Pray that God will speak to you once again as you continue these readings in Samuel.
Read 2 SAMUEL 18:1-18
 David mustered the men who were with him and appointed over them commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds.  David sent the troops out-a third under the command of Joab, a third under Joab’s brother Abishai son of Zeruiah, and a third under Ittai the Gittite. The king told the troops, “I myself will surely march out with you.”  But the men said, “You must not go out; if we are forced to flee, they won’t care about us. Even if half of us die, they won’t care; but you are worth ten thousand of us. It would be better now for you to give us support from the city.”  The king answered, “I will do whatever seems best to you.” So the king stood beside the gate while all the men marched out in units of hundreds and of thousands.  The king commanded Joab, Abishai and Ittai, “Be gentle with the young man Absalom for my sake.” And all the troops heard the king giving orders concerning Absalom to each of the commanders.  The army marched into the field to fight Israel, and the battle took place in the forest of Ephraim.  There the army of Israel was defeated by David’s men, and the casualties that day were great-twenty thousand men.  The battle spread out over the whole countryside, and the forest claimed more lives that day than the sword.  Now Absalom happened to meet David’s men. He was riding his mule, and as the mule went under the thick branches of a large oak, Absalom’s head got caught in the tree. He was left hanging in midair, while the mule he was riding kept on going.  When one of the men saw this, he told Joab, “I just saw Absalom hanging in an oak tree.”  Joab said to the man who had told him this, “What! You saw him? Why didn’t you strike him to the ground right there? Then I would have had to give you ten shekels of silver and a warrior’s belt.”  But the man replied, “Even if a thousand shekels were weighed out into my hands, I would not lift my hand against the king’s son. In our hearing the king commanded you and Abishai and Ittai, ‘Protect the young man Absalom for my sake.’  And if I had put my life in jeopardy-and nothing is hidden from the king-you would have kept your distance from me.”  Joab said, “I’m not going to wait like this for you.” So he took three javelins in his hand and plunged them into Absalom’s heart while Absalom was still alive in the oak tree.  And ten of Joab’s armor-bearers surrounded Absalom, struck him and killed him.  Then Joab sounded the trumpet, and the troops stopped pursuing Israel, for Joab halted them.  They took Absalom, threw him into a big pit in the forest and piled up a large heap of rocks over him. Meanwhile, all the Israelites fled to their homes.  During his lifetime Absalom had taken a pillar and erected it in the King’s Valley as a monument to himself, for he thought, “I have no son to carry on the memory of my name.” He named the pillar after himself, and it is called Absalom’s Monument to this day. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectHow did Absalom meet his end?
Absalom is clearly in the wrong here; he has rebelled against his father the king, and his pride and self-seeking have cost many lives. There are times, though, when it’s hard to know the right course of action. In today’s passage David and Joel face difficult decisions. Our situation may be very different but we sometimes face similar choices.
Decisive action or patient waiting? How hard it must have been for David to stay back in Jerusalem when so much was at stake; not only the fate of his kingdom, but clearly the life of his rebellious but beloved son (5). However, he listens to his men and leaves the action to others.
Play it safe or make an unpopular choice? Joab could have easily not killed Absalom and stayed in favor with David. But the kingdom would have been in danger and many more people would have died. Joab is willing to do something unpopular but necessary. Good decisions are based on good listening: listening to the advice of others, as David does (4), learning to apply God’s Word to our life and asking the Holy Spirit to show us the right action in difficult situations.
Are you facing any unpopular but necessary actions right now? How can God’s Word and his Holy Spirit help you?
Lord, give me wisdom to know the right thing to do, the right time to do it and the will to do it faithfully.
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