*Below is Pastor Andrew’s teaching outline from Sunday evening’s church history study, not a word for word manuscript. This is meant as aid in seeing the thought and direction of the lesson.
We live in a complex age where nothing stays the same very long. A month ago, we were packed into our sanctuary with barley a chair to fit, today the building lies empty and we join together remotely through Facebook and YouTube. Once second everything appears to be going in one direction and out of nowhere the whole landscape shifts.
Many of us today maybe feeling a little shell shocked with how quickly out lives have changed over a very short period of time, and we are not sure when live will return to normal or what that may look like. These are very real questions and the truth is we don’t know what the future looks like, but as we come to II Samuel we are well aware of the one who does, and even more so we are reminded of His good plans for His people and for His name.
Ultimately in today’s text we see the conclusion of David’s world being flipped upside down over night, we see the end of it all and are able to look back at God’s providence. In doing so I hope we are able to jump through the fog surrounding ourselves and remember the God who brings us through the fog.
With that in Mind let’s hop into our text today:
I. The King’s Victory
2 Samuel 18:1–5 ESV
Then David mustered the men who were with him and set over them commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds. And David sent out the army, one third under the command of Joab, one third under the command of Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab’s brother, and one third under the command of Ittai the Gittite. And the king said to the men, “I myself will also go out with you.” But the men said, “You shall not go out. For if we flee, they will not care about us. If half of us die, they will not care about us. But you are worth ten thousand of us. Therefore, it is better that you send us help from the city.” The king said to them, “Whatever seems best to you I will do.” So, the king stood at the side of the gate, while all the army marched out by hundreds and by thousands. And the king ordered Joab and Abishai and Ittai, “Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom.” And all the people heard when the king gave orders to all the commanders about Absalom.
In Chapter 17 we concluded with David’s army being resupplied and the knowledge that Absalom had chosen to follow his own ambition for grandeur and set out to attack his father himself. The conclusion of 17 sets in motion the fact that David had full confidence that the Lord has brought him victory.
the chapter opens with David now making full provision for the battle. He sets his troops in order and prepares them for war:
-He plans to go with them, but is encouraged to stay behind to ensure their ability to fight on despite their own loses:
The King and His Kingdom were more valuable than their lives (there is something to be said for their mission being greater than themselves)
Matthew 16:24–25 ESV
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
-We seek the Kingdom to come and His righteousness not our own, we serve him not ourselves. Even in the midst of our current situation we must be a people focused on the mission. not that we are foolish but that we are being purposeful in this time.
David’s men Knew they were on a mission and that their victory was assured, so they went willingly.
-Also note his army is again made up of Gentiles just as the true kingdom of God is made up of every nation.
Lastly, we also see the Heart of David towards His wayward son: David continues to seek to show compassion over Justice. (a conflict that is seen often in David)
-In Spite of it all he is still a father longing for His wayward son to come home (Also here appears to wish to deal with Absalom the same way he has dealt with Amnon)
-His words reveal his confidence he will be victorious.
2 Samuel 18:6–8 ESV
So, the army went out into the field against Israel, and the battle was fought in the forest of Ephraim. And the men of Israel were defeated there by the servants of David, and the loss there was great on that day, twenty thousand men. The battle spread over the face of all the country, and the forest devoured more people that day than the sword.
From there the field is set and David’s men go to war, they take the battle to them and their much more experienced and trained hands are victorious over the multitudes of Israel’s soldiers.
-They won because God had set all things in motion to bring about their victory. It wasn’t the numbers that would win it was the wisdom and knowledge of God that brought forth the victory.
-The enemy often has the numbers, but the Lord has the power. Our confidence is never shaken when it is in the Lord and not the world.
-Even more striking is that nature itself is seen as a part of God’s army turning against those who would seek to destroy the Lord’s kingdom. Their rebellion is meet with a swift end from both sword and tree.
II. The Rebels Defeat (9-18)
The Lord has granted David’s army victory over the men of Israel in the forests and now it turns to the fate of the rebellious son. Over the Last 6 chapters we have experienced the descent of Absalom from a righteously indignant brother who felt justice was ignored for His sister to a prideful and rebellious man whose anger had turned rotten and lead to treason. He became far worse a man than he ever imagined his father to be, and now in these concluding verses we see his whole world unravel as His arrogance and pride become his undoing.
A. Judged (9)
2 Samuel 18:9 ESV
And Absalom happened to meet the servants of David. Absalom was riding on his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a great oak, and his head caught fast in the oak, and he was suspended between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him went on.
- Into battle He still rode his Mule the sign of His royal status. (a symbol that will walk right on out from underneath him)
- We see the very thing that brought him pride (his head/hair) become the very thing that enslaved him and held him fast to his own destruction
- We see he is stuck between heaven and the earth suspended no longer in control over the events around him.
Deuteronomy 21:22–23 ESV
“And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. You shall not defile your land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance.
Absalom had made himself the master of His own destiny and in doing so lost everything: For this was the Lord’s work
2 Samuel 17:14 ESV
And Absalom and all the men of Israel said, “The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel.” For the Lord had ordained to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, so that the Lord might bring harm upon Absalom.
Ephesians 2:1–3 ESV
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
B. Executed (10-15)
2 Samuel 18:10–15 ESV
And a certain man saw it and told Joab, “Behold, I saw Absalom hanging in an oak.” Joab said to the man who told him, “What, you saw him! Why then did you not strike him there to the ground? I would have been glad to give you ten pieces of silver and a belt.” But the man said to Joab, “Even if I felt in my hand the weight of a thousand pieces of silver, I would not reach out my hand against the king’s son, for in our hearing the king commanded you and Abishai and Ittai, ‘For my sake protect the young man Absalom.’ On the other hand, if I had dealt treacherously against his life (and there is nothing hidden from the king), then you yourself would have stood aloof.” Joab said, “I will not waste time like this with you.” And he took three javelins in his hand and thrust them into the heart of Absalom while he was still alive in the oak. And ten young men, Joab’s armor-bearers, surrounded Absalom and struck him and killed him.
- the certain man clearly fears the King more than Joab (He rightly surmises that Joab would not hesitate to let him die for killing Absalom)
- Joab has no tolerance for anything that is an afront to David’s kingdom (regardless of the words of David)
-The King’s orders are not His concern the kingdom is
-Joab is a hard figure to pin down. Everything he does is in the interest of the Kingdom even though it is often not done in anyway shape or form in accordance with the Words of David or the mission of his kingdom.
-In many ways Joab reminds us of those who are more zealous for the church than they are for the Lord.
C. Buried (16-18)
2 Samuel 18:16–18 ESV
Then Joab blew the trumpet, and the troops came back from pursuing Israel, for Joab restrained them. And they took Absalom and threw him into a great pit in the forest and raised over him a very great heap of stones. And all Israel fled everyone to his own home. Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and set up for himself the pillar that is in the King’s Valley, for he said, “I have no son to keep my name in remembrance.” He called the pillar after his own name, and it is called Absalom’s monument to this day.
Joab ends the battle with one blow from the trumpet (announcing Absalom’s death)- this is the very advice Ahithophel had for Absalom eliminate the king and spare the rest.
-Absalom is buried as a traitor (Achan Josh. 7:26) and Enemy (Ai Jos. 8:29)
His lot is outside the Land of the promise and is left to be forgotten. All that remains is a monument to his own arrogance and folly.
The concluding description of Absalom is a man who has lost nothing left but his own Arrogant pride. He has lost his sons (as such there is no line to carry on) and as such knows that his kingdom will not last beyond himself (thus even the pillar is a mark that he had no faith in the covenant promise of God or more importantly didn’t believe it to be true.)
God’s covenant promise remained, and we see that in the work of bringing this rebellious son to a quick end. all of his years of scheming and bringing the hearts of the people to himself in the end accounted for nothing as the Lord grabbed him by the hair and brought him to ruin in a day.
People too often believe they are beyond God. We are the masters of our own destiny, nothing can change what we have put in order and yet trees come, we can out of nowhere be suspended in the air by a tree and brought to ruin.
2 weeks ago, our country lived and acted like we were an unstoppable force. The stock market is up, the economy is at heights it has never seen. Who needs God we are the masters of our own destiny…….and here we are with the rest of the world suspended by a tree? The very things we put our hope in fail us. the things we were assured would never leave us flock quickly away. Those people among us often cast off and seen as menial are now some of the most important workers around us.
As we sit here today in a world, we couldn’t imagine existing outside of Black Mirror or some Sci-Fi universe we are reminded that the Kingdom of God is the true and lasting kingdom, and it is a kingdom that is not undone by the world. it is one that no dieses can touch and not government can bring to an end. It is the people of God proclaim his name and placing their assurance and faith in him alone.
We don’t know what tomorrow brings, but neither did David. He had the promise of God and the knowledge that that is all that matters, and the Lord brought him through. it wasn’t easy and as we have seen it was stressful for him. He was hurt broken down and left to wonder what would befall him, but he trusted in the long term promises of God, so to do we as his people truss tin his promises.
We know we serve a sovereign and righteous King, who will see us through to the other side. Let us trust in Him. Let us love him. Let us in this season be a light of the gospel wherever possible. The true and lasting King is victorious, and His Kingdom has never and will never faulter.
For those who are joining us online today and maybe you are not certain about this kingdom of God. Maybe this new world we are living in has you a bit shook up. Let me encourage you with the hope that there is one who is far greater than any dieses. Let me point you to the one who died a righteous man to save unrighteous people.
-Absalom received his just penalty he was a wicked rebellious king.
-Yet God the father sent forth His son in full righteousness the King of Kings the Lord of Lords to be murdered and killed upon a tree for unrighteous men. His death brought into being an everlasting kingdom that was fully formed not when he was buried but when he defeated death and rose again. There is no pillar to mark his accomplishments, there are his brothers and sisters, those he came to save. His kingdom is seen in the lives of those whom he has saved. Those whom he has poured out his spirit on, those whom have seen their own wicked hearts and have repented and believed in His work of salvation. There are much worse things to fear than an unseen virus, there is the unseen reality of sin that eats away at us, leaving those apart from Christ destined to a fate far worse. Christ is the everlasting hope. He is your only hope for live both now and in the life to come.
We must never forget our true hope and the hope for a lost and dying world: His kingdom will have no end.