Summary: Ittai the Gitite, shows us what true loyalty is all about; when there is NO allegiance Owed, No Benefits Promised, and No Conditions Attached.
Introduction: Somewhere in the middle of Western Road Christian Cemetery, there is a rather unusual statue among the thousands of gravestones and hundreds of statues. It is not the statue of a man or woman or angel, not even of Jesus or Mary or saint… but of a dog. How many of you have seen it?
The story goes that one of the persons buried there had a dog which was very loyal to its master. When the master died, the dog followed the funeral procession to the grave and stayed there. It refused to go home until it died there. The family built a statue next to the master – in memory of that dog, that demonstrated such unusual/extraordinary loyalty.
What a heart warming story! No wonder when we humans think of the quality of faithfulness, we think of a dog. Why not men?
Is it because we humans have become too sophisticated to be so loyal to anyone?
Only something as simple as a dog would be that loyal/faithful – so we have some people whose names mean dog – eg. Caleb.
There is another story of extraordinary loyalty that is even more heartwarming – than the story of the dog in the Western Road Cemetery. This story is found in the book of books, the Bible – God’s word/revelation to us today and for all time.
This story is found in 2 Sam 15:13-23 (focus on v.19-23).
The author of 2 Samuel used the political crisis in King David’s life to highlight the extraordinary loyalty of Ittai the Gittite.
The word ‘crisis’ in the Chinese language is composed of 2 characters – one represents danger and the other represents opportunity.
Crisis is an opportunity for us to demonstrate the virtue of extraordinary loyalty.
What can we learn about extraordinary loyalty from our text today?
Our text today reveals the circumstances under which extraordinary loyalty is demonstrated.
Please repeat as I try to etch the outline in your mind – it’s as easy as ABC:
Firstly – Extraordinary loyalty is demonstrated when there is no Allegiance owed – found in v.19.
Secondly – Extraordinary loyalty is demonstrated when there is no Benefit promised – found in v.20.
Thirdly – Extraordinary loyalty is demonstrated when there are no Conditions attached – found in v.21.
Repeat all three together. Why do I say it’s extraordinary? Beyond what is usual and ordinary. Remarkable.
Under what circumstances is such extraordinary loyalty demonstrated loyalty demonstrated?
I. Outstanding loyalty is demonstrated when there is NO ALLEGIANCE OWED. – v.19.
Allegiance means duty, support, loyalty due to a ruler or government.
A. What was the crisis that gave rise to such a response of extraordinary loyalty?
Due to King David’s many marriages – he had many sons. Absalom was his 3rd son from a foreign mother, Maacah, daughter of the king of Gershur, a city in Syria. He was a very handsome man who murdered his half-brother for raping his sister Tamor. He fled to his mother’s hometown and was exiled.
After 3 years, he was allowed to return with the help of Joab, David’s general.
Instead of repaying his father’s generosity in pardoning him, he began right away to steal the people’s hearts – pretending to champion their rights and promising to give them justice if he was given the power.
Several years later, Absalom decided that the time was right for him to stage a coup. He managed to persuade some of the people to support him and on the pretext of going to fulfil a vow in Hebron – the highest city in Israel, 3,040 ft above sea level. There he would launch his claim to be king. Afterall, Hebron was where his father David was first anointed king over Judah and 2 years later, king over all of Israel. Hebron remained King David’s capital for 7½ years.
B. v.12 – The conspiracy grew strong when Absalom managed to get the support of Ahistophel – David’s most senior and trusted advisor, who was related to Bathsheba. Ahistophel was a very astute man, very sharp.
Soon it seemed that a majority of the people were on Absalom’s side. David was a great king with a shepherd’s heart, with selfless concern for his subjects even when he was under great personal stress.
Even though he was the rightful king, and stood an even chance of defending Jerusalem and defeating his son, he was not willing to sacrifice his subjects in a civil war when the majority of the innocent people would be caught in the middle and be killed.
He chose to sacrifice his rightful position to spare his people of certain bloodshed.
He chose to flee Jerusalem, the seat of power.
His attitude in v.25 – 26…. left his destiny in the hands of God, is a sharp contrast with those who hang on to their positions, insist on their rights at the expense of the common people who don’t want to get involved.