One of the things I’ve observed in my own life is this: Sometimes we make missteps, but we were walking in the right direction and that counts, so the Lord helps us walk on down that path a littler further. Of course by helping us further down that path He knows we will yet again make missteps…ah…He loves us!
That is certainly true of the family that is the subject of this installment of ‘Love stories with a twist’. David and Bathsheba’s love-filled marriage began as an affair driven by lust – lust to such a degree David had her husband killed to cover up their tryst. They went on to have 4 sons including the future King Solomon, who succeeded his father on the throne. As a family they were usually walking in the right direction, but most of their missteps were we could say as with us so often, self-inflicted wounds.
Of course one of those self-inflicted wounds was the way David and Bathsheba began. The next would be having her husband killed. Another would be the revolt of David’s beloved son, Absalom. And that in a way brings us to this love story with a twist. Let me set the stage with our cast of characters:
David is King, Bathsheba is his wife, Absalom is the handsome young prince and step-son* to Bathsheba, Hushai is David’s friend and a secret double agent, Ahithophel is David’s main Counselor, and Joab is David’s General. *II Samuel 3:3
Seeds of rebellion
When Solomon was born he entered a blended family*. But David had an older son named Absalom, who wanted to be king. His name means ‘father of peace’ though he was anything but. He stood at the gate of the city making judgements that purposely undermined his father, and David allowed it** in a brilliant display of poor fathering. We are also told of the bitterness he had towards his father for we are told he lived 2 whole years in Jerusalem but never saw his father’s face^. *II Samuel *12:24-25, **15:1-6, ^14:28
Eventually most of the people backed Absalom who rebelled openly and drove his father from Jerusalem, meaning David found himself in the all too familiar position of running for his life from a (wrongful) king who was trying to kill him (the first being King Saul). The rebellion ended when handsome Absalom got his beautiful hair caught in a tree limb and his mule kept running, leaving him hanging, and General Joab ended the rebellion with his sword then and there.
But this love story isn’t about David’s love for his son Absalom, nor about Solomon and David and Bathsheba’s love for him.
Have you ever been betrayed by a friend?
David’s main source of counsel was Ahithophel, and it was said his counsel in those days was as if someone inquired at the mouth of God*. He was trusted, loved, and very wise. But there was an issue – he joined Absalom in his rebellion. *II Samuel 16:23
We are told David was driven from Jerusalem and walked up the Mount of Olives, weeping as he ascended, barefoot, his head covered, and all his friends followed him weeping as they went. Can you imagine the hurt, the betrayal of having his son turn against him to the extent he now sought the life of his father? II Samuel 15:30-31
When David learned of Ahithophel joining the rebellion he prayed that God would turn the counsel of Ahithophel to foolishness*, and God did. David’s friend Hushai pretended to be on Absalom’s side and let Ahithophel give his counsel first. Then Hushai gave Absalom counsel that was actually a set up, and as planned^ Absalom liked his plan over Ahithophel’s, so that Ahithophel’s counsel was rejected.** * II Samuel 15:31, **17:14, ^15:34
The power behind the rebellion
Ahithophel was a key player in the rebellion providing Absalom wise counsel in how to carry it out, and we must wonder why. What had David done to him that he would turn on his king like that?
For the reader the answer as to why Ahithophel turned with such treachery against King David is discovered at the end of the story, something which I imagine all the people at the time of the writing already knew, so it was made barely a footnote for later observant readers to piece together. Students of this story will recall that early on in the story II Samuel 11:3 tells us Bathsheba’s father was Eliam (Ammiel in some translations).
It isn’t until II Samuel 23:34 in the list of ‘David’s Mighty Men’ that included Bathsheba’s husband Uriah, that we are also told Eliam, Bathsheba’s father, was also Ahithophel’s son. That’s correct – Ahithophel was Bathsheba’s grandfather, and his son Eliam fought alongside her husband Uriah, whom David had killed.
Lessons learned for us
This was about the love of a grandfather for his granddaughter, his love for her husband, his love for honor and right and wrong. I like to say that the conversation you don’t want to have is the very conversation you need to have. It had to be that way with David and Ahithophel, yet there is no record of them having that conversation about how David became King and what he did to Bathsheba’s family and the ranks of the ‘Mighty Men’.
They worked side by side for years, all the while beneath Ahithophel’s calm exterior and wise counsel was a cauldron of seething anger that became hatred for David. He must have felt David deserved to be driven from the throne, and he saw the egotistical Absalom as the means to arrange revenge.
Yet I must come full circle in this little story for I started out talking about how we make missteps, but because we are walking in the general direction we should go, God comes to our aide to move us a little further down that path. So it was with David, who although full of imperfections, still managed to write about 75 of the 150 Psalms in our Bible, raise Solomon, and have the Messiah known as the Son of David, for his rule and that of Solomon were seen as the ‘golden years’ of Israel.
Quite a testament not to the man, but to our Lord and His ability to weave His will in our lives more in spite of us than because of us. I hope this has been a blessing to you, another love story next week. Until then, blessings,