Scripture Reading: 2 Samuel 15:1-37, 2 Samuel 16:1-23, 2 Samuel 17:1-29, Psalm 96:10, Isaiah 11:1-5
We think of God’s favor as an endless river of glittering gifts, but that’s not the whole story.
David shows us that God’s favor isn’t always an easy pill to swallow. Sure, he received a kingdom from the Lord (2 Samuel 7:8). That gift came with plenty of perks, but being a man after God’s own heart also came with challenges.
When Samuel anointed David as king, I’m sure it was a happy occasion, mostly because Samuel never mentioned the possibility of facing down a giant (1 Samuel 17), potential death threats from the existing king (1 Samuel 18-23), and the massive temptations that come with being the most powerful man in the land (2 Samuel 11). Samuel certainly didn’t mention that David would have to fight his own beloved son to keep his kingdom.
We find the story of Absalom’s rebellion in 2 Samuel 13-18. The wheels started to come off the train when David’s son Amnon raped his half-sister, Tamar. Tamar’s brother, Absalom (Amnon’s half-brother), was enraged by his brother’s sin and eventually had Amnon killed (2 Samuel 13).
This was a low blow for David, but the hits had just started coming. Absalom fled to live with his grandparents. During that long season of waiting, a bitter root started to grow in Absalom’s heart. Though his father eventually welcomed him home with a kiss, Absalom began to plot a coup to take the throne. He launched a PR campaign, tricked 200 men into joining his cause, recruited David’s advisers, amassed an army, and prepared to march on to Jerusalem.
The same David who had been promised a kingdom that would last forever put on a disguise and ran for his life.
Though the battle cost him mightily—20,000 casualties, including his own son—David kept his throne, and God kept His promises. Yes, David was highly favored by God, but that didn’t vaccinate him from hard work and heartbreak.
This story reminds me of another hero who knew the gut-wrenching reality of God’s favor.
“And the angel came to [Mary] and said, ‘Rejoice, favored woman! The Lord is with you.”
- Luke 1:28
Yes, Mary was a “favored woman” with reason to rejoice. But serving God also meant suffering. The angel didn’t mention that Mary would watch her miracle boy die a horrible death on the cross.
When we confuse God’s favor with a free ticket to Easy Street, we can find ourselves easily blindsided. As God’s child, you are highly favored, but that doesn’t mean life will never throw you a curveball. Absalom’s rebellion shows us that suffering is not a sure sign that God’s favor has left us.
Will we praise God, even when His favor comes with both victories and challenges?
Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.