Dark Days — Part One
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Dark Days — Part One

2 Samuel 15:1–22  (ID: 3519)

After some measure of reconciliation with King David, Absalom began to build his public image. For four years he sowed a spirit of discontent among the Israelites and offered himself as their hope for resolution. Absalom’s persona fed his political objective—namely, to usurp David’s throne. In response to his son’s rebellion, David fled Jerusalem—a decision, notes Alistair Begg, made not out of fear but in the wisdom and knowledge that no manmade plot can overturn God’s steadfast love and faithfulness toward His people.

Series Containing This Sermon

A Study in 1 and 2 Samuel, Volume 8

God’s Unshakable Kingdom 2 Samuel 13:1–20:26 Series ID: 109018

Sermon Transcript: Print

I invite you to follow along as I read from 2 Samuel and chapter 15. Second Samuel 15. And once again, I’m going to read the whole chapter:

“After this Absalom got himself a chariot and horses, and fifty men to run before him. And Absalom used to rise early and stand beside the way of the gate. And when any man had a dispute to come before the king for judgment, Absalom would call to him and say, ‘From what city are you?’ And when he said, ‘Your servant is of such and such a tribe in Israel,’ Absalom would say to him, ‘See, your claims are good and right, but there is no man designated by the king to hear you.’ Then Absalom would say, ‘Oh that I were judge in the land! Then every man with a dispute or cause might come to me, and I would give him justice.’ And whenever a man came near to pay homage to him, he would put out his hand and take hold of him and kiss him. Thus Absalom did to all of Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.

“And at the end of four years Absalom said to the king, ‘Please let me go and pay my vow, which I have vowed to the Lord, in Hebron. For your servant vowed a vow while I lived at Geshur in Aram, saying, “If the Lord will indeed bring me back to Jerusalem, then I will offer worship to the Lord.”’ The king said to him, ‘Go in peace.’ So he arose and went to Hebron. But Absalom sent secret messengers throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, ‘As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then say, “Absalom is king at Hebron!”’ With Absalom went two hundred men from Jerusalem who were invited guests, and they went in their innocence and knew nothing. And while Absalom was offering the sacrifices, he sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counselor, from his city [in] Giloh. And the conspiracy grew strong, and the people with Absalom kept increasing.

“And a messenger came to David, saying, ‘The hearts of the men of Israel have gone after Absalom.’ Then David said to all his servants who were with him at Jerusalem, ‘Arise, and let us flee, or else there will be no escape for us from Absalom. Go quickly, lest he overtake us quickly and bring down ruin on us and strike the city with the edge of the sword.’ And the king’s servants said to the king, ‘Behold, your servants are ready to do whatever my lord the king decides.’ So the king went out, and all his household after him. And the king left ten concubines to keep the house. And the king went out, and all the people after him. And they halted at the last house.

“And all his servants passed by him, and all the Cherethites, and all the Pelethites, and all the six hundred Gittites who had followed him from Gath, passed on before the king. Then the king said to Ittai the Gittite, ‘Why do you also go [along] with us? Go back and stay with the king, for you are a foreigner and also an exile from your home. You came only yesterday, and shall I today make you wander about with us, since I go I know not where? Go back and take your brothers with you, and may the Lord show steadfast love and faithfulness to you.’ But Ittai answered the king, ‘As the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king shall be, whether for death or for life, there also will your servant be.’ And David said to Ittai, ‘Go then, pass on.’ So Ittai the Gittite passed on with all his men and all the little ones who were with him. And all the land wept aloud as all the people passed by, and the king crossed the brook [of] Kidron, and all the people passed on toward the wilderness.

“And Abiathar came up, and behold, Zadok came also with all the Levites, bearing the ark of the covenant of God. And they set down the ark of God until the people had all passed out of the city. Then the king said to Zadok, ‘Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me back and let me see both it and his dwelling place. But if he says, “I have no pleasure in you,” behold, here I am, let him do to me what seems good to him.’ The king also said to Zadok the priest, ‘Are you not a seer? Go back to the city in peace, with your two sons, Ahimaaz your son, and Jonathan the son of Abiathar. See, I will wait at the fords of the wilderness until word comes [back] from you to inform me.’ So Zadok and Abiathar carried the ark of God back to Jerusalem, and they remained there.

“But David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, barefoot and with his head covered. And all the people who were with him covered their heads, and they went up, weeping as they went. And it was told David, ‘Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.’ And David said, ‘O Lord, please turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.’

“While David was coming to the summit, where God was worshiped, behold, Hushai the Archite came to meet him with his coat torn and dirt on his head. David said to him, ‘If you go on with me, you will be a burden to me. But if you return to the city and say to Absalom, “I will be your servant, O king; as I have been your father’s servant in time past, so now I will be your servant,” then you will defeat for me the counsel of Ahithophel. Are not Zadok and Abiathar the priests with you there? So whatever you hear from the king’s house, tell it to Zadok and Abiathar the priests. Behold, their two sons are with them there, Ahimaaz, Zadok’s son, and Jonathan, Abiathar’s son, and by them you shall send to me everything you hear.’ So Hushai, David’s friend, came into the city, just as Absalom was entering Jerusalem.”

Our gracious God, we thank you that you have given us your Word. We thank you for the presence of the Holy Spirit, and we ask that he might illumine to us the pages of your Word and that beyond a mere human voice we may hear your voice, the voice of the living God, the one upon whose words we depend. And we ask it in Christ’s name. Amen.

Well, some of us have been on this journey for a long time, others have made intermittent visits to it, and some perhaps are here for the first time. The story that we’ve been discovering together is the story of God setting his king, David, on his holy hill, as the psalmist puts it in Psalm 2.[1] But along the journey of life, things have begun to creak and to crumble. And now we have discovered that this kingdom that has been promised to David is at least on a shaky basis, and collapse seems almost to be inevitable—not simply a collapse as a result of what is going on outside of that kingdom but actually as a result of what is taking place inside the kingdom. And Amnon has been killed by Absalom, and Absalom has been away for a while in hiding, and as we saw last time, he has returned.

Absalom is now the focus of things. He actually is made the focus as of 13:1, which we didn’t make much of, but it begins, “Now Absalom, David’s son, had a beautiful sister.” And that really is the introduction to us of a long section in which we find ourselves, which ends, of course, with the tragic death of Absalom himself.

He had been—he is, actually—quite a patient fellow in some respects. He had waited for two years to avenge the rape of Tamar, his sister. He had then managed to spend three years in the company of his maternal grandfather, and he had then returned to Jerusalem, as we saw, and he was able to wait for two years before he got into a meeting with David. And although that ended with a kiss from David, it was clear as we ended our study last time that the gulf that exists between David as the king and Absalom the pretender to the throne is a significant gulf.

And so, chapters 13 and 14 are really a prelude to all that we now discover in chapter 15. And as we had Absalom in our sights at the end of 14, so here he is at the beginning again. Now the focus is entirely on him. If we were making a film of this, then the opening scenes of this particular movie would just be absolutely filled with screen time for Absalom—which, as we’re about to discover, is exactly the way that Absalom would like for it to be. It was going to suit his purpose.

Now, let me give to you the three words that I have used to guide myself through the first twelve verses: the first word is persona, the second word is politics, and the third word is plot. All right?

Absalom’s Persona

So, persona. Why? Well, because we are given to us Absalom’s persona. His public image is distinct from his private character. And that ought to give to us immediate cause for concern.

We saw last time—and again, we didn’t make much of it—back in 14:25 that there wasn’t a man in all of Israel who was as talked about as Absalom when it came to being handsome, when it came to having good looks, when it came to being a striking personality. In fact, the storywriter tells us that there wasn’t a blemish in him from head to toe. Everything, apparently, was as perfect as it could possibly be. And he had a peculiarly significant head of hair, so much so that that features in the description of his persona, and apparently, on the day—the annual day—when he had his hair cut, his visit to the barber was quite an occasion. And when they weighed his hair, they were all astounded that somebody could have made their way through the past twelve months carrying all of that on the top of their head.

Now, with that as the description of his physical frame, we then read—and look at how 15 begins: “After this…” “After this…” That simply, I don’t think, gives us the time frame, which it obviously does (it tells us that this took place after these events had taken place), but “After this…” After what? Well, after at least some measure of reconciliation. After he had met up with David, after there had been the kiss as a symbol of that reconciliation—after that, he then “got himself a chariot.”

Absalom’s public image is distinct from his private character. And that ought to give to us immediate cause for concern.

I think it’s an amazing beginning to the whole story, isn’t it? It seems almost funny. “After this Absalom got himself a chariot.” He said to himself, “You know what? I think I’m gonna get a chariot.” “Well, what do you want a chariot for? There’s nowhere to ride the thing. You live in Jerusalem.” “No, but I think it’d look good. I mean, I think I’d look good in a chariot, don’t you?” He’s talking to himself now. And his self says, “Yeah, I think you’d look great in a chariot. And how about some horses? Well, of course you need horses. What are you gonna do, just have it as a monument and sit in it? No, no, we’ll have horses. And you know what? Let’s have fifty men to trot out in front of us everywhere we go, so that no matter where we go, everyone will say, ‘Here he is! Here comes Absalom!’”

Now, what is he doing? He’s actually building his image. He is establishing his brand. He is making sure that he has style. Style. When I wrote that in my notes, I said to myself, “This reminds me of Huckleberry Finn.” Remember? In Huckleberry Finn, that great encounter where he’s having the conversation with the girl. He keeps telling lies. He gets himself worse and worse and worse. He tells a lie about the church. He tells a lie about the pastor. She said, “But that wasn’t the pastor.” He said, “No, it was another pastor.” She says, “Well, how many pastors are there?” “Oh,” he says, “I think there’s seventeen pastors.” “Oh,” she says. “Why would they want seventeen pastors? What do they all do?” He says, “Oh, not much. They take up the offering. They do different things.” “Well then,” she says, “well, what are they for?” And then he says, “Why, they’re for style. Don’t you know anything?”[2] And that’s it right here. What’s the chariot for? It’s for style.

Now, let’s not stand too far back from this. The cult of celebrity is not something that is just out there in the social media world. The cult of celebrity has not been abolished from the church world—the cult of celebrity pastors. While I was sitting at my desk and thinking about this, I received, actually, out of the blue an email from someone. And in the course of the email, not knowing where I’m sitting, not knowing what I’m doing, not knowing what I’m thinking, part of the email says this: “I have become wearied of unusually younger men wanting to be somebody instead of being willing to be a nobody who simply loves the people he serves both inside and outside the pulpit”—weary of those of us wanting to become a somebody, just like Absalom.

Now, those of you who’ve been on the journey for a long time will perhaps have a little bell going off in your head. And you’ve remembered something from way back. You need to go find it. I did. I finally found it, and I can help you. It’s in chapter 8, and it’s when Samuel responds, in 1 Samuel, to the desire on the part of the people for a king. You will remember that Samuel was not keen on that idea. He didn’t like the idea. He was a judge and so on. And on that occasion he issues a warning to the people. He says, “You know, if you want to follow through on this and have a king like all the other nations…” (Because that was the key: “We want to be like everybody else. We want to be as the nations of the world.”[3]) “If you get a king like all the other nations, then you need to know this: that he will have chariots and horsemen to run before him.”[4] Now, you may have been saying to yourself as we’ve gone through, “I haven’t seen a lot of chariots.” The chariots, actually—we had a thing about chariots, and David was burning some of them.[5] He was setting them aside. They were actually of no particular use at all in the territory in which they were waging warfare, and certainly not in the context of Jerusalem.

But here we have it: Samuel issues the warning, and here we find that Absalom is on the wrong side of Psalm 20:7: “Some trust in chariots and some [trust] in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” Absalom is on the wrong side of that fence, building his persona.

Absalom’s Politics

Secondly, what about his politics? Because he is a politician—there’s no question about that—and a pretty good one, depending on your perspective. There is more to him than simply creating news about him. And his objective is to usurp the role and the rule of his father. It is to see himself in the position of king.

And you will notice that in verse 7 we’re told that again his patience is displayed, because for four years he was working to build his base. This doesn’t just pop up out of nowhere, where he gets a chariot and decides it’s time to go. No, over a period of four years he was working the crowd, he was laying the foundation, he was preparing for this opportunity.

And we’re told what he was doing: whenever people came to the city gate—which was the place where the king would execute judgments, would deal with matters of justice and so on—he decides, Absalom decides, “Well, what I will do is I’ll position myself in the thoroughfare that leads to the city gate, so that when people are coming there looking for judgment, looking for the king, I will be able to intercept them.”

And that is exactly what he does. We needn’t work all the way through it. He says to them, “From what city are you?” That’s there in verse 2. And when they answered that, he would say to them, “You know, you have a very strong case. You have a very strong case. But you know what? You only have a slim chance of getting any resolution to it, because frankly, there’s nobody here who can give you resolution to it. However, if only I were to become…” Notice very carefully, he doesn’t say, “Oh, if only I were to become the king…” That might be a bit precipitous. No, no, no: “If only I were to become the judge…” Well, the only one that judges is the king, so he knows what he’s saying. “If only I were to become the judge, then I’d be able to settle all the matters fair and square.” We’re used to this, aren’t we? You breed a spirit of discontent, and then you offer yourself as the answer to the discontentedness: “I mean, you don’t have much of a chance of being heard.”

Well, some of the people loved this so much, they obviously began to pay him homage. “And whenever a man,” verse 5, “came near to pay homage to him,” he would say, “Oh, don’t do that!” No, now he’s gonna be a man of the people. “You don’t need to bow down before me. Come, shake my hand. Let me give you a hug.” And the people began to say, “What a nice fellow he is! What a super chap! Not like the other one. You can never see him. I don’t know where he is. But he’s always out there. A fine fellow!” But actually, we are told what was really going on in the final sentence of verse 6: “Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.” That’s what he was setting out to do, and that’s what he was successful in doing.

Absalom’s Plot

So, his persona is established, his politics are fairly straightforward and not unusual, and the plot is then given to us in verse 7 and following. Again you will notice that it is “at the end of four years.” Four years, during which time he’s been able to sow the seeds of discord and discontent. Four years, during which he’s had enough time, if you like, to turn his resentment into courage. Previously, he had waited “two full years,”[6] you will remember, to finally inveigle a situation where he got into the presence of the king, and now four years have elapsed. Now he comes to tell David the king that he had made a promise to God and he had made a vow.

Now, clearly this is an unbelievable story. If I were David, I would have said, “Why has it taken so long for you to pay your vow? You make a vow to God, and it’s taken you four years to finally get round to it? What’s that about? And why are you going to Hebron? Can’t you make a vow to God in Jerusalem? I mean, God is everywhere.” But there is no pushback. It’s interesting, actually, because remember, in the sheepshearer’s incident, David says to him, “Now, wait a minute. Hang on.”[7] But in this case, it just flows through.

Why Hebron? Well, Hebron had a history. Hebron was the royal city before Jerusalem. Hebron is Abraham’s base. Hebron is where David was first anointed as king. This fellow knows exactly what he’s doing. Back in Hebron, he can make an approach and establish a base in a way that he desperately wants to do.

And what he’s actually doing in verses 8 and 9, where he says, “I vowed, and if the Lord will bring me back to Jerusalem, then I will offer worship to the Lord,” he’s essentially taking the Lord’s name in vain. Actually, as I read it through (and you can check to see if I’m right on this), this is the last time he ever mentions God in the whole story of the balance of his life—the only time he mentions God, and he does so deviously. He takes his name in vain.

Now, the response of David is striking, is it not? “The king,” verse 9, “said to him, ‘Go in peace.’” This is either an expression of the trusting nature of David’s character, or perhaps that he’s just weary of the whole procedure, or that he is supremely confident in his own position. Choose one of the above. I’ve already made my choice. “Go in peace.” Do you want to know something else interesting? These are the last recorded words of David to his son. The last recorded words to his son: “Shalom. Go.” How ironic, that he would be invited to go in peace when actually, what he was going to do was make war, not love.

And you will notice that he is strategic in what he’s doing: “Absalom sent secret messengers throughout all the tribes of Israel.” So he’s working the system, and he is making it secure so that when the right moment comes for the trumpet to be sounded, then the cry can go up throughout these various tribes, “Absalom is king at Hebron.” He takes with him, we’re told in verse 11, “two hundred men from Jerusalem who were invited guests.” They “went in their innocence,” and they “knew nothing.” They knew nothing at all. But it also would have looked good. It would have looked as though he had a real company and so on.

And then, just to add to the corruption of it all, he has managed to secure “Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counselor,” as one of the key players in his strategy. Now, Ahithophel, interestingly, was Bathsheba’s grandfather. And how it is that Ahithophel makes this shift from being a key member of David’s cabinet to becoming part of this insurrection, it remains a question. Could it possibly be that Ahithophel resented the fact that David the king, who is supposed to execute justice, did nothing to execute justice? In fact, what he executed was the very reverse. And the impact that it had on Ahithophel’s family was going to be felt forever and a day.

Well, I leave it with you. There you have the first twelve verses. Ahithophel gives all of his skill, all of his experience, that had been so valued by David and puts it at the disposal of Absalom and the rebellion.

David’s Reaction

Well, what is the response? What is the reaction of David? If you’re reading this through for the first time—and some of you may have just heard it for the first time—then you have the excitement of waiting to see what happens next. And in verse [14] we’re told that David issues the command “Arise and flee.” “Arise, and let us flee.”

Now, let’s not lose sight of the fact that David knew exactly where his security lay. David knew that his security did not lie in the cedar house that he had built for himself, which is what he’s gonna be leaving behind, right? Remember: “I live in a really nice cedar house, and the ark of the covenant is only in a tent.”[8] And we did that some time ago. Now, his security didn’t lie in his house. His security didn’t lie even in the mountain of the Lord. In fact, if you want a cross-reference—and it’s a helpful one—you can put your finger in the Third Psalm. Because if you really want to know where his confidence lay, you can find out, because he pens the Third Psalm, which we’re told is “A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son.” So we’re not in any doubt:

O Lord, how many are my foes!
 Many are rising against me;
many are saying of my soul,
“There is no salvation for him in God.”

Here we go. Where’s his security? “But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, [you are the] glory, and the lifter[-up] of my head.”[9]

“Oh,” you say, “that should be enough, then, shouldn’t it? He knows that his security is not in the mountain. It’s not in the house. It’s in the Lord.” So what are you running for? If you’re secure, why would you run? Because he’s sensible as well as secure. And he explains exactly why—very, very clearly so: “Let’s get out of here, because it wouldn’t do for us to be besieged.” Remember, he’s a military commander. He knows: you don’t allow yourself to be trapped somewhere when the forces are coming against you. That’s just not sensible, no matter how much you say the Lord is a shield about you. The Lord does not disengage your brains when he promises to you security. He expects you to exercise your wisdom—the wisdom that he has given you. And that’s exactly what he does. And so he says, “We’re going to prevent the possibility of us all taken down at the edge of the sword,” verse 14; and in verse 15, his servants, responding to them, say, “[We] are ready to do whatever my lord the king decides.”

Actually, you might just want to notice the emphasis on “king” there in those three verses. It comes again and again: “And the king’s servants said to the king…” “My lord the king decides.” “[Then] the king went out.” “And the king left [the] concubines.” “And the king went out.” Now, remember, we’ve said that repetition, when we’re reading the Old Testament, is there in order to help us grasp things. And so it’s being said again, “Remember, as you read the story, who the king is. He’s the king, the king, the king, the king, the king. David is the king! He has been set by the Father, by God, on his holy hill. It is God who has promised him a house.”

Remember: “You’re concerned about a house for me? I will build a household for you.”[10] Keep that in mind, and look again at verse 16: “So the king went out, and all his household [with] him.” Well, the Lord has promised him that he will build his household, and now it looks as though the entire household is collapsing. One son is dead. The other one is seeking an insurrection. And so he says, “What we’re going to do is we’re all going to go, but we’ll leave these ten concubines behind.” Don’t read too far ahead, but that was going to prove to be a really bad decision on his part, especially as it related to Absalom.

But actually, the king goes out, and all the people go after him. We’re beginning, actually, to see the king the way he used to be the king: a little more decisive. He knows exactly what it is to be a fugitive. He’s done well as a fugitive in the past. He’s not unaware of the wilderness. He’s spent many times in the wilderness. And so, on their way they go.

The Lord does not disengage your brain when he promises to you security. He expects you to exercise your wisdom—the wisdom that he has given you.

And then we’re told, “And they halted at the last house.” It’s an interesting little note, isn’t it? Again, you see, when we think about the way in which the story is told to us, there’s nothing extraneous in it. Why would you stop at the last house? Well, we’re told that they stopped at the last house in order that they might have a march-past. Military people know what a march-past is. I know what a march-past is, because I used to be a Life Boy. “Oh,” you say, “very good for you.” But we used to go, on Sundays, on parade. And when we went on parade, after the church service we had a march-past. And the minister would come out to the front of the church, and a couple of the officers as well, and then the entire group of pathetic little Life Boys would march past out in the front of the street, and they would look to see what they had in their little company. And we felt very proud of the fact that we were part of the assembled force, so to speak.

That is exactly what is happening here, but at a far, far higher level. They’re on the outskirts of the city. It’s the last post, if you like. And so all the servants of David “passed by him.” And notice who’s here: the Cherethites, the Pelethites, and six hundred of the Gittites from Gath. Now, isn’t that just fascinating! Remember, when he had spent that time in Gath—remember, when he was running away—he decided, “If I go into enemy territory, I might be safer in enemy territory than I am here.”[11] It was quite a move. And clearly, it impressed many people. And during that time, he picked up many friends and established for himself a base that extended even beyond the tribes of Israel. And what we actually are discovering here is that these foreigners—for foreigners they were—were now actually more faithful to the king than the king’s own people! His kingdom collapses, and the foreigners pick up the pieces.

Now, years after this, Isaiah is going to prophesy—you can read it in Isaiah chapter 2—of a day that will come when all the nations of the world will flow up to the mountain of God.[12] Rivers don’t flow up. Rivers flow down. But what an amazing picture! Running against the tide of history, running against the normal expectations, there will come a day, says the prophet, when the nations of the world will flow to the place of God’s authority.

Now, then go from there, from the prophets. Go into Bethlehem. Go beyond Bethlehem. Follow Jesus as he moves around. Listen to him as the centurion comes and says to him, “I need your help,” and Jesus responds to him. Remember, the centurion says, you know, “Well, listen, you can just say, and it will be fine. Because I have servants, and I say to one man, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and I say to another man, ‘Come,’ and he comes.” And remember what Jesus says? He says, “I have never found faith like this in all of Israel.”[13] It’s a foreigner that tells us this!

And then Jesus says, “Truly, … with no one in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many…” Listen to this! Listen: “I tell you, many will come from east and [from] west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.”[14] And here, all these years before, pushed, persecuted, humiliated, debased, the king struggles out and on. And in the company of those whom God in his purposes has assigned to his army, “Behold! the mountain of the Lord in latter days shall rise.”[15]

Ittai the Gittite

Well, perhaps just one further little observation. I just wrote in my notes, “Go back. Go back. Okay. Go on.” You say, “Where did you get that from?” Well, just from the text: “Then the king said to Ittai the Gittite, ‘Why [would] you … go with us?’”—speaking as a representative of the six hundred. “‘Go back.’” Notice: “‘Stay with the king.’”

“Stay with the king.”

“But you’re the king!”

“Well, not according to the people around here. He’s the future. Stay with the king. You’re a foreigner. You’re in exile. You’ve only just shown up. And now I’m gonna ask you to wander about with us? And I don’t even know where?” So again he says, “Go back and take your brothers with you, and may the Lord show steadfast love and faithfulness to you. Because that’s what you need. That’s what you need. You need to know the covenant love of God. You need to know God is steadfast. You need to know that God is faithful.”

Don’t you feel that David is speaking to himself? You know when you press something on somebody—you say, “You know what you need?”—you find yourself saying, “This is exactly what I need. I need to be reminded of the fact that your steadfast love never ceases, that your mercies never come to an end,[16] that you are the faithful God who has established me. I’m in this predicament now. There is no question about that. And a lot of it is of my own doing. I made those foolish choices. I am in this mess. But you are a faithful God. Ittai, you need to know that. I’m concerned, Ittai, about your spiritual welfare.”

But Ittai, verse 21, said to the king, “As the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king shall be, whether for death or for life, there also will your servant be.” And David says, “Well then, in that case, go on.” “So Ittai the Gittite passed on with all his men and all the little ones who were with him. And all [the people and] the land wept aloud.”

Well, we’ll need to come back to this in the evening to do justice to the chapter. I think you would recognize that Ittai’s statement there sounds a lot like another foreigner—not a man but a lady. You got her? Ruth the Moabitess. Naomi says to her, “Go back. Go back. You come with me? I’m triple bereaved. Go back.” She says no. Remember? “Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for [where] thou goest, I will go; and where thou [dwellest], I will [dwell]: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.”[17] Ittai says the same thing. He basically says, “Well, in that case, I’m gonna trust in God.”

Are you trusting in God? Your life? Your family? Your future? That’s the question.

Let us pray:

Lord, help us to lay hold of that which you provide for us in the food of your Word. As we realize that we have here now something of an unfinished symphony, we pray, Lord, that you will help us that in the balance of our thinking we may ponder these truths. We live in a very political world, discontented and with solutions provided on all sides with the pomp and ceremony of strategy devoid of character. Lord, help us to affirm today that we do want to trust in you, as you have made provision for us in Jesus. For we ask it in Jesus’ name. Amen.

[1] See Psalm 2:6.

[2] Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), chap. 26. Paraphrased.

[3] 1 Samuel 8:5, 19–20 (paraphrased).

[4] 1 Samuel 8:11 (paraphrased).

[5] See 2 Samuel 8:4.

[6] 2 Samuel 14:28 (ESV).

[7] 2 Samuel 13:26 (paraphrased).

[8] 2 Samuel 7:2 (paraphrased).

[9] Psalm 3:1–3 (ESV).

[10] 2 Samuel 7:5, 11 (paraphrased).

[11] See 1 Samuel 21:10.

[12] See Isaiah 2:2.

[13] Matthew 8:8–10 (paraphrased).

[14] Matthew 8:10–11 (ESV).

[15] Michael Bruce and John Logan, “Behold! The Mountain of the Lord” (1781).

[16] See Lamentations 3:22.

[17] Ruth 1:16 (KJV).

Copyright © 2024, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.