Introduction: 2 Samuel 17 continues the story of David’s flight from his son Absalom after Absalom overthrew David’s government with the help of Ahithophel, one of David’s most trusted advisors. This account is real and should be read on two levels. First, the account shows God’s faithfulness in honoring His covenant with David, even when David did not deserve it. Second, the relentless attacks of Absalom and Ahithophel on David foreshadow Satan’s attacks on God’s believers. From this account, God reveals seven lessons on protecting yourself from Satan’s attacks and trusting in God’s powers when Satan attacks you in your times of weakness.
First, immediately after seizing power, Absalom’s advisor Ahithophel recommended sending 12,000 troops to kill David as he traveled with slow-moving and wearing civilians. As a foreshadow of Satan, God warns that Satan is always looking for a chance to attack and destroy you when your guard is down. Second, David’s advisor Hushai was able to thwart Ahithophel through different appeals to Absalom’s pride. He first warned that David was a skilled warrior who would defeat Ahithophel and cause people to question Absalom’s reputation. He knew that Absalom was a coward who only cared about himself. Like Absalom, Satan is a coward who is afraid of God’s power to protect you. Third, in his second appeal to Absalom’s pride, Hushai encouraged him to assemble the 12 tribes in an even larger army that Absalom could lead. Like Absalom, Satan is motivated by his own pride and feeds off your pride. Fourth, in an answer to David’s prayers, God caused Absalom and his advisors to reject Ahithophel’s sound strategic advice and accept Hushai’s foolish advice. Through this display of God’s power, He reveals that Satan’s powers to deceive are no match against His sovereign power to protect you. Fifth, Hushai used the extra time that God gave him to send messengers to warn David’s people to make it safely across the Jordan River. From this example, God reveals that Satan’s plans will fail if you listen to His messenger, the Holy Spirit. Sixth, after Ahithophel learned that Absalom had rejected his advice, he hung himself because he knew that the rebellion would soon end in failure. He also knew that he would be tried as a traitor. Satan also knows that his plans will end in failure and the destruction of his followers. Finally, after realizing his mistake, Absalom tried to chase after David and his followers. But he was too late. With the extra time that God gave them, David and his followers made it safely across the Jordan River where David’s friends from Gilead provided for his people. When Satan tries to cause you pain and chases after you, God will provide comfort and protection for you. Thus, you must trust Him and have faith in Him.
Ahithophel convinces Absalom to let him hunt David down with 12,000 soldiers. After seizing power of Jerusalem, David’s former advisor Ahithophel gave Absalom wicked advice that he sleep with David’s concubines, who also happened to be Absalom’s mothers-in-law (2 Sam. 16:20-21). Now, he offered to hunt David down with 12,000 soldiers and kill him: “1 Furthermore, Ahithophel said to Absalom, ‘Please let me choose 12,000 men that I may arise and pursue David tonight. 2 I will come upon him while he is weary and exhausted and terrify him, so that all the people who are with him will flee. Then I will strike down the king alone, 3 and I will bring back all the people to you. The return of everyone depends on the man you seek; then all the people will be at peace.’ 4 So the plan pleased Absalom and all the elders of Israel.” (2 Sam 17:1-4). Both David and Absalom considered Ahithophel to be a wise man (2 Sam. 16:23). He was once one of David’s most trusted advisors. Absalom’s conspiracy gained strength only after Ahithophel turned against David out of rage towards David’s adultery and murder (2 Sam. 15:11-12). Ahithophel was Bathsheba’s grandfather (2 Sam. 11:3; 23:34). Thus, Ahithophel likely had a deep hatred for David. To publicly humiliate David, he had Absalom sleep with David’s ten concubines. In addition to humiliating David, Ahithophel tried to ensure that David and Absalom would never reconcile. Ahithophel also sought to ensure that David would never regain control. If David reconciled with Absalom and regained the throne, Ahithophel knew that he would be executed as a traitor. Thus, he offered to further consolidate Absalom’s power by killing David. His reference to leaving “tonight” (2 Sam. 17:1) is believed by many to be the same night that David left Jerusalem. Traveling with civilians, David could not have gotten far.
The fulfillment of God’s prophecy against David. Absalom’s efforts to kill David fulfilled a prophecy that God gave to the prophet Nathan after David’s adultery and murder: ‘“Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ Thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household;’ . . .” (2 Sam. 12:10-11(a)). Those who sow the seeds of conflict “will reap the whirlwind” (Hos. 8:7). God would spare David. But this was the bitter fruit of David’s many sins.
Satan will also conspire to kill God’s people out of jealousy. Acting under Satan’s influence, Ahithophel and Absalom conspired to kill David when he was in a weakened state. Centuries later, the Jewish leaders also conspired under Satan’s influence to kill Jesus when His followers turned on Him: “And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.” (Mk. 8:31; 9:31; 10:33; Matt. 16:21; Lk. 9:22). “But the Pharisees went out and conspired against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.” (Matt. 12:14; Mk. 14:1). Satan will also conspire with his demons against you. David prepared for Absalom by sending his spy Hushai. Instead of a spy, you have the Word and the Spirit to guide you and alert you. Using these resources, you must remain vigilant at all times for Satan’s schemes. “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Pet. 5:8). “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat;” (Lk. 22:31). “so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.” (2 Cor. 2:11). As he did with David, Satan will attack when you are weak. Are you aware of the weak areas where Satan is most likely to attack you?
Hushai appeals to Absalom’s fear in warning against an immediate attack on David. Even though David was broken and had shown that he would not attack Absalom, Hushai portrayed David as vengeful warrior who would surprise and slaughter Ahithophel’s troops: “5 Then Absalom said, ‘Now call Hushai the Archite also, and let us hear what he has to say.’ 6 When Hushai had come to Absalom, Absalom said to him, ‘Ahithophel has spoken thus. Shall we carry out his plan? If not, you speak.’ 7 So Hushai said to Absalom, ‘This time the advice that Ahithophel has given is not good.’ 8 Moreover, Hushai said, ‘You know your father and his men, that they are mighty men and they are fierce, like a bear robbed of her cubs in the field. And your father is an expert in warfare, and will not spend the night with the people. 9 Behold, he has now hidden himself in one of the caves or in another place; and it will be when he falls on them at the first attack, that whoever hears it will say, ‘There has been a slaughter among the people who follow Absalom.’ 10 And even the one who is valiant, whose heart is like the heart of a lion, will completely lose heart; for all Israel knows that your father is a mighty man and those who are with him are valiant men.”’ (2 Sam. 17:5-10). After he fled, David sent his loyal friend Hushai the Archite back to Jerusalem to spy on Absalom and to thwart Ahithophel’s counsel (2 Sam. 15:30-37). When Absalom asked Hushai why he stayed in Jerusalem, Hushai gave ambiguous 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 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 words of adoration for him. David was not ready to fight. His people were tired (2 Sam. 16:14). Without God, they would have lost in battle. Hushai defeated Ahithophel’s counsel by appealing to Absalom’s fear about damaging his reputation. Absalom was more worried about what people would think of him if he lost than striking quickly. His fear about damaging his reputation would lead to his end.
Hushai offered counsel to Absalom to thwart Ahithophel’s counsel1
Hushai’s warnings prophetically warned about God’s wrath against Israel’s false kings. God would later warn Israel after it appointed kings, like Absalom, who did not serve Him: “They have set up kings, but not by Me; they have appointed princes, but I did not know it. With their silver and gold they have made idols for themselves, that they might be cut off.” (Hosea 8:4). Like Hushai’s parable, God would react against Israel like a bear robbed of her cubs: “I will encounter them like a bear robbed of her cubs, and I will tear open their chests; there I will also devour them like a lioness, as a wild beast would tear them. It is your destruction, O Israel, that you are against Me, against your help. Where now is your king that he may save you in all your cities, and your judges of whom you requested, ‘Give me a king and princes?” (Hosea 13:8-10; Prov. 17:12). Thus, although David would not act like an enraged bear against Absalom, God would.
Anyone who opposes God’s anointed leaders should be filled with fear. Even if Absalom had chased after David with 12,000 men, he still had reason to be afraid because he would be challenging God’s appointed leader: “Blessed are you, O Israel; who is like you, a people saved by the LORD, who is the shield of your help and the sword of your majesty! So your enemies will cringe before you, and you will tread upon their high places.” (Dt. 33:29). “The Lord shall cause your enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before you; they will come out against you one way and will flee before you seven ways.” (Dt. 28:7). “Indeed, ask now concerning the former days which were before you, since the day that God created man on the earth, and inquire from one end of the heavens to the other. Has anything been done like this great thing, or has anything been heard like it? Has any people heard the voice of God speaking from the midst of the fire, as you have heard it, and survived?” (Dt. 4:32-33). Upon meeting Joshua’s two Jewish spies, Rahab revealed that the people of Canaan lived in fear because they knew that Yahweh crushed both Pharaoh’s army and the armies of the Jordan: “and said to the men, ‘I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed.” (Josh. 2:9-10). David fled with 600 men (2 Sam. 15:18). He escaped into the wilderness with this same number of men when Saul’s army pursued him (1 Sam. 23:13; 30:9). With God’s help, Saul’s army of Israel was unsuccessful in finding and defeating David’s men. God once used Gideon’s army of only 300 soldiers to kill 120,000 Midianites (Jdgs. 7:16-22; 8:10). With God on David’s side, what chance did Absalom’s 12,000 men have against David’s 600 men?
Satan and his demons are cowards who fear God. Satan and his demons are also cowards who fear God. “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.” (Jam. 2:19). With God on your side, you don’t need to fear Satan.
Hushai appeals to Absalom pride to delay attacking until the 12 tribes can gather. To delay the assault on David, Hushai then appealed to Absalom’s pride by suggesting that the 12 tribes unite as a single army under Absalom’s command: ‘“11 But I counsel that all Israel be surely gathered to you, from Dan even to Beersheba, as the sand that is by the sea in abundance, and that you personally go into battle. 12 So we shall come to him in one of the places where he can be found, and we will fall on him as the dew falls on the ground; and of him and of all the men who are with him, not even one will be left. 13 If he withdraws into a city, then all Israel shall bring ropes to that city, and we will drag it into the valley until not even a small stone is found there.’” (2 Sam. 17:11-13). Hushai’s plan would cause long delays in assembling the 12 tribes. The distance from Dan even to Beersheba is 173 miles or 278 kilometers. It would take a week to simply send messengers to every tribe. It would take at least a month for forces from all of the 12 tribes to assemble and travel to a joint meeting place. But Hushai told Absalom that the 12 tribes would be “gathered to you,” not Ahithophel. This would ensure that Absalom would lead and be glorified. Hushai gave poor strategic advice. But the thought of Absalom leading a united army into victory over David filled Absalom with pride.
Absalom’s pride led to the end of his rebellion and his destruction. If Absalom had not been so filled with pride, he would have likely listened to Ahithophel’s counsel and attacked David while he fled with weary civilians. Absalom’s pride led to his downfall: “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). “The wicked, in the haughtiness of his countenance, does not seek Him. All his thoughts are, ‘There is no God.’” (Ps. 10:4). Are your actions for God’s glory or your own? If they are for yourself, God will not help you. Even worse, He may allow your plans to fail to cause you to focus on Him.
Satan is the father of pride who seeks your destruction through pride as well. Satan is the father of pride. His pride also caused his downfall. “But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High. Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, to the recesses of the pit. Those who see you will gaze at you, they will ponder over you, saying, ‘is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms,”’ (Is. 14:13-16). When you are prideful, you are under Satan’s direct influence.
God causes Absalom and the elders around him to adopt Hushai’s foolish advice. Even though Absalom’s pride made him prone to accept foolish advise, God showed that He was in control by also turning the hearts of the counselors who surrounded Absalom: “14 Then Absalom and all the men of Israel said, ‘The 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 acted to both protect His covenant and punish Absalom’s many evil acts.
God caused Absalom to reject Ahithophel’s counsel2
God was faithful to protect His covenant with David. Although David did not deserve God’s help, God formed a covenant with David to make him king over Israel: “8 “Now therefore, thus you shall say to My servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, to be ruler over My people Israel.”’’ (2 Sam. 7:8). As part of this covenant, God promised to raise up David’s descendants to be rulers of Israel. But this would only happen after David’s natural days came to an end: “12 When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom.” (2 Sam. 7:12). Satan might have twisted these words to lead Absalom to believe that he could cause David’s life to come to an end prematurely and still inherit this covenant. But God would not allow Absalom to use evil and twist his Word to take the throne.
David’s prayers to thwart the evil counsel of Ahithophel. The decision of Absalom and his counselors to adopt Hushai’s foolish advice was God’s fulfillment of David’s prayer. When David learned that his friend Ahithophel was advising Absalom, he prayed that God would confound Ahithophel’s advice with foolishness: “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. 15:34). God’s power includes “causing the omens of boasters to fail, making fools out of diviners, causing wise men to draw back and turning their knowledge into foolishness,” (Is. 44:25). When your enemies pursue you, will you also pray for God’s deliverance?
God remained faithful even when David was not. David could not boast in God’s deliverance. David’s murder of Uriah should have disqualified him from having God answer his prayers: “So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you; yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood.” (Is. 1:15; Jo. 9:31). Yet, out of grace, God was faithful to keep His covenant with David: “Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments;” (Dt. 7:9). If you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, God will also keep His many promises to you. This is true even when you are unfaithful to Him: “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” (2 Tim. 2:13). “Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.” (1 Thess. 5:24). Have you given thanks for His faithfulness?
God also judged Absalom for his many evil acts: In addition to protecting his covenant with David, Absalom would not inherit the throne because he was under God’s judgment. “The LORD has made Himself known; He has executed judgment. In the work of his own hands the wicked is snared. Higgaion Selah.” (Ps. 9:16). Unlike David who immediately repented for Uriah’s murder and his adultery (2 Sam. 12:13), Absalom had no remorse and never repented for murdering his brother Amnon. (2 Sam. 14:32(b)). 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 then publicly slept with David’s ten concubines (2 Sam. 16:22). Because David’s concubines were his wives (Gen. 49:4), Absalom’s actions violated God’s Seventh Commandment against adultery (Ex. 20:14; Dt. 5:18). Each act of adultery carried a separate death penalty (Lev. 20:10). Because Absalom raped these women, he had ten additional death sentences against him (Dt. 22:25; Ex. 22:16). Because Absalom was sleeping with his father’s wives and his mothers-in-law, he was also guilty of the crime of incest (Lev. 18:8; Dt. 22:30). For his ten acts of incest, Absalom’s punishment carried ten additional death sentences (Lev. 20:11). In addition to his death sentences, Absalom was also cursed for his incest (Dt. 27:20). Thus, God would not allow this evil man to pervert His covenant with David.
God is sovereign over all, including Satan’s evil governments. These events also show that God is sovereign and has control over kings, nations, and all time. Although Satan controls many kings and nations’ leaders, his power to deceive is no match against God’s mighty power. Daniel explained: “It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men and knowledge to men of understanding.” (Da. 2:21). “He makes the nations great, then destroys them; He enlarges the nations, then leads them away.” (Job 12:23). “Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales; behold, He lifts up the islands like fine dust.” (Is. 40:15). “All the nations are as nothing before Him, they are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless.” (Is. 40:17). “The LORD is King forever and ever; nations have perished from His land.” (Ps. 10:16). “You shall multiply the nation, You shall increase their gladness; . . .” (Is. 9:3(a)). “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’” (Dan. 4:35). Even when evil surrounds you or when you are ruled by evil leaders, do you trust that God is ultimately in control?
Hushai alerts David and saves him from Absalom’s plans. After having thwarted Ahithophel’s plans for a surprise attack on David, Hushai saved the lives of everyone traveling with David by warning them to flee across the Jordan River: “15 Then Hushai said to Zadok and to Abiathar the priests, ‘This is what Ahithophel counseled Absalom and the elders of Israel, and this is what I have counseled. 16 Now therefore, send quickly and tell David, saying, ‘Do not spend the night at the fords of the wilderness, but by all means cross over, or else the king and all the people who are with him will be destroyed.’’ 17 Now Jonathan and Ahimaaz were staying at En-rogel, and a maidservant would go and tell them, and they would go and tell King David, for they could not be seen entering the city. 18 But a lad did see them and told Absalom; so the two of them departed quickly and came to the house of a man in Bahurim, who had a well in his courtyard, and they went down into it. 19 And the woman took a covering and spread it over the well’s mouth and scattered grain on it, so that nothing was known. 20 Then Absalom’s servants came to the woman at the house and said, ‘Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?’ And the woman said to them, ‘They have crossed the brook of water.’ And when they searched and could not find them, they returned to Jerusalem. 21 It came about after they had departed that they came up out of the well and went and told King David; and they said to David, ‘Arise and cross over the water quickly for thus Ahithophel has counseled against you.’ 22 Then David and all the people who were with him arose and crossed the Jordan; and by dawn not even one remained who had not crossed the Jordan.” (2 Sam. 17:15-22). Hushai turned to two priests named Zadok and Abiathar who previously demonstrated their loyalty to David when others betrayed him (2 Sam. 15:35-6). David planned to spend his first night at the “fords of the wilderness” (2 Sam. 15:28). Hushai apparently knew of David’s plan and therefore warned him not to sleep there (2 Sam. 17:16). This place was west of the Jordan River. God saved every person who traveled with David by having them cross the Jordan before Absalom’s troops could arrive.
Hushai’s messenger alerted David to Absalom’s plans3
God will not forsake you when He disciplines you. God was disciplining David for his sins. Yet, as part of His covenant with David, He promised never to forsake David and remove his right to the kingship: “15 but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you.” (2 Sam. 7:15). “But I will not break off My lovingkindness from him, nor deal falsely in My faithfulness.” (Ps. 89:33). God also promised that He will never leave or forsake His people. “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” (Dt. 31:6; Heb. 13:5). If you have sinned, repent and never lose hope. God will never leave you nor forsake you.
God’s Holy Spirit will also protect you. Like Hushai, God has also sent a messenger to protect you. The Holy Spirit’s power to protect you is greater than Satan’s powers. “But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.” (1 Jo. 4:4). Are you listening to the Holy Spirit’s advice to stay protected from evil?
Ahithophel hangs himself after realizing that the true King would prevail. After Hushai thwarted his counsel, Ahithophel knew that David would eventually prevail. Thus, he decided to kill himself before David could return to power and execute him for his treason: “23 Now when Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his donkey and arose and went to his home, to his city, and set his house in order, and strangled himself; thus he died and was buried in the grave of his father.” (2 Sam. 17:23). As one commentator obverses, Ahithophel’s pride was motivated by wounded pride and a realization that the rebellion that he helped to instigate would soon end in defeat: “when Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed—His vanity was wounded, his pride mortified on finding that his ascendency was gone; but that chagrin was aggravated by other feelings—a painful conviction that through the delay which had been resolved on, the cause of Absalom was lost. Hastening home, therefore, he arranged his private affairs, and knowing that the storm of retributive vengeance would fall chiefly upon him as the instigator and prop of the rebellion, he hanged himself.” (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary on 2 Sam. 17:23).4
Judas hung himself after realizing that the King of Kings would prevail. Like Ahithophel, Judah took his life after realizing that Jesus, the King of Kings, would prevail despite his betrayal: “And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself.” (Matt. 27:5; Acts 1:18).
Satan’s followers also know that their plans will end in failure and destruction. When Jesus encountered demon-possessed pigs, the demons revealed that they knew their ultimate fate: “And they cried out, saying, ‘What business do we have with each other, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?”’ (Matt. 8:29). If even Satan’s demons know that they will ultimately lose, you have no need to fear them.
Don’t live with the regret that comes from betraying Jesus. Like Ahithophel, everyone will one day be confronted with their sins and betrayals of Jesus: “For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.” (Ecc. 12:14). “on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.” (Ro. 2:16). Although a believer in Christ will not lose his or her salvation because of sin, every believer will still be called to account for their good and bad deeds before the judgment seat of Christ: “But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.” (Ro. 14:10; 2 Cor. 5:10). Knowing that there is nothing that you can hide from Jesus, don’t betray Jesus by engaging in sin and rebellion.
Absalom chases after David while God provides for David and his people. After realizing his mistake, Absalom sent his forces to chase after David’s people. But God provided people to care for David’s men once they successfully crossed the Jordan River: “24 Then David came to Mahanaim. And Absalom crossed the Jordan, he and all the men of Israel with him. 25 Absalom set Amasa over the army in place of Joab. Now Amasa was the son of a man whose name was Ithra the Israelite, who went in to Abigail the daughter of Nahash, sister of Zeruiah, Joab’s mother. 26 And Israel and Absalom camped in the land of Gilead. “27 Now when David had come to Mahanaim, Shobi the son of Nahash from Rabbah of the sons of Ammon, Machir the son of Ammiel from Lo-debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim, 28 brought beds, basins, pottery, wheat, barley, flour, parched grain, beans, lentils, parched seeds, 29 honey, curds, sheep, and cheese of the herd, for David and for the people who were with him, to eat; for they said, ‘The people are hungry and weary and thirsty in the wilderness.’” (2 Sam. 17:24-29). The people who helped David were ordinary people who are listed nowhere else in the Bible. God sent these people to provide for David and his people in their time of need.
God brought David safely from Jerusalem to Mahanaim5
David’s friends in Mahanaim gave him shelter and comfort6
God answered David’s cries of despair from Jordan. God brought people to help David when he cried out for help: “O my God, my soul is in despair within me; therefore I remember You from the land of the Jordan and the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.” (Ps. 42:6). “From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” (Ps. 61:2). “But the LORD has been my stronghold, and my God the rock of my refuge.” (Ps. 94:22). God will also hear your cries for help.
David’s love to the people of Jabesh-gilead was returned with love. After being selected king of Judah, David’s first act was to honor the Jews of Jabesh-gilead in Jordan who risked their lives to honor David’s former enemy Saul (2 Sam. 2(b)-7). After Saul died, most of Jews who served him did nothing when the Philistines desecrated his body (1 Sam. 31:8-10). Only the people of Jabesh-gilead were willing to risk their lives to retrieve Saul’s body and give him a proper burial (1 Sam. 31:11-13; 1 Chron. 10:11-12). When Saul walked with God, he rallied the nation to deliver the people of Jabesh-gilead in modern Jordan from mutilation and servitude to the Ammonites (1 Sam. 11:1-11). The people of Jabesh-gilead remembered and therefore acted to give Saul a proper funeral. David also mourned Saul’s death, even though they were enemies. (2 Sam. 1:11-27). The people of Jabesh-gilead might have seemed to be the most loyal to the line of Saul and natural enemies of David. Yet, rather than seeing these people as enemies, David showed honor and love toward them for their loyalty to their former king. Here, God showed that David’s love returned to him in his time of need.
Show mercy and love to your enemies so that God can reward you as well. Like David, God calls upon you to love your enemies so that He can reward you: “For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.” (Heb. 6:10). “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” (Matt. 5:7; Prov. 11:25; 19:17). Are you loving your enemies so that God can reward you for your good deeds?
Be God’s hands and feet to those in need. The people who helped David were ordinary people. Like the people of Gilead who provided for David’s people in their hour of need, God also calls upon you to provide for His people when they need help: “And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.” (Matt. 10:42). “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’” (Matt. 25:40; Ro. 12:13). Are you serving as Jesus’ hands and feet for those who are in need?
Trust in God when you are under attack. Like David, God wants you to trust Him when you are under attack. David later wrote a psalm to remember God’s deliverance from the wayward prince: “Princes persecute me without cause, but my heart stands in awe of Your words.” (Ps. 119:161). “Many are my persecutors and my adversaries, yet I do not turn aside from Your testimonies.” (Ps. 119:157). “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” (2 Tim. 4:18). “O give us help against the adversary, for deliverance by man is in vain.” (Ps. 60:11). Do you trust in God alone to deliver you when you are attacked?
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