1 & 2 Samuel: Day 30

Absalom’s Revolt

by

Today's Text: 2 Samuel 15:1-37, 2 Samuel 16:1-23, 2 Samuel 17:1-29, Psalm 96:10, Isaiah 11:1-5

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?

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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.

  • Kristen Clegs

    Interesting to see that David immediately began to experience the consequences of his sin that Nathan had foretold: violence and evil arising out of his own house, against himself and others of his house – Amnon against Tamar, Absalom against Amnon, Absalom against his father’s concubines, Absalom against his father … The sin and rebellion of his own children probably drove David back to God just as much as in the days that Saul’s sin and rebellion gave him no rest, no hope, but in his God.

  • “Yes, David was highly favored by God, but that didn’t vaccinate him from hard work and heartbreak…Yes, Mary was a “favored woman” with reason to rejoice. But serving God also meant suffering… 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.”

    I so needed to hear this today. My husband and I have been pursuing what we feel like is God’s call on our life for the past couple of years, but it has left us in a place of ongoing financial uncertainty. It has been hard to watch others seemingly get their prayers answered so quickly and easily, when it feels like we’ve been crying out to Him, only to have our prayers bounce off the skies. I think for me it’s easy to believe the lies of the “Prosperity Gospel” that infects us so easily in America- that if you are “right with God”, God will bless you with finances and security- but that’s the furthest thing from the truth. God’s goal to to draw us to Himself and makes us like Christ. And He’s already made us “right with Him” through Christ’s death and resurrection. He wants us to worship the Giver, not the gift. Not to say that God won’t ever bless us with good things, we all have plenty to be thankful for, but like Erin said, God’s favor isn’t a ticket to easy street. Thankful for that reminder today.

    • Jenny

      You are very wise and I trust that in this difficulty born from doing God’s will, you will find the exquisite grace and joy born from gratitude. There is a beauty and sweetness in these times that cannot be experienced and known in any other way. And this is strength and solace for the continuing journey, blessings!

  • I find it really interesting how David turns to God in times of war, one aspect of his life, but doesn’t seem as inclined to turn to God about women, another aspect of his life. What if he had asked God about Bethsheba like he had asked God about battle plans? What if he had asked God about how to restore Tamar? What if he asked God about how to judge Amnon? I am sure all of this – and I do mean ALL of it – could have be avoided if David had turned to the Lord in all aspects of his life. It’s my prayer we seek God’s council in everything and not just in a couple areas of our lives. Sin is contagious. So much better to act in love. Love is also contagious.

    • Lana

      Just added this to my notes: it’s wise to seek God in all areas, PARTICULARLY the areas that bring us pleasure.

  • Ashley BB

    My overwhelming thought through today’s reading is, “Rest in the prophecy to courageously move forward through the suffering.” David was given a prophecy, as was Mary, as were the Israelites. Each one had to live in and boldly move forward through suffering, loss and heartbreak.

    The suffering doesn’t negate the prophecy, but more important is our response to the suffering.

  • I found myself captivated by this part of David’s story. A child’s rejection and betrayal, so publicly seen – my heart broke. This would torment me. Can you imagine the family strife, first with the Tamar situation, and then Abasalom’s coup attempt? What an absolute mess! I often measure my family up against other seemingly “perfect” families, you know those one’s where the Daddy leads family devotions every night and the Mommy makes homemade bread and never yells. But David gives me hope. He is still part of God’s great story of redemption despite so many mis-steps and so often NOT having that perfect family. I see David – trusting God – even though he knew he had responsibility in the his family drama. I often move away from God when I know that some of my drama is my own fault. David seems to have little moments when he forgets God is God and he temporarily places someone or something in that primary position – as an idol before him. I do this everyday. But David sets an example of repentance and returns to trust God despite his faults and failure. This is humility before God. David’s heart for God inspires me to let God redeem me, not because of my actions, but because of His great power. If God chooses to redeem and esteem David, then I am encouraged. My parenting needs as much redemption as David’s. May God grant me wisdom and patience, perseverance and humility today as I endeavor to parent these children He has blessed me with. Would not have guessed that David would be an example of parenting to me today. The Word is always full of surprises.

  • Diane Huntsman

    I wonder if King David laid in bed at night tossing and turning blaming himself for the rape, the family murder and now the revolt.. was he in turmoil over all the sin that seemed to be ransacking his children.. I love that no matter how gross my sin is, no matter how low I sink, my God will forgive me, He will cleanse me from all unrighteousness.. but BUT the law of reaping and sowing doesn’t change.. consequences are for real and the sting is lasting.. God says what He means and He means what He says and not even the man after Gods own heart, the chosen King was exempt from living a life of reaping what he had sown… may we never confuse grace as a ticket to sin.. yes there is grace in limitless supply, but repercussions happen and I don’t want to toss and turn on my bed at night connecting my sin to horrible consequences.. Lord help us to seriously take time to consider our choices and the weight of each one.. and if it’s too late and we’ve already made our messes, graciously clean them up and help us to not be buried under the weight of the guilt and the repercussions.. help us to do our best to live on for You in light of the collateral damages..

  • This story is a good reminder to me that though we are forgiven, our actions and sin still have consequences. We like to think that God is only a God of love–but he is also a just judge. The things that Absalom did were prophesied about as part of David’s punishment for the murder of Uriah. Usually our punishment is not so blatant as this. But may I never underestimate the seriousness of sin in my life. And praise to the God who cleanses us and breaks the chain of sin & death!

    • Emily

      I was thinking about this too. I agree that suffering doesn’t mean we have lost God’s favor, but in this case wasn’t it a consequence of David’s sin? if David had not sinned against Bathsheba, would his children have still rebelled? I think this gets into things I will never understand this side of heaven :)

  • Rebekah DeLibro

    Even the most put together families have struggles and scandals and David faced some really big ones in his. I think of Luke 12:48 -from everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. David was chosen by God and so there were many things he did well for God but many he missed the mark like his sons and Bathsheba. As Christians I think we need to understand God will ask a lot of us and that may include some suffering, but if we follow His commands daily, He will be with us during the suffering. Hopefully none of us will have the type of suffering David experienced, but I know as long as we are on this Earth there will be torment, evil, and heartache. There will be no Easy street just because you are a Christian but when it’s not easy God promises he will be with us unconditionally. Our faithfulness is so important, even when you think The Lord has forsaken you and doesn’t have your best interest in mind. David knew he deserved what God had put on him and asked for forgiveness and deliverance and was given it.

  • RondaGale

    “Praise God even when His favor comes with both victories and challenges” … Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. IN EVERYTHING give thanks.
    1 Thess 5:16-18. So hard to do unless you look to God drawing you closer to Him, making you more like Him.

  • This makes me think about the sermon that was preached this past weekend at my church on the book of Job. Despite everything that happened to Job, he still refused to curse God which raises the question do we praise the Lord because of the blessings he has given us? If we lost everything, would we still continue to trust in the Lord, or would we turn away from him because he allowed bad things to happen to us?

  • I have children who claim to be atheist for this reason. Please pray with me that their hearts will be softened and they will realize their need for Jesus. Their names are David, Allison and Christopher.
    Thank you sisters.

    • Meredith

      Prayed for your three kids just now, Tricia. Prayed that the Lord would open their eyes to see the truth of His Word, their sinfulness, and their need for a Savior (and that the Lord Jesus Christ IS that Savior! :).
      I pray He gives them a heart to know and love Him, that He gives them repentance and faith, and that they throw themselves upon His great, unending mercy and love for them.
      Love!

    • GramsieSue

      Praying for David, Allison, and Christopher ❤️

    • Becky

      I’m sure lots and lots of us prayed for David, Allison and Christopher these past three days. Know that these prayers are powerful and effective, and there is a Holy God listening and caring!

  • churchmouse

    Thank you, Erin, for this timely and truthful devotion from these passages.. I have several friends who denounce God /Christianity because they don’t see any benefit. They ask the age old question “why does God allow suffering and evil? I see a lot of Christians who suffer and they aren’t any better off than anyone else so what good is God? I’m not believing in a God like that.” I’m grateful for your words about confusing “God’s favor with a free ticket to Easy Street.” We Christians are surely not immune to suffering. But we are indeed better equipped to handle it. We have the indwelling Holy Spirit Himself and the power which accompanies. We can face the trials and tragedies of life and march on. It is not without tears but we march with the assurance of hope. Yes we suffer with Jesus which is very different than suffering without Him. And that is what I try to explain to my friends.

  • PursuedByHim

    Families are messy! David wasn’t immune to family problems even though he was a “man after God’s own heart.” So, we shouldn’t be surprised by messy family situations. We should, like David, give God His glory, focus on Him, and remember we are always in his hands even in the messy family times. Praise God that He looks past our mistakes, and other’s mistakes, and always has a plan to keep us with Him!

    • Trusting Him

      Thank-you today for reminder of “messy families”. Our “mess” right now involves birth mother holding my son’s’twins, my grandchildren,hostage from us. Please pray for all of us, especially the mother, we don’t understand what suddenly changed. We want God glorified in every step we make.

      • RondaGale

        Lifting you and your family “mess” in prayer.
        But God…

      • She Reads Truth

        Thank you for being willing to share this. We will be lifting up your family in prayer in the midst of this difficult situation, and we’re so glad to have you as part of this community!

    • Lana

      Thank you for this. The same can be said for some friendships.

  • After my son’ surgery many years ago, he injured the hand after we had so carefully cared for it. Panicked I called the surgeon. His advice got me through that moment and many since. He told me that scarred skin is stronger than skin that has never experienced injury. That is so true of my life and yours. Trials, loss, failures leave scars. But by God’s relentless grace and through His plan we persevere and become stronger. Then we can use our scars to benefit others and glorify God. Not an easy road but one of immense possibility. Just like David. Thank you Lord …

  • It’s so easy to feel entitled to favor in an earthly sense while we remain in this broken world. Money, career, success, perfect family unit, sheltered from sickness and death, etc. these things are easy to set our hearts upon. Its easy but those are not the things that will fulfill us. Those are not the things that give us a clear picture of God being our sustainer.

    “Will we praise God, even when His favor comes with both victories and challenges?”
    I didn’t realize how fulfilling my relationship with my creator could be until I was brought into a season of sickness and death. His tender love and healing brought me into a place of worship I never knew until we lost our twin boys.
    This is always hard to say but I firmly believe it…I miss my precious sons and brother but I would not change the challenges and events the Lord orchestrated in my life. I’ve experienced fulfillment in the Lord through those challenges way more then the temporary things of this world.

    • Erin

      So sorry for the loss of your sons. May the Lord continue to be near to your heart.

    • Karen From Virginia

      Grateful to hear how God has met you in your loss. He becomes bigger in our eyes in these troubles and sufferings.

    • Lana

      Praying for you JessMC. Sending you lots of love.

  • What is favor, in the world’s eyes? Money, fame, success? What is favor in God’s eyes? 1 Peter 1:4- we have an inheritance in heaven that is “imperishable, undefiled, and invading” kept in heaven for us, Jesus himself. We can face trials because we are the beloved in Christ!

  • “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold…For he will complete what he appoints for me.” Job 23: 10,14.
    I have been brought back to this passage in Job so many times over the last months. “When we confuse God’s favor with a free ticket to Easy Street we can find ourselves easily blindsided.” We can be right where God wants us to be and discover that it’s hard and messy and doesn’t look anything like we thought it would. But, that’s not how God works. His will is hard and messy and because we are finite people, it doesn’t always look the way we thought it would. These words in Job have brought me so much comfort and peace. God sees me. He knows the way that I am taking. He promises that in the end I will come out like gold – purified and more and more like Him.
    Have a blessed day, sisters!

  • Trying to remember this. That through the good times and the bad times, God is still good and faithful. That He always has some way of working these things out, even if I don’t get to see the end result.

    • Kari

      So true, Summer!!

      And thank you Erin for yet another beautiful, meaningful devotional!

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