’s covenant only required him to spare the lives of Jonathan’s descendants. But David did more than was required of him. He also restored all the lands that Mephibosheth lost because of his grandfather’s sins. Because of his crippled condition, David gave Ziba and his 15 sons and 20 servants the responsibility for managing Mephibosheth’s restored property: “Then the king called Saul’s servant Ziba and said to him, ‘All that belonged to Saul and to all his house I have given to your master’s grandson. 10 You and your sons and your servants shall cultivate the land for him, and you shall bring in the produce so that your master’s grandson may have food; . . .” (2 Sam. 9:9-10). Ziba then made a vow to carry out King David’s commands: “11a Then Ziba said to the king, ‘According to all that my lord the king commands his servant so your servant will do.”’ (2 Sam. 9:11a). David trusted Ziba. Ziba’s gifts for David’s troops only cemented David’s trust in his hour of need. Ziba apparently knew David well enough to know exactly what to give him. His gifts also exactly matched what Abigail once gave to David’s men to cool David’s anger against her husband Nabal (1 Sam. 25:18). Ziba then misused David’s trust to falsely allege that Mephibosheth was in Jerusalem plotting to seize power after the conflict between David and Absalom (2 Sam. 16:3). David would later learn that Ziba’s stories were complete lies. Ziba left Mephibosheth behind as part of an elaborate plan to win David’s trust and then trick him into giving him Mephibosheth’s inheritance (2 Sam. 19:24-30). In his haste and without verifying this story, David gave into Ziba’s deceit and gave him Mephibosheth’s inheritance (2 Sam. 16:4). For his own material gain, Ziba callously violated his oath of protection to Mephibosheth. He also caused David to violate his oaths of protection to both Jonathan and Mephibosheth.

  • A godly person only speaks the truth. Solomon warns that “death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Prov. 18:21) and that “a wholesome tongue is a tree of life.” (Prov. 15:4). If Ziba were under the influence of the Holy Spirit, he would have spoken only the truth. “Your word is truth.” (Jo. 17:17(b)). “For He said, ‘Surely, they are My people, sons who will not deal falsely.’” (Is. 63:8(a)). “You shall not . . . deal falsely, nor lie to one another.” (Lev. 19:11). “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.” (Eph. 4:25). Honest leaders can lead by example through honest leadership and actions.

  • Deceit and lies place a people under Satan’s influence. By employing lies and deceit, Ziba put himself under the devil’s control. Lies and deceit are Satan’s tools to turn people away from God (Dt. 11:16; 30:17). If you deceive or lie, you are also under Satan’s influence. “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. . . Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (Jo. 8:44). Are there any lies or deceit in your walk with God?

  • In the end times, godly leaders will be removed and deceit and fraud will prevail. As set forth above, God warns that the removal of His appointed leaders will cause His sheep to flee (Zech. 13:7; Matt. 26:31; Mk. 14:37). In the end times, Spirit-led leaders will be removed from power or compromised by sin from speaking out. Without Spirit-led leaders or leaders willing to promote God’s morality, deceit, fraud, and lies in business dealing will become rampant in society (Ro. 1:29). The Church was meant to be salt and light in society (Matt. 5:13-16). Are you voting for leaders who can set a godly example?

2. Hatred: Without Godly Leaders, People Will be Hateful and Vengeful. 2 Sam. 16:5-8.

  • Saul’s distant relative curses and slanders David. After being deceived by a man into giving away Saul’s family inheritance, David came across another relative of Saul who slandered David, cursed him, and threw rocks at him: “When King David came to Bahurim, behold, there came out from there a man of the family of the house of Saul whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera; he came out cursing continually as he came. He threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David; and all the people and all the mighty men were at his right hand and at his left. Thus Shimei said when he cursed, ‘Get out, get out, you man of bloodshed, and worthless fellow! The Lord has returned upon you all the bloodshed of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned; and the Lord has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. And behold, you are taken in your own evil, for you are a man of bloodshed!’” (2 Sam. 16:5-8). Shimei was a relative of Saul. David was guilty of murdering Uriah (2 Sam. 11:5-27). But he was not guilty of “the bloodshed of the house of Saul” for which Shimei charged him (2 Sam. 16:8). The Philistines killed Saul’s sons Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malchi-shua (1 Sam. 31:2; 1 Chron. 10:2). After being wounded in battle, Saul tried to take his own life in desperation (1 Sam. 31:3-5; 1 Chron. 10:3-5). Saul’s last surviving son Ish-bosheth later died when his commanders killed him (2 Sam. 4:5-7). Saul and his family died because of curses that Saul brought upon them. Like Satan, Shimei acted like the accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:10). He sought to slander and curse David while he was down. David was not only innocent of this charge, he had repeatedly sought to protect Saul and his descendants. David even stopped one of his men from killing Saul when he had the chance to do so: “But David said to Abishai, ‘Do not destroy him, for who can stretch out his hand against the LORD’s anointed and be without guilt?’” (1 Sam. 26:9). David also condemned the man who confessed to killing Saul after Saul was wounded in battle: “David said to him, “Your blood is on your head, for your mouth has testified against you, saying, ‘I have killed the LORD’S anointed.’” (2 Sam. 1:16). David further killed the men who killed Saul’s last son, Ish-bosheth: “How much more, when wicked men have killed a righteous man in his own house on his bed, shall I not now require his blood from your hand and destroy you from the earth?” (2 Sam. 4:11).

Shimei cursed David2

  • Never curse your leaders. In addition to being meritless, Shimei’s curses against David violated God’s law: “You shall not curse God, nor curse a ruler of your people.” (Ex. 22:28). When you curse God’s appointed leaders, you are in effect cursing God because He appointed them: “Your grumblings are not against us but against the LORD.”’ (Ex. 16:8(b)). The penalty for this was a painful death by stoning (Lev. 24:15-16). David had every right under the law given to Moses to kill Shimei for his curses. Instead, David showed him mercy. Jesus has freed you from the eternal consequences of your sins. But He did not give you a license to openly break the law. Indeed, Paul repeated this law while living after Jesus’ death: “And Paul said, ‘I was not aware, brethren, that he was high priest; for it is written, ‘you shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’” (Acts 23:5). If you are cursing your elected leaders, your sins are no better than Shimei’s sins.

  • Hatred is a form of murder in God’s eyes. Jesus reveals that if you hate someone, you have committed “murder.” (Matt. 5:21-22; 1 Jo. 3:15). Without Spirit-led people to guide the people, people like Shimei will be governed by base emotions like anger or hatred. Thus, the Church and godly leaders have an important role in molding people’s attitudes towards one another. If people see their leaders filled with hate, they will follow by example and hate their enemies. What kind of example are you setting?

  • Vengeance belongs to God alone. Believers are warned never to judge and curse others out of vengeance. When someone hurts you, you must leave vengeance to God: “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.” (Ro. 12:19).

  • When others bear grudges against you, give your burdens to God. David later recorded in a psalm how he turned to God in prayer when his enemies bore grudges against him: “For the choir director; on stringed instruments. A Maskil of David. Give ear to my prayer, O God; and do not hide Yourself from my supplication. Give heed to me and answer me; I am restless in my complaint and am surely distracted, because of the voice of the enemy, because of the pressure of the wicked; for they bring down trouble upon me and in anger they bear a grudge against me.” (Ps. 55:1-3). “Deliver me from all my transgressions; make me not the reproach of the foolish. I have become mute, I do not open my mouth, because it is You who have done it.” (Ps. 39:8-9). “Let them curse, but You bless; when they arise, they shall be ashamed, but Your servant shall be glad.” (Ps. 109:28). Like David, will you give your burdens to Jesus when others attack you?

  • Love others, even those who hurt you. God commands His people to love others, just as He loved them: “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.” (Lev. 19:18). Because the people ignored this commandment, Jesus made it a central teaching. Moreover, He expanded it to include a person’s enemies and strangers: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (Jo. 13:34; 15:17; Matt. 22:39; 19:19). Every New Testament writer repeated this central commandment: “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.” (Ro. 13:8, 10). “For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”’ (Gal. 5:14; Heb. 13:1; 1 Pet. 1:22; Eph. 5:2; 1 Jo. 3:11, 23; 4:7; 4:21). As Jesus did for you, do you show love to your enemies and those who have deeply hurt you?

  • In the end times, hatred and vengeance will be pervasive in society. The anarchy that followed David being overthrown again provides a window into the end times. As in David’s day, the overthrow of God-fearing leaders will cause people to turn away from God’s teachings of love and forgiveness. Society will become hateful and violent. “For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.” (Titus 3:3).

3. Uncertainty: People Will Become Doubtful About God’s Protection. 2 Sam. 16:9-12.

  • David refrained from retaliating out of uncertainty and in a plea for God’s mercy. Being filled with doubt because of his own sins, David could not say if the man cursing him came from God. Thus, he showed mercy in the hopes that God would show mercy on him: “Then Abishai the son of Zeruiah said to the king, ‘Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over now and cut off his head.’ 10 But the king said, ‘What have I to do with you, O sons of Zeruiah? If he curses, and if the Lord has told him, ‘Curse David,’ then who shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’’ 11 Then David said to Abishai and to all his servants, ‘Behold, my son who came out from me seeks my life; how much more now this Benjamite? Let him alone and let him curse, for the Lord has told him. 12 Perhaps the Lord will look on my affliction and return good to me instead of his cursing this day.’” (2 Sam. 16:9-12). During a prior low point in David’s walk, he reacted to Abigail’s former husband Nabal’s insults with a murderous rage. David relented only after Abigail appealed to David for forgiveness and offered him restitution (1 Sam. 25:12-20). From his prior mistake, David learned to show mercy and forgive when others offended him. When he was restored as king, David again refused to punish Shimei for his curses and slander: “But Abishai the son of Zeruiah said, ‘Should not Shimei be put to death for this, because he cursed the LORD'S anointed?’ . . . The king said to Shimei, ‘You shall not die.’ Thus the king swore to him.” (2 Sam. 19:21-23). What is remarkable about David’s initial response to Shimei is not his noble instinct to show mercy. Instead, this account is remarkable because the man with the certainty of his faith fought Goliath (1 Sam. 17:32-51) now had no idea if God was still punishing him or using strangers to bring curses upon him. In addition to his family dysfunction, David had now learned that his prior sins had caused him to become filled with doubt.

David showed mercy in order to be able to ask for mercy from God3

  • God previously warned that He would not hear the prayers of His rebellious people. David likely doubted whether God would hear his prayers because God warned that He would not hear the prayers of the Jews when they rebelled against Him and His laws. Samuel once warned: “18 Then you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.’” (1 Sam. 8:18). Throughout the Old Testament, God warned that intentional sin would cause Him not to respond to the sinner’s prayers for relief from their sins: “Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently but they will not find me.” (Prov. 1:28; Job 35:12; Micah 3:4). “They cried for help, but there was none to save, even to the LORD, but He did not answer them.” (Ps. 18:41; 66:18; Is. 1:15; 59:2-3(b)). “Therefore thus says the LORD, ‘Behold I am bringing disaster on them which they will not be able to escape; though they will cry to Me, yet I will not listen to them.”’ (Jer. 11:11). Thus, David’s sins caused him to become filled with doubt in God’s response.

  • Sin can also “hinder” your prayers to God. Jesus repeated these warnings in the New Testament (Jo. 9:31). His blood can forgive any sin (1 Jo. 1:9). But Peter warns that unrepentant sin can still “hinder” a believer’s prayers (1 Pet. 3:7). Is there a sin you need to repent of? If so, repent so that your prayers will not be hindered before Jesus.

  • Mercy is given to whom it is shown. God later showed David mercy because he showed mercy to Shimei. Just as David showed mercy to his enemies, God wants you to show mercy to others. “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Lk. 6:36). “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” (Matt. 5:7). “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.” (Lk. 6:37). “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:13). Are you merciful to your enemies? Will you show mercy even if you have nothing worldly to gain for it?

  • Show self-restraint when you feel wronged. David’s mercy was possible because he was able to restrain his own impulses to retaliate. Like David, Jesus calls upon believers to show restraint when they are provoked or insulted. “But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” (Matt. 5:39; Lk. 6:29). “not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.” (1 Pet. 3:9; Ro. 12:14, 17). When others hurt you, do you restrain your urge to strike back?

  • Pray for God to turn curses against you into blessings. The fact that God refreshed David after Shimei cursed him shows that God can turn curses into blessings: “Nevertheless, the LORD your God was not willing to listen to Balaam, but the LORD your God turned the curse into a blessing for you because the LORD your God loves you.” (Dt. 23:5; Neh. 13:2). “And looking at them Jesus said to them, ‘With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”’ (Matt. 19:26). If you feel cursed, repent of any sins that may have caused your curse and pray for God to convert your curses into blessings.

  • In the end times, people will also doubt that God is with them. God promises never to leave or forsake His people (Dt. 31:6; Heb. 13:5). But many believers in the end times will doubt God’s presence. Others will simply doubt that God exists or that Jesus is returning (2 Pet. 3:3-7). Declining church attendance levels are evidence of this doubt.

4. Unforgiveness: People Will Be Consumed with Unforgiveness. 2 Sam. 16:13-14.

  • Shimei continued to curse David out of bitterness while God refreshed David’s people. Despite David’s act of mercy upon Shimei, he could not let go of his hatred of David. Thus, he continued to curse and throw stones and dust at David. “13 So David and his men went on the way; and Shimei went along on the hillside parallel with him and as he went he cursed and cast stones and threw dust at him. 14 The king and all the people who were with him arrived weary and he refreshed himself there.” (2 Sam. 16:13-14). Shimei effectively punished himself with his unforgiving heart. He was so blinded by his hatred that he could not even see how David had spared his life. In contrast, God rewarded David for his mercy by refreshing both him and the weary refugees.

Shimei refused to forgive David and continued to curse him4

  • Forgive those who persecute you. Unlike Shimei, God’s people are called upon to forgive each other: “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” (Matt. 6:14). “bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.” (Col. 3:13). “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (Eph. 4:32). Have you forgiven those who have harmed you?

  • Forgive others frequently. Jesus explained that believers should show forgiveness, even if they are repeatedly offended: “Then Peter came and said to Him, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.’” (Matt. 18:21-22). “And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” (Lk. 17:4). This translates to forgiving others 490 times. Jesus’ point is that you should forgive more frequently than you can count. This is what He does for you. Will you forgive others, even if they repeatedly offend you?

  • In the end times, people will be unforgiving toward each other. In the end times, God’s teachings of forgiveness will be ignored. Like Shimei, people will become “without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful;” (Ro. 1:31).

5. Vanity: People Will be Deceived by Their Own Vanity and Pride. 2 Sam. 16:15-19.

  • Hushai plays upon Absalom’s vanity to trick him into accepting his service. While David fled into the wilderness, his spy gained access to Absalom’s inner circle by appealing to his vanity and pride: “15 Then Absalom and all the people, the men of Israel, entered Jerusalem, and Ahithophel with him. 16 Now it came about when Hushai the Archite, David’s friend, came to Absalom, that Hushai said to Absalom, ‘Long live the king! Long live the king!’ 17 Absalom said to Hushai, ‘Is this your loyalty to your friend? Why did you not go with your friend?’ 18 Then Hushai said to Absalom, ‘No! For whom the Lord, this people, and all the men of Israel have chosen, his I will be, and with him I will remain. 19 Besides, whom should I serve? Should I not serve in the presence of his son? As I have served in your father’s presence, so I will be in your presence.” (2 Sam. 16:15-19). Hushai supported David and initially fled with him from Jerusalem. But David sent him back to have him spy on Absalom and thwart his plans and the counsel that Ahithopel was giving Absalom to consolidate his power: “But if you return to the city, and say to Absalom, ‘I will be your servant, O king; as I have been your father’s servant in time past, so I will now be your servant,’ then you can thwart the counsel of Ahithophel for me.” (2 Sam. 15:34). When Absalom asked Hushai why he stayed in Jerusalem, Hushai gave cryptic statements like “ Long live the king!” and “For whom the Lord, this people, and all the men of Israel have chosen, his I will be, and with him I will remain.” (2 Sam. 16:16, 18). Hushai’s ambiguous statements could have applied to either David or Absalom. But Absalom was so blinded by his vanity and pride that he interpreted Hushai’s comments as fawning adoration for him.

  • Flattery may also cause pride and sin to spread in your life. Satan will also seek to puff you up with pride through the flattery of mankind. Yet, when you accept such flattery, sin can quickly spread in your life like yeast in bread. When you flatter others instead of giving the credit to God, you can also cause sin to spread amongst others: “A lying tongue hates those it crushes, and a flattering mouth works ruin.” (Prov. 26:28). “A man who flatters his neighbor is spreading a net for his steps.” (Prov. 29:5). “For it flatters him in his own eyes concerning the discovery of his iniquity and the hatred of it.” (Ps. 36:2). “The wicked, in the haughtiness of his countenance, does not seek Him. All his thoughts are, ‘There is no God.’” (Ps. 10:4). “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.” (Prov. 16:18). “Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, but humility goes before honor.” (Prov. 18:12). “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Matt. 23:12; Lk. 14:11). Are you accepting the flattery of others when you do your job well? Are you misleading others by flattering them when they accomplish great things instead of crediting God?

  • In the end times, people will also be blinded by their vanity and pride. Like Absalom, people during the end times will become arrogant and vain: “For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy,” (2 Tim. 3:2). “For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 2:21). Ask God to show you where you are self-absorbed or vain.

6. Lawlessness: People Will Disregard God’s Law and Act Immorally. 2 Sam. 16:20-21.

  • Ahithophel provides Absalom with wicked counsel. After seizing power of Jerusalem, David’s former advisor gave Absalom wicked advice that he sleep with David’s concubines, who also happened to be Absalom’s mothers-in-law: “20 Then Absalom said to Ahithophel, ‘Give your advice. What shall we do?’ 21 Ahithophel said to Absalom, ‘Go in to your father’s concubines, whom he has left to keep the house; then all Israel will hear that you have made yourself odious to your father. The hands of all who are with you will also be strengthened.’” (2 Sam. 16:20-21). Absalom’s conspiracy gained strength only after David’s counselor Ahithophel turned against him (2 Sam. 15:11-12). Ahithophel was Bathsheba’s grandfather (2 Sam. 11:3; 23:34). Thus, Ahithophel devised a wicked scene that would publicly humiliate David for his actions. Ahithophel would have David’s son lust after David’s concubines on the very same roof where David lusted after Ahithophel’s granddaughter. Where David lusted after one married woman, Ahithophel magnified David’s humiliation tenfold with his ten concubines. In addition to humiliating David, Ahithophel ensured that David and his son would never reconcile. Having betrayed King David, Ahithophel sought to ensure that David would never again assume the throne. If David reconciled with his son and regained the throne, Ahithophel knew that he would be executed as a traitor. Thus, in the next chapter, he would offer to further consolidate Absalom’s power by hunting David down and killing him.

Ahithophel gave evil advice to Absalom5

  • Failing to follow after God can lead to spiritual blindness. Ahithophel was normally considered to be a wise counselor (2 Sam. 16:23). But his wicked heart had blinded him to both his rebellion and his wicked counsel to Absalom. Believers are also warned that if they embrace evil and rebellion, they may also become spiritually blind to their sins. ‘“Now hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see; who have ears but do not hear.”’ (Jer. 5:21; 4:21). “Render the hearts of this people insensitive, their ears dull, and their eyes dim, otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and return and be healed.” (Is. 6:10; Ro. 11:8). Many become spiritually blind because they love darkness more than God’s light (Jo. 1:10; 3:20). Have you accepted any sin in your life as normal?

  • Believers should have no part in lawless behavior. Paul reveals that lawlessness is the exact opposite of the righteous behavior expected from all believers: “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnerships have righteousness and lawlessness, . . ..” (2 Cor. 6:14). “Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.” (1 Jo. 3:4). “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth;” (1 Jo. 1:6).

  • David’s prayer confounded Ahithophel’s ability to give wise advice. Although this chapter is filled with evil, Ahithophel’s wicked counsel led to Absalom’s later demise. This was an answered prayer to David’s request that Ahithophel give only foolish advice: “Now someone told David, saying, ‘Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.’ And David said, ‘O LORD, I pray, make the counsel of Ahithophel foolishness.”’ (2 Sam. 15:31). The people later realized that Ahithophel’s advice was foolish: “Then Absalom and all the men of Israel said, ‘counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel.’ For the LORD had ordained to thwart the good counsel of Ahithophel, so that the LORD might bring calamity on Absalom.” (2 Sam. 17:14). God’s power includes “. . . causing wise men to draw back and turning their knowledge into foolishness,” (Is. 44:25). Even though David did not deserve to have his prayers heard, God showed mercy and grace to him. If evil people are conspiring against you, pray for God to thwart their plans and turn their plans into a blessing for you.

  • In the end times, people will embrace lawlessness and apostasy. In the end times, leaders will also reject God and rebel against His law. Those who embrace God’s morality will be publicly shamed and accused of being intolerant bigots. “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,” (1 Tim. 4:1). Yet God warns these people: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Is. 5:20). Are you voting for leaders who will uphold God’s laws and His standards of morality?

7. Licentiousness: People Will Publicly Practice Licentiousness and Evil. 2 Sam. 16:22-23.

  • Absalom publicly sleeps with David’s ten concubines, his mothers-in-law. Absalom embraced Ahithophel’s evil advice and slept with David’s ten concubines in the open for all to see: “22 So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the roof, and Absalom went in to his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel. 23 The advice of Ahithophel, which he gave in those days, was as if one inquired of the word of God; so was all the advice of Ahithophel regarded by both David and Absalom.” (2 Sam. 16:22-23). Absalom would have known each of these ten women because he grew up in the same household. They were in modern terms his mothers-in-law. These woman would have pleaded with Absalom not to rape them in the same way that Tamar pleaded with her half-brother Amnon not to rape her (2 Sam. 13:8-14). Absalom was so offended that Amnon would rape his sister Tamar that he killed him (2 Sam. 13:28-29). Now, Absalom engaged in the same evil acts of rape and incest. But he magnified his brother’s sin tenfold. And he felt no remorse for his actions. Thus, he committed his sins in public for all to see.

  • God will judge the deeds of the flesh: For someone like Absalom who is openly sinning, God warns: “be sure your sin will find you out.” (Nu. 32:23(b)). A saved believer should also not be deceived into believing that God’s grace will allow them to sin without consequence: “For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; . . .” (1 Pet. 4:17(a)). Absalom’s brazen sins and rebellion would soon result in his death.

  • Absalom’s 31 death sentences under God’s law. Absalom believed that he had committed no sin for his honor killing of Amnon. After burning Joab’s fields, he taunted Joab and David to find sin in him: “Now therefore, let me see the king’s face, and if there is iniquity in me, let him put me to death.’” (2 Sam. 14:32(b)). Yet, under God’s law, Absalom’s premeditated murder of Amnon carried a death penalty (Nu. 35:20-21, 30; Gen 9:6; Ex. 21:12; Lev. 24:17). Absalom’s actions here added 30 additional crimes that carried the penalty of capital punishment to his rap sheet. First, because God considered David’s concubines to be his wives (Gen. 49:4), Absalom’s actions violated God’s Seventh Commandment against adultery. (Ex. 20:14; Dt. 5:18.) Absalom’s adultery with ten married concubines carried ten separate death penalties: “If there is a man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, one who commits adultery with his friend’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.” (Lev. 20:10). Second, because Absalom raped the ten married concubines, he had ten additional death sentences against him: “But if in the field the man finds the girl who is engaged, and the man forces her and lies with her, then only the man who lies with her shall die.” (Dt. 22:25; Ex. 22:16). For an unsaved person, the penalty for fornication (even if consensual) is also death in heaven. “Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” (Heb. 13:4; 1 Cor. 6:9). Third, because Absalom was sleeping with his father’s wives and his mothers-in-law, he was also guilty of the crime of incest: “You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s wife; it is your father’s nakedness.” (Lev. 18:8; Dt. 22:30). For his ten acts of incest, Absalom’s punishment carried ten additional death sentences: “If there is a man who lies with his father’s wife, he has uncovered his father’s nakedness; both of them shall surely be put to death, their bloodguiltiness is upon them.” (Lev. 20:11). Thus, for his acts of murder, adultery, rape, and incest, Absalom had at least 31 death sentences under God’s law. And he never repented for these evil sins.

  • Absalom’s additional curse under God’s law. In addition to his 31 death sentences, Absalom was also cursed under God’s law: “Cursed is he who lies with his father’s wife, because he has uncovered his father’s skirt. And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.”’ (Dt. 27:20). If Absalom had tried to rationalize his sins by alleging that David’s concubines were not technically his wives, his efforts would have failed. Like Absalom, Reuben tried to assert his authority in Jacob’s household amongst the 12 sons by sleeping with Jacob’s concubine Bilhah: “It came about while Israel was dwelling in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine, . . .” (Gen. 35:22(a)). God did not draw a distinction between wives and concubines. Thus, through Jacob / Israel, God cursed Reuben and his descendants for his actions: “Uncontrolled as water, you shall not have preeminence, because you went up to your father’s bed; then you defiled it-- he went up to my couch.” (Gen. 49:4). This sin is so egregious that Paul singled it out for special condemnation, even for those living under the New Testament: “It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife.” (1 Cor. 5:1).

  • Without Spirit-led leadership, people will do what feels right to them. God warns that without leaders who fear Him, people will embrace their own morality: “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Jdgs. 21:25; 17:6). Absalom did what seemed right in his own eyes, and he embraced evil. If you fail to elect godly leadership, people will also embrace licentiousness and evil like Absalom.

  • The way which seems right to mankind leads to death. The Bible warns: “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Prov. 14:12; 16:25). Absalom might have felt right in publicly defiling David’s wives because of Ahithophel’s counsel. Yet, because this worldly advice violated multiple laws, Absalom would die.

  • Absalom modeled after the behavior of his father in raping women. As the self-proclaimed new ruler of Israel, there was no more important role model for Absalom than David. Before arriving in Hebron, David had two wives (1 Sam. 25:43). During his seven-year reign in Hebron, he took four additional wives (2 Sam. 3:2-5). David then forced Abner to kidnap his former wife Michal and make her his seventh wife (2 Sam. 3:12-16). Because he took Michal against her will, this was also an act of rape. After becoming king, he took more wives and concubines (2 Sam. 5:13-14). He then again showed his disregard for the laws of sexual purity when he committed adultery with Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11:2-4). Thus, David had little moral authority to rebuke Absalom.

  • Absalom’s actions were part of the curse from David’s actions. Absalom’s actions are proof that the sins of a parent can impact children. God warns: “[F]or I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me.” (Ex. 20:5). Are you damaging your children?

  • The fulfillment of God’s punishment of David. Absalom’s wicked actions also fulfilled Nathan’s prophecy against David: “Thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household; I will even take your wives before your eyes and give them to your companion, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. Indeed you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and under the sun.”’ (2 Sam. 12:11-12). The lesson is that there are consequences to sin. Jesus can save you from eternal death. But you may still suffer the painful consequences of your sins.

  • In the end times, people will openly embrace sexual immorality. Absalom had no shame as he publicly engaged in licentiousness and evil behavior. During the end times, people will also openly engage in sexual behavior that God has called sinful. “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts,” (2 Pet. 3:3). What kind of an example are you setting?