Summary: David was encouraged by a friend in one of his darkest hours.
Encouragement in a Dark Hour
In his fine little book Fully Human, Fully Alive, author John Powell relates a true story. It didn’t happen to him but to a friend of his while he was vacationing in the Bahamas.
What attracted the friend’s attention was a large and restless crowd that had gathered toward the end of a pier. Unable to restrain his curiosity, the man began to walk down the pier and investigate the cause of all the noise and commotion.
Upon investigation he discovered that the object of all the attention was a young man making the last-minute preparations for a solo journey around the world in a homemade boat. Without exception everyone on the pier was pessimistic. All were actively volunteering to tell the ambitious sailor all the things that could possibly go wrong. “The sun will broil you!” “You won’t have enough food.” “That boat of yours won’t withstand the waves in a storm.” (And of course, those familiar words) “You’ll never make it.”
When my friend heard all these discouraging warnings to the adventurous young man, he felt an irresistible desire to offer some optimism and encouragement. As the little craft began drifting away from the pier towards the horizon, my friend went to the end of the pier, waving both arms wildly like semaphores spelling confidence. He kept shouting: “Bon Voyage! You’re really something! We’re with you. We’re proud of you!” (pg. 17-18)
Had you been there as the afternoon sun was setting and the homemade boat was leaving, to which group on the pier would you have joined yourself?
“Emotion packed” is the only way to describe the situation of Absalom’s rebellion against his father. Perhaps some had seen the “handwriting on the wall” well in advance, but somehow David could not bring himself to believe that his oldest living son would turn traitor and turn from everything for which his father stood. Yet the facts are all there in full view of anyone who cares to examine them. Absalom had carefully designed and executed a plan to take possession of the throne of Israel. An aging dad was left little choice — remain and resist or run and regroup.
David: Running from Absalom (15:13-18)
Panic must have gripped the hearts of David’s servants when they realized what had taken place. It was apparent that the multitudes had been swayed by Absalom’s treachery. When news reached David (15:13), his words were quick and decisive. The king’s servants were to flee from the city with the king (15:14). The reasons for this move were obvious.
First, this course of action would avert civil war and spare the people from needless bloodshed.
Second, escaping from Jerusalem would protect the city from the inevitable destruction that accompanies conflict. These two ideas are stated in as many words in verse fourteen.
A third reason could have been that David wanted to buy some time. Leaving the capital was the only way this could have been assured.
Fourth, David possibly reasoned that he would have a better chance at winning in open territory where he and his men were well experienced instead of being forced to fight in the restraining confines of a city.
And finally, by withdrawing from Jerusalem, he could easily identify his loyal supporters as those who would leave their homes to follow him.
I. Encouragement from those who went with David (15-23)
A. His loyal servants, 15-18
Although the hour was dark (figuratively speaking), a few spots helped light the way. One of these is recorded in verse fifteen. David’s servants responded, “Behold, thy servants are ready to do whatever my lord the king shall appoint” (15:15). That must have encouraged David. He knew he did not have to face this crisis alone.
Included among David’s followers were the Cherethites and the Pelethites -- the royal bodyguard (cf. 8:18) -- and six hundred men who are called Gittites (men of Gath). These six humored are not to be considered as Philstines so far as their national origin is concerned. The writer has identified them as the men who “came after him [David] from Gath” (15:18). Four hundred joined David in a cave when he fled from Saul (I Samuel 22:1-2). An additional two hundred united with corps by the time David left Keilah (I Samuel 23:13). This army came with him to Hebron in 1011 B.C. when David was crowned king in Hebron (II Samuel 2:3) and helped to conquer and establish Jerusalem as the new capital (II Samuel 5:6). They had been through thick and thin with their leader, but their loyalty was undiminished. When David was forced to “hit the road,” his six hundred did not balk for a moment. They had been there before; they would gladly do it again.