SATAN’S ATTACK UPON GOD’S WORK Chip Barbas P.O. Box 945 Flomaton, Al. 36441 Satan does not randomly attack God‟s work. He has a strategy and God‟s leader had better understand that strategy if he wants to survive the attack and keep God‟s work intact. This study is an attempt to expose Satan‟s strategy as well as giving some counters to his attack. Satan will attack different areas with different works and people but his strategy is to always the same. Satan will first attempt to bind the strong man of that work. Matthew 12:29 “or else how can one enter into a strong man‟s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? And then he will spoil his house. If Satan fails in his attempt to bind the strong man then God‟s work goes on and for the most part the people involved with the work will never know of Satan‟s attack upon the strong man, but if Satan‟s attack succeeds then the work is in for a real rough time. Satan has only one means of binding the strong man. Satan has to draw him into sin. In II Samuel 11:1-5 we discover how Satan goes about drawing the strong man into sin. As I read this section the picture of an angler comes to mind. He‟s standing on a bank looking at a trophy fish. “What lure do I use? How do I get him to let his guard down so he will bite?” That is exactly how Satan approaches trapping the strong man of the house. First Satan has to get him to want to take the bait. He does this by getting him to forsake the vision God gave him when called to the work. Why the vision? Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no vision the people parish… Once the strong man forsakes his vision, his guard is down and he is susceptible to any lure Satan wants to use. Forsaking his vision causes him to miss opportunities of service. He no longer sees opportunities to advance God‟s work. He now sees them as obstacles that stand in his way, obstacles that he has to overcome, obstacles that keep him from reaching his goals and as for the flock God committed to his care they become a bunch of ungrateful people sapping his energy. The first sign that the strong man has forsaken his vision is that he no longer performs the duties of his office II Samuel 11:1.  And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem. We are not told why David stopped performing the duties of his office only that he did. For a possible explanation, I offer the following theory. In II Samuel 7:1-5 we are told that David wanted to build a temple for the ark of God. When he shared his idea with Nathan the prophet, Nathan told him to go ahead with the building. That night God told Nathan to go back and tell David he will not be allowed to build the temple. The next morning Nathan goes to David and delivers God‟s message. In II Samuel 7 we are not told why God did not allow David to build the temple but if we look at I Chronicles 28:3 we discover God‟s reason. David was a man of war and had shed blood. If I had been David I would have said, “I was a man of war at God‟s calling and the only blood I shed was in His name”, an argument that would have changed nothing. It is God‟s sovereign right to chose who He wants to build His house. I believe David took the rejection personally becoming angry with God. “If I can‟t build the temple because I am a man of war then I‟ll stop being a man of war”. Therefore David sent Joab to do the fighting. This opened the door to bitterness in David‟s life, which then opened the door to Satan. Hebrews 12:15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; David forsook his vision because he lost sight of his place in God‟s work. God‟s place (or His will) for David was on the battlefield but David tarried at Jerusalem. Once the strong man forsakes God‟s vision Satan will find something to take its place and what he finds will be born of the flesh instead of the Spirit. Once drawn away by his own desires he is capable of anything. James 1:14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. The next sign that the strong man has forsaken his vision is that he lets down his personal relationship with God II Samuel 11:2a [2a] And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: Just as we were not told why David did not go to war we are not told why David spent all day in bed. Just remember this is the same David that said in Psalm 5:3 My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up. If you have ever been depressed or been at odds with God about something you know why David spent all day in bed. If you haven‟t then no explanation will suffice. The next sign that the strong man has forsaken his vision is that he replaces God‟s calling with other things 11:2b-3a [2a] and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon. [3a] And David sent and enquired after the woman. As we were not told why David didn‟t go to battle we are not told why David spent the day in bed, only that he did. But one thing is certain David knew the customs in Israel as well as anyone. He knew that women bathed themselves in the privacy of their courtyard. Even if he had forgotten, once he saw Bathsheba, he should have left at once. The moment David decided to stare (the point in time when he stopped looking and started lusting) he replaced God‟s calling to be king with his own will. His sin is no longer a matter of bitterness it is now his will against Gods. What trapped David was not Bathsheba but his rebellion. Can‟t you just hear him? Of course we have never used these arguments. It‟s such a small thing. Looking couldn‟t possibly cause any harm. My actions only affect me. No one will ever find out. The next sign that the strong man has forsaken his vision is that he does not accept Godly advice II Samuel 11:3b [3b] And one said, Is not this Bath-sheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite? Up until now David‟s sin is been between him and God and needs only to be dealt with between him and God. Now he is about to involve others. But not before some unnamed servant confronts him with God‟s Word. “And one said, Is not this Bath-sheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” This servant is reminding the strong man of the house that she is married. David has already broken the tenth commandment. Exodus 20:17: …thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife… Now he is preparing to break the seventh - Exodus 20:14: Thou shalt not commit adultery. God‟s Word has lost its place of prominence in David‟s life. Thus saith the LORD has been replaced with thus wanteth David. Before we continue it should to be noted that David‟s actions took place over several days. David could have taken God‟s way of escape at any time. I Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. God‟s way of escape for David was the same as it is for all believers. Do what God called you to do in the first place. In David‟s case that was leaving Jerusalem and going to the battle. In failing to go to the battle David is doomed. The next sign that the strong man has forsaken his vision is sin - II Samuel 11:4  And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness: and she returned unto her house. We are not told how Bathsheba reacted to David‟s proposal of an adulterous relationship but we note in II Samuel 12 when God indicts David the indictment is adultery not rape. One thing is certain: they never thought their sin would involve anyone but themselves and certainly no one would ever find out. We have all heard it said, “Sin will take you further than you want to go; keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.” For David the bill is about to come due. The next sign that the strong man has forsaken his vision is he‟s caught - II Samuel 11:5. And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with child. Back to the fishing analogy, Satan has gotten David to take the bait and now he sets the hook. David, she is with child. Got ya! The strong man must never lose sight of the fact that Satan‟s attempts to get him to sin is never just about him. It‟s always about the work and the people. He cannot become self- centered. He took the work he has to forsake his personal emotions for the work. I used to have a little book of chapel saying by Dr. Bob Jones. On of them was “The test of a man‟s character is what it takes to stop him”. David‟s character is about to be tested. For now he faces the final proof the he has forsaken his vision. Does he confess his sin or does he attempt to cover it up? II Samuel 11:7-25 David is about to learn three important principles about sin. First, the believer can‟t work his way out of sin. Proverbs 28:13 He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy James 4:6 …God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Second, unconfessed sin breaks fellowship with God. Psalm 66:18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: Third, sin will be judged. If not by the believer then by God. Galatians 6:7-8 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. David could have avoided the pending disaster if he would have only confessed his sin and thrown himself upon God‟s mercy. Instead he believes another of Satan‟s lies. “You can handle sin yourself. You don‟t need God”. David‟s first attempt at covering his sin is to confuse the issue, creating doubt. “It‟s not my baby. It could be Uriah‟s” (II Samuel 11:6-8).  And David sent to Joab, saying, Send me Uriah the Hittite. And Joab sent Uriah to David.  And when Uriah was come unto him, David demanded of him how Joab did, and how the people did, and how the war prospered.  And David said to Uriah, Go down to thy house, and wash thy feet. And Uriah departed out of the king's house, and there followed him a mess of meat from the king. I know Proverbs 14:12 (There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death) is referring to man‟s view of salvation but it is so applicable when it comes to any believer who attempts to cover his sin. Every believer thinks he will be the exception. He will be the one to get away with it. But one never gets away with sin for the very act of sin brings leanness to ones soul (Psalm 106:15). David comes up with the perfect plain. If you can‟t deny the facts then confuse the issue. We are not told if David discussed his plan with Bathsheba but I personally believe he did. He calls for Uriah under the pretense of bringing a report from the battle. Funny, but if David would have been doing what he was supposed to he would not need Uriah for the report or the cover up. David‟s response was “Thanks for the report, now go home and I see you later”. David thinks it's over; Uriah will go home and sleep with his wife and no one will know. Oh, some may suspect but “I am the strong man of the house no one would dare openly accuse me”. And David was right no one would dare openly accuse him. But there is a fly in David‟s ointment. What do you suppose God thinks of a leader of His work that would use his God given office and authority in an attempt to get away with sin. Oh, sorry no man of God would do that. The rest of this story between David and Uriah is funny; that is up to the point where David orders Uriah‟s death. David is about to learn a lesson that all of God‟s leaders need to learn. Not even a strong man can stand against a noble man II Samuel 11:9-13  But Uriah slept at the door of the king's house with all the servants of his lord, and went not down to his house.  And when they had told David, saying, Uriah went not down unto his house, David said unto Uriah, Camest thou not from thy journey? why then didst thou not go down unto thine house?  And Uriah said unto David, The ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in tents; and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord, are encamped in the open fields; shall I then go into mine house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? as thou livest, and as thy soul liveth, I will not do this thing.  And David said to Uriah, Tarry here to day also, and to morrow I will let thee depart. So Uriah abode in Jerusalem that day, and the morrow.  And when David had called him, he did eat and drink before him; and he made him drunk: and at even he went out to lie on his bed with the servants of his lord, but went not down to his house. These five verses are packed with drama. It is a great human chess game. David is dying to get Uriah to go home and sleep with his wife and Uriah is just as determined not to go but at the same time he cannot disobey an order form the king but then David can‟t give such an order. And there lies the fly in the ointment. David had not counted on dealing with a man of character. We are not told if Uriah knew of David‟s adulterous affair with his wife but Uriah‟s actions suggest he knew. One more observation before we look at the sparing between David and Uriah. Isn‟t it just like God to put David and Uriah together? Uriah is the very man David owes an apology to and God has given His strong man every opportunity to make things right before He steps in and sets things right. When David asks Uriah in vs. 10 why he didn‟t go home Uriah‟s answer must have been like a knife through David‟s heart. “How can I enjoy my wife when God and Israel are locked in a battle”? David had no problem enjoying the luxuries of Jerusalem including Uriah‟s wife while Israel was locked in battle. If Uriah‟s words were an indictment of David‟s action then Uriah‟s action had to be salt in the wound. When reason fails use alcohol. Get him drunk. Even a man with principles will give them up under the influence of alcohol when there is a lovely willing woman waiting. Even in the presence of a man of integrity David does not repent. This only points out how far he has fallen. Such a fall can happen to any of God‟s strong men. But then I have met some who say “Not me, it‟ll never happen to me”. I have actually been told that. What does an out of control leader do with someone he can‟t control? Someone who will not let him get away with sin, someone who demands an accounting of his actions, while at the same time submitting to his authority? There is only one thing you can do with a man like that. You have to get rid of him. No matter what it takes, he has to go, after all what is the life of a soldier compared to the reputation of the king. David has gone from serving God to covering his sin in just a few short months but at what cost? David‟s cover up has gone from a simple foolproof plan to a murderous plot ever widening the circle of people involved in his sin II Samuel 11:14-17.  And it came to pass in the morning, that David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah.  And he wrote in the letter, saying, Set ye Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retire ye from him, that he may be smitten, and die. If someone would have told David that he would have one of his mighty men of valor killed just to cover his sin he would have called them a liar. But that is what David is about to do. Covering his sin means more to him than God‟s work, but if David would have been doing what God called him to then he would not have a sin to cover. The message to Joab was David‟s demise. Until David sent the message to Joab he had some control, repentance was still an option. But once Joab received the message Joab was in control of events. God gave David at least three days with Uriah, three days in which David could have repented asking Uriah‟s forgiveness. Instead David chose to involve others and escalated events to a level that demanded God‟s intervention. There is nothing in Scripture that suggest Uriah would not have forgiven David and Bathsheba. As a matter of fact everything known about Uriah strongly suggests that he would have forgiven them both. It was not a murder that was needed it was repentance. Just how far will someone go to cover his sin? Further than even they would believe. I believe it‟s pride that makes a person believe that they can handle sin without repenting. However, the plain and simple fact is any sin we do not make right on earth we will be held accountable for at the judgment. So it is to our advantage not to escalate a sin. Matthew 5:25 Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. David not only escalated the sin, he involved others II Samuel 11:16-17.  And it came to pass, when Joab observed the city, that he assigned Uriah unto a place where he knew that valiant men were.  And the men of the city went out, and fought with Joab: and there fell some of the people of the servants of David; and Uriah the Hittite died also. Every time I read these verses I wonder if Uriah knew he was carrying his death notice back to Joab? There had to be a point in time when he knew that David not only had committed adultery with his wife but that he is going to die because of it. What a man of character Uriah was! It would be tragic to see Uriah‟s death only in the context of David‟s attempt to cover his sin. Uriah‟s death was much more. Uriah died in a battle alright, but not in a battle for a city. He died in a battle for the control of David‟s heart. As one of David‟s mighty men Uriah would have gladly given his life for David and that is what he did. Uriah was a hero. Uriah served Jehovah both in his personal as well as his professional life and if serving Jehovah meant his death, then so be it. Uriah was a servant obedient even unto death. Uriah knew that David was on the throne, but God was in control. Uriah trusted God to set things right. In the war between God and Satan some of us will be casualties. Like me you probably did not sign up to be a casualty. I wish I could say as Job said “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him” Job 13:15. There is something in me that cries out for God‟s wrath to fall but not on me. I don‟t have it in me to do what Uriah did. I wish it was otherwise but I want to strike back. I want revenge. I don‟t want to just get even; I want to get ahead. I have given counsel to others that the will of God never takes you any place that the grace of God can‟t sustain you. I know others who are able to trust God to set things right when they didn‟t understand but I find it very difficult. In heaven I hope to have some time to talk to Uriah. The deed is done. Uriah is dead. David‟s secret is safe. No one will ever find out about his sin II Samuel 11:18-21.  Then Joab sent and told David all the things concerning the war;  And charged the messenger, saying, When thou hast made an end of telling the matters of the war unto the king,  And if so be that the king's wrath arise, and he say unto thee, Wherefore approached ye so nigh unto the city when ye did fight? knew ye not that they would shoot from the wall?  Who smote Abimelech the son of Jerubbesheth? did not a woman cast a piece of a millstone upon him from the wall, that he died in Thebez? why went ye nigh the wall? then say thou, Thy servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also. David‟s sin has cost Israel two brave soldiers. I can‟t help but wonder how many other soldiers questioned Joab‟s orders. These men weren‟t dumb. They had been in battles before. They knew that Joab‟s pulling back would cost lives. They saw men die before but there was a reason. This time what was the reason? Joab just left them there. These men knew something was up. This will become ever more important in II Samuel 12:26-31 when David has the opportunity to make things right with the army and does not take it. David receives the news of Uriah‟s death not with sorrow but relief II Samuel 11:22-25.  So the messenger went, and came and shewed David all that Joab had sent him for.  And the messenger said unto David, Surely the men prevailed against us, and came out unto us into the field, and we were upon them even unto the entering of the gate.  And the shooters shot from off the wall upon thy servants; and some of the king's servants be dead, and thy servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.  Then David said unto the messenger, Thus shalt thou say unto Joab, Let not this thing displease thee, for the sword devoureth one as well as another: make thy battle more strong against the city, and overthrow it: and encourage thou him. David is not concerned over the death of two of his soldiers only that his sin is covered. How can God‟s strong man sink so low as to consider God‟s people expendable for his own purpose? These were men committed to his care by God Himself and David used them without concern for their life. All that was important was that he was safe. Aren‟t you glad we live in a society where pastors don‟t use people like that? A society where preachers feed God‟s sheep and don‟t fleece them. Where, if a TV preacher asked for your money you know you can trust him to use it for the glory of God. Aren‟t you glad? David can get on with his life. His sin is behind him never to be brought up by anyone. All he has to do is live with himself and the cover up. II Samuel 11:26-27.  And when the wife of Uriah heard her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband.  And when the mourning was past, David sent and fetched her to his house, and she became his wife, and bare him a son, But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD. Verses 26 and 27 cause a lot of questions. How did Bathsheba feel when she heard of her husband‟s death. Was she sorry for her sin and the part she played in the death of her husband? I am sure it bothered her more that David. How did she feel on her wedding day? I am sure it was not as festive as her wedding to Uriah. But then that is only speculation. The fact is Uriah is dead. David and Bathsheba are married. Their son is born. All is well with the world until you get to the last half of verse 27 …But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD. Remember when David gave the message to Joab, David took matters out of his hands and placed them in God. And God‟s involvement is what II Samuel 12 is all about. To understand God‟s reaction to David‟s sin we have to look back to II Samuel 7 where David wanted to build God a house. Even though God said no to David He did make David an extraordinary promise (vs. 16) II Samuel 7:12- 17.  And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.  He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.  I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men:  But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee.  And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.  According to all these words, and according to all this vision, so did Nathan speak unto David. For the first time since Sinai God has established His forgiveness for deliberate sin. God told David “And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever”. God put no conditions on his promise to David. So, in not removing David but restoring him, God is merely keeping His promise. B. God’s counter – Restoring the fallen When God‟s child sins he begins a battle of wills between him and God. This battle escalates until the child either repents or is taken home, which brings us to the question answered in II Samuel 12. How does God bring a child to repentance? By providing access to Himself. By allowing time for the child to repent. By bringing the sin to light. By showing mercy toward the child. Before we look at how God brings a child to repentance we need to first look at David‟s dilemma. For the first time in David‟s life he has a barrier between him and God. Those nights he spent with God while watching his father‟s sheep are no longer a sweet memory but an indictment as to how far he has fallen. Those times he spent in God‟s Word learning how to live for God now only indict him for being out of control. Forbidden fruit has left David: Convicted by God. Judged by the law. Condemned by his conscience. Accused by Satan. Shamed before God‟s people. Mocked by God‟s enemies. David may be separated from God but he knows there is a sacrifice that must be made for sin. Something has to be offered to God to put off His wrath until payment can be made. As for the sin offering in Leviticus chapter four there is one small problem. These sacrifices are for sins committed through ignorance. David‟s sin was “in your face, God”, not done through ignorance. Leviticus 4:2 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a soul shall sin through ignorance against any of the commandments of the LORD concerning things which ought not to be done, and shall do against any of them: Leviticus 4:13 And if the whole congregation of Israel sin through ignorance, and the thing be hid from the eyes of the assembly, and they have done somewhat against any of the commandments of the LORD concerning things which should not be done, and are guilty; Leviticus 4:22 When a ruler hath sinned, and done somewhat through ignorance against any of the commandments of the LORD his God concerning things which should not be done, and is guilty; Leviticus 4:27 And if any one of the common people sin through ignorance, while he doeth somewhat against any of the commandments of the LORD concerning things which ought not to be done, and be guilty; So what can David offer that will satisfy God‟s law? Simple – HIS LIFE! David‟s two sins adultery and murder both carry a sentence of death. Exodus 20:13 Thou shalt not kill. Exodus 20:14 Thou shalt not commit adultery Exodus 21:12 He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death. Leviticus 20:10 And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. The law demands David‟s death. David is truly on the horns of a dilemma. He wants to remove the barrier between him and God but he does not want to die. To go to the priest and confess his sin is to forfeit his life. To continue to live each day apart from God is to die a little more each day. So how does God bring a child to repentance? First of all God has to provide an access to Himself. That access is always repentance. In David‟s cases his repentance had to start with a burnt offering. Hebrews 9:22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. The burnt offering was an offering of total dedication to God. It was also an offering of atonement. Leviticus 1:1-14  And the LORD called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying,  Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man of you bring an offering unto the LORD, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd, and of the flock.  If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD.  And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.  And he shall kill the bullock before the LORD: and the priests, Aaron's sons, shall bring the blood, and sprinkle the blood round about upon the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. Don‟t lose sight of the fact that a burnt offering only provided access to God it doesn‟t set aside the demand of the law. David was still under a sentence of death. He could die in a right relation with God but he still had to die. The second thing God does to bring a child to repentance is to allow the child time to come to God on his own. Before we begin chapter twelve we need to establish the time laps between chapters eleven and twelve. In II Samuel 12:14 Nathan tells David that the child he and Bathsheba had is going to die.  Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die. This means that David‟s sin with Bathsheba had to have taken place at least nine months prior to Nathan‟s visit. Since Nathan referred to their son as a child and not an infant their sin could have been as much as two years prior to Nathan‟s visit. The point is for a period of time David kept iniquity in his heart while attempting to carry on God‟ work. (Psalm 66:18). While God patiently waits for a child to repent the conflict within the child is tremendous. The Holy Spirit is calling him. His conscience is convicting him. His pride is driving him and Satan is accusing him. And if he happens to be a leader in God‟s work his problem is compounded. Not only must he deal with the sin but he is attempting to make spiritual decisions while living with unconfessed sin in his life. During all this, God patiently waits for his child to repent. If the child does not repent then God takes the third step to bring the child to repentance. God brings the sin to light II Samuel 12:1-12. God‟s purpose in sending Nathan to David was to bring David to repentance, not to condemn him. God has all eternity to punish but only a lifetime to bring to repentance. For a period of what could have been two years David refused to deal with his sin. Now God sends Nathan to David with a story about abuse of power. The problem is that for years David has been hardening his heart to God‟s calling. This has allowed Satan the right to blind his eyes to keep him from seeing his own sin. So first God has to reveal to David his sin II Samuel 12:1-7a. II Samuel 12:1-6  And the LORD sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto him, and said unto him, There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor.  The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds:  But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter.  And there came a traveller unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him; but took the poor man's lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him.  And David's anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the LORD liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die:  And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity. David‟s reaction was not to the rich man but to his own sin. The guilt that David has repressed has so built up that when it does break through it causes David to overreact. David demands the man‟s life, which is more than the law demands. The penalty for taking a sheep was to repay it four fold (Ex. 12:1). When someone demands a greater punishment than God take note they are probably guilty of that very sin. Unfortunately David did not get the message so God gets very direct (II Samuel 12:7a). [7a] And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. If you have ever been caught with your hand in the cookie jar then you know exactly how David felt at this moment. If not, no words can describe that feeling for you. Suffice it to say if the ground would open up and swallow David whole it would be welcome. Second, God reveals the cause of the sin II Samuel 7b-9. [7b] Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul;  And I gave thee thy master's house, and thy master's wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things.  Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon God starts by listing all the things He did for David. Then He indicts David with three charges: 1- You despised my commandment. 2- You killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword of the children of Ammon. 3- You took Uriah‟s wife to be your wife. Wilson in his Old Testament Word Studies defines the word translated despised as “To do that which implies contempt, to slight, neglect, to make little account of”. This is what started David‟s downfall. His sin with Bathsheba was the culmination of his sin, not the start. Something caused him to have contempt for God‟s commandment. I believe the thing that David despised was being told that he could not build the temple. This is something that David wanted to do very badly. When God told him he could not build the temple David felt that God had rejected him causing him to be hurt, depressed and bitter. This caused David to improperly respond to God. David lost sight of who was king over Israel, thereby causing him to become ungrateful for all God had given him. David focused on the one door God closed instead of all the doors God opened to him. This makes him ripe for Satan‟s attack. Third God reveals the consequences of the sin II Samuel 12:10-12.  Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife.  Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun.  For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun If one sees the consequences of sin as only punishment then he has missed God real purpose. The purpose for punishment is to change behavior not to just inflict pain. So the question is what behavior does God want to change in David? That is easy. God‟s purpose in all punishment is to drive the child back to Himself and to show the child the terrible cost of sin. David stopped spending time with God on his on so God gave him a reason to spend time with Him for the rest of his life. The sword shall never depart from thine house. I find it interesting that David despised God‟s commandment so God raised up children in David‟s house that despised David‟s commandment. In doing so God revealed to the “Apple of His eye” how David‟s sin hurt Him. As David cried for Absalom God cried for David. Also we see that David took another man‟s wife and as a result God took David‟s wives. In doing so God revealed to David the pain his sin caused Uriah. Trust me, David thought about the night Uriah spent outside his door. Also we see that the pain David inflicted in secret God inflicted on David openly. In the remainder of this chapter there are two truths laid side by side. The problem is we can‟t follow both truths at the same time without getting confused. These verses are a great study of God‟s mercy toward a backslidden child and how to recognize a truly repentant child. The outlines for both are listed. The purpose of this study will be to focus on God‟s mercy toward a backslidden child. I will leave it to the reader to do his or her on study on evidence of true repentance. God‟s mercy toward a backslidden child. Evidence of true repentance 1. David forgiven 12:13-14 1. A desire to spend time alone with God 12:16 2. David restored 12:15-31 2. Remorse over the damage caused by their a. With God 12:13-16 sin. 12:16 b. With the elders 12:17-23 3. Their relation with God becomes more c. With Bathsheba 12:24-25 important than anything else. 12:17 d. Not With Israel 12:26-31 (David Fails) 4. Others will recognize their sincerity 12:18 5. An acceptance of God‟s will 12:19-20 6. Resting in God‟s mercy 12:21-22 7. Trusting God for the future 12:23 8. A new peace with God. 12:24 9. God will put His approval upon their actions. 12:25 God‟s first act of mercy is that He offers the backslidden child an opportunity to repent. Repentance is a changing of the mind. It is caused by genuine sorrow over your sin and the destruction it caused and not because someone got caught. I personally don‟t believe repentance is genuine unless the one who sinned is willing to go to the ones hurt by their sin and asked forgiveness. I has been my experience that when someone starts playing the “but I can‟t because” game they are not really interested in repenting only avoiding the consequences. Genuine repentance is the first step toward restoration. Until God‟s child repents the battle of wills between him and God continues to escalate. Now that David has been confronted with the full weight of his sin he confesses and repents (II Samuel 12:13a). [13a] And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. Once God‟s child repents, God forgives and His anger is immediately cooled. Repentance is all that God requires to be restored to Him but unfortunately we live with people so things must be made right. God will set events into motion that can be used by the backslidden child to restore fellowship with those he hurt. This has no bearing on the personal salvation it has only to do with restoring fellowship between believers. This process involves swallowing one's pride, which is never an easy thing to do. David learned that Satan lied when he told him “No one will ever find out”. Now David is about to learn that Satan also lied when he said, “Your actions only affect you”. II Samuel 12:13b- 14 [13b] And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.  Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die. We want to make God‟s forgiveness mean something God never intended. We want it to mean a removal of consequences. David was forgiven but there is consequences for his action II Samuel 12:16-16.  And Nathan departed unto his house. And the LORD struck the child that Uriah's wife bare unto David, and it was very sick.  David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth. I find three interesting facts in verses 15-16. First, nothing happened until Nathan departed. God does not send his messenger to baby sit mature believers. He expects more from them. Once God‟s message is delivered the backslidden child needs time to act. If God‟s man is too available he can become a substitute for God. The one who sinned will continually be going to him for advice. “How am I doing? Is God satisfied with my actions thus far?” The backslidden child will spend his time with God‟s man instead of with God. This may be an ego trip for God‟s man but is disaster for the repentant child. He needs to spend his time with God not God‟s man. If he spends his time with God he will succeed. The second interesting thing I see is that the child was struck sick. Why the child? He did nothing wrong? Why not David? I suggest two possible answers. First of all God knows just where to apply pressure were it will do the most good. If David had gotten sick he as well as everyone else would have said “He deserves it”. David would have simply waited until God had punished him enough and then gotten up saying, “I‟m glad that that‟s over”. But remember punishment is designed to change behavior not to simply inflict pain. By striking the child David was forced to his knees. David, have you learned your lesson or will you rebel against God‟s will this time as you did over the temple? No, David does learn this time, instead of walking away from God he goes to God The second possibility as to why God struck the child is hinted at in the phrase “And the LORD struck the child that Uriah's wife bare unto David, and it was very sick”. God doesn‟t refer to the child as either Bathsheba‟s or David‟s but as “the child that Uriah's wife bare unto David,” David and Bathsheba were married at the time of the child‟s birth but not his conception. Because of David‟s position in Israel the matter could never be closed as long as the child lived. The child would have borne the stigma of his illegitimacy all his life. I do not pretend to understand all I read but it is clear that God himself saw this child conceived in sin different than he did Solomon conceived by the same parents. I also do not mean to imply that a child conceived out of wedlock is unloved by nor can‟t be used by God. God does love them and can and will use them. It is David‟s position and sin that is the problem not the child. The third thing I see interesting in this passage is that “David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth”. You can bet that David dealt with his own sin before he asked God to spare the child. Keep the events in mind. David sinned. Nathan announced the sin. David repented. Repentance is but the first step restoration is the goal. If God does not allow something into our lives we will not spend time with him. This is especially true for the child who has just been forgiven of a sin. Satan will use the fresh memories of the sin to cause the child to think he is not worthy. And this will lead to even more and worse sins. God has provided David with a reason to spend time with him. Don‟t look at the child‟s sickness strictly as punishment God is attempting to change behavior. God wants our time and if we don‟t give it to him willingly he then gives us a reason to spend time with him. Now that David has spent time alone with God he is now ready to face those God called him to lead II Samuel 12:17-23  And the elders of his house arose, and went to him, to raise him up from the earth: but he would not, neither did he eat bread with them.  And it came to pass on the seventh day, that the child died. And the servants of David feared to tell him that the child was dead: for they said, Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spake unto him, and he would not hearken unto our voice: how will he then vex himself, if we tell him that the child is dead?  But when David saw that his servants whispered, David perceived that the child was dead: therefore David said unto his servants, Is the child dead? And they said, He is dead.  Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the LORD, and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat.  Then said his servants unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread.  And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?  But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me. By fasting for the child verse 17 David demonstrated six things about his attitude toward God before the elders in the court. 1. That his heart was broken over his sin. 2. That his repentance was real. 3. That he wanted that closeness he once experienced with God. 4. That he had experienced God‟s mercy and forgiveness. 5. That God and his word are more important than life. 6. That God is the supreme ruler of the universe. Remember these men knew David. They knew him when he walked with God and they saw him fall. Now by God‟s grace they are seeing him restored to fellowship with God. They know his repentance is real. They know that his walk with God has been restored. God has allowed David to once again walk before them in fellowship with God and them. In his response to the child‟s death David demonstrated two things about his knowledge of God‟s character. 1. That God is in total control. 2. That the king of the universe will do right. David the General fought many battles and he knows when a war is over and this war is over. The child is dead. David also knows that when a war is over it is time to get on with life. He knows that grief passes. He also knows that at the end of life he will have to face a Holy God with the things he does not set right. Now God gives David the opportunity to rebuild his relationship with Bathsheba II Samuel 12:24-25.  And David comforted Bath-sheba his wife, and went in unto her, and lay with her: and she bare a son, and he called his name Solomon: and the LORD loved him.  And he sent by the hand of Nathan the prophet; and he called his name Jedidiah, because of the LORD. Don‟t just read these verses. Stop for a moment and see the grace of God at work in two broken lives. They happened to be named David and Bathsheba but they could be Bob and Sue or Jim and Pat. The names don‟t matter. It‟s what God does in these two verses that is great. They cover about a year in time and demonstrate the way God not only forgives but rebuilds lives. Up till now the focus has been upon David and his reaction to the death of his son, but may I remind you that the child had another parent. Please stop for a moment and consider her grief. She like David knew the child was conceived in sin. She like David knew the child was going to die but who comforted her? While the elders were concerned with David who helped Bathsheba? I submit to you that God did. And for proof I submit the following. First, Bathsheba is no longer referred to as the wife of Uriah but as David‟s wife. God has done away with her past identity and given her a new identity that is totally accepted by him. Second, I submit the name of their child Solomon whose name means peaceful. Now who but a couple who has found peace with God and each other could name their child peaceful? Third, I submit God‟s action “and the LORD loved him.” What a comfort that had to be to Bathsheba. For nine months she carries this child. She had to wonder has God truly forgiven me? Will God also take this child? Will David and I ever be happy? The answer is a resounding yes, and to prove it they name their child peaceful. Fourth, I submit that God not only loved this child but sent Nathan to them again. What a scene that must have been. Nathan shows up and says “I have a message from God.” Remember the last time he came with a message from God? “You are the man and by the way your child is going to die.” Not this time. “And he sent by the hand of Nathan the prophet; and he called his name Jedidiah, because of the LORD”. Jedidiah - beloved of God. God not only says this child is a sign of the peace between us but I love him. With a start like that no wonder Solomon turned out the way he did. I can imagine the stories Solomon heard from his mother. How he was such a special gift from God. How at a time when she wished her life would end God gave her a reason to live and that reason was you, Solomon. Yes Solomon was an answer to Bathsheba‟s prayers and he did not disappoint her. I have a friend Annette, who says that when Solomon wrote the warnings he did about adulterous relationships he wrote what he learned from his mother and father and that Proverbs thirty one was written about his mother, not his wives. God gives David the opportunity to rebuild his character with the army and the nation as a whole (II Samuel 12:26-31).  And Joab fought against Rabbah of the children of Ammon, and took the royal city.  And Joab sent messengers to David, and said, I have fought against Rabbah, and have taken the city of waters.  Now therefore gather the rest of the people together, and encamp against the city, and take it: lest I take the city, and it be called after my name.  And David gathered all the people together, and went to Rabbah, and fought against it, and took it.  And he took their king's crown from off his head, the weight whereof was a talent of gold with the precious stones: and it was set on David's head. And he brought forth the spoil of the city in great abundance.  And he brought forth the people that were therein, and put them under saws, and under harrows of iron, and under axes of iron, and made them pass through the brickkiln: and thus did he unto all the cities of the children of Ammon. So David and all the people returned unto Jerusalem. Joab has won the war and is ready to take the royal city. Joab‟s victory as well as his character gives David the perfect opportunity to confess his sin and to make things right with the nation. Unfortunately David does not take advantage of the opportunity. Taking the king's crown was David‟s right but everyone knew he did nothing to deserve that honor. When God‟s man takes credit for another‟s work he lessens himself before God‟s people. They know the truth. What David should have done was confess his sin and allowed Joab to take the king‟s crown. This would have humbled him allowing God to exalt him. The principle of confession of sin is that you confess and make right as far as the sin is known. Matthew 5:23-26  Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;  Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.  Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.  Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing. Matthew 7:1-5  Judge not, that ye be not judged.  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.  And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?  Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?  Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye. And you can bet if God‟s enemies knew of David‟s sin then Israel knew. We are not told why David did not confess his sin before the people. It could have been he just did not see the need. It could have been that he had dealt with it before God and felt that was all that was needed. It could have been that he saw the need but simply did not want to humble himself. What ever his reason I personally believe that if he would have dealt with the sin before Israel Absalom would have not found it as easy to raise an army against David. If there is one fact that comes through loud and clear in chapter twelve it is that God demands complete repentance for sin. God expects repentance before all who know of our sin. 1. With God himself II Samuel 12:1-6. Which David did. 2. With close friends II Samuel 12:7-14. Which David did. 3. With the lost we hope to win II Samuel 12:7-14. Which David did. 4. With the one with whom we sinned II Samuel 12:24-25. Which he did. 5. With the congregation as a whole II Samuel 12:26-31. Which David didn‟t. Satan not only managed to crack David‟s armor but he has found a place where David did not repair it. I don‟t think that it is a coincidence that the area David did not make right is the same area Satan makes his second attack. Chapters eleven and twelve provides a sharp contrast between how God and man react to sin. In chapter 11:5-27 we discover that man‟s reaction is to cover up the sin thereby avoiding the consequences. In chapter twelve we discover that God‟s reaction is to expose the sin no matter the pain or consequences. God‟s purpose in exposing the sin is to provide the one who committed the sin an opportunity to repent. Unfortunately repentance is not something we do easily. No one ever stops sinning until the cost of the sin is greater than they are willing to pay. So God has to make the price of the sin and its cover up greater than the cost of repentance. To accomplish this God brings pressure into the unrepentant child‟s life. This pressure will be designed to hurt the child but it is never designed to harm him. The best way I can illustrate this is with something that happened to my father-in-law. When he lived with us he had an aneurysm. That is a weakening of an artery. If the aneurysms had burst dad would have died. A surgeon operated on dad and repaired the aneurysm. The surgeon hurt dad but he did not harm dad. God may bring things into the life of His children that hurts them but God will never harm them. The problem is trying to convince the one being hurt that he is not being harmed. Satan’s second attack A. Raising up evil within the work When Satan attacks individuals he tempts them with sin but when he attacks God‟s work he uses conflict. And since conflict is born of rebellion God‟s man needs to know how to Scripturally deal with rebellion. Absalom‟s rebellion against David is the perfect passage for us to learn how to deal with rebellion within God‟s work. Abaslom wanted to replace David as the king of Israel. To do this Absalom needed an issue that would call David‟s leadership into question. David‟s failure to deal with Amnon‟s rape of Tamar provided Absalom with the perfect issue. It also provided David‟s enemies with a rallying point against David. This section begins with Amnon‟s rape of his sister Tamar. From Amnon‟s sin we discover the seven steps in the sin process. Step one - All sin starts with a strong uncontrolled emotion II Samuel 13:1- 2.  And it came to pass after this that Absalom the son of David had a fair sister, whose name was Tamar; and Amnon the son of David loved her.  And Amnon was so vexed, that he fell sick for his sister Tamar; for she was a virgin; and Amnon thought it hard for him to do any thing to her. Continually desiring something that God has not provided will always lead to sin. That is why God warns very strongly against uncontrolled desires in Exodus 20:17 Thou shalt not covet… It was not Amnon‟s desire but his inability to control that desire that lead to his sin. We have to learn to submit our desires to God's control. Sometimes the desire may be obviously wrong as with Amnon. Other times desires can be good but the means of reaching them may be wrong. Whenever worldly means are used to accomplish spiritual goals or Scripture is taken out of context to get people to respond the way we want them to, we are not submitting our desires to God‟s control. And desires not submitted to God‟s control always cause the believer to sacrifice the eternal upon the altar of the temporal. Amnon‟s desire for Tamar was controlling his life. He couldn‟t imagine a life without Tamar. This is seen in the phrase "vexed" in verse 2. It means he became distressed over her. He couldn‟t think of anything but her. This made her the perfect temptation. Amnon‟s emotions were holding him captive. If we can‟t control our emotions then our emotions will control us. Paul warns of this in II Corinthians 10:1-6. Here he exhorts us to bring every thought into captivity. Paul knew the danger of uncontrolled emotions. He knew that uncontrolled emotions always culminate in sin. If Christians could only learn to bring every thought into captivity then we would be content in whatever circumstance God places us (Philippians 4:11). After all being unsatisfied with what God gave him was Satan's sin. The same sin he passed on to Eve. He made her believe that God was withholding something from her. The fruit would make her as God. Each of us needs to continually ask ourselves, "What is the driving force in my life"? Let me put it another way: on what do you spend your money? Step two - Granting of an audience to Satan's advisor II Samuel 13:3-5. 3) But Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab the son of Shimeah David's brother; and Jonadab was a very subtle man. 4) And he said unto him, Why are thou, being the king's son, lean from day to day? Wilt thou not tell me? And Amnon said unto him I love Tamar, my brother Absalom's sister. 5) And Jonadab said unto him, lay thee down on thy bed, and make thyself sick: and when thy father cometh to see thee, say unto him I pray thee, let my sister Tamar come, and give me meat, and dress the meat in my sight, that I may see it, and eat it at her hand. The fact that David did not know his help was needed is a sad commentary on his relationship with God as well as his children. When God's man is not on hand to give Godly advice Satan will always have someone on hand to give ungodly advice. This is why pastors have to be aware of where their people are getting their counsel. If they are not getting God‟s word from him they are getting Satan‟s word from someone. Eve had the serpent; Amnon had Jonadab; each believer needs to ask himself, "What is the spiritual condition of the person I go to for spiritual advice?” Make no mistake about it Satan always has someone on hand willing to present his side. It would be helpful if they pass out business cards. Then they could be identified. WARNING “SATAN’S ADVISOR” THE BEARER OF THIS CARD GIVES INFORMATION THAT’S HAZARDOUS TO YOUR ETERNAL DESTINY The truth is that you or I can be Satan‟s advisor if we do not allow God‟s Word to direct our lives. Psalms 1:1 tells us the only way to be happy is to reject Satan's counsel. In order to successfully recognize Satan‟s counsel we have to know the truth. For it is the truth that sets one free. All you have to do is mention a topic and everyone knows what should be done about it. The only way to sort through all the opinions to "thus saith the LORD" is to know God‟s word. There are some interesting facts we learn about Satan's advisor from the three verses: First, we observe that Jonadab was the king's nephew. He had the appearance of authority but was not in the direct line of authority. It‟s also obvious he wanted more authority. This is evident in the fact that he had befriended Amnon the heir apparent. He also was a wise (subtle) man. He could make his argument seem logical. He could make sin seem right. Second, we discover that Jonadab‟s advice was fleshly. The advice he gave Amnon was an indication of the priorities in his own life. He couldn‟t understand how the king's son could become “Leaner from day to day”. He knew if he was the king's son he would have everything he wanted. After all the kings son had wealth and power. And if he needed one little girl to make him happy then she should be his as well. She would have no say in the matter after all he is Amnon the next king of Israel. Christians need to avoid advice that is rooted in fleshly desires. Third, we see the scheming character of Satan‟s advisor. His motto is me first, second and last. This is again Satan‟s lie that things makes one happy and that your actions only affect you. When there is a lowering of standards privately it always leads to a lowering of standards publicly. Our actions always affect others. Doing what is convenient instead of what is right is always easier but far more costly. God‟s way is always submission to His authority and wait for Him to provide a thing. Satan‟s way is to get it now. When a Christian receives counsel that requires deceit, know it is from Satan. Step three - Believing the lie (II Samuel 13:6). 6) So Ammon lay down, and made himself sick: and when the king was come to see him, Amnon said unto the king, I pray thee, let Tamar my sister come, and make a couple of cakes in my sight, that I may eat of her hand. Discovering Satan's lie behind his counsel is equivalent to discovering how a master magician performs an illusion. They both use the same method of misdirection. A magician causes his audience to focus on one thing away from his real objective. This is exactly how Satan works. Satan gets the Christian so involved with the desire that he fails to see the lie. Satan‟s lie is that we can live independent of God. Satan is a master at using partial truths to get us to believe his lie. It was a partial truth he used on Eve. What he told her was true just not the whole truth. She did learn good from evil. The fruit also awoke her sin nature. Satan‟s partial truth is a complete lie. A Christian's only defense against Satan's lie is honesty. Satan hates honesty. He is a liar and the father of all lies (John 8:44). Christians have to be honest with God, others and themselves. Sometimes Christians may force their actions to conform to what is accepted but this is not honesty. This is just another form of the lie. They may even believe if people don‟t know, neither will God. But God is not fooled. He will bring pressure into a believer's life to bring about repentance. If the believer rejects God's attempt to correction his actions he only increases Satan's influence in his life. This is what happened to Cain (Genesis 4:8-15). God warned Cain that sin was about to seduce him. It was Cain's unwillingness to respond to God's correction that led to his sin of murder. A Christian has to guard against anything in his life that is not completely honest. Step four - Betraying a trust (II Samuel 13:7-9a). 7) Then David sent home to Tamar, saying, Go now to thy brother Amnon's house, and dress him meat. 8) So Tamar went to her brother Amnon's house; and he was laid down. And she took flour, and kneaded it, and made cakes in his sight, and did bake cakes. 9a) And she took a pan, and poured them out before him, but he refused to eat. Amnon betrayed the trust placed in him by both David and Tamar. Once trust is lost it is very difficult to regain. Even after a friendship has been restored there is uncertainty for a long period of time. The betrayal of trust causes pain. Pain for both the one betrayed as well as the one doing the betraying. This pain becomes an interracial part of the sin process. It gives the one betrayed the false idea that he has the right to revenge. Revenge will eventually destroy the one who takes it. Because of our sin nature we don‟t want to get even, we want to get ahead. We always want to hurt more than we were hurt. That is why God reserves the right of revenge exclusively as His. God will direct His action to just the right place with just the right amount of force (Rom.12:19). The problem we have with leaving something in God‟s hands is that if we don‟t believe God will avenge us. Let me assure you this is not the case. It only takes a quick comparison of Matthew 5:43-48 with Romans 12:17-21 to assure anyone that God does repay evil with evil. However, if someone decides to take revenge God will allow him to do so. Then God will deal with his sin of not submitting to God‟s will. To allow God to collect ones debts requires surrendering of personal rights. Just a note, if you have been hurt and are waiting and wondering when God is going to deal with the one who hurt you, let me suggest you read Proverbs 24:17-18. Your attitude may be the reason why God is withholding His judgment from the one who hurt you. Step five - Making the act a secret (II Samuel 13:9b-10). 9b) And Amnon said, have out all men from me. And they went out every man from him. 10) And Amnon said unto Tamar, Bring the meat into the chamber, that I may eat of thine hand. And Tamar took the cakes which she had made, and brought them into the chamber to Amnon her brother. Part of Satan‟s strategy to get a believer to sin is to convince him that his sin will never be exposed. However this is just another lie. Satan delights in exposing the believer‟s sin. That way he can ruin the believer‟s testimony. And even if not reveled during a believer‟s life the believer will face that sin at the judgment seat of Christ. So the question arises. Why keep something a secret anyway? Surely you can‟t keep a secret from God. It‟s not that they are trying to keep a secret from God, it‟s simply they don‟t consider God. Although God is not considered, the actions of others are and it is the response of others we wish to avoid. Something is made a secret for one of three reasons: 1. To prevent someone from stopping the act. 2. When someone will benefit at the expense of others. 3. To protect the one committing the act from suffering the consequences of the act. Amnon sent the men away to prevent them from stopping him. He was going to have his pleasure at Tamar's expense. The obvious question is "What was he going to do afterwards"? Surely he knew someone would tell the king. I believe this question can be answered with one of three answers or a combination of the three. First, Amnon was so caught up in his own desires that he either could not or would not consider how his actions would affect others. This would be in keeping with the actions of his father with Bathsheba. David also sacrificed the eternal upon the altar of the immediate. Second, Amnon thought himself above the law. After all he was the king's son. He enjoyed his self indulgent lifestyle. He had everything he wanted and Tamar was just one more thing he wanted. No one could punish him but David and he knew from past experience that David wouldn‟t do anything. Amnon knew the law but he did not believe it applied to him. As the heir apparent in Israel he did not see himself as answerable to anyone. He did not believe that sacrificing the eternal upon the altar of the immediate apply to him. Unfortunately what one believes or doesn‟t believe does not change God‟s Word. Third, Amnon believed that Tamar would be as much in love with him as he was with her and they would live happily ever after. And why wouldn't she love him, after all he was only going to rape her? He was going to put her through the most terrifying experience of her life. Surely, this is a foundation upon which true love can be built. And besides this was such a little sin, in no way could this one act influence eternity. The normal response to Amnon's possible excuses would be, "How stupid can he be and still be breathing"? Not one of them or any combination makes sense. They are all contrary to Scripture not to mention plain common sense. So what could have possibly been going on in this jerk's mind? The answer is obvious. What was going on in Amnon's mind is the same thing that goes on in our mind when we knowingly disobey God. We use the same excuses and they sound just as reasonable to us as they did to Amnon. Step six - The commission of the sin (II Samuel 13:11-14). 11) And when she had brought them unto him to eat, he took hold of her, and said unto her come lie with me, my sister. 12) And she answered him. Nay, my brother, do not force me; for no such thing ought to be done in Israel: do not thou this folly. 13) And I, Wither shall I cause my shame to go? and as for thee, thou shall be as one of the fools in Israel. Now therefore, I pray thee, speak unto the king; for he will not withhold me from thee. 14) Howbeit he would not hearken unto her voice: but being stronger than she, forced her, and lay with her. Amnon's mind is made up. His jaw is set. Tamar will be his. Nothing else matters to him. He has longed for her. He will now have her. Amnon has believed Satan's lie that things apart from God will satisfy him. Satan has blinded him to all truth and logic. Amnon can only see his own need and the fulfillment of that need. Tamar makes one final plea for him to do what is right. God has placed one final obstacle in Amnon's way, Tamar's tears. We now see how Satan uses uncontrolled emotions to harden hardens. It amazes me the number of obstacles God places between the believer and sin. What is even more amazing is the ease with which Christians walk over these obstacles to get to the sin. Amnon could have stopped. He could have asked David for permission to marry Tamar and all would have been fine. Remember Jonadab's statement; "You are the king's son: you can have anything". Tamar even confirmed this when she told him that the king would not keep me from you. She could have been his by right of birth. He did not have to lie and scheme. How often we try to get by trickery what could be ours for the asking. Unfortunately there would be no stopping now. Satan has woven his web well. There will be no escape. The sin will happen. Not because it had to but because emotions will not seek a way of escape. Amnon was stronger and Tamar had no fight left. Nothing short of Divine intervention could stop the course of events that Satan has set into motion. Satan has taken uncontrolled emotions and uncontrolled passion and woven uncontrolled destruction. Step seven - Paying for the sin (II Samuel 13:15-18). 15) Then Amnon hated her exceedingly; so that the hatred wherewith he hated her was greater than the love wherewith he had loved her. And Amnon said unto her, Arise, be gone. 16) And she said unto him, There is no cause: this evil in sending me away is greater than the other that thou didst unto me. But he would not hearken unto her. 17) Then he called his servant that ministered unto him, and said, Put now this woman out from me, and bolt the door after her. 18) And she had a garment of divers colours upon her for with such robes were the king's daughters that were virgins apparelled. Then his servants brought her out, and bolted the door after her. Here we have the most misunderstood part of sin, the cost (Gal. 6:7-8). The one thing you can count on about sin is that it will take you father than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay and cost you more than you want to pay. There are two results of sin, the immediate and the long range. Satan was not out to just destroy a prince. He already had him. Satan has taken his first steps toward destroying a kingdom. Satan used sin in the church in the same manner. He is not just after a Christian. He is out to destroy God‟s work as well. When, because of sin, the fuse of destruction is lit, an explosion is inevitable. The only thing to be concerned with is the amount of destruction. There is always something God‟s man can do to limit the amount of destruction but this will be discussed later. As for now let‟s see the cost of sin, both the immediate and the long term. Amnon set out to get Tamar but he became a victim of sin as well. I am not suggesting he became a victim of the crime but he is a victim of the sin. Anyone who commits sin becomes a victim of that sin. The immediate result was that Amnon got what he wanted - Tamar. Amnon's emotions have gone from one extreme to another. They have gone from a love nothing could control to a hatred nothing could control. He could not hear Tamar's plead over the pain of his own conscience. So the only action left to him was her removal. If he would have only stopped and gone to his father his life as well as the kingdom could have been spared. But now his pride and pain will not allow him to do what is right. His desire was of the flesh. The advice he received was of the flesh. His action was a culmination of the flesh. Therefore, his reaction to the sin could only be of the flesh. Just a note here, if not scripturally dealt with, the pain of a guilty conscience starts a downward spiral. A person‟s actions become more and more destructive until that person is capable of anything. Amnon's guilt was greater than he could bear. The sight of Tamar now reminds him of his guilt. Satan has used Amnon's sin to his own destruction. Where is the king with Godly advice, to bind Amnon's and Tamar's wounds? Amnon does not need or want anymore of Jonadab's advice. Amnon now knows first hand of Satan's lie. Since Amnon has become one of sins victims you would think he would be ready to repent but not so. He has not yet learned his lesson. He now compounds his sin. He still will not bring his emotions under control. So once again Amnon's sin starts with a strong uncontrolled emotion. Now that the sight of Tamar brings him pain he must have her removed. He will not listen to her Godly counsel in verse 16. Satan uses the pain caused by his sin to assure his destruction. Amnon and Tamar are both in the same condition that sin leaves all its victims, hurt, used, confused and all alone. The long term effect of this sin was that it provided Absalom the excuse he needed to fulfill his own desire. Amnon was one of two people who stood between Absalom and what he wanted, the kingdom. Amnon was David's first born son. He was the crown prince, the heir apparent of Israel. He would be the next king. Now Absalom has an excuse to remove him and fulfill his own lust for power and the kingdom. It was the same sin, uncontrolled emotions, just for a different thing (James 1:15). Since Satan knows where our weaknesses lie, we had better discover them and learn God's methods to strengthen them. There is an interesting study in a comparison between the actions and attitudes of Absalom and Jonathan. Jonathan considered himself expendable for God's will. Absalom considered everyone else expendable for his will. Satan uses sins to destroy lives. Not only the life of the individual committing the sin but the lives of everyone he touches. That is why Satan starts every sin with a strong uncontrolled emotion. This way he keeps us so involved with the sin that we lose sight of the cost of the sin. Satan is not simply attacking an individual he is attacking the entire body of Christ. For this reason when we are tempted we need to ask ourselves the following questions: 1. What does God‟s word say about my action? If not directly then what principles are involved? 2. What destruction will my action cause in my life? In the lives of those I affect (My family, friends etc)? In the lives of those I minister too? 3. What effect will my action have on the work of Christ? 4. What is my way of escape? If the answer to any or all of these questions is negative, you need to know that you have just believed Satan‟s lie. In II Samuel 13:1-18 we saw the process Satan uses to get us to sin. Now we will look the destruction brought about by sin. The first way Satan uses sin in a work is to destroy lives and relationships. Satan used Amnon‟s sin to destroy his relationship with Tamar, Absalom and David as well as David‟s relationship with Absalom and Tamar II Samuel 13:19-20. 19) And Tamar put ashes on her head, and rent her garment of diver‟s colors that was on her, and laid her hand on her head, and went on crying. 20) And Absalom her brother said unto her, Hath Amnon thy brother been with thee? But hold thy peace, my sister: he is thy brother; regard not this thing. So Tamar remained desolate in her brother Absalom house. Tamar has put ashes on her head and rent her garment as a sign of her sorrow. As far as she is concerned her life is over. She has no future. She only wants to die. She enters her brother Absalom‟s house where she remained the rest of her life. It appears that she ever got the help she needed. There did not appear to be a happily ever after for Tamar. I wish God had said more about what happened to her but He saw fit to sum Tamar‟s life up in just two verses. One man in Tamar‟s life who should have been there for her was her father, David. This one verse shows just how much David‟s not making thing right with Israel cost him. How could he demand of others what he was not willing to do? David has gone from shepherd to hireling II Samuel 13:21. 21) But when king David heard of all these things he was very wroth. Here is the saddest commentary that can be said of God‟s man. David was angry but did nothing. When God‟s man does not deal with sin he allows Satan the upper hand. What happened to that boy who killed the lion and bear in defense of his fathers sheep? What happened to that young man who stood against Goliath and said “Is there not a cause”? David your family is in danger “Is there not a cause”? David the kingdom is in danger “Is there not a cause”? David could face lions, bears and giants but not even he can face sin that has not been completely dealt with. Not Amnon‟s but his. Not completely dealing with sin will change God‟s man from a shepherd who places the care of God‟s people above his own safety into a hireling. Once God‟s man becomes a hireling God‟s people are in for a very rough time. When God‟s man does nothing his lack of action aids Satan in his efforts to destroy God‟s work. The other man in Tamar's life who should have been there for her was Absalom, her brother. Whereas David could not help, Absalom would not help. He would not because he wanted to use her rape as a means to reach his own goal, Amnon‟s removal. There is not a hint of sorrow over the sin in Absalom. Instead of being outraged over the sin and getting help for his sister he sees a way to get the kingdom. Absalom I believe is a perfect example of a wolf in sheep‟s clothing. I need to take some time here to explain what I mean by a wolf in sheep‟s clothing and how it came about. I pastored four churches in the twenty years I spent in the pastorate. Four different states but all the same church with the very same people: each church at one time had been a large church but because of a split had dwindled down until the congregation had decided to close the doors. Then someone said “lets try one more time”. Well I was the one more time. God was good. We saw some stability and the congregation grew. It was after the last church I pastored had split that I began to question everything. I wondered how this had happened. I became angry with God, others and myself. Eventually my anger cooled and God revealed something to me. What God reviled was something about the person in each church that wanted to run things. At first I did not believe it. I went to a pastor I knew and asked him to think about the churches he had pastored. When I asked him if this was true, one person in each church that wanted to run things, he said “Yes”. Over the years I have not found an exception to this truth. Every person who wants to run a church that I have either met or heard of was once called into fulltime Christian service and never went. Now let me add that I know several people who were called into fulltime Christian service who did not go who are a great asset to their church but I know of no trouble maker in any church who was not called and did not surrender his or her will to go. The reason behind them not going is another study. So I call these troublemakers wolves in sheep‟s clothing. Here we have our first hint of what makes a wolf. A wolf is more concerned with getting his own way than with the needs of others. He does not see his action as rebellion. He simply sees the way things should be. Even thought he has never submitted to God's authority. He does not understand why everyone does not submit to his. And who better than Satan would know how to use rebellion in someone‟s life? He was Lucifer before his rebellion Isaiah14:12- 17. The only difference between a wolf and a sheep is who‟s voice they listen to John 10:14-30. The wolf has become his own authority. He has no need of a shepherd. He already has a handle on the truth. Just pick a subject. He can enlighten you. He knows he was called to lead. He never learned to follow but he wants to lead. Since he has never followed God by submitting to others how can he lead? He has never learned direction, only reaction. Circumstances will always control him. This is sad because a wolf will always get a following. There are always people looking for direction. They simply react to whatever is popular at the moment. They are always in a battle but never a part of the war. Sadder yet is that the wolf never sees himself as a wolf. In his eyes he is a misunderstood leader. In the next eighteen verses we will see what makes a wolf react the way he does. Since David did not deal with Amnon‟s sin he has allowed the wolf to do so. And a wolf never does anything that will advance God‟s work. The only thing a wolf wants to advance is his own agenda. When a person is controlled by emotions, Biblical principles don‟t matter. We gain some insight about a wolf in the way he reacts to the sins of others. First with him it is personal. He is not dealing with sin he is correcting a wrong done to him II Samuel 13:22. 22) And Absalom spake unto his brother neither good or bad; for Absalom hated Amnon, because he had forced his sister, Tamar. Absalom like any wolf will use any one or any thing to accomplish his goal. Absalom's response to Amnon was of the flesh. Absalom waited and schemed for two full years. Time does not matter to a wolf. He will wait as long as it takes. The desire for power drives him. Satan has so used Absalom's lust for the kingdom that he can‟t see his own sin. Absalom used Amnon's sin as an excuse for his removal but Absalom‟s desire to be king was his real motivation. Absalom hated Amnon because he stood between him and the kingdom, not because he raped Tamar. Absalom has let his emotions eat at him like a cancer, constantly growing and poisoning his outlook on life. He kept his hatred for Amnon bottled up inside until he had to explode. Absalom would not face his own sin but demanded Amnon pay for his. Absalom was not the kind of person who got even - Absalom got mad! If David would‟ve dealt with Amnon‟s sin. He would‟ve stolen Absalom's thunder. Dealing with sin is the only defense against someone who is nursing a grudge. When nothing is done about a sin it gives the wolf the appearance of right. Notice, I said the "appearance" of right. Absalom is only using Amnon's sin to remove him. God protect us from those with a cause. If David would have dealt with Amnon then he could have dealt with Absalom. Unfortunately, the king's lack of action has brought the kingdom one step closer to destruction. Second a wolf plans action outside his authority II Samuel 13:23-27. 23) And it came to pass after two full years, that Absalom was sheep shearing in Baal-hazor, which is beside Ephriam: and Absalom invited all the king's sons. 24)And Absalom came to the king, and said, behold now, thy servant hath sheep shearers; let the king, I beseech thee, and his servants go with thy servant. 25) And the king said to Absalom,Nay, my son, let us not all now go, lest we be chargeable unto thee. And he pressed him; howbeit he would not go, but blessed him. 26) Then said Absalom, If not, I pray thee, let my brother Amnon go with us. And the king said him, Why should he go with thee? 27) But Absalom pressed him that he let Amnon and all the king's sons go with him. The wolf has spent two full years stalking his prey. He is now ready to go for the juggler. The law was even on his side (Deut. 22:25). Amnon deserved to die for his sin but it was not Absalom's right to kill him. God's established authority was the only one who had the right to act against Amnon. Which brings us to an interesting question. What does a church member do when the established authority does not act against sin in the church? Even more important, what Scripture supports your view? Are you willing to submit to that Scripture? You see having a legal complaint but not submitting ones personal rights to God is another earmark of a wolf. A wolf wants to take matters into his own hands. He is more interested in his own agenda than in justice. Just as Amnon lied to David to get Tamar now Absalom lies to David to get Amnon. He does not just lie. He tells a half truth and a half truth is still a whole lie. Not to mention it is the most difficult type of lie to detect. In the passage before us we discover the cunning nature of the wolf. He hides his real agenda in a spiritual setting. He invited the king and his sons to celebrate God's blessing of his herds. Absalom acknowledged that the increase came from God. He had knowledge of the truth but refused to live in the light of God‟s truth. He would not move from the physical into the spiritual. As a result, his actions were physical not spiritual. I once heard someone say,” God uses the good ones and the bad ones use God". This is never more true than with a wolf. He will use anyone to reach his goal. In his eyes everyone is expendable. By the time Absalom got to his real request, "Let Amnon come" things were really confused. The task of discovering the truth among all this confusion falls to the king. The king's response to Absalom's request indicated he had misgivings about the request. David knew there was a hook in Absalom's request. He just could not find it. There was one of two reasons why David could not find the hook. Either he did not want to believe there was a hook or he honestly looked and could not find it. I personally believe David just did not want to believe there was a hook. He was hoping that everything would turn out okay. Unfortunately, a wolf will not stop being a wolf because the king wishes he would. David should have gone with his instincts and not have granted Absalom's request. God's man has to develop the Holy Spirit's leading in his life. There will be times when he feels that something is wrong. When he does he needs to proceed cautiously. If an error is made on the side of caution it will be much easier to correct and less damage will be done. Also, if God‟s man acts cautiously his people will see how God is using him to direct and protect them. Once they understand this they will follow willingly. Everything is in place. The time is right for the wolf to strike. However, our wolf is too smart to endanger himself. He uses others to do his dirty work II Samuel 13:28-29a. 28) Now Absalom had commanded his servants, saying, Mark ye now when Amnon's heart is merry with wine, and when I say unto you, Smite Amnon; then kill him, fear not: have not I commanded you? be courageous, and be valiant. 29a)And the servants of Absalom did unto Amnon as Absalom had commanded. Absalom made the bullets but he got someone else to fire them. A wolf is always willing to point out what needs to be done but is unwilling to get personally involved until his personal safety is assured. God's man needs to learn a lesson from Absalom's action. The one firing the bullets may not be the wolf. I know of a case where it was a deacon‟s wife who was called into God‟s service. At deacon‟s meetings he would agree. But when he got home she pointed out how wrong everyone was. As a result the first half of our deacon‟s meetings were spent going over and reconvening him on issues that had already been decided. At times he would even call special meeting because work was to start before to the next deacon‟s meeting. This poor man was not a wolf. He was married to one. And his life was miserable. He only fired the bullets he did not manufacture them. Sometimes a pastor has to not only dodge the bullets but discover their source as well. Once the source is discovered the wolf is uncovered. We will discover in II Samuel 18 and 19 what God expects the king to do with the one firing the bullets. In this passage we also discover something of the wolf's cunning. He arranges every detail to his own advantage. Absalom arranged to know where Amnon would be at all times. He made sure Amnon would be at his weakest - drunk. He arranged every detail his advantage. One area where God's man has to be careful is in the area of confidence. He often underestimates the wolf. He sometimes takes false security in the attitude, "If God be for me". Confidence in God is one thing stupidity is quite another. Remember Matthew 10:16, "Be wise as serpents...". That is a warning to be alert to what is going on. In a battle for the control of God‟s work God‟s man has to make plans to defeat the wolf. He can‟t let the wolf lull him into a false security. A serpent is always checking the air for any change or danger. If God‟s man lets his guard down, he is doomed. If given a chance, the wolf will eat the shepherd as well as the sheep. The deed is done. The wolf will now use the confusion caused by the deed to make good his escape II Samuel 13:29b-33. 29b) Then all the king's sons arose, and every man gat him up upon his mule, and fled. 30) And it came to pass while they were in the way, that tidings came to David, saying, Absalom hath slain all the king's sons, and there is not one of them left. 31) Then the king arose, and tare his garments, and lay on the earth; and all his servants stood by with their clothes rent. 32) And Jonadab, the son of Shimeah David's brother, answered and said, let not my lord suppose that they have slain all the young men the king's sons; for Amnon only is dead: for by the appointment of Absalom this hath been determined from the day that he forced his sister Tamar. 33) Now therefore let not my lord the king take the thing to his heart, to think that all the king's sons are dead: for Amnon only is dead. Wolves love confusion. Next to a lie confusion is their greatest weapon. It is during times of confusion that a wolf makes his greatest gains. He uses confusion to scatter the sheep and put out false information. He also uses the confusion for his own protection and his escape, leaving those he used and promised protection to fend for themselves. Notice in the passage how the confusion and misinformation caused the king to react. Instead of being able to bring Absalom swiftly to justice, David could only react emotionally. That is why God‟s man has to have accurate information. He can make Godly decisions with correct information but he can only react to incorrect information. He has to have advisors who will give him the facts, be they good or bad. If he is surrounded by men who only rubberstamp his decisions, all lose. He has failed God, his people and even himself. Where there is confusion, there is a wolf at work. This is why God denies any authorship of confusion I Corinthians 14:33. This is why God‟s man must be able to sort through the rumors and get to the truth. He has to discover the wolf's plan and counter it. David failed to do this. He knew he should not have let Amnon go. Now, David is blaming himself. True, he was guilty of an error in judgment but he was not responsible for Amnon‟s murder. That responsibility belongs to Absalom alone. When Satan gets us to accept responsibility for the actions of another he knows he has us defeated. We all have enough to face God for without facing Him for the actions of others. This is one trick of Satan that we can avoid. Since God did not remove David He expected him to rise above his guilt and get on with the business of running the kingdom. This was a tall order but God knew David was up to it. "How do I know what God wanted" you ask? The answer is simple. God did not give the kingdom to anyone else did He? God has taken the first steps in David's life in forcing him to deal with his own past sin. David can no longer afford the luxury of self pity. David now will learn to respond as God's appointed leader. He must now rise above his emotions and direct God's work. The best way for God‟s man to minimize confusion is to keep the people informed. A congregation who knows where they are going will be easer lead. An informed congregation will respond better to a change in direction than a congregation who has no direction. God‟s man has to learn to trust God to direct the people as well as himself. God will never direct His leader in one direction and the people in another. If there is a two directional pull in the church there probably is a wolf among the sheep. To restore unity the wolf must first be removed. Once the wolf is removed then the project will proceed with harmony. Not without problems but with unity. Another characteristic of a wolf is that he will not submit to authority II Samuel 13:34a. 34) But Absalom fled. By his fleeing we learn some important facts about a wolf. First, a wolf never faces the consequences of his actions. He sees his actions as a response to the improper actions of others. In his mind his problem is the rest of us. As a wolf told me in a counseling section once, “If the rest of you would do what you're suppose to do I would be alright”. The problem is he believed it. In Absalom‟s mind the murder of his brother was the right thing to do. If David was not going to deal with Tamar‟s rape the he had every right to as well as the right to remove David. Don‟t try to understand it. I‟m just telling you that is how warped the thinking of a wolf gets. Second, we discover that the word of a wolf is not to be trusted. Remember back in II Samuel 13:28 Absalom promised the young men that he would be there to protect them. Well he lied. I wonder what happened to the servants who actually committed the murder of Amnon. Amnon‟s murder caused everyone to run for safety. David‟s children ran for the safety and protection of their father II Samuel 13:34b-36 34b) And the young man that keep the watch lifed up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came much people by the way of the hillside behind him. 35) And Jonadad said unto the king, Behold, the king's sons come; as thy servant said, so it is. 36) And it came to pass, as soon as he had made an end of speaking, that, behold, the king's sons came, and lifted up their voices and wept; and the king also and all his servants wept very sore. God‟s man provides a sense of security for God‟s people. This is a part of his ministry that most pastors do not even realize they perform. When trouble strikes God‟s people need to be assurance that God is in His heaven and all will be right with the world. When the people in his congregation clamor for his time it is this security they are seeking. So no matter how trivial a matter seems to God‟s man his people need his time. So no matter how trivia a problem seems to you that person need you because you speak for God. B. God’s counter - Removing the wolf It is interesting to note where Absalom ran. He did not just take refuge among any congregation. He ran to David‟s enemies II Samuel 13:37-39. 37) But Absalom fled, and went to Talmai, the son of Ammihud king of Geshur. And David moruned for his son every day. 38) So absalom fled, and went to Geshur, and was there three years. 39) And the soul of king David longed to go forth unto Absalom; for he was comforted concerning Amnon, seeing he was dead. Absalom knew that God's man did not represent safety for him. One can‟t help but wonder where are those cries for justice he once cried for Amnon. If his actions were just then why not face Gods authority and prove his case. A wolf never wants justice. A wolf only wants the preeminence III John 9. Here God‟s man makes a serious mistake. He did not pursue the wolf. As long as the wolf is on the defensive Gods man should attack. Attack while the deed is fresh in the people's mind. Don't let him escape into another congregation. He will cause destruction there until he comes back and if allowed to escape he will be back. Until stopped a wolf moves from work to work causing problems everywhere he goes. God‟s men need to share information about wolves within their work. God‟s men have to stop allowing wolves the freedom to move from work to work. If you have a wolf in your work either brand him as a wolf or put him out. If a wolf comes to you from another work don‟t accept. If accepted into your work he regains the upper hand and this time he will have the confidence to go after you. God protect us from those who hop from church to church. Absalom knew he had to go outside of God‟s kingdom for protection. God‟s work would be better off if that message was clear to all wolves. The law for premeditated murder was quite clear (Numbers 35:21). Absalom knew he could not enter the cities of refuge for protection. Since there was no safety among God's people Absalom then turned to God's enemies for protection. In I Samuel 27:8 we discover that David once raided Gershur. In that raid David stole a woman, Maacah. She was the daughter of Talmai, the king of Geshur. Talmai hated David for that raid and the theft of his daughter. Maacah later bore David a son who she named Absalom (II Samuel 3:3). Absalom knew his grandfather would be willing to aid him against David. Those who wish to destroy God's work can always find someone eager to lend their support to the cause. There will always be those who are opposed to what God is doing. Today wolves don‟t have to go to the world for help. Too often they don't have to go any further than another pastor. Someone who is either jealous of God's blessing upon another congregation or who just wants numbers no matter who they are. In a church‟s zeal for numbers wolves are often admitted. When a pastor is approached with a complaint against another pastor there are some basic things he should do: 1. Check his attitude. It may be that the wolf has found a kindred spirit. 2. Do not take part in the rebellion. 3. Check the facts. Then the pastor who was approached should attempt to get the parties together. If they can work the matter out then there is no need for anyone to leave. If they can‟t agree they can at least part as friends. Once this has been done then the one leaving the church can be accepted into the new church with little worry. 4. If a wolf is discovered, do not admit him into your fellowship. A battle within a church is always destructive not only to the work but to the people as well. We see in verse 39 that David longed for Absalom. If the battle did not hurt the king more than the people he would not be worthy of his office. However, the king can never allow the hurt to direct his actions. It is at this time God's man learns anew of God's love for him. It was David's inability to deal with his pain that led to an even greater problem. To relieve his pain David allowed an unrepented wolf back into the sheep pen. We have seen events set into motion that revealed a wolf among the sheep. As destructive as these events were they did accomplish one very positive thing. The thirteenth chapter ended with God‟s counter to having a wolf among His work. God removed the wolf. Satan’s third attack A. Getting God‟s man to accept the wolf back Removing a wolf is one thing keeping him out is quite another. Satan is not content unless he has a wolf among the sheep to keep things stirred up. Just as Satan was directing the actions of the wolf he will also orchestrate his return. In this case it‟s not a big problem since David wants a reason to allow Absalom to return II Samuel 14:1. 1) Now Joab the son of Zeruiah perceived that the king's heart was toward Absalom. To understand how Satan accomplishes the wolf's return we need to first look at the individuals Satan uses to accomplish this task, David‟s friend Joab. II Samuel 14:2-3. 2) And Joab sent to Tekoah, and fetched thence a wise woman, and said unto her, I pray thee, feigh thyself to be a mourner, and put on now oil, but be as a woman that had a long time mourned for the dead. 3) And come to the king, and speak on this manner unto him. So Joab put the words in her mouth. This was the same friend who helped David get into this mess, the same friend who, in II Samuel 11 went to war on David's behalf. The same friend who in II Samuel 11:6 sent Uriah home from the battle to help David cover his sin with Bathsheba. The same friend who in II Samuel 11:15-18 helped David murder Uriah. With friends like this, who needs enemies? A king will be on guard while dealing with his enemies but will not suspect his friends. It is not my intention to imply Joab was not David's friend. He was. He was David's closest friend. There was probably no one in Israel who cared more for David than Joab. His caring was the problem. It was never Joab's intent to harm David. Joab's only desire was to relieve David's pain. Friends have caused as much damage by attempting to help as enemies who wanted to harm. God‟s man needs close friends. However, these friends need to be more concerned about what God is doing in his life then his comfort. Physical comfort is nice but real peace and comfort can only come through a proper relationship with God. Joab made three mistakes in trying to help David. These mistakes were not malicious. They were made while trying to comfort a friend. Joab's first mistake was to circumvent God's Word. The punishment for premeditated murder was clear (Numbers 35:21). Instead of obeying God's Word Joab's interest was toward his friend. For one to have real joy and peace their actions have to be brought into line with God's Word. Joab's second mistake was in his failure to see the hand of God directing David's life. In spite of the events that transpired, God was still in control. God used these events to remove a wolf from the kingdom. God was also attempting to force David to once again act like a king. David has allowed past sins to rob him of his joy and victory. God was using these events in David's life to force him to stand up and reclaim his lost joy. If God's man will not lead then someone less qualified will. Joab has become that person. Joab was not willing to wait for God to work things out. He wanted to help his friend. Instead of seeing the hand of God (II Samuel 12:11), he wished to remove the king's pain. Unfortunately, this meant bringing the wolf back into the kingdom, the wolf that God had gone to great lengths to remove. Joab could not see that David's troubles were God's way of maturing David. Joab could only see David's pain. Every leader struggles between his emotions and duty. It is this struggle that drives him into God's waiting arms. It is only in God's arms that God‟s man can find the peace and strength to continue caring for God‟s people. Joab's third mistake was in using a lie. Dr. Bob Jones used to say, "It is never right to do wrong to get a chance to do right". Instead of seeking help from God for David, Joab sought to solve a spiritual problem through physical means. His inability to see beyond the physical was the same flaw we discovered in Jonadab's advice. Any help from any source that does not understand what God is doing is like an uncontrolled explosion, both are destructive. So in spite of all Joab's desire to help, all he did was to bring sin back into Israel. This brings us to the other person Satan used to bring the wolf back. She was a stranger. Joab got a woman who could not possibly be recognized by David. It was the woman, not her story that was strange to David. He had heard similar stories many times in his court but now he was living it. She came to the king in the form of a lie to get the king to act on spiritual truths. This fact brings up some interesting questions: 1. Was she a peacemaker? 2. Can anyone make peace or must it come from within? 3. Can there be peace apart from God's will? 4. Was there a sin here? 5. If so was it hers, Joabs or both? Godly men differ over the answers to these questions. However of one thing we can be sure. Her words came from Joab and Joab's actions were directed by Satan because it was Satan who wanted the wolf back. There are some important lessons God's man can learn from this encounter. First she gave him false information II Samuel 14:4-8. 4) And when the woman of Tekoah spake to the king, she fell on her face to the ground, and did obeisance, and said, Help, O King. 5) And the king said unto her, What aileth thee? and she answered, I am indeed a widow woman and mine husband is dead. 6) And thy handmaid had two sons, and they two strove together in the field, and there was none to part them, but the one smote the other and slew him. 7) And behold, the whole family is risen against thine handmaid, and they said, Deliver him that smote his brother, that we may kill him, for the life of his brother whom he slew; and we will destroy the heir also: and so they shall quench my coal which is left, and shall not leave to my husband neither name or remainder upon the earth. 8) And the king said unto the woman, Go to thine house, and I will give charge concerning thee. It has been said, "It is not the king who has the power but the one who has the king's ear". This is true because they are the ones who provide the information upon which the king makes his decisions. There are two types of false information with which a king must cope. One is the deliberate lie. This is where all the information is false. The other is a partial lie. This could be a deliberate withholding of information or simply telling only one side of a story. Both are told with the deliberate intent to deceive the king. Both are deadly and difficult to detect. Both make it impossible to respond properly to any circumstance. Some things should be pointed out about the one giving the false information. The first thing to notice is how well she fit the role. She was well chosen for the part. She looked the part she played. She may have even been a widow. When Satan uses someone to mislead God's man he always has someone who fits the part. Second, she knew how to perform in public. She knew just when to bow and when to cry. She knew when to speak and when to listen. She knew all the language and how to use it. Her performance was impeccable. She had the king hooked before she started her story. Third, her story was believable. It had just enough truth in it to make it real and just enough emotion to force a reaction. This is a deadly combination, a little truth and a lot of emotion. God has not called us to live by our emotions but by His truth. God‟s man can‟t be controlled by his emotions. David knew her pain because it was his as well. Haven‟t we all been there? God‟s man must act on God‟s word not on a touching story. She now uses the false information to create a false urgency II Samuel 14:9-11. 9) And the woman of Tekoah said unto the king, My lord, O king, the inquity be on me, and on my father's house: and the king and his throne be guiltless. 10) And the king said, Whosoever saith ought unto thee, bring him to me, and he shall not touch thee any more. 11) Then said she, I pray thee, let the king remember the LORD thy God, that thou wouldest not suffer the revengers of blood to destroy anymore, lest they destroy my son. And he said, As the LORD liveth, there shall not one hair of thy son fall to the earth. David is nibbling at the bait. It is now time to set the hook. The impression she gave was if David didn‟t act immediately she would lose her son. David knew firsthand the pain of loosing a son. He had just lost two by death and one by rebellion. She assured David that if his actions were wrong she would accept all the blame. When someone says, "If anything goes wrong, I'll take the blame", just try to find them when something goes wrong. Beside David was the king and the buck stops with him. Once David was convinced of the need, his promise of protection was assured and once he had promised to protect her it was a small step to protect her son. The only problem was that her story was a lie. The king never bothered to verify her story. God's man can never afford to be tricked into a decision. When he is faced with a matter that must be solved before he checks the facts, he had better put off any decision. Very few problems need to be solved that quickly. I am not saying that emergencies don't arise. I am saying if there is not time to check the facts then don't make a decision. The hook is set. It is now time to reel David in. She now leads the king to a false conclusion. It is a wise fisherman who can trick a fish into catching himself. If I Corinthians 10:13 means anything it means that God's people are only caught when they choose to be caught. God's people can shake Satan's hook anytime they wish. That is why Satan starts all sin with a strong uncontrolled emotion. Satan has to make sure we are determined to catch ourselves. This passage is a clear picture of how Satan plays God's people once he hooks them. Notice how polite Satan is. He even had her ask if she could catch him II Samuel 14:12. 12) Then the woman said, Let thine handmaid, I pray thee, speak one word unto my lord the king, and he said, Say on. She used two illustrations and drew from each a reason why Absalom should be allowed back. Each illustration would have been valid if the circumstances would have been true but each conclusion would have still been false. First, she implies that her family name was about to be cut off in Israel II Samuel 14:13-15. 13) And the woman said, Wherefore then hast thou thought such a thing against the people of God? for the king doth speak this thing as one which is faulty, in that the king doth not fetch home again his banished. 14) For we must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again: neither doth God respect any person: yet doth he devise means, that his banished be not expelled from him. 15) Now therefore that I am come to speak of this thing unto my lord the king, it is because the people have made me afraid: and thy handmaid said, I will now speak unto the king; it may be that the king will perform the request of his handmaid. David knew of Deuteronomy 23 and the instructions God gave to assure that no family name would ever be cut off. If her story were true then her son would have been in danger of losing his life. This was not the case with Absalom. As long as he remained in Geshur, his life was in no danger. Her son had no children and his name would have been cut off. This also was not true of Absalom. In II Samuel 14:27 we see that Absalom may have had three sons. There was no chance of his name being cut off. If we compare II Samuel 14:27 with II Samuel 18:18 there arises a question about Absalom's three sons. The pillar may have been erected before the birth of his sons, or his sons may have died. Since they are never mentioned in any genealogies the later is probably true. Even if his sons had died in their youth her next argument makes the issue of the sons of none effect. Her son supposedly killed his brother, which left no one to raise up seed to his name. Absalom had brothers who could have raised up seed to his name. Second, she tells the king of God's protection II Samuel 14:16-17. 16) For the king will hear, to deliver his handmaid out of the hand of the man that would destroy me and my son together of the inheritance of God. 17) Then thine handmaid said, The word of my lord the king shall now be comfortable: for as an angel of God, so is my lord the king to discern good and bad: Therefore the LORD thy God will be with thee. She implies that if a problem arises with Absalom's return then God will protect David from danger. If anyone knew of God's protection it was David. Remember all the times God intervened to protect David. God had protected him from a lion, a bear, a giant named Goliath and a king named Saul, just to name a few. The implication was that if Absalom were a threat then God would protect David as He had done in the past. David was overlooking the obvious. God had protected him in sending the wolf away. Just as God protected David, He will protect all of His children. However, they have to meet the requirement for protection. "When a man's ways please the LORD, He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him" Proverbs 16:17. David did not meet the qualification of this passage. His ways were not pleasing to God. David really wanted to be caught. David wanted Absalom back. David let his emotions rule his life. David had been called to protect God's people. Even if that meant protecting them from his own family. His call to care for God's people was first placed in danger when he failed to properly instruct his children. So no matter how much David wanted Absalom back, if there is no repentance by Absalom there can be no forgiveness for Absalom. David is about to make his most tragic mistake II Samuel 14:18-20. 18) Then the king answered and said unto her, Woman, hide not from me, I pray thee, the thing that I shall ask thee, And the woman said, Let my lord the king now speak. 19) And the king said, Is not the hand of Joab with thee in all this? And the woman answered and said, As thy soul liveth, my lord the king, none can turn to the right hand or to the left from ought that my lord the king hath spoken: for thy servant Joab done this thing: and my lord is wise according to the wisdom of an angel of God, To know all things that are in the earth David is about to be landed. Once a fish is landed it is at the mercy of the fisherman. If there is one thing Satan doesn‟t have it is mercy. Even though David has seen through all her lies he will still make a wrong decision. The decision may have been wrong but it was the one David wanted to make. David is not only about to let the wolf back into the kingdom. He is going to issue a personal invitation for his return. It is one thing to have a wolf among the sheep. It is quite another to give him the keys to the gate. I don't know if David was blind to the facts or just kidding himself. The truth is that once a wolf is allowed back his interest is not in ruling the sheep but removing the shepherd. This is especially true when he is allowed to come back without repentance. Absalom did not have to sneak in the back door. He came back with the king's approval. Now that the wolf is back there will be a split. While the wolf was separated from the sheep, there was still hope. The king could still lead but now he has a challenger to his God given authority. We will now see the split starting to take shape. God's work will now take another direction. It will start a downhill spiral that will gain momentum with each passing day. The rate of decline will continue to increase until the split occurs. Up to now David had been in a struggle with Absalom for control of the kingdom. He will now be locked in combat with a wolf for his very life. Make no mistake about it, if not checked, a wolf will only get more vicious. David was hoping against hope that Absalom would change. David waited for two full years for Absalom to repent. Absalom was not about to repent. Why should he? He had everything he wanted. Every time God boxed him in to force him to deal with his rebellious attitude some well meaning person removes God's pressure. When God is dealing with a person, God's man must never try to remove the pressure God places him under. Help him live for God under the pressure but to remove the pressure is to force God to replace it with even greater pressure. God's man has to learn to see things from God's perspective. In order to do this God's man has to understand God's direction in the life of that person. Once the problem is corrected or the lesson is learned that caused the pressure, then God will remove the pressure. However, when a well meaning Christian interjects himself between God and the one whom God is dealing with then forces God to deal with him. God will continue the pressure even to the point of breaking the one who involved himself. B. Satan’s purpose in bring the wolf back Now that Satan has the wolf back among the sheep. He can make changes in the direction of God's work. The first change is from fact to feeling II Samuel 14:21-24. 21) And the king said unto Joab, Behold now, I have done this thing: go therefore, bring the young man Absalom again. 22) And Joab fell to the ground on his face, and bowed himself, and thanked the king: and Joab said, today thy servant knoweth that I have found grace in thy sight, my lord, O King, in that the king hath fuflfilled the request of his servant. 23) So Joab arose and went to Gerhur, and brother Absalom to Jersalem. 24) And the king said, Let him turn to his house, and let him not see my face. So Absalom returned to his house, and saw not the king's face. Joab is typical of those who interpret God's will by his emotions. "I got what I wanted so it had to be God's will". They rate God's actions by how it makes them feel, not by God's Word. If God's action meets their approval then it is good. If not, then it must be from Satan. God has placed supreme importance on His Word (Psalms 138:2). Keep Joab's enthusiasm for Absalom‟s return in mind when we get to II Samuel 14:29-33. At this point Joab must reach the same conclusion that all who interrupt God‟s will in light of their wishes reaches, "God must have changed His mind". It amazes me how often God changes His mind when our chosen course runs into adversity. It‟s amazing to watch the fancy footwork these people do to explain how, why and when God changed His mind. In Matthew 7:7-11 Jesus promises that if we ask for bread we will not receive a stone. If we ask for a fish we will not receive a serpent but we have no guarantee that if we continuously and knowingly ask for a serpent we will not eventually receive it. It‟s amazing how often God's people will continue to force doors open once God has closed them. Sometimes in the name of peace or happiness God's people go to great lengths to circumvent the circumstances in which God has placed them. Remember God is interested in our holiness, not our happiness. True happiness only comes through holiness and not through circumstances. David here is typical of those who wear a spiritual facade when disobeying God's Word. The facts are: 1. Absalom murdered Amnon. 2. He then ran to escape the penalty of his actions. 3. Absalom was not repentant of his actions. 4. Absalom was unconcerned for the hurt he caused others. The king had an obligation to protect God's people. Even if that protection was from one within his family. The shepherd has to put the safety of the sheep above his own desires. If he fails to do this he becomes a hireling. He forfeits the right to be called a shepherd. The next change Satan has in store for God's work is an emphasis change. The work will go from a spiritual emphasis to a physical emphasis. Let me add here that there will always be a physical aspect to the ministry of the Gospel. However, just as the physical should not be ignored it also should not be the main emphasis. Once we lose sight of the supernatural we have lost our ministry II Samuel 14:25-27. 25) But in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty: from the sole of his foot even to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him. 26) And when he polled his head, (for it was at every year's end that he polled it; because the hair was heavy on him, therefore he polled it:) he weighed the hair of head at two hundered sheckels after the king's weight. 27) And unto Absalom there were born three sons, and one daughter, whose name was Tamar; she was a woman of a fair countenance. Once again we see Satan choosing someone who fits the role. When Israel wanted a king Saul was chosen because he looked the part. Absalom also looked the part of a king. Absalom had it all! There was nothing wrong with Absalom having beauty or wealth. The problem was that Absalom placed a greater emphasis on what he had then on the God who gave him what he had. It has been said that the greatest burden one must bear is potential. It has also been said that ones greatest ability is ones dependability. Well, Absalom had all the potential but none of the dependability. Absalom is not unlike believers of today. We too can be drawn into Satan's trap to change the emphasis of God‟s work. In our enthusiasm for the work we often either overlook or excuse the two most common forms of this trap. One form of this trap is that bigger is better because it shows that God is blessing. This philosophy can lead God‟s man into using gimmicks to accomplish Spiritual ends. The flaw in this theory is that size is not the yardstick by which we determine God's blessing. The growth of a congregation can be accomplished by physical means as well as by spiritual ones. Another form of this trap is that smaller is better because it is spiritual. The flaw with this theory is the same as the first. Size has nothing to do with spirituality. In fact, every congregation will have people who walk in the spirit as well as those who walk in the flesh. Neither philosophy is true, they are extremes used by Satan to divide the body of Christ. People often place more emphasis on the appearance of a work than on the content of a work. We do the same thing in our relationships with other believers. We establish certain rules. If another‟s action conforms to our rules then they are said to be spiritual. While it is true that what is in the heart will manifest itself outwardly. So let us be careful not to use a proper illustration to draw a false conclusion. In doing so we become guilty of the same type of reasoning as the woman of Tekoah. If there is a problem with a person's attitude then the attitude should be dealt with. Simply forcing ones actions to conform is not change or maturity. Once the problem has been corrected then the actions will conform to God's standards not our preconceived ideas of spirituality. Let‟s also not assume that just because ones actions conform that their heart is right with God. When we emphasize the physical, mistakes are inevitable. The sad thing is that like Absalom, those who make the mistake do it in the name of justice and righteousness. Somehow they never see the hurt they cause others. Now, God's work is ready for the third and final step toward a split. It is at this point God writes "Ichabod" over the work. It is now that God will use the split, started by Satan to destroy God's work, to purge it. Just as God started His work with the breath of life in Genesis. He has committed to us the continuance of that life giving process. Once that life giving process stops, the work then becomes destructive. It‟s at that point that God has to purge it. It is now time for God to purge the kingdom II Samuel 14:28-33. 28) So Absalom dwelt two full years in Jerusalem, and saw not the king's face. 29) Therefore Absalom sent for Joab, to have sent him to the king; but he would not come to him; and when he sent again the second time, he would not come. 30) Therefore he said unto his servants, see Job‟s field is near mine, and he has barley there; go and set it on fire. And Absalom's servants set the field on fire. 31) Then Joab arose, and came to Absalom unto his house, and said unto him, Wherefore have thy servants set my field on fire? 32) And Absalom answered Joab, Behold, I sent unto thee, saying, come hither, that I may send thee to the king, to say, Wherefore am I come from Geshur? It had been good for me to have been there still, now therefore let me see the king's face; and if there be any inquity in me, let him kill me. 33) So Joab came to the king, and told him: and when he had called for Absalom, he came to the king, and bowed himself on his face to the ground before the king: and the king kissed Absalom. Let‟s see how this purging process takes place. First we see that Absalom is still a wolf. Absalom had two full years in which to repent. His only desire each and every day was to replace the king. He had 730 days for the cancer of sin to grow and consume him. He is tired of waiting. He wants to be king and he wants it now. Once again we see Absalom circumventing God's way. He could have gone to the king at any time. All he had to do was repent, but Absalom had not changed. He expected everyone else to conform to his desires. After all, if everyone else would do what they were suppose to do he would be alright. Absalom still considered everything and everyone expendable for his glory. He was still a user. He had Joab's field burned to get what he wanted. This is the same Joab that brought him back into the kingdom. This is the same Joab that judged God's will according to his emotions. Well, he wanted Absalom back. Maybe this is God's way of rewarding Joab for his efforts on Absalom‟s behalf. Instead of using this time to repent and prove himself worthy so God could give him the kingdom. He used the time to advance his own desire. Absalom had the desire to lead. He had the ability to lead. The only thing he did not have was the attitude of a leader. Notice Absalom's response to the burning of Joabs field. “I sent for you but you did not come”. Look, Joab, it was your fault I had to burn your field. If you would have just come when I called then everything would have been fine. Oh well, your here now so forget it. Here‟s what I want you to do.' The arrogance of this man! Keep in mind that in his mind he really is innocent. Everything that has happened to him is someone else's fault. Well, Absalom has gotten his way again. He got his audience with the king. He goes before the king, bows and receives a kiss. God's man has to beware of those who would pat him on the back. First make sure they do not have a knife in their hand. Just an observation in closing. I am not sure of the application or even if there is an application. Here we have a king kissing a wolf. In the Gospels we have a wolf kissing a king. CONCLUSION We have seen how Satan uses sin to destroy God's work, how Satan uses a wolf to challenge the king's authority and how Satan uses others to get the wolf back into the fold once he has been removed. We have seen how the king's lack of action contributed to the problem. David could not act for two basic reasons: 1. He could not forgive himself for past sins. 2. He was too close to the situation. David's inability to accept God's forgiveness for his sin was a weight he did not have to carry. God forgave him and put his sin away but David could not forgive himself. Whether it was because the people he had hurt were continuously in his thoughts or because he no longer felt worthy of the position he was filling. Whichever the case, David had only four options open to him. 1. To get help from someone who could help him live with his past actions. 2. To forgive himself and perform the task God left him to do. 3. To resign as king and let the cancer of self pity consume him. 4. To remain in office and allow events to meander without direction. Unfortunately David chose the last of these options. It was his lack of action at the start of this chain of events that allowed the wolf to gain enough influence in the kingdom to threaten the king's very existence. Satan well understands the principle of "binding the strong man of the house" Matthew 12:29. Satan has bound David and is now ready to split the kingdom. All the preparations have been made. Everyone is in place. Absalom now knows the king is not a serious threat to his challenge. He is now ready to take by force what God has deemed him unfit to have. This time God does nothing. He drove the wolf out and God‟s man invited him back now God‟s man will have to deal with him. God will strengthen him but he will suffer the consequences of deliberate sin. Satan’s fourth attack - The work A. Turning the heart’s of the people To split a log a woodsman uses wedges. He drives them into the log. First cracking the log then completely splitting it. In the same manner Satan uses wedges to split God's work. To prevent this God‟s man needs to know what wedges Satan is using and how to counter them. The first wedge Satan drives is between the God‟s man and the people. He does this to gain a following for the wolf. These followers are then used as soldiers in the upcoming battle. It is at this point that people start taking sides. Battle lines are drawn. Issues begin to be brought up. These issues do not have to be true, only emotional. The first issue Satan raises is that of authority II Samuel 15:1-2. 1) And it came to pass after this that Absalom prepared him chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him. 2) And Absalom rose up early, and stood beside the way of the gate; and it was so, that when any man that had a controversy came to the king for judgement, that Absalom called unto him and said, Of what city art thou? and he said, Thy servant is one of the tribes of Israel. Absalom presents himself as having the same authority as the king. Satan knows a divided kingdom can‟t stand. Once the issue of leadership is raised Satan has a divided kingdom. All he has to do now is to drive another wedge and enlarge the crack. In his first steps toward overthrowing the kingdom Absalom has laid the groundwork for his own defeat. He has miscalculated in three areas. Absalom's first miscalculation was in misjudging Satan. Absalom thought himself to be more important than he was. He sees himself as unexpendable. Everyone is expendable to Satan. Satan will use anyone or anything to lead people astray. He has no greater feeling for the one he uses than the one he leads astray. He hates them all equally. Once their usefulness is over he will discard the leader as easily as the followers. Satan gives no second chance to those he uses. Absalom's second miscalculation was in misjudging God. God, unlike Satan, is in the business of forgiveness and second chances. God may be slow to anger but He does anger. Absalom has mistaken God's patience for God's approval. Just because God doesn‟t punish a person immediately does not mean He approves of their actions. Absalom's third miscalculation was in misjudging himself. Absalom wanted the privileges of being king without the responsibilities. That is why he is willing to take shortcuts to obtain the office. He is not willing to earn the kingdom. He wants the authority over people but not the responsibility for others lives. It was these miscalculations that lead to his downfall. This brings up a very interesting question. Since God knew the rebellion would fail, why allow it? The answer to this question lies in I Kings 18:25-41. In the contest between Jehovah and Baal, Elijah tells the people in verse 40-41, "You let them in, you must drive them out". God had already driven the wolf out and his being allowed back was a conscious act of the king against God's will. Now the wolf must be driven out. God will also use the split to remove future stumbling blocks to the kingdom (Romans 14:13). Once Satan has another authority among God's people the question is how does he get the people to follow him? The answer is simple. He has the false leader point out the king's errors II Samuel 15:3. 3) And Absalom said unto him, See, thy matters are good and right; but there is no man deputed of the king to hear thee. The only problem with Absalom's accusation was that it was true. It is one thing for a leader to have enemies trying to take his people. It is quite another for him to provide them with the ammunition they need to accomplish the task. If God‟s man is not performing his God given responsibilities someone else will. Everyone has aspects of their job they don‟t like. The pastorate is no different. These are usually the areas that need the most attention. God‟s man has to set aside the time to perform these task. He needs the discipline that comes by doing them. It is usually in performing these tasks that he learns new truths about God. Once Absalom has pointed out the king's errors he can now tell everyone how well he would have performed these tasks II Samuel 15:4-6. 4) Absalom said moreover, Oh that I were made Judge in the land, that every man which hath any suit or cause might come unto me, I would do him justice! 5) And it was so, that when any man came nigh to him to do him obeisance, he put forth his hand, and took him, and kissed him. 6) And on this manner did Absalom to all Israel that came to the king for judgement: so Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel. It is easy to know how a job should be done. It is quite another to be able to perform that job properly day after day. Absalom's lack of ability caused God to rule him unfit to be king. This ruling, however, did not stop Absalom's from desiring to be king. Absalom set out t poison the people‟s confidence in their king. He did this with promises. Promises he knew he would not have to keep. He promised them a fair deal in verse four implying they are not getting one now. God's man has to be fair with his people. He can‟t have two standards. He already knows that when he judges 50% of the people will disagree with him. The only way he can gain a reputation of being fair is by being consistent (II Timothy 4:1-2). If he is consistent with his people they will find it easy to trust and follow him. Absalom gave the people a friendly greeting. Absalom was available to the people. He was not stand-offish. He made them feel like he cared about them even though he didn‟t. His purpose was using them to get the kingdom away from David. If a wolf can make people think he cares when he doesn‟t then why can't God's man show he cares when he does? It could be that a wolf does not carry the weight of the kingdom. He only carries the joy of his own greed. God's man can learn a lesson here. He can‟t let the burden of the job weigh him down. He has to treat each situation as a first time event. Once he loses the joy he had when he first entered the ministry and it becomes just a job he is ripe for the picking. Then Absalom takes away the last thing God's people have, their hope. He then replaces it with a false hope. Once the people lose faith in their leader there is nothing to prevent them from scattering. Once scattered, they will follow any strong personality. That is why Absalom was able to steal the hearts of the people. In any kingdom with more than one strong personality, only one will dominate. If neither one will submit then one will have to go. If God's man shows fear or weakness Satan will use it to drive a wedge between him and his people. Once Satan has taken the king's people it is then time for him to drive his second wedge into the crack. In doing so he will completely split the work. Until this wedge is used, the king can still be victorious without a split. The work may splinter but a split can be avoided. However, once the wolf gets the king's throne, his authority, the king is in a battle for his life. B. Taking the king’s throne The wolf has two means at his disposal to take the king's authority. First he lies to the king II Samuel 15:7-9. 7) And it came to pass after forty years, that Absalom said unto the king, I pray thee, let me go and pay my vow, which I have vowed unto the lord, in Hebron. 8) For thy servant vowed a vow while I abode at Gershur in Syria saying, If the Lord shall bring me again indeed to Jersalem, then I will serve the LORD. 9) And the king said unto him, Go in peace. So he arose, and went to Hebron. He does this by misrepresenting spiritual facts. (Note in verse 7 the term forty years should read four years.) Notice how the wolf places an air of spirituality around his actions. "I made a vow, now let me pay it." What gall! Instead of letting God use him he is using God. Absalom was in rebellion while in Geshur. How could he have made a spiritual decision while walking in the world? God's man has to be on guard against those who use spiritual lies for their own good. Taking verses out of context or even lying about scriptural facts is not beneath a wolf. A wolf can always point to a Scripture to prove that what the king is doing is wrong. Remember Satan used Scripture in an attempt to mislead Jesus. One puzzling fact is if the wolf is so convinced that what God's man is doing is wrong, then why does he work with him? Surely the work can be straightened out without harming God‟s people or God‟s work. On this matter of making spiritual decisions I would like to interject a personal thought. I will confess two things before I do. First, I know this will not set well with the majority of people in today's churches. Second, I do not have a simple answer to the question. I just offer it as food for thought. I can't help but wonder about the matter of church votes. I know that in America we value everyone's right to make there own decisions. However, I question the wisdom of placing spiritual decisions in the hands of carnal believers. I am not suggesting that people have no say in the governing of the church. I simply wonder if most decisions shouldn‟t be made by a governing board. The only problem with this is that the wolf is usually on the board. This is just one of the things I think about. In the passage before us we find another way Absalom tricked the king. Absalom falsely raised the king's hopes. David had been praying for Absalom for the last four years. Absalom now leads the king to believe his prayers have been answered. When in actuality this is only the lull before the storm. God's man has to keep in mind that he is dealing with a wolf, not just a backslidden Christian. Anyone who has been in God's service very long has learned that when things appear to be going God's way, watch out. God's man has to be led by the Holy Spirit and not by the way things appear. Absalom is now prepared to drive the third wedge into God‟s work. He is going to take the king's authority. He is now going to place worldly people in Spiritual places II Samuel 15:10-12. 10) But Absalom sent spies throughout all the tribes of Israel saying, As soon as ye hear the sound of the trumpet, then ye shall say, Absalom reigneth in Hebron. 11) And with Absalom went two hundred men out of Jerusalem, that were called: and they went in their simplicity, and they knew not any thing. 12) And Absalom sent for Ahithopel the Gilonite, David's counselor, from his city, even from Giloh, while he offered sacrifices. And the conspiracy was strong; for the people increased continually with Absalom. Absalom knows that if the rebellion is to succeed it has to have the appearance of being Godly. If people who have authority are behind a rebellion then it will appear to have God's backing. However, God never approves of rebellion, no matter who is behind it. "For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft..." I Samuel 15:23. God will use the rebellion to accomplish His will but He never approves of the rebellion. Absalom knew that what he was doing was wrong. That is why his plans were made in secret. God's man has to keep in mind that wolves are carnal, not stupid. Absalom did another thing that was intelligent on his part. He infiltrated the king's inner circle verse 12. Absalom knew where to find a kindred spirit. When we see who Ahitaphel was, we understand why he was only too willing to help. When II Samuel 11:3 is compared with II Samuel 23:34 we discover that Ahiphaphel was Bathsheba's grandfather. He had reason to hate David and to help Absalom. This is another case of David's past actions coming back to haunt him. This brings us back to a previously discussed problem. That is letting carnal believers make spiritual decisions. What has to be done with carnal believers is to minimize their influence. This means not placing them in positions of authority. If they already have positions of authority remove them as soon as possible. There will be trouble in removing them if not done in a Godly manner. It must be both in God's way and in God's time. I had one pastor tell me of a case where it took over three years to remove a wolf. But by waiting it was the wolf's supporters that demanded his removal, thus preventing a confrontation between the pastor and the wolf. In this passage we discover how people with kindred spirits find each other. People, like water, will seek their own level. Therefore God's man needs to be constantly aware of who is spending time with whom. We have all heard the expression that "One person is not good for another person". Well the truth is that they are not good for each other. Rebels bring out the rebellion in other rebels. C. Attacking the king It has finally happened Absalom has split the kingdom and war has been declared. Absalom first took the king's people and then the king's authority. He is now secure enough to attack the king himself II Samuel 15:13-14. 13) And there came a messenger to David, saying. The hearts of the men of Israel are after Absalom. 14) And David said unto all his servants that were with him at Jerusalem, Arise, and let us flee; for we shall not else escape from Absalom: make speed to depart, lest he overtake us suddenly, and bring evil upon us, and smite the city with the edge of a sword. David was taken by surprise. He did not allow himself to see the obvious. With all Absalom had done, David never allowed himself to believe that things could have ever gone this far. David was hoping that sin would do something that sin never does, get better on its own. David's lack of action has brought war to Israel. David did not want the war but it is now upon him. David now must do something he has put off for four years. He has to face Absalom's rebellion. Is it not amazing how God forces us to eventually face those things we put off. No matter how long we put them off, God brings us face to face with them. We also notice that our fears are like a river. They are small at the beginning and can be easily crossed. However, the longer they are allowed to meander, the wider they become and more difficult to cross. David no longer has to decide what to do with Absalom. Absalom has made that decision for him. David now only has to decide where and when to fight. Once the war is forced upon God‟s man the only advantage left to him is the decision of where and when the battle will take place. "Do I fight now or do I run to fight later or do I give it all to the wolf without a fight?" Remember John 10:12 the hireling runs when the wolf comes. That verse eliminates one decision for God's man. He can‟t run. He will fight. It takes courage to face a wolf. It takes wisdom to know when to face him. David knows that this was just the first battle in what will be a long costly war. It was wisdom not cowardice that caused David to leave Jerusalem. If he had stayed he would have been captured and all would have been lost. You see the only thing worse than God‟s work having two strong leaders is God‟s work having only a wolf for a leader. David also knew something else about splitting God's work. Splitting is not the way God increases His work. When God is directing a division within His work there is peace and harmony. The outcome of such a division is best for everyone. David knew there was no harmony here. He knew a war would be costly. A war would take its toll in sleepless nights. In money that could be better spent in advancing the kingdom. The greatest cost of all would be in causalities. Yes, David would lose friends. Once his worst fear was losing his son. He will now lose much more. It is hard to say, but sometimes you must sacrifice parts in order to preserve the body. Yes, sacrifices will be made and for that reason God's man can never afford to lose the war. David knows that if he loses the war, he also loses his ministry. He may not have wanted to lead. He has tried ever since his sin with Bathsheba to feel sorry for himself. He has tried everything in his power to get out of doing what God called him to do. That is now behind him. Now he will fight. He can no longer say "If only I had....". He will now face God's enemy, his son, the wolf, Absalom. Thank God that He will not allow his king to run forever. God not only allows the war so the king will act like a king but God promises the victory if the war is conducted His way. That is the rest of this study. God's campaign against a wolf. Response to Satan’s attack A. The kings response We have all heard the saying “It‟s always darkest just before the dawn”. Unfortunately for David dawn is a long way off. Satan has used the wolf to split God‟s work. David is in a fight for his life. It is at this point that the cavalry should come to the rescue of the encircled wagon train but this is not about to happen. Things are going to get a lot worse before they get better. You see God has used the events to work in David‟s life. David must now take a refresher course in God‟s boot camp before he can again perform as a king. Since time is at a premium, David has to relearn a great deal in a short period of time. It is from these early decisions that victory will come. David has to relearn how to follow God. David has to now react in a Godly manner to everything God allows in his path, proving he once again can lead. Not to God but himself as well as others. If God had been through with David He would have removed him long ago. David has to regain confidence in himself. He has to exercise his spiritual muscles in order to rule in a Godly manner. The wolf has God‟s man in a fight for his life and God has him in the training session of his life. David‟s response is crucial. His response under these conditions is justification of God‟s confidence in him. Some may say, “If that is so, why did he run? Could not God deliver him from Absalom as He did from Goliath?” The question is not could God but rather would God. Does not the same Bible that says, “resist the Devil” (James 4:7) also say, “flee youthful lust” (II Timothy 2:22)? David knew that different enemies have to be fought in different ways. You never fight an enemy from within the same way you fight one from without. Problems arise when God‟s leaders run when they should resist and resist when they should run. In either case they will lose. David was calm in the midst of turmoil thus allowing the Holy Spirit to direct him. David now makes five very important decisions that lead to his eventual victory. First, David accepts the help of his proven servants II Samuel 15:15. 15) And the king‟s servants said unto the king, Behold, thy servants are ready to do whatsoever my lord the king shall appoint. Goliath was not too big for David to tackle alone but Absalom was and David knew it. In the case of Goliath it was God‟s people against Satan‟s forces. This time it is God‟s people against God‟s people. It is for that reason David knew he needed help. Not just help from anyone but from those servants who had proven themselves in the past. They would make up the nucleus of his future army. He does not have time now to regain the loyalty of the majority. He must have those about him that still love him and understand that no matter what, David is still God‟s anointed king in Israel. The second thing David did was to provide for his own peace of mind II Samuel 15:16-18. 16) And the king went forth, and all his household after him. And the king left ten women, which were concubines, to keep the house. 17) And the king went forth, and all the people after him, and tarried in a place that was afar off. 18) And all his servants passed on beside him; and all the Cherethites, and all the Pelethites, and all the Gittites, six hundred men which came after him from Gath, passed on before the king. In II Timothy 2:4 Paul said: “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” David took Paul‟s advice several hundred years before Paul gave it. David knew he had to put everything out of his mind except Absalom. That did not mean forsaking all that he had just prioritized. David entrusted his home and even his own safety to people on whom he could depend. Today‟s leaders, when faced by a wolf have the same concerns. God has always proven Himself faithful, but our human nature is still with us! The leader has a family to provide for. He has obligations that have to be met. He has placed himself between God‟s people and a wolf. Oh, he has a promise of ultimate victory but he does not have a promise of no wounds. If the wounds cost him his livelihood, what then? Well, he can always sell insurance. Then we have another potential wolf on our hands. Please, do not misunderstand me, I am not minimizing God‟s provision, I only want to show the danger involved in the upcoming battle. Satan does not mind loosing a wolf. He knows that if the battle is costly enough he may be able to transform the former king into a wolf. Satan only wants to harm God‟s work. What better way to hurt God‟s work then to transform shepherds into wolves. This is why God‟s leader provided for his own peace of mind. God even places people there for that reason. David did not let his bruised ego overwhelm him. He accepted God‟s way out. He used what God provided in doing so he provided for his household and allowed his efforts to be focused on the upcoming campaign. David did not choose a good course of action, he chose the best course of action. The third course of action David takes shows he is starting to get serious about Absalom II Samuel 15:19-22. 19) Then said the king to Ittai the Gittite, wherefore goest thou also with us? return to thy place and abide with the king; for thou are a stranger, and also an exile. 20) Whereas thou camest but yesterday, should I this day make thee go up and down with us? seeing I go whither I may return thou, and take back thy brethern: mercy and truth be with thee. 21) And Ittai answered the king, and said, As the LORD liveth, and as my lord the king liveth surely in what place my lord the king shall be whether in death or life, even there also will thy servant be. 22) And David said to Ittai, Go and pass over, And Ittai the Gittite passed over, and all his men and all the little ones that were with him. David releases his friends from any false sense of loyalty. David wants to know exactly where those around him stand. He does not want their allegiance because of what they hope to gain. He does not call in any past favors they may owe him. He wants them where they feel comfortable. He wants them to make up their own mind without any pressure. David also knew that he could only use those who understood the true need of the hour. David wanted Ittai to settle the issue with himself and with God. Once Ittai did this he could not then blame David for any hardships to come. David allowed his friend the freedom of choice. He understood that he may disapprove or even be hurt by their choice but David allowed God to direct them. He did not try to twist their arm. David knew he had made some serious mistakes. He also knew that his sins might have caused his friends to lose confidence in him. That is why David allowed them to choose for themselves. David‟s reward for allowing God to do the directing came immediately. Ittai will follow David as long as they and God lives. This is the same answer Naomi got when she allowed Ruth the same freedom. Ah, you say, but Orpah decided to leave. That was okay. There was only one Boaz and he did not have any brothers anyway. Nothing can be more rewarding than the faithfulness of a friend that has seen you fail, but still believes in you. He is one who knows all about you and loves you in spite of what he knows. God allows a friend like this as a special reward. If God‟s man has never had a friend such as this, he has missed one of the greatest joys of the ministry. The fourth action David takes is to keep a proper perspective of God II Samuel 15:23. 23) And all the country wept with a loud voice, and all the people passed over; the king also himself passed over the brook Kidron, and all the people passed over, toward the way of the wilderness. David does two things here that shows he has regained his perspective of God. That same freshness he had as a youth. That same confidence that sustained him while protecting his father‟s sheep. That same understanding that caused him to reply to Saul, “Is there not a cause?” That same courage that enabled him to defeat Goliath. David is no longer the indecisive king that aided the wolf in his rebellion. He has gained his second wind. He has a new desire and determination to see this thing through. No, this time David will not quit because he knows who the real loser will be, God‟s people. David knows that no matter the outcome, it is always God‟s work and God‟s people that lose during a split. Even if the wolf and God‟s man get half the people each, there is a looser. Even if there is no loss of life or property, God‟s people loose! Yes, there will be those who say, “Now we have two works going on for God”. That simply just is not the case. What we have is a sudo-work born of rebellion trying to outwardly appear to be Godly. The problem will be that they may conform to the letter of God‟s law but they can never conform to the spirit of the law. They will always have the same spirit as their founding father, the wolf, the spirit of rebellion. The only cure for the spirit of rebellion is the same cure their father rejected. They must repent and submit but this is not easy for a wolf to do. Even sadder than the work itself is the number of Godly men these works have swallowed up in the course of their life time. Just as Israel devoured and stoned the prophets these works will destroy Godly men that could have born fruit elsewhere. Let me add here that there have been exceptions but very few. There is a scriptural way to bring these works back to a Godly path but that is another study. Then there is the group who followed God‟s appointed leader and they too are losers. They will carry the stigma of the split for years. Instead of advancing they will have to retake old ground. They will have to heal before they can advance. If the wolf had not been allowed back then the work would not have split. Things would have been different. The parasites that were sapping the life from the body would have been removed and the body would have started the healing process. How fast the body heals will depend upon how healthy it was before the split. The second thing that David does that shows he is getting back to his old self is that he starts obeying God‟s Word again II Samuel 15:24-26. 24) And lo Zadok also, and all the Levites were with him, bearing the ark of the covenant of God: and they set down the ark of God; and Abiathar went up, until all the people had done passing out of the city. 25) And the king said unto Zadok, Carry back the ark of God into the city: if I shall find favour in the eyes of the LORD, he will bring me again, and shew me both it, and his habitation: 26) But if he thus say, I have no delight in thee; behold, here am I, let him do to me as seemeth good unto him. David‟s first act of obedience was in obeying an old truth. He had to do this before he could expect God to give him any new insights. David knew from Numbers 4:15 that the ark belonged in the tabernacle of the congregation. He understood all to well that the ark was not the king‟s private plaything. The ark was given to the people not to the king. The king was given to protect the people and direct them to God. How could David do this if he takes the ark - God‟s symbol of His presence. Besides, David remembers all to well that misusing of the ark cost lives. David knew the story in I Samuel 4 where Israel tried to force God to do things their way. He understood that the ark was not something that man could use to get God to do his bidding. Today we do not have the ark so this is not a danger in our congregations. We do not have such a weapon to turn upon God and say “The ark is here now you must obey”. Today believer only have to pray and everyone knows that if you have faith then God has to grant whatever you ask. Right! Yes, Believers in our day can be thankful that we do not have anything to misuse and abuse like the ark. The next step David takes out of the slim pit is to tell Zadok to stay in Jerusalem II Samuel 15:27-29. 27)The king said also unto Zadok the priest, Art not thou a seer? return into the city in peace, and your two sons with you, Ahimaaz thy son, and Jonathan the son of Abiathar. 28) See, I will tarry in the plain of the wilderness, until there come word from you to certify me. 29) Zadok therefore and Abiathar carried the ark of God again to Jerusalem: and they tarried there. It is interesting that David sent the priest back. It is easy to lose sight of the fact that God has people on both sides of an issue. Even those who are wrong are still His and need to be cared for. David realized that Zadok and Abiathar had jobs to do and made it possible for them to obey God‟s will for their lives. No king can be successful if he prevents others from performing their God given duties. Even if those duties are to the king‟s enemies. David and the priest remained friends. The priest‟s actions of staying in Jerusalem were not out of rebellion but of duty. I also believe that these men prayed for David and his men daily which had no small part in the victory. Allowing them to perform their God given assignments they were willing and able to help the king regain his rightful place as head of God‟s work when he came back to Jerusalem. The third step David takes out of the slime pit was to start worshiping God again II Samuel 15:30-32. 30) And David went up by the ascent of mount Olivet, and wept as he went up, and had his head covered, and he went barefoot: and all the people that was with him covered every man his head, and they went up, weeping as they went up. 31) And one told David, saying, Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom. And David said, O LORD, I pray thee, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness. 32) And it came to pass, that when David was come to the top of the mount, where he worshipped God, behold, Hushai the Archite came to meet him with his coat rent, and earth upon his head: I would like to know the number of times in the last four years that David tried to reason things out. The number of times he has argued with God. The number of times he screamed, “WHY?” out of sheer desperation. How many times, in total frustration, he just did nothing. Well, that is all behind him now. He has relearned the art of worship. Worship comes from both the heart and the head. When worship comes from the head alone you have cold orthodoxy. When worship comes from the heart alone you have sentimentality. Worship has to be a balance of faith and knowledge. David is now allowing the problems he faces to direct him back safely into the arms of God. David is regaining his perspective of who God is. Oh, for awhile, David allowed the flesh to harden his heart against God. Then in verse 30 we see that God is wetting David‟s heart with his tears. Thereby causing David to become pliable in the hands of God. And God can and will accomplish great thing with anyone who is pliable in His hands. This process does not happen all at once. Just as backsliding does not happen all at once. It happens step by step, heartache by heartache but David is climbing out of the slim pit so Absalom look out David is back. We should not loose sight of why David was weeping before God. He was not only weeping because of what had happened but also because of who God is. David knew that God was in total control. David knew that only God could turn Ahithaphel‟s counsel into foolishness. But how God would accomplish it David did not know nor did he care. He only knew that God could and would do it. David was looking beyond the circumstances to the God of the circumstances. If he couldn‟t have looked beyond the circumstances I am sure he would have quit trying and given up. Every pastor under attack has to be able to look beyond the attack and discover what God is doing, and to honestly look into his own life in order to discover why God has allowed the attack. He has to submit to God allowing God to work in his life. This is a very difficult process but for God‟s man, as well as the work to become fruitful, it must be done. The fifth thing we see David doing that assures victory is preparing for the battle. It is interesting that this is the last thing we see David doing. First David prepared himself, then he prepared for the battle. David understood that the upcoming battle was God‟s and to properly prepare for it he had to be right with God, because God will be directing the battle. It is only after the king has prepared himself and cares for those under him can he then turn his attention to the battle. The nature of a shepherd is God first, sheep second, himself last. A hireling would care for his own needs first then with the time left he would care for the sheep. David may not have always been right but he has always been a shepherd first. With an attitude like this no wonder people will follow him. King David was not a hireling. David prepared for the battle by placing people where they could be best used by God II Samuel 15:32-37. 32) And it came to pass, that when David was come to the top of the mount, where he worshipped God, behold, Hushai the Archite came to meet him with his coat rent, and earth upon his head: 33) Unto whom David said, If thou passest on with me, then thou shalt be a burden unto me: 34) But if thou return to the city, and say unto Absalom, I will be thy servant, O king; as I have been thy father‟s servant hitherto, so will I now also be thy servant: then mayest thou for me defeat the counsel of Ahithophel. 35) And hast thou not there with thee Zadok and Abiathar the priests? therefore it shall be, that what thing soever thou shalt hear out of the king‟s house, thou shalt tell it to Zadok and Abiathar the priests. 36) Behold, they have there with them their two sons, Ahimaaz Zadok‟s son, and Jonathan Abiathar‟s son; and by them ye shall send unto me every thing that ye can hear. 37) So Hushai David‟s friend came into the city, and Absalom came into Jerusalem. David was not using people. He was placing them where God could use them. David knew that he was responsible for the damage done to God‟s work and he wanted to fix it. He also knew that the removal of the wolf was his responsibility. David knows that the Kingdom is God‟s not his. That makes the upcoming battle God‟s not David‟s. Once David was able to communicate this truth to the people he did not have to beg for their support they gave it willingly. David knew that Husha could best be used in getting information to him. Let me say here that I don‟t have an answer for verse 34 where David asked Husai to lie. This you will have to work out for yourself. The fact is Husha did lie and God did use it. David knew his people. He knew their ability and where God could use them. He could have only learned this by spending time with them. David‟s wisdom in putting the right person in the right job could have only come from God. Putting the wrong person in a job will only lead to disaster. It‟s never enough to have someone fill an office it has to be the person God wants there the time God wants them there. Moses, the son of pharaoh‟s daughter, was the wrong man to deliverer Israel but Moses, the shepherd, was the right man for the job. The person and the office have to match. B. The response of the people There are four basic attitudes expressed by the people involved. First, people who will not take sides. Second, people who want God's man to get his. Third, people who remain loyal to God and His chosen leader. Fourth, people who only want to advance their own goal. God‟s man has to know how to deal with each group. First we look at those who want get involved II Samuel 16:1-4.  And when David was a little past the top of the hill, behold, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth met him, with a couple of asses saddled, and upon them two hundred loaves of bread, and an hundred bunches of raisins, and an hundred of summer fruits, and a bottle of wine. 2) And the king said unto Ziba, What meanest thou by these? And Ziba said, The asses be for the king's household to ride on; and the bread and summer fruit for the young men to eat; and the wine, that such as be faint in the wilderness may drink. 3) And the king said, And where is thy master's son? and Ziba said unto the king, Behold, he abideth at Jerusalem: for he said, To day shall the house of Israel restore me the kingdom of my father. 4) Then said the king to Ziba, Behold, thine are all that pertained unto Mephibosheth. And Ziba said, I humbly beseech thee that I may find grace in thy sight, my lord, O king. To understand what is going on in these verses, we must understand who Ziba and Mephibosheth are. For background you need to read II Samuel 4:4 and 9:1-13. In these verses, we discover that Mephibosheth was Jonathan's son and Saul's grandson. Ziba was once one of Saul's servants. Mephibosheth was lame from infancy because of an accident. Because David and Jonathan were very close David gave Mephibosheht all of King Saul's land and Ziba to care for him. This all took place about twenty years prior to Absalom's rebellion. While David was running from Absalom, Ziba met him a little past the top of the hill. Ziba presented David with food, drink and transportation, verses 1-2. When David inquired as to the whereabouts of Mephibosheth's son, he was told the young man was safe in Jerusalem, verse 3. This is typical of someone who does not want to get involved. They will give reasons why they want get involved but in this case his reasons were personal. Mephiobsheth's son was hoping that David and Absalom would kill each other and the people would return him to the throne once held by his great grandfather Saul. He cared nothing of the cost to God's people. He cared only for himself. As long as he did not have to pay he did not care who did. He did not care that he could not advance the kingdom. He only cared for his own goals. Believing that more things brings more happiness. He didn‟t understand that happiness and joy are both functions of the spirit and not dictated by circumstance. Changing circumstances will not produce happiness but changing the attitude will. Mephibosheth's son was not a wolf, nor could he ever be. He would never have the courage to openly attack David. He knew it was David's hand that fed him. Strange, but the very thing that kept him from being a wolf, also disqualified him from ever being a king. God's man has to have the courage of their convictions. Mephibosheth's son was willing to let others do the fighting while he played both sides. When God was looking for a man to make up the hedge and stand in the gap Mephibosheth's son declined. Ziba, on the other hand, understood exactly what God was doing. He wanted to align himself and his household with God's action. He knew that he could not fight but he did what he could. He was a faithful steward of his master's goods. With or without Mephibosheth's approval we are not told, he used his master's goods for his master's benefit. The reason for his action was not rebellion. He was working for his master, not against him. He used his master's wealth for this master's benefit. It‟s a sad thing when a servant has more understanding than his master. The problem with being a master is that it is too easy to forget that you also have a master. Ziba did serve two masters and by serving the greater, he served them both very well. Second, we look at those who oppose God‟s man. This person has the attitude, "Now you get yours". They differ from Mephibosheth's son in that they are not necessarily out for their own gain. They are just happy to see God's man in trouble. They only want to see God‟s man hurting. This person has been offended by something that has happened. Since they are driven by that offense there will be no reasoning with them. They do not want to hear the facts their mind is made up. They can‟t see beyond their own rage to comprehend the truth II Samuel 16:5-6. 5) And when king David came to Bahurim, behold, thence came out a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shemei the son of Gera: he came forth, and cursed still as he came. 6) And he cast stones at David and at all the servants of king David; and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left. This person can‟t and won‟t see what God is doing. He refuses to see that God is working on the king. He only wants God‟s man punished, not corrected, just hurting like he is hurting. No matter what disaster God allows into His leader‟s life it is not enough. He does not want justice. He wants a pound of flesh. The only cure he sees for his hurt and pain is to hurt God‟s man. He blames God‟s man for his condition. He refuses to accept any blame. Since he can‟t punch God in the nose, he will settle for the next best thing - punching God's man. He loves it when the king is down and will do all in his power to keep him there. Since he has no victory in his life, he resents anyone who is willing to put forth the effort to climb out of the slime pit of despair. The thing he does best is to judge the king's past life. Forgiveness for others is not in his vocabulary II Samuel 16:7-8. 7) And thus said Shimei, when he cursed, Come out, come out, thou bloody man, and thou man of Belial: 8) The Lord hath returned upon thee all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose stead thou hast reigned; and the Lord hath delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom thy son: and behold, thou are taken in thy mischief because thou are a bloody man. In verse 7 the term Belial means worthless or wicked man. Shimei here is judging David for his past actions. Some of his accusations were right and some were wrong. His accusation in verse 8 that God has placed David in this trouble is correct. However his reasoning is incorrect. This is an excellent case of a man reaching a correct conclusion for all the wrong reasons. David was in this mess because of his sin in chapter 11, not for replacing Saul. It was God who replaced Saul, not David. David was just the man God chose to fill the vacancy created by Saul being removed. The way David responded to Shimei is the way God‟s man has to respond to the Shimeis within the church II Samuel 16:9-10. 9) Then said Abishai the son of Zeruiah unto the king, Why should this dead dog curse my lord, the king? Let me go over, I pray thee and take off his head. 10) And the king said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah? so let him curse David, who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so? David shows a great deal of grace. He held the power of life and death over Shimei. If it is true that meekness is power under control then David showed a great deal of meekness. The question that comes to mind is why did David react the way he did? First of all David looked beyond Shimei to the God who was directing him. David may have been innocent of Shimei's charges but he was guilty of sin. David remembered what God had said in II Samuel 12:11. Therefore David accepted the rebuke as from God and protected the one who delivered it. This is proof of David‟s character. He protected Saul twice. When God uses someone to point out something in our life whether we like the message or not, we must not strike back. If we do then we force God to reemphasize the message. David understood that a recipient of God's mercy has the obligation to be merciful to others. David understood the principle found in Proverbs 16:7. He knew that anyone could repay evil for evil but God requires good for evil. Since David had accepted God's protection, he then was required to give that same protection. David was willing to let God settle the account and collect any debt owed II Samuel 16:11-12. 11) And David said to Abishai, and to all his servants, Behold, my son, which came forth of my bowels, seeketh my life: how much more now may this Benjamite do it? let him alone, and let him curse; for the LORD hath bidden him. 12) It may be that the LORD will look on mine afflictions, and that the LORD will requite me good for his cursing this day. If Shimei owed David anything, he owed God much more. By allowing God to collect any debt, David grew in stature before God and in the sight of his men. David refused to be drawn into a debate that he could not win. He did not try to "...answer a fool according to his folly". This incident was directed by Satan to further draw David down. But David used the incident to help him grow in grace. Each time the king meets a person such as Shimei he has to regain his perspective of the battle II Samuel 16:13-14. 13) And David and his men went by the way, Shimei went along on the hill's side over against him, and cursed as he went, and threw stones at him, and cast dust. 14) And the king, and all the people that were with him, came weary, and refreshed themselves there. At this point the temptation is to throw up your hands and say, "Who cares" or "What does it matter". All David needs is for someone to tell him how sorry he is. This could have only added to his depression. God‟s man can‟t afford the luxury of self pity. Satan will attack him with self pity but he can‟t afford to be overcome by it. He has to quickly come back to reality. The only way to come back to reality is to be refreshed. If God‟s man has no one to go to he has to learn to draw on the Holy Spirit. If God‟s man does not learn the art of self refreshing Satan will work him to death. David had a battle to fight, a kingdom to defend. He could not be side tracked by Shimei nor could he afford to be overtaxed by Shimei's attack. God‟s man can‟t afford to get so involved in minor battles that he looses the war. He can‟t let himself be spread so thin that he becomes ineffective. He has to learn to let God refresh him, to mount him upon eagle wings. God's man must rest and he can‟t allow Satan to trick him into believing that he is wasting time when he does rest. Third we look at those who serve God. God always has a remnant who have not bowed a knee to Baal II Samuel 16:15-19. 15) And Absalom, and all the people the men of Israel, came to Jerusalem, and Ahithophel with him. 16) And it came to pass, when Hushai the Archite, David's friend, was come unto Absalom, that Hushai said unto Absalom, God save the king. 17) And Absalom said to Hushai, Is this thy kindness to thy friend? Why wentest thou not with thy friend? 18) And Hushai said unto Absalom, Nay: but whom the LORD, and this people, and all the men of Israel, choose, his will I be, and with him will I abide. 19) And again, who should I serve? should I not serve in the presence of his son? as I have served in thy father's presence, so will I be in thy presence. Now that the going has gotten tough, the tough have gotten going. In the midst of great personal danger, Hushai wanted to be used of God. No matter the cost to him personally, he wanted to advance God‟s work. He was willing to place himself in the gap. He would make up the hedge. He was willing to go into the dragon's den for God. Hushai must have been smiling when he watched Absalom enter Jerusalem. Absalom thought he had accomplished what a lion, a bear, Goliath and even Saul could not. He has removed David. Hushai's reply to Absalom's question in verse 17 is priceless. "Why are you not with David, is this how you show your friendship?" Hushai's reply in verse 18-19 was "I serve the king of the people the one God chose to rule Israel." Absalom was so blinded by his own arrogance that he thought Hushai was referring to him. Hushai then must have realized how easy his task would be. This man was so vain he would have believed anything. Hushai would have no problem defeating the counsel of Ahithlphel. When God‟s man can inspire men to this quality of service God's work will progress. There will be no need for tricks or gimmicks. God Himself will bless the work. He will not need to fear when he is away. The work is safe and well guarded. This man is not just another sheep, he is a ram that will fight off a wolf until his last breath. Hushai was the type of man who spent time with God. He would pray. He would go where needed. He would give of his wealth to advance God's work. With men like this God's work can with stand anything thrown at it by the kingdom of darkness. C. The Wolf’s response We have all seen a dog chase a passing car. My mother used to say, "I wonder what he would do if he caught it?" That is the position Absalom finds himself. He is no longer chasing the throne. He now has it. The question is what is he going to do with it II Samuel 16:20-23? 20) Then said Absalom to Ahithophel, Give counsel among you what we shall do. 21) And Ahiphophel said unto Absalom, Go in unto thy father's concubines, which he hath left to keep the house; and all Israel shall hear that thou are abhorred of thy father: then shall the hands of all that are with thee be strong. 22) So they spread Absalom a tent upon the top of the house; and Absalom went in unto his father's concubines in the sight of all Israel. 23) And the counsel of Ahithophel, which he counseled in those days, was as if a man had enquired at the oracle of God: so was all the counsel of Ahithophel both with David and with Absalom. Absalom is about to learn the same lesson that all do who allow their passion to rule their life. Wanting is one thing, having is quite another. It is the thrill of the chase not the trophy on the wall that gives pleasure. The problem is that the trophy has to be dusted. All conquest brings responsibility. Beware of those who reject that responsibility. A study of Absalom's life will show that he has rejected responsibilities all his life. God gave him beauty. He used it to advance his own goal instead of drawing people to God. God gave him wealth. He used it to commit murder instead of advancing God‟s kingdom. God even tried to break his rebellious spirit by using Tamar but he refused to trust God for the outcome. He only wanted to be king not to help his sister. A wolf will always use others to get what he wants. The conclusion reached about a wolf is simple. He has knowledge but not wisdom. He has a ravenous appetite but is never satisfied. He appears to have self control but doesn‟t. He wants privileges but not responsibilities. We find his problem in Proverbs 1:7. I find it interesting that God chose to reveal this truth to the one who later became the rightful king. The wolf does not fear God. Oh, he gives lip service to God but his lifestyle proves him a liar. He does not have the wisdom to use his knowledge. This is proven with one simple question. If he is wise then why did he become a wolf? Another question raised by this passage is why didn't Hushai rebut Ahithophel's advice to Absalom. Why let him take his father's concubines? There were probably three reasons for Hushai's action. First, there is a time and a place to give counsel. When doing battle with a wolf you had better chose your battles carefully. If you give counsel at the wrong time all future counsel will be rejected. Second, eventually every wolf will go too far. When he does God uses his actions to turn his supporters against him. Those former supporters will either leave or return to God‟s man. Third, Absalom did not have time to earn the position of king. God gave David time to learn to be king. No such time was given to Absalom. The difference between God's blessing or cursing with the same gift is how fast and easily God gives it. If something comes too quickly or easily there is a tendency to forget the price paid by others to get God's work to this point. There is usually a lack of appreciation for what God has given. There is a hopeless gap between a wolf‟s knowledge and wisdom. If knowledge is knowing facts then wisdom is the ability to use those facts. It is in the area of wisdom that a wolf is lacking. Fact, Absalom is now the king. Fact, Absalom has no idea of how to be a king. Fact, Absalom turned to Satan's advisors for advice. I would like to raise a question here, one for which that I don‟t have a clear answer. I wonder how much of a part Ahithophel played behind the scene in Absalom's rebellion. One of the main reasons for my curiosity is because God sees to it that Ahithophel is the first one removed. He seems to be the only one in Absalom's camp that really understands what is going on. We will discuss this in more detail later when we get into II Samuel 17. This is an excellent argument in favor of an internship program for those called to make their living of the Gospel. C God’s response It did happen. God's work did split. We now have two diametrically opposed forces fighting for control of God‟s work. But there is nothing new about that this battle dates back to the garden. I do not pretend to know or understand why God allows His work to split. It would seem logical to me for God to intervene and prevent the split entirely. The only thing I am sure of is that I reject totally the theory of some well meaning Christians that try to justify a split by saying, "God's work doubles when there is a split". The only sound reaction to that theory is, "hog wash". God's work doubles when it divides not when it splits. Division is accomplished under the direction of the Holy Spirit. It is done in harmony and with love expressed by all involved. Then afterwards, all are friends and work to advance God's purpose, not only in their life, but also in the lives of those who left. A split occurs when two or more opposing wills clash head on. It is done in spite of the leading of the Holy Spirit. There is no love for the brethren afterwards and the ones no one side don‟t want to see the other side prosper. The only other fact I am sure of is that early in the process there was something God's man could have done that could have prevented or at least minimized the split. That is not an easy thing to say or face but face it we must. David could have prevented this chain of events entirely if he had only dealt with his sin before Israel. He could have prevented Amnon‟s sin with Tamar if he had not been so wrapped up in guilt and self pity and been more attentive to his own household. He could have prevented Ammon‟s murder if he had dealt with Amnon‟s sin of rape. He could have prevented Absalom‟s rebellion if he would have dealt with Absalom‟s sin of murder. He could have prevented the split if he had not let Absalom back into the kingdom once God had seen to his removal. The bottom line here is that God‟s man has to deal with sin whether it is his or someone else‟s. Once he deals with his own sin then God can use him to deal with the sins of others. God has given much to His leaders and as a result He requires much from them. God‟s man will never enjoy dealing with the sins of others. He only has to do it. As a shepherd of God‟s flock he protects the flock by dealing with sin. If he does not deal with sin then he is simply a hireling. A hireling will stick his head in the sand and say, "It's not my job” and hope things will get better but apart from dealing with sin things will never improve. I am convinced that the way of escape that God provides is simply dealing with the sin. It is an awesome responsibility to lead God's people. The time has come for God to respond. God uses His people to respond to Satan‟s attack. He moves people like a chess master would moves pieces on a board placing them where they will be the most effective. At this point in the match there are only six moves to checkmate. These next six moves by God are quick and decisive. Let me list them. 1. Uncovering Satan's plan 2. Spoiling Satan's plan 3. Revealing Satan's plan to David 4. Removing Ahithophel, a very powerful man 5. Providing for David 6. The battle for "Checkmate" God‟s first move to checkmate is to expose Satan's plan of attack II Samuel 17:1-4. 1) Moreover Ahithophel said unto Absalom, let me now choose out twelve thousand men, and I will arise and pursue after David this night: 2) And I will come upon him while he is weary and weak handed, and will make him afraid: and all the people that with him shall flee and I will smite the king only: 3) And I will bring back all the people unto thee: the man whom thou seedest is as if all returned: so all the people shall be in peace. 4) And the saying pleased Absalom well and all the elders of Israel. It only takes a casual glance to see that Ahithophel wanted more than David's defeat. He wanted David's head. And he did not want just anyone to remove it he wanted that pleasure himself. The counsel Ahithophel gave to Absalom would have led to David's defeat and for that reason God had to stop it. God has promised that no weapon formed against His own would prosper. However, in Satan‟s plan we see some insight into the way Satan attacks God's people. First, Ahithophel wanted to attack David while he was weak and weary. Satan does not bother attacking a Christian when he is expecting it or when he has prepared his line of defense. Satan first finds a weakness and then he exploits it. He waits until the believer is weak and weary and then attacks. A Christian has to always be on the alert for Satan's attack especially when he does not feel like fighting. There are two times when the believer is more vulnerable than usual. One is after a spiritual victory. At this time the believer is usually up and will let his guard down. The other time is during a time of depression. It is normal for everyone to get depressed but it is not healthy for anyone to stay depressed. When a believer is depressed he is weak. Keep in mind that once Satan starts an attack, he will continue to press it until the matter is settled. The second phase of Satan's attack is to instill fear in the believer. Over and over in the Scripture God admonishes the believer to "fear not". Fearing the enemy is to believe that he can defeat you. If someone believes he will lose a battle he has already lost. To fear Satan is to give him more power than he actually has. To resist Satan is to deny him the advantage of fear. A word of caution here, courage in the face of an enemy is one thing but stupidity is quite another. Stupidity is to deny that Satan has any power in our lives. As long as we have the old nature Satan has an influence in our lives. We are tempted when we are first drawn away of our own lust (James 1:14). The third phase in Satan‟s attack was to separate God‟s man form God‟s people. Satan accomplishes this by either getting them to sin or discouraging them. Either way Satan has to remove their influence. When the influence of a Godly leader is removed it is easy to scatter the sheep. With no one to 'make up the hedge and stand in the gap' the sheep can be driven out of the sheep pen into Satan's waiting jaws. Once this happens it is every sheep for himself. The confusion itself will be enough to accomplish Satan's plan. We also notice that Ahithophel promised to bring the people back. Without a godly leader the sheep will follow any false cult that comes along. The fourth phase of Satan's attack is to offer peace. If there is one thing everyone wants it is peace. Peace with others and peace with ourselves. When Satan offers peace the first question should be "At what price?". The problem is that peace is a function of the spirit and is not controlled by circumstances. Satan can offer a pacifier or something to numb the pain momentarily but he can never give peace. How can there be peace without the prince of peace? Still we hear "If it were not for these outdated ideas there would be peace”. The sad thing is that these cries come from God‟s people. If God‟s people would only follow these out dated ideas there would be peace with in the church and the world would be beating down our door. Now that Satan‟s plan of attack has been exposed God is ready for His second move to checkmate. This move will foil Satan's plan. To do this God uses three character traits of a wolf against him II Samuel 17:5-7. 5) Then said Absalom, Call now Hushai the archite also, and let us hear likewise what he saith. 6) And when Hushai was come to Absalom, Absalom spake unto him, saying, Ahitophel hath spoken after this manner: shall we do after his saying? if not, speak thou. 7) And Hushai said unto Absalom, The counsel that Ahithophel hath given is not good at this time. Hushai used Absalom's own insecurity against him. He was smart enough to see that Absalom had reservations about Ahitophel's plan. If Absalom was convinced the plan would work he would never have asked Hushai for his advice. Hushai was also smart enough not to openly challenge Ahithophel. Ahithophel was still a very powerful influence for evil in the kingdom and Hushai did not want to say anything that would lead to his own death. His position in the court has not yet been established and if the real reason for his being there were revealed he would surely be put to death. This is typical of our God to place those who wish to be used under the most adverse conditions and then use them to turn the tide long before the battle begins. Just keep in mind that those who risk nothing gain nothing. Hushai walked very circumspectly in the court of Absalom. He used the only weapon at his command. Absalom's own insecurity. If there is one thing a wolf has plenty of it is insecurity. This is exactly what David talked about in Psalms 73. When he said he was envious of the gain of the wicked until he saw their destiny. Then he realized they were on the slippery place. A wolf can never enjoy what he has taken because God pricks at his conscience and another wolf is always trying to take it away from him. So with victory within his grasp the wolf's own nature cost him that victory. Hushai, one man submitting to God, was able to halt the advance of the wolf. He simply said that Ahithophel's course of action would be better carried out later. It is a great idea but put it off. He did not change the counsel. He only changed the time. This is what Satan does every time the Holy Spirit brings conviction to a heart. He does not say "Don't do it" instead he says, "Don't do it now". Doubt and lack of wisdom are two powerful weapons that will always work against a wolf. They will not prevent the battle, only assure the outcome. Psalms 13 and James 1:6 reinforces this. The wolf will never be safe or secure. Time is always his enemy but time is an ally of God‟s man. He never has to hurry. He serves the God that controls time. Time is the servant of God, not the other way around. When something has to be done immediately, be careful. God never hurries. I must admit that sometimes I wished He would hurry just a little. David needed the time to gain his strength. He needed the time to gather his forces. He needed the time to prepare his battle plan. God saw to it that David got all the time he needed. David could not waste the time, God expected him to do all he could to prepare. Preparing was David's part giving him the time to prepare was God's part. God also uses time to expose a wolf. Any wolf can cover his identify for a while but he can never stand the test of time. God‟s man does not need to hurry or fret. If he thinks he has a wolf among the sheep he should never corner him. If he does the wolf will attack and hurt the sheep. Just give him time. The sheep will see him for what he is and stay away and the ones who do follow him you don't need or want anyway. Just keep doing God‟s work. The wolf‟s actions will come to naught. So don't make a danger where none exist. In His own time, God will remove the wolf. Just make sure you don't invite him back, as David did with Absalom. The second character trait of the wolf that God uses against him is fear II Samuel 17:8-10. 8) For, said Hushai, thou knowest thy father and his men, that they be mighty men, and they be chafed in their minds, as a bear robbed of her whelps in the field; and thy father is a man of war and will not lodge with the people. 9) Behold, he is hid now in some pit, or in some other place: and it will come to pass, when some of them be overthrown at the first, that whosoever heareth it will say, There is a slaughter among the people that follow Absalom. 10) And he also that is valiant, whose heart is as the heart of a lion, shall utterly melt: for all Israel knoweth that thy father is a mighty man, and they which be with him are valiant men. Hushai dwelt upon David's war-like character, which Absalom knew all too well. Hushai made David's ability as a general seem even greater when he pointed out that David would fight for Israel like a bear for her whelps. This Absalom understood because from a child he knew of his father‟s love for Israel. Hashai also pointed out that if Absalom`s first strike was not decisive then Israel would turn again to David. Fear cost Absalom the throne. Hushai paints a verbal picture of David lying in a pit ready to ambush Absalom and his men. Nothing arouses fear like the unknown. Absalom did not know where David was. He could not choose the time or the place for the battle. Remember in 17:1, it is night. Which added to Absalom‟s fear after all you can‟t fight what you can‟t see. The fear that Absalom is experiencing is from God. Absalom is starting to experience the terror of falling into the hands of the living God. Isn't it strange that David who is running for his life with only a handful of men is safe and secure while Absalom who is sitting on the throne in a walled city is the one in danger. God does not give his leaders a "...spirit of fear but of power and a sound mind". God‟s man may have to run for his life at times but he must never back down. The wolf may growl and show his teeth but remember it is fear, not courage that drives him. God's man can‟t afford the mistake of assuming the wolf will back down. The time for that has passed. Absalom would have backed down earlier but now he can‟t. He would have backed down until II Samuel 15:7ff. Once the rebellion goes that far there will be a fight. You see, the wolf may be afraid but he is driven by a greater emotion. His ravenous appetite. Once aroused, it will either be satisfied or the wolf will die in the process. God's man can use the wolf's fear to his advantage but don't count on it to stop him. It will not. Once the wolf has tasted blood only death will stop him. The third character trait that Hushai uses against Absalom was his pride II Samuel 17:11-14. 11) Therefore I counsel that all Israel be generally gathered unto thee, from Dan even to Beersheba, as the sand that is by the sea for multitude; and that thou go to battle in thine own person. 12) So shall we come upon him in some place where he shall be found, and we will light upon him as the dew falleth on the ground: and of him and of all the men that are with him there shall not be left so much as one. 13) Moreover, if he be gotten into a city, then shall all Israel bring ropes to that city and we will draw it into the river, until there be not one small stone found there. 14) And Absalom and all of the men of Israel said, the counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahitophel. For the LORD had appointed to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, to the intent that the LORD might bring evil upon Absalom. Ahithophel has not challenged Hashai up to now so he decided to press his counsel. He uses Absalom's pride against him. If there is one thing you can count on the wolf having, it is pride. This was the sin of his father and it is his as well. Hushai tells Absalom to rely on numbers. "Look at how much larger your army is than David's. Your army is larger because God is on your side. Is it not numbers that make the victory?" Hashai convinces Absalom that with him as the commander-in-chief he can‟t lose. "Absalom, your victory is assured. Look what you have already accomplished". Poor Absalom. He has begun to believe his own press reports. Hashai has aroused Absalom‟s appetite for blood. “You don't have to bring anyone back” he said, “You have the power to kill them all”. On the other hand Ahithophel understood that you can never completely kill an enemy. Oh, you may kill the individual but then you have to fight his family and friends then their family and friends etc. The destruction grows like a snowball rolling downhill. It gets larger and larger until it rolls over everything in its path. The logical thing is to keep a conflict as small as possible to minimize the destruction. However, Absalom wanted to be king not sound advice. Absalom only has an appetite for blood and Hashai used that appetite against him. Hashai convinced Absalom that everyone would turn against David. And why not, wasn't he the better leader? It's nice to believe in yourself but it's dangerous to be to easily convinced. In Proverbs 21:1 we are told: 1) The king‟s heart is in the hand of the LORD as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will. Here is an excellent example of that truth. God is using Hushai to turn Absaolm‟s heart. God is getting just the reaction He wants out of Absalom and Absalom thinks he is making the decisions. In verse 14 a duel purpose for the upcoming battle is given. Absalom gathered his supporters together to destroy David. God gathered them to destroy them. This will break the back of the rebellion making the kingdom safe for years to come. Allowing the next king to advance the kingdom. In the upcoming battle God not only protects David. God also prepares the way for Solomon to become the next king by removing anyone powerful enough to be a serious threat to him. In doing so God also sets the stage for Israel to reach its greatest heights as a world power. God even uses the sinfulness of men to accomplish His purpose Psalm 76:10. 10) Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain. God‟s third move to checkmate is revealing Absalom's plan to David II Samuel 17:15-17. 15) Then said Hushai unto Zadok and to Abiathar the priest, Thus and thus did Ahithophel counsel Absalom and the elders of Israel; and thus have I counseled. 16) Now therefore send quickly, and tell David, saying, Lodge not this night in the plains of the wilderness, but speedily pass over; lest the king be swallowed up, and all the people that are with him. 17) Now Jonathan and Ahimaaz stayed by Enrogel; for they might not be seen to come into the city: and a wench went and told them; and they went and told David. Let us see what insight we can gain about how God gives a warning. First we see that the warning did not just appear in the clouds. It came from a logical and reliable source. In this case these men were both godly and dependable. Over the years they had proven their faithfulness to God‟s work. Second we see that the information was complete and accurate. Ahimaaz and Jonathan not only had their facts straight but they presented them in a clear an understandable way. These men were well prepared. There would be no unclear sound from their trumpet. They gave David information that would enable him to be victorious. Third we see that Ahimaaz and Jonathan were capable of carrying out the assignment. They had the ability both physically and mentally to perform what was required of them. They were the right men for the job. Considerable damage has been done because the wrong person was doing the job. When the wrong person is doing a job they not only prevent the right person from doing the job. They are not doing their job. Fourth we see that Ahimaaz and Jonathan were willing to be used. They like Hushai, were willing be placed in harms way for the God‟s work. God will always accomplish great deeds with anyone who is willing. God never places anyone in harms way without protecting them. Let‟s look at how God protects His own II Samuel 17:18-21. 18) Nevertheless a lad saw them, and told Absalom: but they went both of them away quickly, and came to a man's house in Bahurim, which had a well in his court; whither they went down. 19) And the woman took and spread a covering over the well's mouth, and spread ground corn thereon; and the thing was not known. 20) And when Absaolm's servants came to the woman to the house, they said, Where is Ahimaaz and Jonathan? And the woman said unto them, They be gone over the brook of water. And when they had sought and could not find them, they returned to Jerusalem. 21) And it came to pass, after they were departed, that they came in out of the well, and went and told king David, and said unto David, Arise, and pass quickly over the water: for thus hath Ahithophel counseled against you. God has two ways of protecting those who will submit to His will. First, He can protect them from the harm. Second, He can protect them through the harm. There are examples of both types of God's protection, not only in Scripture, but also in the life of believers. Personally I prefer the first if I am involved but the latter makes for a better story. God will always protect those who will align themselves with His appointed leader. For just a moment I would like to deal with the faith exercised by Ahimaz and Jonathan in their undertaking. Although they probably didn‟t see there actions as an act of faith. A good reporter will answer four questions in a story - Who, What, Where and Why. Well, let's look at their exercise of faith and discover the answer to these four questions. First, who exercised faith? Faith is not the work of a superman. It is when ordinary Christians performs a task for God. The task here was to warn the king. These men were the logical choice. They were probably scared. They knew their lives were on the line but they went. There was no great fanfare on their part. Fanfare always draws attention to the one performing the task. Faith draws attention to the one for whom the task is performed. Please keep in mind that when faith becomes a show it has ceased being faith and has become a gimmick. I can hear my critics now "but what of the men that took the roof off of the house to get their sick friend to Jesus. Wasn't that a show?" To that I can only say, “No”. That was ordinary men getting their sick friend to Jesus using the only avenue available to them. They did not draw attention to themselves. They did not interrupt the service until they lowered their friend down to Jesus. All the attention was focused on one individual, Jesus. Jesus became the center of attention, not the men on the roof. I repeat, when faith becomes a show it is not faith, it is a gimmick. And don‟t forget that the man‟s roof had to be repaired. I doubt that these men left before that job was done. We note that Ahimaaz and Jonathan were not out to change the world. They were out to warn their beloved king of pending danger. They were godly men, not showmen. They had an understanding of God's Word and was acting within that understanding. They were submissive to the authority God placed over them. They understood the importance of their task. They simply did what had to be done. They were not out for any personal gain. They were simply doing God's will. So, to answer the question of "who" the answer is easy - anyone who is submissive to God's written will. Next we look at the question of what is faith. Before we discuss what faith is we have to first look at something‟s faith is not. Faith is not a leap into the dark. I shutter to think of the damage done to God's work by this attitude. Faith is based on sound information not irrational reasoning. Faith is knowing and trusting what God has said, not what we would like to happen. Faith also is not a weapon. Some of us try to use faith like a cocked pistol to God's head. I have a pastor friend who has the attitude, let's obligate ourselves to it then God has to Pay for it. No Christian would ever attempt to limit God but a Christian of understanding works with in the regulations God has placed in His Word Psalms 138:2. I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy Word above all thy name. As to what faith is. Faith is simply knowing and believing what God said He would do. Where did these men exercise faith? They were not out to perform a great act of faith. They were simply doing what had to be done. To often believers are looking for great deeds to perform while walking over the task God wants him to do. Faith must be exercised in our daily lives. Faith in our daily lives is what the world needs to see not great miracles. They wouldn‟t believe the miracles anyway but they can‟t deny consistency Luke 16:19-31. People will flock to see a show but only for the same reason they followed Jesus. The multitude followed Jesus for the bread not for the Word. People go to a show because it makes them feel good. The only problem with this is that eventually there feelings change. Then they need another fix to pick them up. Each time they need a bigger fix to get high again. The time wasted by pastors just in baby- sitting is an abomination before God. Note I did not say "caring for" but "baby- sitting". There is a big difference in the two terms. God needs faithfulness in our daily life not a greater show. God is a great enough show if we would exercise faith in our daily lives. Then people would be drawn to Him. Why did these men exercise faith in God? Simple, because after doing all they could it was not enough. They left quickly. They went someplace to hide. They had to trust God would not let them be discovered. If you want to deal with the woman‟s lying, yes she did. We exercise faith when human endeavor falls short of the need. This is God‟s plain. God is faithful after we have done all we can. He never does for us what we could do for ourselves. God rewarded their actions by allowing them to see David delivered II Samuel 17:22. 22) Then David arose, and all the people that were with him, and they passed over Jordan: by the morning light there lacked not one of them that was not gone over Jordan. When God gives a warning take it. Don‟t let some false idea about being a man cause you to lose everything. When God says run, RUN! God‟s people need a live leader who obeys God not a dead martyr. Some day God may call on you to be a martyr. If He does then He will give you the grace to do it but if you stay and fight when God says run then you suffer the consequences alone. Run to prepare for the war not to prolong your life. Only a hireling runs to prolong his life. God‟s man can‟t allow Satan to choose the time or the place for the battle. Note here that God's deliverance was complete everyone got away. God never loses anyone that is His. If we look ahead for just a moment, we will discover that some die in a battle. I will stand by my statement that God never loses anything that is His. In a game of chess long before the king can be checkmated the pieces that protect the king have to be removed. This is exactly what God does in His fourth move to checkmate II Samuel 17:23. 23) And when Ahiphophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his ass, and arose, and gat him home to his house to his city, and put his household in order, and hanged himself, and died, and was buried in the sepulchure of his father. Those who side with the wolf have placed themselves in opposition to God. With Ahithophel around to give Absalom advice, he has a chance to win. I believe that Ahithophel was the real force behind the rebellion. I can see his hand directing events. He hated David for what he had done to his granddaughter, Bathsheba. I can see him leading Absalom on, feeding his ego. I can see him using Absalom to reach his own end, the destruction of David. He was the brains behind the wolf. That is why he had to be the first one removed. Even in his death we can note something about him that gives insight into a rebellion. First, Ahiphophel was not a leader. He was a mover. He was the power behind the rebel. Absalom never really understood what was at stake but Ahiphophel did. He knew how to defeat David. He understood that the real conflict was the battle for control of God's people, not the ego trip Absalom was on. When his advice was not taken, Ahiphophel knew the rebellion was lost. He knew that his end was at hand. He was not going to wait for David to take his life. He, like any good Judas, would reserve that act for himself. He knew that Jonathan could never defeat David. He knew that time was on David's side. He knew that time is the one great ally of God's leader. He knew that time would expose everything. He knew that he had gambled and lost. He felt God's heavy hand of judgment. He had been boxed in by his own cleverness. He had made Absalom a king and now he would die because he could not control his creation. How gracious of God to invest this power in two enemies instead of just one. Absalom had the personality and Ahithophel had the brains. Together they were a powerful force for Satan but separately they were just so much noise. If there is a lesson here for God's man, it is that time is his ally. When he grows impatient and says, "Why not now" he has to be careful not to sacrifice the permanent on the altar of the immediate. Allow God the time to bring about a full end. Allow God the time to divide His enemies. Ego and lack of character only need time to be exposed and if there is one thing all those that oppose God have in common, it‟s ego. Let God make your enemies your footstool. Remember, you are "more than conquerors". There are only two moves to checkmate. God is about to bring this rebellion to an end. One would think to end the rebellion all God would have to do is kill Absalom. Not so, God knows that Absalom is only a chess piece. God knows that if Absalom were removed, Satan would have another to challenge His work. God doesn‟t want to just remove the danger. He wants his people to learn to deal with rebellion. In God‟s work wolves do accomplish one thing. They drive God‟s people to Him. It is during that time before God that we learn our most valuable truths about God. We also learn that The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will Proverbs 21:1, Even a king like Absalom. It‟s God who directs Absalom to choose inferior leaders for his army II Samuel 17:2426. 24) Then David came to Mahanaim. And Absalom passed over Jordan, he and all the men of Israel with him. 25) And Absalom made Amasa captain of the host instead of Joab: which Amasa was a man's son, whose name was Ithra an Israelite, that went in to Abigail the daughter of Nahash, sister to Zeruiah Joab's mother. 26) So Israel and Absalom pitched in the land of Gilead. We are not told why Amasa was chosen over Joab or even why Joab was being considered. Joab had proven himself as a military leader. Joab had led Israel against Ammon II Samuel 11:1. Maybe it was because of Joab‟s relationship with David that kept Absalom from placing him over the army. Whatever the reasoning Absalom used to make his decision it‟s clear that God directed his decision. God could not afford to let Joab lead the army against David. Joab would have known by experience how David would react in battle and would know how to counter each move. If there is one point that comes through it is that those who alien themselves against God‟s appointed leaders are inferior leaders. That statement may be contrary to outward appearances but we have to learn not to trust appearances. It is at this point that God‟s man has to walk by faith. He has to trust God to work among his enemies. Godly men are quick to point out that God works among His people but often miss the fact that God also works among those who are opposed to Him. The greatest enemy facing God‟s leader during a split is not the wolf but his emotions. The feeling of being all alone and the pressure of all those that are depending on him. Add to that the inability to see as God sees or to understand the big picture he gets very confused and frustrated. It is at this time that God steps in and provides for the king‟s physical needs II Samuel 17:26-29. 26) So Israel and Absalom pitched in the land of Gilead. 27) And it came to pass, when David was come to Mahanaim, that Shobi the son of Nahash of Rabbah of the children of Ammon, and Machir the son of Ammiel of Lo-debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite of Rogelim, 28) Brought beds, and basons, and earthen vessels, and wheat, and barley, and flour, and parched corn, and beans, and lentiles, and parched pulse, 29) And honey, and butter, and sheep, and cheese of kine, for David, and for the people that were with him, to eat: for they said, The people is hungry, and weary, and thirsty, in the wilderness. God saw to it that David and his men were properly fed and rested for the upcoming battle. God has promised to meet all our needs and so far He has not failed. True, we may want Him to meet them a little quicker or with a lot more but that is another study. God, unlike us, has the ability to distinguish between our needs and our wants. It‟s to God David must turn for his needs not the people. When God‟s man decides that he works for the people and becomes dependent on them he has lost the battle. God knows his needs and when and where they have to be met. God is never early or late He always chooses the proper place and time to meet those needs. David needed Mahanaim as much if not more then he needed the food. Mahanaim seem to be important throughout Scripture. It was at Mahanaim that Jacob was wrestled with the angel of God who changed his name to Israel. It was at Mahaniam where Abner crowned Ishbosheth, Saul‟s son, king. With these facts in mind let us look at how they might have affected David. In John 4 Jesus and His disciples were hungry. While the disciples went to get food Jesus met and dealt with the woman at the well. When the disciples returned they noticed that Jesus had been refreshed. When asked from where He had received food He said, “I have meat to eat ye know not of”. It is of this meat that God‟s man is privileged to partake. It was at Mahaniam that Jacob learned to eat of that meat and as a result got his name changed to Israel “Prince with God”. It was at Mahanaim where Jacob saw the spiritual meet the physical. When this happens to anyone not only their name but their life will be changed forever. The story of Jacob was well known to David and as David walked Mahaniam he must have thought of Jacob because he needed the God of Jacob now more than ever. It was at Mahanaim that David met his first serious challenge to his throne. That challenge came from Saul's son Ishbosheth. This time at Mahaniam David faces the challenge of another son, his own Absalom. In Joshua 3:1-17 we are told the advantages of creating memorials along life's way. To gain some insight into the meat that David is eating at Mahaniam that others knew not of, we will need to understand why God instructs His people to place memorial stones along the way. 1. Because memorial stones will cause us to live Holier Joshua 3:1-3. 2. Because memorial stones will enable us to help others Joshua 3:6-8. 3. Because memorial stones will glorify God Joshua 3:9-13. 4. Because memorial stones will verify God's word Joshua 3:14-17. Each person called of God has a special place to refresh himself and eat of the meat that others know not of. This place will become their Mahaniam. This is a place where he is at one with God and himself. To a missionary friend of mine it was a camp in North Carolina where God called him to France. While in college he loved to go back there and renew and relive the freshness of his call. Even years later when home on furlough he still refreshed himself with a meat that others knew not of. He no longer needs to refresh himself there as he is now at home with his Savior. I now refresh myself in his memory with a meat that others know not of. Truly, Mahaniam is David's place of refreshment. As he eats the food prepared for him and his men he must have thought of Jacob. He must have thought about the two bands, the one visible and the one invisible but both very real. He must have thought about how God gave him victory over Ishbosheth. When God‟s man finds himself in a struggle with a wolf he needs to look to his memorial stones. Remember why you took this work in the first place. Remember how God called you to this particular work. Remember you are in a struggle over eternity. If you are not in such a struggle then make your calling to this place a memorial stone so you will be prepared when a challenge comes. Once you do you will understand as David did that he could not lose the upcoming battle. He stood with giants, men who walked with God as well as God Himself. What a blessing God has allowed His own in allowing them to eat of the meat that others know not of. Absalom has been placed in check. The next move God makes will be checkmate. Checkmate takes place in the form of the pending battle. This is a battle over the direct will of God. It is a battle between God and Satan. It is a battle for millions yet unborn. It is a battle for eternity. It is a battle between God's will and Satan's desires. Yet, it is the same battle Christians face day after day. As we look at how David prepared for the battle we will gain some insight into a life of victory. First we note that David realized his personal limitations and trusted God for what he could not accomplish II Samuel 18:1-2a. 1) And David numbered the people that were with him, and set captains of thousands and captains of hundreds over them. 2a) And David sent forth a third part of the people under the hand of Joab, and a third part under the hand of Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab's brother and a third part under the hand of Ittai the Gittite. David may be living in the wilderness but he is not living under the circumstances. David may not be on the throne but he knows that the battle belongs to his God. He did not have any money but he saw God raise an army that fought for him without the promise of reward or even their own lives. Now that David has an army, an army who is fighting for God and not for gold, he delegates the responsibility of running the army. Only a foolish man tries to do everything himself. God's work is too large for any one person. It has to be understood by everyone involved that a delegation of responsibility is not a surrender of authority. The king is still God's appointed leader. The one receiving the responsibility does not become the king's equal. He is still just as answerable to the king as the king is to God. Notice that David did not place unqualified men in leadership. That is a mistake a novice would make. This is a mistake that many pastors make. They allow pressure to force them into filling an office with people not qualified just to have someone in that office. If God has not provided qualified people then He is not ready for that office to be filled. God‟s man can make an application of this in his own ministry. No one can do all of the work nor should he try. I do not believe the problem in the church is a lack of concern or willingness on the part of the people but a lack of leadership. Too often pastors take a shotgun approach instead of finding out what a person can do or is led of God to do. Keep in mind that if the pastor attempts to do everything the congregation will gladly let him. When he delegates responsibilities then the people will work harder and accomplish more than he could alone. The key is finding the right person for the right job. Don't fall into the trap of filling an office because some book says you have to fill it. God's person in God's time - that is the formula for success in the life of a church. It may be a bit of a strain but it is worth it in the long run. The next event in preparation for the battle proves the value of placing the right people in the right job. These men are now protecting the king II Samuel 18:2b-4. 2b) I will surely go forth with you myself also. 3) But the people answered, Thou shalt not go forth: For if we flee away, they will not care for us; neither if half of us die, will they care for us: but now thou art worth ten thousand of us: therefore now it is better that thou succour us out of the city. 4) And the king said unto them, What seemeth you best I will do. And the king stood by the gate side, and all the people came out by hundred and by thousands. These men knew David was God's chosen leader. They knew that the battle would be won or lost on David‟s standing with God. They saw themselves as expendable but knew God‟s work must survive. It was David‟s position that made him worth 10,000 of them. David was not a superman, an angel or a devil. He was a man with feet of clay. Like anyone God has chosen to do His work David was simply a man called by God to do a supernatural job. That is why those under God‟s man are commanded to pray for him I Timothy 2:1-3. As an individual he is just another sinner for whom Jesus died. However, God‟s man takes on another role. He is the one that God, not the people, has placed over that congregation I Peter 5:1-3. He is the under shepherd of God's local church. As the under shepherd he has importance that can‟t be measured. Just as he had a responsibility to feed and care for the flock, they have a responsibility to him Romans 13:1-2. Please allow me the privilege here to follow a rabbit trail. I see people jumping from church to church. I would like to leave them with one thought and two passages of Scripture. A person only matures when he plants roots and becomes committed to something. God does not call them to follow a man. He calls them to a work. It is the work they join not a man. True, the work will rise or fall on the leader‟s ability to follow God but sheep only have to produce other sheep and wool. In Matthew 7:15-20 we are warned to beware of false prophets who come in sheep‟s clothing and are ravening wolves. We are told we shall know them by their fruits, not by their teachings. His words may be perfect. His doctrine may be as straight as an arrow. You can‟t tell a wolf in sheep‟s clothing by what he says. It is only by seeing the result of his actions that you can tell that he is a wolf. If sheep are not careful instead of being feed they will end up a dinner. In Acts 20:29 Paul says he knows that when he leaves, the wolves will come in. Now, no sheep opens the door and says, "Come in, Mr. Wolf and please eat me for dinner". They are brought in by those sheep who think they are bees, they go from church to church. They join a church and decide what it needs. They are not spiritually maturity enough to know a wolf but they know what the church needs. They live by their emotions not by God‟s word. They see some one who is bright and exciting and they follow him. They never consider that he could be a wolf in sheep's clothing. Then when trouble starts, they are among the first to leave. They start talking about how unspiritual that group really was and how they are glad they saw it in time. They join another church and repeat the process. They never see the damage they are doing nor do they ever remain to help make the repairs. The repairs are left to the wounded sheep. The bee-sheep just goes from church to church with is head in the clouds praising God and doing Satan's work. Let me add here that some pastors are so anxious for numbers that they are willing to take these bee-sheep. They have become so number oriented that they fail to properly protect themselves or their sheep. Another thing that works to the advantage of the bee-sheep is our "sue crazy" society. A pastor may not be willing to be honest with another pastor because he is afraid of being sued. He may be so glad to be rid of the bee-sheep that he doesn‟t want anything to prevent his leaving. Pastors have to face the fact that their first responsibility is to the sheep God has given them. Involved in this responsibility is the obligation to be honest when these bee-sheep leave your church. To think David a coward would be a serious mistake. He wanted to be with his men. It was his failure that placed Israel in this danger. And he wanted to be the one to right that wrong. No, David was not a coward nor was he a hireling. He would never ask his men to face death and not be at their side. David had been in many battles and had learned to face death. Just before the battle David makes a strange request II Samuel 18:5. 5) And the king commanded Joab and Abisai and Ittai, saying, Deal gently for my sake with the young man, even with Absalom. And all the people heard when the king gave all the captains charge concerning Absalom. David demonstrated that rare quality called compassion. Today David would be said to have a `pastor's heart'. David could not stop loving Absaolm because of his actions any more than God stops loving us because of ours. David saw beyond Absaolm‟s actions. David saw everything that had happened as God chastisement for his sin II Samuel 12:11. David did not try to squirm out of his responsibility. He accepted it. He only wanted to make sure that Absalom gets the same chance to repent. He did not want revenge, an eye for an eye. He only wanted Absaolm to walk with God. Was this not the same request that Abraham made for Ishmael Genesis 17:18? It is normal for a father to be concerned for his children. It‟s difficult for God‟s man to balance his time between God‟s work and his family. This often becomes a case of not seeing the forest for the trees. Several of God‟s men have lost their children because of their ministry. The sad thing is that this does not have to be but that is another study. Let me simply say here that Proverbs 22:6, Ephesians 6:4 and Colossians 3:21 are still true. Try as we will to explain them away. The truth is that there is still something you can do to win your children if you are willing to do it. But that also is another study. In the passage ahead of us we see the battle engaged II Samuel 18:6-8. 6) So the people went out into the field against Israel; and the battle was in the wood of Ephraim: 7) Where the people of Israel were slain before the servants of David, and there was there a great slaughter that day of twenty thousand men. 8) For the battle was there scattered over the face of all the country: and the wood devoured more people that day than the sword devoured. The mountain men knew the terrain and used it against Israel. We are not given the exact number killed by the army but we are told that God killed more of His enemies than David‟s army. When God sends an army into battle, He will always do the majority of the fighting. We are also not told if any of David's men were killed. We only know that God led them to accomplish His will. God not only fought for His army, He protected those who went out in His name. I wish I could promise from this passage that there will be no losses in God‟s army but I can't. The truth is that we do lose good people because of splits. If God‟s man dwells on the losses he will lose his effectiveness in the ministry. He has to maintain a balance between concern for those that were hurt and God's call to go on. What does he do to help who are wounded? He cries for their pain. He ministers where he can. He bandages when needed. Then he does the hardest thing of all, he steps back and allows time for God to heal their wounds. If the sheep returns, then he rejoices. If the sheep are lost to him he must remember that they are not lost to God. God cares more for them than he does. God‟s man has to care but if the wounded sheep don‟t see or believe that he cares then to them the care does not exist. God demonstrated His disapproval of Israel by the slaughter in the woods. Now God will deal with the individuals involved. We have four types of people involved in a church split. First, those who will die. This is a drastic measure, one that God does not enter into lightly. As with Absalom, God gives a warning and a space of time to repent before He takes his life. God‟s first warning came when He trapped Absalom II Samuel 18:9. 9) And Absalom met the servants of David. And Absalom rode upon a mule, and the mule went under the thick boughs of a great oak, and his head caught hold of the oak, and he was taken up between the heaven and the earth; and the mule that was under him went away. If it were not for the fact that Absalom was about to die, this story would be funny. Here is a man that thought he could rule a kingdom now caught in a tree by his hair. We are not told how long Absalom hung there but he had plenty of time to reflect upon his past actions. God has His way of boxing people in. He has trees, whales and other diverse ways to stop people from running. God wants us to be still and know that He is God. Activity is the wolf's only defense against the Spirit of God. As long as the wolf stays active he does not have to think. Now Absalom has nothing to do but hang around (please forgive) and think. What would seem to us as a cruel act is not. It is really gracious of God to give Absalom time to repent. God can only give time, it is up to the individual to repent. God now begins to draw the net around Absalom II Samuel 18:10-13. 10) And a certain man saw it, and told Joab, and said, Behold, I saw Absalom hanged in an oak. 11) And Joab said unto the man that told him, And, behold, thou sawest him, and why didst thou not smite him there to the ground? and I would have given thee ten shekels of silver, and a girdle. 12) And the man said unto Joab, Though I should receive a thousand shekels of silver in mine hand, yet would I not put forth mine hand against the king's son: for in our hearing the king charged thee and Abishai and Ittai, saying, Beware that none touch the young man Absalom. 13) Otherwise I should have wrought falsehood against mine own life: for there is no matter hid from the king, and thou thyself wouldest have set thyself against me. When this day began Absalom could taste the victory. Like all those who oppose God Absalom thought himself enviable. He thought himself the exception. He would be the one to oppose God and win. Now Absalom discovers the sad truth that he is not the exception. How quickly the sweetness of victory sours in the light of reality. Absalom is now helpless in a tree and exposed to whatever God wishes. When this day began Absalom thought he was safe surrounded by his army and anticipating the days end when he would be the king of all Israel. Actually, he was no safer then, surrounded by his army then he is now, hanging all alone from a tree. We know that circumstances can‟t limit God from performing His Divine will. How foolish are those who oppose God. They take refuge in fleshly things such as, human strength, human wisdom, human wealth and human delight. When God is ready He will expose them as He did Absalom and deal with their sin. Before we move on let‟s look at the unnamed servant who found Absalom. He was one who understood God's chain-of-command. He stood up to Joab when offered a reward and a commission. All he had to do was to disobey the king. God‟s man needs followers like him. Not men or women who follow a leader with blind obedience but with the ability to discern who and when to follow. Checkmate II Samuel 18:14-15. 14) Then said Joab, I may not tarry thus with thee. And he took three darts in his hand, and thrust them through the heart of Absalom, while he was yet alive in the midst of the oak. 15) And ten young men that bare Joab's armour compassed about and smote Absalom, and slew him. These two verses deal with the taking of Absalom's life. They also raise more questions then they answer. The taking of a life is a serious matter. It should be done only by God or His appointed authority. This is the only way to be sure that it is justice and not revenge. Revenge can never be justified before God. First in Joab's favor he knew that the safety of the kingdom was more important than an order from David. He knew that Absalom death would put an end to the fighting. Joab also allowed Absalom to die like a soldier instead of being stoned Deuteronomy 21:18-21. These are important facts in Joab's favor. However, some other facts that need to be address are: 1- David said not to harm Absalom. 2- The soldier who discovered Absalom knew if he killed Absalom, his life would be required. 3- Joab placed himself above the authority of God's appointed leader. 4- Joab involved others in his act. Now the question is “Was Joab's action directed by God or by revenge?” I think the answer is obvious. Joab was determined to settle matters himself. David recognized this character trait in Joab. He knew that Joab was a potential wolf. He knew that Joab had to be watched. In I Kings 2:5-6 David warned Solomon that Joab had to be kept on a short leash. Even with all his faults, Joab did have David‟s best interest at heart. True, he had his personal goals and was strong willed but he never sacrificed David to reach those goals. He also knew the only way to end the war and save lives was to kill Absalom. Whether Joab killed Absalom to end the war or for his personal satisfaction I do not know. I only have two facts to go on. First, it was Abishai and Ittai, not Joab that were instructed to spare Absaloms life. Second, that the taking of Absalom‟s life did save other lives II Samuel 18:16. 16) And Joab blew the trumpet, and the people returned from pursuing after Israel: for Joab held back the people. It takes a wise leader to know when to fight. However, it takes a wiser leader to know when to stop fighting. God‟s man can never forget that the people on the other side of a split are also God‟s children and as such are still his responsibility. This fact can be easily over looked in the heat of battle. God‟s man can‟t afford the luxury of picking and choosing to whom he will minister. God has called him to minister to all of the people. Once the battle is over God‟s man must immediately take steps to minimize the damage. Revenge can never become a part of his vocabulary. If it ever does, he has removed his hands from the plow and looked back. John Greenleaf Whittier said "The saddest words Of tongue or pen Are these four words It might have been". That is what I see in Absalom‟s requiem. If you fail to see the tragedy of a wasted life then you will never be able to understand David's reaction to Absalom's death II Samuel 18:33 - 19:8. The temptation is to get caught up in the victory and lose sight of the destruction. One thing God's man can never do is lose sight of those who were hurt by the rebellion. Every rebellion destroys lives and it‟s our job to help put those lives back together. Despite his faults, a wolf has qualities that could be greatly used by God. Instead of a life of service to God, Absalom‟s path has brought him to an unmarked pit in the woods II Samuel 18:17. 17) And they took Absalom, and cast him into a great pit in the wood, and laid a very great heap of stones upon him: and all Israel fled every one to his tent. Here lies the body of one, David's fair haired son, Absalom. He lies in this lonely place, because he died in sin and disgrace. He was opposed to God, and the path of a wolf he did trod. God's sheep he did try to eat, now he lies beneath their feet. How sad, Absalom could have had it all. He tried to demand and take by force what could have been his by birth. This will be the end of all of who refuse to learn. God will freely give all but will have nothing taken from Him. Keep in mind, James 4:2 says, “... ye have not because ye ask not”. It does not say “Ye have not because you are not strong enough to take”. God raises those up who ask. He humbles those who force. Those who ask, receive greatness, but those who force receive memorials II Samuel 18:18. 18) Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and reared up for himself a pillar, which is in the king's dale: for he said, I have no son to keep my name in remembrance: and he called the pillar after his own name: and it is called unto this day, Absalom's place. Memorials are usually placed as a reminder of great deeds. Absalom's memorial is to a wasted life. Absalom could have had the kingdom because of Amnons sin but all he received was a pile of stones. The real tragedy is the uselessness of it all. Absalom never used his influence to inspire anyone to achieve greatness instead he used his influence to advance his own end. This is not a fitting end for a king's son but it is the end of all wolves. Their life is a waste, their end is a tragedy and their memorial is a joke. This is what David saw, not the death of a wolf, but the tragedy and waste of his son. The people will rejoice in the victory. God's man mourns the loss of time, money, effort and potential. The only one who wins in a church split is Satan. The only way to prevent Satan's victory is to stop the wolf in Chapter 13, not to defeat him in Chapter 18. Acts of destruction can be done by anyone. However, it takes a leader with special insight to rebuild. Now that the fighting is over there is a work to rebuild. Before the work can be rebuilt the king will have to be rebuilt. The king will not have the luxury of time to prepare himself. He will have to perform his duties or defeat may still be snatched from the jaws of victory. The king, whose lack of action brought these events to pass must now get tough and act like a king. The next twenty three verses deal with God‟s forcing David to once again take the reigns and direct the kingdom. First, the king has to be told of the victory and of Absalom's death. The standard way of getting information from the battle to the king was by messenger. The runner would only repeat what he was told II Samuel 18:19-23. 19) Then said Ahimaaz the son of Zadok, Let me now run, and bear the king tidings, how that the LORD hath avenged him of his enemies. 20) And Joab said unto him, Thou shalt not bear tidings this day, but thou shalt bear tidings another day: but this day thou shalt bear no tidings, because the king's son is dead. 21) Then said Joab to Cushi, Go tell the king what thou hast seen. And Cushi bowed himself unto Joab, and ran. 22) Then said Ahimaaz the son of Zadok yet again to Joab, But howsoever, let me, I pray thee, also run after Cushi. And Joab said, Wherefore wilt thou run, my son, seeing that thou hast no tidings ready? 23) But howsoever, said he, let me run. And he said unto him, Run. Then Ahimaaz ran by the way of the plain, and overran Cushi. Two questions that arise In this passage are: Why did Ahimaaz want so desperately to run? Why didn't Joab want him to run? As we seek to answer these questions we learn something of Ahimaaz's character. He was David‟s friend and wanted to be the one to tell David of the victory. He was one of the two that warned David to pass over Jordan. His loyalty was to the king that is why he wanted to be the runner II Samuel 17:16ff. Since the king had to be told of Absalom's death would it not be better coming from a friend who could prepare him for the news? However, Joab did not want Ahimaaz, a man David trusted, telling David more than Joab wanted David to know. Particularly the circumstances of Absalom's death. Joab would rather have someone run that he could control, so he denied Ahimaaz‟s request and sent Cushi. Ahimaaz did not rebel against the authority over him. He, unlike the wolf, knew how to let God work through others. Ahimaaz allowed God to change Joab's heart. Ahimaaz had been faithful to the things God had called him to do, so he was now trusting God to grant him the desire of his heart. Cushi may have had a head start and Ahimaaz had to take a longer route but Ahimaaz had a passion to be the one to tell David of the battle. God can always use runners who: 1- Are faithful to whatever task God gives them. 2- Submit to authority. 3- Know how to make an appeal. 4- Accept the challenge and trust God to see them through. 5- Love God‟s appointed leader. 6- Will put himself out in God's service. Not only can God use runners like this but so can God‟s man. Ahimaaz won his race to bring tidings to his king II Samuel 18:24-29. 24) And David sat between the two gates: and the watchman went up to the roof over the gate unto the wall, and lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold a man running alone. 25) And the watchman cried, and told the king. And the king said, If he be alone, there is tidings in his mouth. And he came apace, and drew near. 26) And the watchman saw another man running: and the watchman called unto the porter, and said, Behold another man running alone. And the king said, He also bringeth tidings. 27) And the watchman said, Me thinketh the running of the foremost is like the running of Ahimaaz the son of Zadok. And the king said, He is a good man, and cometh with good tidings. 28) And Ahimaaz called, and said unto the king, All is well. And he fell down to the earth upon his face before the king, and said, Blessed be the LORD thy God, which hath delivered up the men that lifted up their hand against my lord the king. 29) And the king said, Is the young man Absalom safe? And Ahimaaz answered, When Joab sent the king's servant, and me thy servant, I saw a great tumult, but I knew not what it was. It turns out that Joab had nothing to fear from Ahimaaz. Ahimaaz only told David of victory. He knew that to hear of Absalom would only bring pain to his friend and king. To minimize David‟s pain was his reason for running. Ahimaaz was not about to tell of Joab's act of murder. He knew that David would eventually hear of the act. God can use runners who know what to say and when to keep silent. Ahimaaz was the type of man who could sit in on a board meeting and leave everything that was discussed, in that room. He would not go home and discuss the events with his wife or in front of the children. Only eternity will reveal the damage done by those who find it necessary to feed their ego by telling others how much they know. Ahimmaz was not in the race to feed his ego. He was running for the betterment of his king and God‟s work. The inevitable has to happen. David now hears of Absalom II Samuel 18:31-32. 31) And, behold, Cushi came; and Cushi said, Tidings, my lord the king: for the LORD hath avenged thee this day of all them that rose up against thee. 32) And the king said unto Cushi, Is the young man Absalom safe? And Cushi answered, The enemies of my lord the king, and all that rise against thee to do thee hurt, be as that young man is. Here we begin to see what David is made of. God has promised not to place more on His own then they can bear. David is at his breaking point. David is at the end of himself. During the last fourteen years David has punished himself because of his sin. David must now either sink or swim. He will either bounce back and save the kingdom or he will give up. If he gives up he will go under and take the kingdom with him. God at one time or another places all of His shepherds in this place. David has no way out. He now has to rest in God and accept the forgiveness that was offered fourteen years ago. I will never understand why God‟s man finds it difficult to accept God's forgiveness when it is directed toward them. They tell others, “God forgives no matter the sin” but beat themselves when they sin. As difficult as it is for them to accept God's forgiveness, I am thankful that God does not give up on them. Before the king will be able to accept God's forgiveness, there are three things he must face. First he has to face his own desires II Samuel 18:33. 33) And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son! David never saw Absalom as his enemy. He saw him as a father sees his son. He blamed himself for Absalom‟s actions and saw Absalom‟s actions as God's judgement upon his household (II Samuel 12:11). David's desire was for Absalom to be restored to God and him. This was the third son he had lost because of his sin. The first was because of his sin with Bathsheba II Samuel 12:14. The other two was because of self pity that prevented David from accepting God‟s forgiveness. His self pity forced God to take harsher and harsher measures intended to force him to once again respond as a king and not a hireling. Now, David has nothing left. He is all used up. As unpleasant as this process is it is mandatory if God‟s man is to come to understand that God still cares for him. Before he drew strength from doing God's work now he will have to draw strength from God Himself. Once God takes his man through this process he will never be the same again. The next eight verses deal with the two choices before God‟s man at this time. First he has to face the consequences of his actions II Samuel 191-4. 1) And it was told Joab, Behold, the king weepeth and mourneth for Absalom. 2) And the victory that day was turned into mourning unto all the people: for the people heard say that day how the king was grieved for his son. 3) And the people gat them by stealth that day into the city, as people being ashamed steal away when they flee in battle. 4) But the king covered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice, O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son! The only good thing that can be said about hitting bottom is that the only direction left to you is up. However, it seems that when some people hit bottom they are determined to dig deeper. That is exactly what David tries to do here. It‟s easy to tell someone to get up and try again. It is quite another to do it yourself. When one falls from the height that David did it there is serious damage and takes time to heal. The healing process is the hardest. The king remembers the relationship he once had with God. He longs for it again but it is always just out of his reach. It seems as if the harder he tries to climb out of the smile pit the deeper he sinks. A person does not stop sinning until sin cost them more than they are willing to pay. This is where David finds himself. His sin has cost him three sons his self respect and almost cost him the kingdom. However, God left him on the throne to lead so lead he will either into another disaster or into victory the choice is his. God has forgiven bitterness, laziness, adultery and even murder. God even drove the wolf out and took his life after he was invited back but here we have David about to throw it all away. David is about to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory because of his reaction to the death of Absalom. The victory was his but his men are about to walk out on him. If David wishes to prevent a greater disaster then he faced with Absalom he had better start acting like a king. David is thinking “I wanted things to go differently”. Well so did God. So things did not go the way you wanted, so what, deal with it. David was so caught up in self pity that he could not see the forest for the trees. Don‟t forget this war was brought about by David's lack of action not God's judgment. David could have prevented everything by simply accepting God's forgiveness and making a public confession of a public sin. If David had done this he and all of Israel may have been spared. The story that comes to mind is the story of the woman taken in adultery John 8:1-11. When Jesus asked her, "Where are those that accuse thee?" “They are all gone my Lord”, was her reply. If the same question had been put to David he would have said, "Here I am". If God's people would learn to stop condemning themselves or listening to Satan‟s accusations most of the wars would stop. Each act of sin has a consequence. And each Christian who chooses sin and does not repent will have to face that consequence. Thankfully, David is about at the end of these consequences. There are lessons to be learned on this path but there are easier ways to learn them. It is during this time that Christians will either learn great things about God or will leave the church. My heart breaks for these believers who leave because that path doesn‟t have to be traveled and the brick wall at the end of the path does not have to be hit head on. Unfortunately other Christians find it too easer to condemn them thereby building themselves up in the process. God forbid that the believer walking this path should be a pastor. Because “Everyone knows he was only in it for the money”. “I did not trust him in the beginning”. “Well, he could not hold down a real job anyway”. When the sheep have a problem they have the shepherd to go to but to whom does the shepherd go? Secondly, it is time for the self pity to stop. It is now time for the tough to get going. David now must face his duty and perform as a king II Samuel 19:5-8. 5) And Joab came into the house of the king, and said, Thou hast shamed this day the faces of all thy servants, which this day have saved thy life, and the lives of thy sons and of thy daughters, and the lives of thy wives, and the lives of thy concubines; 6) In that thou lovest thine enemies, and hatest thy friends. For thou hast declared this day, that thou regardest neither princes nor servants: for this day I perceive, that if Absalom had lived, and all we had died this day, then it had pleased thee well. 7) Now therefore arise, go forth, and speak comfortably unto thy servants: for I swear by the LORD, if thou go not forth, there will not tarry one with thee this night: and that will be worse unto thee than all the evil that befell thee from thy youth until now. 8) Then the king arose, and sat in the gate. And they told unto all the people, saying, Behold, the king doth sit in the gate. And all the people came before the king: for Israel had fled every man to his tent. Joab's actions were not out of line. He was not rebelling against God's appointed authority. He was acting on God's behalf. However, some insight can be gained on how to rebuke one who is over you in authority. First, Joab went to David. He did not carry his complaint to another person. Beware of those who come to you with a complaint about God's anointed. Second, there are clear acts of repeated sin by David. This was not the first time David had indulged in self pity nor the first time that his self pity has hurt the kingdom. The problem was not a difference of opinion between David and Joab. There was a clear case of "thou shalt not" involved. Third, the sin was a public matter. Everyone knew of David's sin. Joab was not the one to tell them. David‟s actions were public everyone knew of his actions. Fourth, Joab had no selfish motive and was not trying to make himself look good at the king's expense. He only wanted to advance God's work. He did not want to replace the king. He only wanted to help his friend and protect God‟s work. Fifth, the rebuke was done in private. Joab took David aside proving that he understood where he fit in God's chain of command. He knew that only God had the right to publicly rebuke David. Joab's intent was not to embarrass David but to point out the situation. Sixth, David's actions were hurting God's work. David was driving people away. The work was suffering. Sin had so affected David's judgment that he could not see what was happening and needed a friend who would point it out to him. Seventh, Joab gave steps to correct the situation. Joab was not just there with criticism. He had a plan. His plan involved the king's remaining in control, not being replaced. Joab never wanted to take David's office, he only wanted David to once again start acting like a king. It should be clear that the key to rebuking one over you in authority is your attitude. Not only in having the proper attitude but also in conveying the proper attitude. A person may have the proper attitude, but if that attitude is not conveyed to the one with the authority then the proper attitude might as well not exist. Now the king is facing his duties. His first responsibility is to face the people God placed in his care. The very ones he let down. The same ones he should have faced at the end of chapter 12. David now faces a greater task then winning the battle. Like the Phoenix that arose from it's own ashes, he has to trust God to rebuild his congregation. The king has to now act like a leader and allow God to direct his actions. It will be through David‟s actions that the Holy Spirit will be able to pour oil upon the troubled waters. His actions have to be calm and encourage all of the people, not just those who stood with him, but also those who were taken in by the wolf. He has to bring these two groups back into one united force for God. Is he seared? Only if he is human. The worst thing David has to deal with is the fear II Samuel 19:9-10. 9) And all the people were at strife throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, The king saved us out of the hand of our enemies, and he delivered us out of the hand of the Philistines; and now he is fled out of the land for Absalom. 10) And Absalom, whom we anointed over us, is dead in battle. Now therefore why speak ye not a word of bringing the king back? The people of Israel did not know what David would do next. He has won the battle and to the victor belong the spoils. What could they expect from a king they had just tried to dethrone? They knew what David could have expected from them if they had won the war. But what would David do? It is always the unknown people fear the most. David has to now take steps to remove that fear by forgiving them and informing them of his plans. David will find it easy to forgive them now that he has forgiven himself. If fear is the weapon Satan is using to prevent unity it is noteworthy how David overcomes that fear. First, he uses someone they all trust II Samuel 19:11. 11) And king David sent to Zadok and to Abiathar the priests, saying, Speak unto the elders of Judah, saying, Why are ye the last to bring the king back to his house? seeing the speech of all Israel is come to the king, even to his house. He did not sugar coat his words. His words were both truthful and honest. He placed the issue before them. He let them know what was expected of them and by sending Zadok they knew that David was there to help them meet that expectation. Second, the king reminded them of their common bond II Samuel 19:12. 12) Ye are my brethren, ye are my bones and my flesh: wherefore then are ye the last to bring back the king? We are brethren because we have a common goal and a common enemy. The battle is over and now that is behind us. Do not place blame anymore, let's get on with the work God has called us to do. The things we have in common far outweighs the things we disagree over. This was David's message to the people. He let them know that he needed them to accomplish God's will. He knew firsthand what self pity and self doubt would do and he wanted no part of that for his sheep. Get on with your own life and get on with the work of God was his message Third, there will be no reprisals II Samuel 19:13. 13) And say ye to Amasa, Art thou not of my bone, and of my flesh? God do so to me, and more also, if thou be not captain of the host before me continually in the room of Joab. God's man does not need or want revenge. These people are not his enemies. They were simply misled by the wolf. The anguish that God used to bring David to this point was great. David has learned that all he needs is God. He does not now, and will never need revenge. God has extended to him another chance and he will do the same to his sheep. David is now anxious to see God's people serving their God once again. He was now determined to devote as much energy as it takes to unite Israel. This may be the hard way to learn a lesson but it‟s the only way to change a king back into a shepherd. David has made his plea for unity. The question now is how will the people respond? Will they lay down their weapons or continue the fight II Samuel 19:14-15. 14) And he bowed the heart of all the men of Judah, even as the heart of one man; so that they sent this word unto the king, Return thou, and all thy servants. 15) So the king returned, and came to Jordan. And Judah came to Gilgal, to go to meet the king, to conduct the king over Jordan. It has been said that a king never stands taller than when he humbles himself. The people knew what they deserved and contrasted that with what the king was offering. When God‟s man acts as David did, he removes the last obstacle to unity. The outcome is assured. I like the phrase in Verse 14 "And he bow the heart of all the people...". It was David‟s, response to their needs that bowed their hearts. David knows that after a split the important thing is to rebuild lives not to prove who was right or wrong. David had the military might to force them to bend their knee but instead he got them to bow their hearts. Once the heart is bowed the knee will follow. I have seen pastors use the time after a split as an opportunity to clean house and to push through a new constitution that gives them total control. "This is to prevent another split", they say. The only problem with this is that it doesn‟t work. The only way to prevent another split is to get the people to bow their hearts not to push through a constitution that allows one to go from pastor to pope. Rules can be passed to force people to conform but until the heart is bowed there is a problem to be addressed. The next to come before the king is Shimei. Shimei opposed God's leader and now repents, or does he? He gets a stay of execution. I say a stay because if we look ahead to I Kings 2:36-46 we see that Shimei was eventually put to death for his actions. One thing that should be pointed out here is that God does not withhold forgiveness based on future actions and neither should we. However, Shimei does give us some insights as to the criteria to be used in accepting someone back who has opposed the ministry II Samuel 19:16-17. 16) And Shimei the son of Gera, a Benjamite, which was of Bahurim, hasted and came down with the men of Judah to meet king David. 17) And there were a thousand men of Benjamin with him, and Ziba the servant of the house of Saul, and his fifteen sons and his twenty servants with him; and they went over Jordan before the king. The first thing we examine is that Shimei's still has a positive influence over the people. When he came before the king he brought others with him. Just as there is no way to see his heart, there is no way to see the heart of those who came with him. As long as he uses his influence to advance the work, his actions have to be taken at face value. To reject Shimei at this point is to reject those who came with him. Even if there are questions about his repentance, God‟s man is called to minister to those who came with him. If his repentance is not true or if he becomes a danger later he can then be removed. God's man has to give him time to either prove himself or „hang himself‟ either way this gives God‟s man the time to win the hearts of the people. The second thing we examine is his words II Samuel 19:18-20. 18) And there went over a ferry boat to carry over the king's household, and to do what he thought good. And Shimei the son of Gera fell down before the king, as he was come over Jordan; 19) And said unto the king, Let not my lord impute iniquity unto me, neither do thou remember that which thy servant did perversely the day that my lord the king went out of Jerusalem, that the king should take it to his heart. 20) For thy servant doth know that I have sinned: therefore, behold, I am come the first this day of all the house of Joseph to go down to meet my lord the king. We see Shimei repenting before the people. Once again his words ring true. Was he sincere? I don‟t know, and am glad I don‟t have to decide. He has done all that God demands of us. He sinned publicly. He repented publicly. Who are we to place obstacles in the way of another brother, if he is a brother? Give him a chance. "How many times?" Read Matthew 7:1 and chapter 18. Keep in mind that whatever rule you use to decide if someone can be forgiven the same rule God will use on you. Also don‟t forget that one earmark of a wolf is to cry justice for Ammon and plead for mercy for himself. David grants Shimei‟s stay of execution II Samuel 19:21-23. 21) But Abishai the son of Zeruiah answered and said, Shall not Shimei be put to death for this, because he cursed the LORD'S anointed? 22) And David said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah, that ye should this day be adversaries unto me? shall there any man be put to death this day in Israel? for do not I know that I am this day king over Israel? 23) Therefore the king said unto Shimei, Thou shalt not die. And the king sware unto him. It‟s note worthy to notice that God‟s man had the final say as to whether Shimei is accepted back. He also should have the say as to what conditions should be placed on his coming back. David received counsel from Abishai as to what should happen to Shimei, but he and he alone will have to cast the final vote. He is responsible for the sheep and will stand in judgment of his decisions. If he decides that the benefit of having someone back outweighs the danger, then he accepts him back. If he decides that the danger outweighs the benefits, then they must leave. Some of the questions that has to answer to properly respond to one who wishes to reunite are as follows: 1. Is the repentance sincere, or better yet, do you have any reason to doubt it? He can‟t be judged on the basis of whom he supported. Just as God accepts us as repentant sinners a repentant enemy has to be accepted or rejected on the basis of the moment, not past or future actions. 2. Can he still contribute to God's work? 3. Is his influence on the people positive or negative? 4. Is he a threat at this time? 5. If he becomes a threat what will his removal cause? These questions are just a few that God‟s man has to answer about anyone who wishes to join the assembly, not just those who wish to reunite. Each pastor has his own list of questions and dangers he has learned to look for. If all the questions that each pastor has were compared, one common fact would stand out. There is no human way to keep troublemakers out. Since you can‟t keep them out the question becomes are you willing to deal with them once exposed? In this next section we will look at those who get taken back. One might ask the question, "What is the difference between one who gets taken back and one who gets a stay of execution?" Let me say from the people‟s point of view there is no difference but from God's point of view there is a big difference. God knew that Shimei‟s action would eventually cause him to be put to death. God also knew that the body needed to heal before any more blood was shed and that Mephibosheth would aid in the healing process. This brings up another question, "What could Mephibosheth do?" I am only beginning to learn the value of caring for people with special needs. It seems that in caring for them God uses them as a calming influence. It is as though they are the oil poured on troubled waters. The work of God who attempts to meet the needs of these people is twice blessed. They are blessed for their efforts to meet the needs and blessed in what they receive from God in return. No one has the ability to show love more than those who need it the most but have nothing tangible to offer in return. With this in mind, let us look at Mephibosheth. The first thing we notice is his humility II Samuel 19:24. 24) And Mephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the king, and had neither dressed his feet, nor trimmed his beard, nor washed his clothes, from the day the king departed until the day he came again in peace. We are not told if Mephibosheth's appearance was the result of a vow. If he had made a vow not to care for his own physical needs until the king was again in the palace, that would be in keeping with the times. No matter the reason for his condition we are told that he came to David as he was. He did not try to impress the king. He knew the urgency of getting to the king. In order to set the record straight of II Samuel 16:1-4 he had to get to David. He understood that there was only one source of mercy and he would not be denied access to it no matter his physical condition. He did not come to David in spite of this condition but because of his condition. Second, we see that Mephibosheth understood the power of the king II Samuel 19:25-28. 25) And it came to pass, when he was come to Jerusalem to meet the king, that the king said unto him, Wherefore wentest not thou with me, Mephibosheth? 26) And he answered, My lord, O king, my servant deceived me: for thy servant said, I will saddle me an ass, that I may ride thereon, and go to the king; because thy servant is lame. 27) And he hath slandered thy servant unto my lord the king; but my lord the king is as an angel of God: do therefore what is good in thine eyes. 28) For all of my father's house were but dead men before my lord the king: yet didst thou set thy servant among them that did eat at thine own table. What right therefore have I yet to cry any more unto the king? Mephibosheth knew that his only hope was the king's mercy. Ziba may have lied to David but Mephibosheth had no way of knowing. He knew that David was a fair man and could be trusted to do the right thing. When asked of the king where he was in the king's hour of real need his reply was to present his side of the story. He trusted the king to judge the situation correctly. At first glance one might think Mephibosheth was taking a big chance but he knew he wasn't. You see Mephibosheth knew that the king would not act based on his emotions but upon his promise. In II Samuel 9 David gave a promise to Mephibosheth. Mephibosheth had the promise of a king what more could he ask? We now come to David's response to Mephibosheth's request II Samuel 19:29. 29) And the king said unto him, Why speakest thou any more of thy matters? I have said, thou and Ziba divide the land. David put Mephibosheth's mind to rest and dismisses the matter. It was not lack of interest that brought about such a quick decision. It was concern for the kingdom as a whole. Sometimes a leader gets into a situation where there is no easy way out. Here David finds himself in such a situation. He has given his word to Mephibosheth but now he is faced with conflicting stories. There is no way to get to the absolute truth. At a time like this God's man should make a fair decision as quickly as possible. He has to get on with the business of directing God's work and can not afford to get bogged down in irresolvable details. The longer such a situation is left unresolved the more people get involved. The more people that get involved the closer you get to another split. In Mephibosheth's response we see the wisdom of David's decision II Samuel 19:30. 30) And Mephibosheth said unto the king, Yea let him take all, forasmuch as my lord the king is come again in peace unto his own house. Mephibosheth gladly accepted the king's decision. I don‟t know if it was because he was guilty of Ziba's accusation or because he was totally committed to God's man. I am sure that if David's actions were unfair to Mephibosheth then God made it up to him. And Mephibosheth was willing to trust God to take care of the matter. The second reward for a life of faithfulness is given in II Samuel 19:31-40. This also brings us to the sixth and final group of people involved in a split. They are of the household of faith. Barzillai remained faithful to God and to those whom God placed over him. He accepted the task of advancing God‟s work and remained faithful to that task. From his actions we not only learn of God's reward for faithfulness but what one has to do to receive that reward. From the text the reader quickly sees that Barillai did not expect a reward. His reward was in serving his God. Let us now look at what great act of faith Barzillai performed to qualify for a reward II Samuel 19:31-32. 31) And Barzillai the Gileadite came down from Rogelim, and went over Jordan with the king to conduct him over Jordan. 32) Now Barzillai was a very aged man, even fourscore years old: and he had provided the king with sustenance while he lay at Mahanaim; for he was a very great man. Barzillai's act was not really one of greatness. He did not join in the battle. He did not even help plan the campaign. To be completely frank about it he was never in the forefront at all. All he did was to simply make what he had available to God. Just as Jesus took the loaves and fishes from a boy and fed a multitude. God can use whatever we bring Him in greater ways then we ever expected. It‟s not great deeds that make a great person. It‟s a great person that makes great deeds. All a Christian has to do to be great is be obedient. In Scripture obedience is call stewardship. An obedient Christian may never achieve worldly fame but God will reward him accordingly. Obedience is the only way to gain God‟s rewards. Ah, "But what are these rewards", you ask. In the next eight verses Barzillai list the six rewards of faithfulness and obedience. The first reward of faithfulness we see is that God's anointed desires your advice II Samuel 19:33. 33) And the king said unto Barzillai, Come thou over with me, and I will feed thee with me in Jerusalem. In verse 33 David is not simply asking Barzillai home for dinner. David is offering him a place at court. An opportunity to influence the matters of state. David obviously valued Barzillai's options and wanted him around. But the question is why? Simply for his help before the battle. Many people helped David. Many more fought for him. He did not offer them a place at court. Why, Barzillai? We are not told why in the passage but allow me to propose a theory. During my early days in Bible College I worked at a place where four other students worked. During our lunch and breaks we would often congregate together and discuss the things we were learning in class. There was another gentleman working there who had been a believer longer than we have been alive. He would always join in our conversations with some new truth he had just learned. Well we would all be polite but let's face it we were all F.B.S.A.'s (Future Bible Scholars of America). We were studying the deep things of God's Word. Why we were even being exposed to Greek! This man could hardly read. What new truth could he hope to teach us? Then after a few weeks we all began to notice something. The things he was sharing with us started coming up in class. To our surprise our professors agreed with him. Soon we F.B.S.A. started keeping our mouth shut and listening to him. He taught us some very profound truths. We all discovered that he had learned on his knees what we were attending college to learn. He had learned in practical terms what we were learning in theory. Then came the greatest shock of all, one day he told some of us how he envied us. He said, "Someday you will become Pastors while I am just an uneducated man who can't do anything for God". Nothing could have been further from the truth. First of all, we had taken notice that he had been with Jesus. Second, he made the same mistake that a lot of pastors make. They assume that those in lesser positions of authority have nothing to teach them. The more experienced pastor has learned to mine that wealth of knowledge and experience to advance God's work. When one walks with God others will take note of it. Smart pastors will desire to spend time with the faithful servant to learn from him what he has learned while alone with Jesus. Smart pastors will offer them a place at court. The second reward of faithfulness is the ability to discern God‟s will from Satan‟s trickery II Samuel 19:34-35a. 34) And Barzillai said unto the king, How long have I to live, that I should go up with the king unto Jerusalem? 35a) I am this day fourscoure years old: and can I discern between good and evil? In I John 1:7 we are commanded to walk in the light. An order from God that seems easy enough. But in II Corinthians 11:14 we are told that Satan himself is able to transform into an angel of light. So much for the idea that walking in the light is easy. We have true light and counterfeit light. How do you tell the difference? “That is easy” you say. “Okay if is so easy then why do we have so many Christians that are deceived?” When I was a boy in Alabama on Friday all the men would cash their pay checks and go to this one small store, gas station combined. I liked being there when all the men came in. I would listen to their stories and watch all the activity. The store was owned by a man and his wife who worked behind the counter. This one Friday as usual the store was busy with people everywhere telling jokes and paying their bills when one man handed her a twenty dollar bill. The bill had no sooner touched her hand when she tossed it back on the counter and said “That bills no good”. She never even looked at it she just touched it and told the man the money was counterfeit. Something by the way he did not know. Later that week I asked her how she knew that the twenty was a counterfeit when she had not even looked at it. Her response was “I have handled enough of the real stuff that I don‟t have to look”. Boy, what a truth for Christians. We need to become so familiar with the truth that we will recognize a counterfeit as soon as we touch it. We may not know what is wrong immediately but we know that something is wrong. The challenge for the world is to be able to recognize counterfeit light. To answer Barzillia‟s question “...can I discern between good and evil?” Based on his actions that helped keep the king on the throne I would say the answer is an overwhelming YES! Barzillai had learned to tell the real from the counterfeit. He had learned to recognize the wolves and to stay away for them. He learned that at times God‟s will may be hard to find but it can be found. He learned that all that glitters is not gold. He learned to look for substance and not just a show. He learned that Satan‟s counterfeit always had flaws in it. He learned that Satan‟s gifts always have hooks in them. How did he learn all of this? He learned it the same way that everyone learns it. He was trapped by the snare. He was caught by the hook. He was left bankrupt by the glitter but he saw God‟s faithfulness through it all. He learned to find God‟s will by seeking long and hard for it. After all if it was simple or easy we all would do it. It‟s never easy to deny oneself and take up your cross and follow Jesus. If it was easy then broad would be the way to eternal life and narrow would be the way to hell. The third reward to faithfulness is to see the things of this world grow strangely dim in the light of eternity II Samuel 19:35b. 35b) can thy servant taste what I eat or what I drink? can I hear any more the voice of singing men and singing women? wherefore then should thy servant be yet a burden unto my lord the king? Several years ago I read an interview by Nelson Rockafeller. At the time he was worth over 1 billion dollars. When ask how much money is enough his answer was “Just a little bit more”. Here is a man who could have anything in the world but wanted. Never having had a billion dollars I may not be qualified to speak on the subject but my question would be “How much more is there”? Obviously Mr. Rockafeller knew there was more and he wanted it. Each of us wrestles with the question "How much is enough?" or “If we only had... then we would be happy.” In mankind‟s search for happiness two constants have emerged: 1. Happiness somehow involves material things. 2. You never get enough things. Obviously happiness eludes anyone who searches for it in things. When forced to face the facts we says sarcastically "He who dies with the most toys wins". But the truth is he who dies with the most toys is still dead. David rendered honor to whom honor was due Romans 13:7 but Barzillai declined David‟s offer. As you read Barzillai response to David one thing is clear. Barzillai is more interested in a new journey that in a new job. He is not interested in a new vocation but in a new destination. Along with being able to discern between good and evil he can also discern between temporal and eternal. He was no longer blinded by the glitter but is now able to see the gold. A man or woman with these attributes could never be a burden only a blessing. No, Barzillai was not interested in starting a new career. He was interested in successfully ending the one he had. What an impact Christianity would have on the world if we could become more interested in our heavenly journey than our material possessions. If we could put our standing with God before our standing before men we would then impact the world for Jesus. But alas things do get in the way don‟t they. The conflict between good and evil dates before the Garden of Eden. And if there has been one weapon that Satan has used very successfully it has been the blurring of the line between right and wrong. This brings us to fourth reward of a faithful life. Eventually see right prevail II Samuel 19:36. 36)Thy servant will go a little way over Jordan with the king: and why should the king recompense it me with such a reward? Barzillai served the king well and in doing so he has served God well. By being faithful Barzillai was allowed to see firsthand what most of us have to accept by faith. He did what was right and saw right prevail over evil. Barzillai has seen his faith turned to sight. He has seen his king placed back upon the throne. Like Simeon, in the temple, he has seen God‟s salvation. He has grown from faith to faith. He has escorted the king back to Jerusalem. With all that has happened, what was his reaction? "Why should the king recompense me?" He was not surprised by the outcome he expected it. I do not know which is the greatest reward to have seen right prevail or to have really expected it all of the time. There is a little booklet called "Quotations of Famous Infidels" that could be used to introduce the fifth reward of faith that is to die a peaceful death II Samuel 19:37a. 37a) Let thy servant, I pray thee, turn back again, that I may die in mine own city, and be buried by the grave of my father and of my mother. To the Christian death is not the end it‟s just the beginning. It‟s a triumphant march into eternity. Paul tells us that to the believer the grave has lost it‟s sting (I Corinthians 15:55). David tells us in the Psalms that death is a passing through ".. yea, tho I walk through the valley of the shadow of death...". Imagine the very thing that most people fear the most is just a valley to be passed through to the believer. Death is nothing more than the highway from earth to the eternal presence of God. It‟s not just the destination that has taken the sting out of death it is the grace of God. What kind of grace can take the fear out of dying? What kind of grace can turn a final end into a glorious beginning? I don‟t know for only the dying believer has experienced it. In reading of the experiences of the believers who have passed through this valley that grace has to be something special. I am not sure that a Christian should be anxious to miss such an experience. The sixth reward we see to a faithful life is to be able to trust those whom God has placed over you II Samuel 19:37b-38. 37b) But behold thy servant Chimham; let him go over with my lord the king; and do to him what shall seem good unto thee. 38) And the king answered, Chimham shall go over with me, and I will do to him that which shall seem good unto thee: and whatsoever thou shalt require of me, that will I do for thee. Barzillai was willing to entrust Chimhan into David‟s care. What greater compliment can one pay then to entrust their child to them? You don‟t have to go very far in David‟s past to find a time when he was not trust worthy. Barzillai, then like all of us at one time or another, had a leader that he wanted God to change. He did not want a new leader. If that were the case he would have supported Absalom‟s rebellion. He wanted God to change David so he would once again have a shepherd as well as a king. Too often churches ask God to change the leader instead of changing the leader. I have seen God answer their prayers with a new leader and real soon the people found that they went from the frying pan into the fire. The seventh reward for a faithful life is to have your presence valued by God's anointed II Samuel 19:39-40. 39) And all the people went over Jordan. And when the king was come over, the king kissed Barzillai, and blessed him; and he returned unto his own place. 40) Then the king went on to Gilgal, and Chimham went on with him: and all the people of Judah conducted the king, and also half the people of Israel. In verse 33 we saw that David valued Barzillai‟s advice. In verses 39 and 40 we see that David valued Barzillai‟s presence. Has God blessed you with someone who walks so close to God you just enjoy being around them? Not to discuss any great theological issues but to just be with them. A friend so close that you don‟t even have to talk but to just enjoy their presence. If you have then you understand how David feels about Barzillai. David just wanted him around. I have a pastor friend whose father was also a pastor. His father finished Bible college but did not continue his formal education. But on more that one occasion my friend has told me of the times men with more formal education sought his father out. Sometimes for advice sometimes just for the fellowship. After meeting his father I can understand why. The man walks with God and he taught his son to do the same. I enjoy being in their presence. It‟s almost as though you hope to get some of the overflow. D. AFTERSHOCK During this study we have looked at what happens when God‟s work is split. Now we will look at how a congregation as a whole responds to the attempt to destroy God's work II Samuel 19:4l-43). 41) And, behold, all the men of Israel came to the king, and said unto the king, Why have our brethren the men of Judah stolen thee away, and have brought the king, and his household, and all David's men with him, over Jordan? 42) And all the men of Judah answered the men of Israel, Because the king is near of kin to us: wherefore then be ye angry for this matter? have we eaten at all of the king's cost? or hath he given us any gift? 43) And the men of Israel answered the men of Judah, and said, We have ten parts in the king, and we have also more right in David than ye: why then did ye despise us, that our advice should not be first had in bringing back our king? And the words of the men of Judah were fiercer than the words of the men of Israel. When I started this study, I thought this was the end. It was my impression that each split ended with the people ready to rebel. I thought that each victory, like the Book of Judges, only led to another defeat. As I continued to read the remainder of the book of II Samuel, searching for a reason for all of the destruction, I discovered that Israel's reaction to David was not another act of rebellion. Like an earthquake, church splits have aftershocks. This was only the beginning of the first of these aftershocks. God‟s man can‟t afford to be caught off guard. Just because the wolf is defeated and there is an appearance of unity, the danger is not yet passed. There will be aftershocks. Each one will be coming from a different direction and each accomplishing a different purpose. Each of them will have to be dealt with differently or the work can still be destroyed. That will be the next study, the study AFTERSHOCKS II Samuel 19:41-24:25. SATAN’S ATTACK UPON GOD’S WORK II Samuel 11:1-19:43 I. Satan‟s first attack - Binding the strong man of the house 11:1-12:31 A. How does Satan bind the strong man of the house 11:1-25 1. By causing him to lose his vision 11:1-5 a. The sign of a strong man who has lost or is loosing his vision 11:1-5 1. He fails to perform the duties of his office 11:1 2. He lets down his personal relationship with God 11:2a 3. He replaces God‟s call with other things 11:2b-3a 4. He does not accept Godly advice 11:3b 5. He sins 11:4 6. He‟s caught 11:5 7. He covers his sin instead of confessing it 11:6-25 a. By confusing the issue, create doubt 11:6-13 1) Deception form the throne (It‟s not my baby) 11:6-8 2) The strong man meets a noble man (It‟s definitely not my baby) 11:9-13 b. By removing the opposition 11:14-25 1) The murder planed 11:14-15 2) The friend complies 11:16-17 3) The plain carried out 11:18-21 4) The strong man is safe 11:22-25 2. Living with the sin 11:26-27 B. How does God restore the fallen believer 12:1-31 1. Restoration or removal? II Samuel 7:16 2. First by providing access to Himself 3. Second by allowing time for the offender to repent on his own 12:14 4. Third by brining the sin to light 12:1-12 a. First God reveals the perpetrator of the sin 12:1-7a b. Second God reveals the cause of the sin 12:7b-9 c. Third God reveals the consequences of the sin 12:10-12 1) The sword shall not depart for David‟s house 12:10 2) Raise up evil in David‟s house (12:11a) 3) Take David‟s wives and give to another 12:11b 4) God does everything in public 12:12 4. Forth by showing mercy 12:13-23 a. Forgiving David 12:13-14 1) David repents 12:13 NOTE: Evidence of true repentance 1. A need to spend time alone with God. 16 2. Remorse over the damage caused by your sin. 16 3. Your relationship with God becomes more important than anything else. 17 4. Others will recognize your sincerity. 18 5. An acceptance of God will. 19-20 6. Resting in God‟s mercy. 21-22 7. Trusting God for the future. 23 8. A new peace with God. 24 9. God will put His approval upon your actions. 25 2) God forgives 12:14 b. David Restored 12:15-31 1) With God 12:13-16 2) With the elders 12:17-23 3) With Bathsheba 12:24-25 4) Not with Israel 12:26-31 Note: The rest of Satan‟s attacks have to be within the guidelines God laid down in II Samuel 12:10-12 II. Satan‟s second attack - Finding someone with an agenda and giving him reason and opportunity. A. Reason 13:1-37 XXXX 1. How does Satan raise up evil within a work 13:1-18 a. Step one uncontrolled emotions 13:1-2 b. Step two giving an audience to Satan‟s advisor 13:3-5 c. Step three believing the lie 13:6 d. Step four betraying s trust 13:7-9a e. Step five making the act a secret 13:9b-10 f. Step six committing the act 13:11-14 g. Step seven paying for the act 13:15-18 2. How Satan uses sin in a house 13:19-37 a. By misdirecting the victim 13:19-20 b. By preventing God‟s man from dealing with the sin 13:21 c. By having another deal with the sin 13:22-37 1) Nursing a grudge 13:22 2) Scheming for revenge 13:23-27 3) Using others to do his work 13:28-29a 4) Using confusion to aid him 13:29b-33 5) Not facing his deed 13:34 6) Knowing his enemy 13:35-37 B. God‟s counter – Removing the wolf 13:37-39 III. Satan‟s third attack - Satan‟s scheme to bring Absalom back 14:1-33 A. How does Satan get God‟s man to accept the wolf back? 1. By having someone who is trusted plead his case 14:1-3 2. By misdirecting the focus away from his acts14:4-20 a. False information 14:4-8 b. False urgency 14:9-11 c. False conclusion 14:12-17 d. False decisions 14:18-20 B. Satan‟s purpose in bringing the wolf back - to change the direction of God‟s work 14:21-33 1. From God‟s Word to feelings 14:21-24 2. From Spiritual to physical 14:25-27 3. From life giving to destructive 14:28-33 Note: God does not counter the wolf‟s return because he provided for the protection of his people by his removal. To invite him back is to go contrary to God‟s actions. IV. Satan fourth attack - the work (The Sword) 15:1-14 Note: How does Satan attack God‟s work? A. By turning the hearts of the people15:1-6 Note: How does Satan turn the hearts of the people away from God? 1. By presenting himself as having the authority of the king 15:1-2 2. By pointing out the king‟s errors 15:3 3. By poisoning the people‟s faith in the king 15:4-6 a. By promising a fair deal 15:4 b. By giving a friendly greeting 15:5 c. By giving false hope 15:6 B. By taking the king‟s throne 15:7-12 1. Lying to the king 15:7-9 NOTE: In verse 7 it should read four not forty. a. Misrepresented spiritual facts 15:7 b. Made spiritual decisions while in the world 15:8 c. Raising the king‟s hope 15:9 2. By placing worldly people in spiritual positions 15:10-12 a. Doing it in secret 15:10-11 b. Infiltrated the king‟s inner circle 15:12 C. Attacking the king 15:13-14 V. Response to Satan‟s attack 15:15-19:40 Note: God has restored the king, given him the charge to protect the work and drive the wolf out. Since the king allowed the wolf back, God will strengthen the king for the battle but does not take any action until the king does. A. The king‟s response to Satan‟s attack 15:15-37 Note: How should the leader of a work under attack react? 1. By accepting help 15:15 2. By providing for his peace of mind 15:16-18 a. His home 15:16 b. His safety 15:17-18 3. By finding out where everyone stands 15:19-22 a. David releases his friends 15:19-20 NOTE: David allows them to decide. b. His friends decide to help 15:21 c. David accepts their help 15:22 4. By keeping a proper prospective of God 15:23-31 a. Knew who the real losers were 15:23 b. Obeying God‟s Word 15:24-31 1) The ark in Jerusalem 15:24-26 2) Zadok and the Levites had jobs to do in Jerusalem 15-27-29 3) Worshipping God 15:30-31 5. By placing people where they could be used by God 15;32-37 a. Wrong place 15:32-33 b. Right place 15:34-37 B. People‟s response to Satan‟s attack 16:1-23 1. The response of people who are uncommitted 16:1-4 NOTE: They use the confusion to advance their own purpose. a) They will give money 16:1-2 b) They will not give themselves 16:3-4 2. The response of people who oppose God‟s man 16:5-14 NOTE: Now you get yours. They hate you, justly or unjustly it does not matter. a) They can‟t see what God is doing only what they have lost 16:5-6 b) They judge your past life 16:7-8 c) David looked beyond the man 16:9-14 (Proverbs 16:7) 3. The response of people who support God‟s man 16:15-19 4. The response of people who advance their own goal 16:20-23 C. God‟s response to Satan‟s attack 17:1-19:43 1. God‟s intervention 17:1-18:8 NOTE: Not to stop the destruction but to direct it. a. Uncovering Satan‟s plan 17:1-4 b. Foiling Satan‟s plan 17:5-14 1) Doubt 17:5-7 2) Fear 17:8-10 3) Pride 17:11-14 c. Revealing Satan‟s plan 17:15-22 1) Warning the king 17:15-17 2) Protecting the king‟s allies 17:18-21 3) Delivering the king and his allies 17:22 d. Death to the betrayer 17:23 NOTE: The first death even before Absalom. e. Providing for the king 17:24-29 1) Choosing inferior leaders 17:24-26 2) Physical needs 17:27-29 f. The battle 18:1-8 1) The king‟s provision 18:1-2a 2) The king protected 18:2b-4 3) The king‟s request 18:5 4) The battle engaged 18:6-8 2. God‟s dealing with those involved 18:9-19:40 a. God‟s dealing with the wolf 18:9-18 1) Absalom caught 18:9 2) Absalom discovered 18:10-13 3) Absalom‟s requiem 18:14-18 a) Absalom dies 18:14-15 b) The battle stopped 18:16 c) Absalom buried 18:16 d) Absalom‟s Memorial 18:18 b. God‟s dealing with the king 18:18-19:8 1) The king told 18:19-32 a) The runners 18:19-23 b) The king told of victory 18:24-30 c) The king told of Absalom 18:31-32 2). The king‟s grief 18:33-19:8 a) The king faces his desire 18:33 b) The king faces the consequences of his actions 19:1-4 4) The king faces his duty 19:5-8 c. God‟s dealing with the congregation 19:9-15 1) Their fear 19:9-10 2) Their unity 19:11-15 NOTE: How God used David to unite the people. a) Used someone they all trusted 19:11 b) Reminded them of their common bonds 19:12 c) Promised no reprisal 19:13 d) The response to David‟s action 19:14-15 d. God‟s dealing with those who get a stay of execution 19:16-23 1) Still has a position of influence over the people 19:16-17 2) Repented before the people 19:18-20 3) His stay of execution granted 19:21-23 NOTE: I Kings 2:36-46 e. God‟s dealing with those who get taken back 19:24-30 1) Came as he was did not put on 19:24 2) Requested mercy 19:25-28 NOTE: He understood the king‟s power. 3) The king‟s response 19:29-30 f. God‟s dealing with those who get rewarded 19:31-40 1) Performed a service before the battle 19:31-32 2) The reward of faithfulness 19:33-40 a) To have your presence valued but God‟s anointed 19:33 b) The ability to discern God‟s will from Satan‟s trickery 19:33- 35a c) To see things of this world grow dim in the light of eternity 19:35b d) To have done right and seen right prevail 19:36 e) To die a peaceful death 19:37a f) To be able to trust those whom God has placed over you 19:37b-38 g) To have your presence valued by God‟s anointed 19:39-40 AFTERSHOCKS 19:41-24:25 Unfortunately once the original attack is over the war has only just begun. The AFTERSHOCKS that follow an attack can be more destructive than the original attack. To discover what happens to a people after an attack and discover what they can and should do to prevent even greater destruction see AFTERSHOCKS.
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