Got Grace?

Posted: February 4, 2010 in 2 Samuel

2 Samuel 19-20, “Got Grace?”
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Grace is something that’s easy to talk about; it’s not so easy to show. But it’s in the times that we think that grace is so undeserving that grace is most necessary. …

2 Samuel 19 (NKJV)
1 And Joab was told, “Behold, the king is weeping and mourning for Absalom.” 2 So the victory that day was turned into mourning for all the people. For the people heard it said that day, “The king is grieved for his son.” 3 And the people stole back into the city that day, as people who are ashamed steal away when they flee in battle. 4 But the king covered his face, and the king cried out with a loud voice, “O my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son!”

A. Easy to imagine why the people responded as they did. After a military coup and 20,000 soldiers dead, the battle abruptly ends when Absalom is killed. For the people, they were expecting to rejoice, and instead they come back to find their king in deep distress and mourning due to their battle. To all appearances, they weren’t coming back as heroes – or even battle-tired warriors – they were coming back disgraced as the people who killed the son of the king.

B. Was David’s grief for his son wrong or misplaced? Of course not – but as we saw last week, David didn’t only have a duty as a father; he had a duty as a king. And as king, he was neglecting his duty – about which Joab promptly confronts him.
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5 Then Joab came into the house to the king, and said, “Today you have disgraced all your servants who today have saved your life, the lives of your sons and daughters, the lives of your wives and the lives of your concubines, 6 in that you love your enemies and hate your friends. For you have declared today that you regard neither princes nor servants; for today I perceive that if Absalom had lived and all of us had died today, then it would have pleased you well. 7 Now therefore, arise, go out and speak comfort to your servants. For I swear by the LORD, if you do not go out, not one will stay with you this night. And that will be worse for you than all the evil that has befallen you from your youth until now.”

A. Heavy accusation from Joab – but probably very true. 20,000 soliders had lost their lives that day, and David didn’t seem to shed a tear over them. The very task for which his army had gone into battle had been accomplished (restoring the kingdom), and yet there are no words of commendation from the king; only sorrow. It seems that David would have been ok if the whole army had died as long as Absalom lived.
__a. Again – we’re dealing with the heart of a father here, so we’ve got to keep that in mind. But was there a way for David to both show his natural grief as well as uphold his national responsibility? Of course – it’s just that David didn’t seek it out. He had advisors he could have relied on – he could have said a few brief words to the men & gone in private to grieve – he certainly could have sought the Lord for wisdom. He just didn’t do it.
__b. Be careful not to relegate seeking the Lord’s wisdom to only being after the fact… Seek Him at ALL times…

B. Joab’s counsel is good, even if he’s rude. (Joab’s not a perfect guy by any stretch of the imagination – but the advice he gives here is sound.) This was something that needed to be addressed quickly. David didn’t have the leisure of time. Serious damage had been done to the morale of his army & if David didn’t do what needed to be done, there may not be any kingdom left to restore to him. Who would follow a king who resents the very army that saved his life?
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8 Then the king arose and sat in the gate. And they told all the people, saying, “There is the king, sitting in the gate.” So all the people came before the king. For everyone of Israel had fled to his tent.

A. David’s response? He assumes the responsibility that he should have had all along. Remember, it was Absalom sitting in the gate (in David’s place) that allowed him to build up a following for rebellion… []
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9 Now all the people were in a dispute throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, “The king saved us from the hand of our enemies, he delivered us from the hand of the Philistines, and now he has fled from the land because of Absalom. 10 But Absalom, whom we anointed over us, has died in battle. Now therefore, why do you say nothing about bringing back the king? 11 So King David sent to Zadok and Abiathar the priests, saying, “Speak to the elders of Judah, saying, ‘Why are you the last to bring the king back to his house, since the words of all Israel have come to the king, to his very house? 12 You are my brethren, you are my bone and my flesh. Why then are you the last to bring back the king?’ 13 And say to Amasa, ‘Are you not my bone and my flesh? God do so to me, and more also, if you are not commander of the army before me continually in place of Joab.’ ” 14 So he swayed the hearts of all the men of Judah, just as the heart of one man, so that they sent this word to the king: “Return, you and all your servants!” 15 Then the king returned and came to the Jordan. And Judah came to Gilgal, to go to meet the king, to escort the king across the Jordan.

A. Family ties to Judah… With David being restored to the kingdom, the logical way of going about it would be to have David’s own tribe lift him up again, as they did before. David sent the priests to the elders of Judah in order to get the ball rolling.

B. Seems to be a curious event with Amasa. Remember Amasa was the man that Absalom chose to replace Joab as the commander of the army. Why would David choose to not only retain Joab’s replacement, but a general who served under the son who betrayed him? Quite possibly, this is an attempt by David to bring unity to the land & promote healing among the people. David is showing that he’s not going to prosecute everyone who served under Absalom (which would obviously include all the people who followed Absalom instead of David). By showing forgiveness to Amasa, David was extending forgiveness to the rest of the nation. …
__a. Some have noted that an additional reason for replacing Joab was that David might have learned that Joab was the one who killed Absalom on the battlefield. Perhaps David saw an opportunity to get rid of him & took it.

C. Note that it worked! All the men of Judah saw David extending grace to Amasa & they understood it was safe to welcome the king home again.
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16 And Shimei the son of Gera, a Benjamite, who was from Bahurim, hurried and came down with the men of Judah to meet King David. 17 There were a thousand men of Benjamin with him, and Ziba the servant of the house of Saul [Mephibosheth’s servant], and his fifteen sons and his twenty servants with him; and they went over the Jordan before the king. 18 Then a ferryboat went across to carry over the king’s household, and to do what he thought good. Now Shimei the son of Gera fell down before the king when he had crossed the Jordan. 19 Then he said to the king, “Do not let my lord impute iniquity to me, or remember what wrong your servant did on the day that my lord the king left Jerusalem, that the king should take it to heart. 20 For I, your servant, know that I have sinned. Therefore here I am, the first to come today of all the house of Joseph to go down to meet my lord the king.”

A. Remember what Shimei did… (2 Sam 16)

B. How arrogant can this guy be?! He intentionally insulted David, threw rocks at him, etc. He figuratively spit on the face of the rightful king, and he knew exactly what he was doing. What gives him the right to ask for forgiveness? Nothing…absolutely nothing. Just like us. 🙂 There are two basic thoughts to the nature of sin: intentional & unintentional. The unintentional ones are the ones we generally think about, where we just “miss the mark,” but didn’t really mean to do it. But if we’re being honest, it’s most likely the intentional sins (transgressions) that are FAR more frequent. Generally when we sin, it’s not a slip; it’s an act of our will – no less spitting in the face of God than Shimei was to David. … What then give us the right to ask for forgiveness? Absolutely nothing – save the grace of God.

C. Before we look at David’s response, notice how Shimei approaches him: humble (not proud) & honest (not attempting to cover anything up).
__a. Shimei needed to be humble because he understood he deserved the wrath of the king. … So do we! We don’t come to Christ in our pride; we come in full humility understanding what it is we deserve. James 4:6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” []
__b. Shimei needed to be honest because he understood that David knew the full extent of his sin already. It’s not like Shimei could have claimed to have insulted David, but never thrown rock at him. Neither did Shimei make any excuses for his actions; he was just honest about them. … That’s exactly what confession is – agreeing with God that our sin is indeed sinful. … If we confess our sins, He is faithful & just to forgive us (1 John 1:9)…
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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, you sons of Zeruiah, that you should be adversaries to me today? Shall any man be put to death today in Israel? For do I not know that today I am king over Israel?” 23 Therefore the king said to Shimei, “You shall not die.” And the king swore to him.

A. Shimei threw himself upon the grace of his king; David mercifully extended it to him. Shimei wouldn’t always stay this way, but at least for now he understood his need for grace.

B. Abishai didn’t respond any better to Shimei here than in Ch 16…he wanted to kill Shimei then & he wanted to kill Shimei now. Abishai certainly had the justification to do so; but David mercifully restrains him a 2nd time. Killing Shimei wasn’t going to prove anything – God still restored David to the throne, despite the curses of Shimei & those like him. David let God fight his battles for him, and David’s trust was well-placed!
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24 Now Mephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the king. And he had not cared for his feet, nor trimmed his mustache, nor washed his clothes, from the day the king departed until the day he returned in peace.

A. It wasn’t that Mephibosheth didn’t know how to bathe himself; this was a visible sign of mourning. David would be able to see that from the day his throne was usurped, Mephibosheth had mourned his king.

B. Remember what had happened back in Ch 16 – the servant assigned to care for Mephibosheth (Ziba) had accused Meph. of treason & siding with the enemy… David has previously just received Ziba’s side of the story without hearing the whole thing & assigned all of Meph’s land to Ziba. Now’s the opportunity for Meph to correct the record, avenge himself on Ziba & take back what had been rightfully his by a command of the king. You’ll note that’s not exactly what happens… 🙂
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25 So it was, when he had come to Jerusalem to meet the king, that the king said to him, “Why did you not go with me, Mephibosheth?” 26 And he answered, “My lord, O king, my servant deceived me. For your servant said, ‘I will saddle a donkey for myself, that I may ride on it and go to the king,’ because your servant is lame. 27 And he has slandered your servant to my lord the king, but my lord the king is like the angel of God. Therefore do what is good in your eyes. 28 For all my father’s house were but dead men before my lord the king. Yet you set your servant among those who eat at your own table. Therefore what right have I still to cry out anymore to the king?” 29 So the king said to him, “Why do you speak anymore of your matters? I have said, ‘You and Ziba divide the land.’ ” 30 Then Mephibosheth said to the king, “Rather, let him take it all, inasmuch as my lord the king has come back in peace to his own house.”

A. Notice how Meph responds to David’s question. First, Mephibosheth defends himself without exaggerating the details. Very simply Meph claims that Ziba “deceived” him & “slandered” him – but that’s all he says. He doesn’t launch into a diatribe about the evils Ziba had committed – he doesn’t try to paint a picture of Ziba being the worst sinner imaginable. He just states the facts & leaves the result to the king. He had faith that his king would do what was right.
__a. What kind of faith do we have for the same?

B. Second, Meph defends himself without making demands. Meph wasn’t looking for revenge against Ziba – he wasn’t even seeking to have his land & possessions restored to him. Relationship with the king was far more valuable to him than wealth & lands. As long as Meph had peace with David, that was enough.
__a. Do we value our relationship with Jesus that much – where we value Him more than anything else the world offers? The Psalms are full of this thought: a day in God’s court is better than a thousand elsewhere (Ps 84:10) – our soul pants for God as the deer pants after the water (Ps 42:1) – God’s covenantal lovingkindness is better than life itself (Ps 63:3)… Psalm 73:25-26 (25) Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. (26) My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. [] This world pales in comparison with our Lord Jesus Christ! What can it possibly offer in place of Him? May we have a heart like Mephibosheth where we simply long to be in right relationship with God. As the song says, “Just give me Jesus.”

C. Why? What possible reason would Meph have to not seek absolute revenge on the one who did him wrong? Because Meph understood his own need for grace. Just as the “sinner” Shimei is dependent upon the grace of his king, so is the “innocent” Mephibosheth. Meph may not have openly insulted the king, but he understood that he had absolutely nothing without grace. The only reason Meph had any land to be taken was because it was given to him by David’s grace. The only reason Meph was able to be taken out of fellowship with David was because he was there in the 1st place due to David’s grace. The only reason Meph was alive at ALL was due to grace! Meph didn’t have any “rightful” claim to anything outside of grace – and thus it was to grace he appealed & was so willing to extend to others.
__a. He who has been forgiven much loves much…
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31 And Barzillai the Gileadite came down from Rogelim and went across the Jordan with the king, to escort him across the Jordan. 32 Now Barzillai was a very aged man, eighty years old. And he had provided the king with supplies while he stayed at Mahanaim, for he was a very rich man. 33 And the king said to Barzillai, “Come across with me, and I will provide for you while you are with me in Jerusalem.” 34 But Barzillai said to the king, “How long have I to live, that I should go up with the king to Jerusalem? 35 I am today eighty years old. Can I discern between the good and bad? Can your servant taste what I eat or what I drink? Can I hear any longer the voice of singing men and singing women? Why then should your servant be a further burden to my lord the king? 36 Your servant will go a little way across the Jordan with the king. And why should the king repay me with such a reward? 37 Please let your servant turn back again, that I may die in my own city, near the grave of my father and mother. But here is your servant Chimham; let him cross over with my lord the king, and do for him what seems good to you.”

A. Gotta love this brief mention of Barzillai. We’re never too old to serve the Lord – just like he was not too old to serve his king. Barzillai may not have been able to serve in the army on the frontlines, but he was able to ensure that the army was well-fed & could be there. God gifted him with wealth, and Barzillai used it for the glory of God.
__a. Serve God with what He’s given you! (Rom 12:8.) For some it may be giving generously – for others it may be service – for others it may be going on a mission field. Nowhere in Scripture do we see one as more important to the other; the one who sends someone to minister is just as needed on the one available to go & minister.

B. Contextually, Barzillai understood his limits. He wouldn’t be able to personally go with David any longer, but he could certainly send someone in his place – which he does in Chimham his son.
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38 And the king answered, “Chimham shall cross over with me, and I will do for him what seems good to you. Now whatever you request of me, I will do for you.” 39 Then all the people went over the Jordan. And when the king had crossed over, the king kissed Barzillai and blessed him, and he returned to his own place. 40 Now the king went on to Gilgal, and Chimham went on with him. And all the people of Judah escorted the king, and also half the people of Israel.

A. David comes back home…and most of the people are supporting him. He still has a bit more to do in order to unify his nation.
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41 Just then all the men of Israel came to the king, and said to the king, “Why have our brethren, the men of Judah, stolen you away and brought the king, his household, and all David’s men with him across the Jordan?” 42 So all the men of Judah answered the men of Israel, “Because the king is a close relative of ours. Why then are you angry over this matter? Have we ever eaten at the king’s expense? Or has he given us any gift?” 43 And the men of Israel answered the men of Judah, and said, “We have ten shares in the king; therefore we also have more right to David than you. Why then do you despise us—were we not the first to advise bringing back our king?” Yet the words of the men of Judah were fiercer than the words of the men of Israel.

A. If it sounds like bickering between brothers, it basically is. There they had an opportunity & reason to celebrate with their king in this midst of them & all they could do was snap at each other.

B. Do we do the same thing as the Church? We have so much we could be doing together in the cause of the Great Commission – we could be praying together & glorifying God together. Even where there are differences in minor points of theology, we could still celebrate with one another as fellow believers in the Lord. Too often we find ourselves just snapping at each other for no real reason. We’re going to have to spend eternity together joined to the same Bridegroom – we might want to learn to get along together now…
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2 Samuel 20 (NKJV)
1 And there happened to be there a rebel, whose name was Sheba the son of Bichri, a Benjamite. And he blew a trumpet, and said: “We have no share in David, Nor do we have inheritance in the son of Jesse; Every man to his tents, O Israel!” 2 So every man of Israel deserted David, and followed Sheba the son of Bichri. But the men of Judah, from the Jordan as far as Jerusalem, remained loyal to their king. 3 Now David came to his house at Jerusalem. And the king took the ten women, his concubines whom he had left to keep the house, and put them in seclusion and supported them, but did not go in to them. So they were shut up to the day of their death, living in widowhood.

A. No sooner was David restored to his kingdom from one rebellion than he faced another one. Though here, at least the tribe of Judah remained loyal, even with the rest of the nation deserting their king (again).

B. The note about the concubines is not unexpected, but it is pretty sad. David did provide for them the rest of their days, but they were never truly restored after the abuses of Absalom. Culturally speaking, David didn’t have too many options with them, so he seems to pick the most compassionate one available to him.
__a. Praise God that in Christ Jesus, our healing & restoration is absolutely perfect! We will not be lacking for anything in heaven with our Lord & we have full access to His full grace in the present.
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4 And the king said to Amasa, “Assemble the men of Judah for me within three days, and be present here yourself.” 5 So Amasa went to assemble the men of Judah. But he delayed longer than the set time which David had appointed him. 6 And David said to Abishai, “Now Sheba the son of Bichri will do us more harm than Absalom. Take your lord’s servants and pursue him, lest he find for himself fortified cities, and escape us.” 7 So Joab’s men, with the Cherethites, the Pelethites, and all the mighty men, went out after him. And they went out of Jerusalem to pursue Sheba the son of Bichri.

A. With all the names, it can be kind of tough to follow. David 1st sent Amasa (the new commander) out to fight against the rebel Sheba. Amasa took too long (perhaps showing incompetance), so David then sends his other commander Abishai out as well. Joab is Abishai’s brother, and he seemingly goes along for the battle; he’s not going to let this opportunity go to waste.
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8 When they were at the large stone which is in Gibeon, Amasa came before them. Now Joab was dressed in battle armor; on it was a belt with a sword fastened in its sheath at his hips; and as he was going forward, it fell out. 9 Then Joab said to Amasa, “Are you in health, my brother?” And Joab took Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him. 10 But Amasa did not notice the sword that was in Joab’s hand. And he struck him with it in the stomach, and his entrails poured out on the ground; and he did not strike him again. Thus he died. Then Joab and Abishai his brother pursued Sheba the son of Bichri. 11 Meanwhile one of Joab’s men stood near Amasa, and said, “Whoever favors Joab and whoever is for David—follow Joab!”

A. Cold-blooded murder (again) from Joab. [] He was a truly bloodthirsty man. Instead of trusting his God & his king to raise him up & defend him, Joab continually took matters into his own hands & this time brutally murdered his replacement in the army.

B. Note for all the grace shown by David, Joab has shown none. Whereas David demonstrated the heart of God (albeit imperfectly), Joab demonstrated the very things God hates. Proverbs 6:16-19 (16) These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: (17) A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, (18) A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, (19) A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren. []
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12 But Amasa wallowed in his blood in the middle of the highway. And when the man saw that all the people stood still, he moved Amasa from the highway to the field and threw a garment over him, when he saw that everyone who came upon him halted. 13 When he was removed from the highway, all the people went on after Joab to pursue Sheba the son of Bichri.

A. Apparently, people didn’t really know what to do. They understood they needed to follow Joab to battle (he had made it a test of their loyalty to King David), but they weren’t sure how to react to the murder. Someone (Joab?) put a covering over the body & moved it out of the way, and people were able to move on.

B. Seems to be a literal case of “out-of-sight, out-of-mind.” Covering Amasa’s bloody dead body didn’t change the facts of the sin in the slightest, but it made it easier for people to deal with. The problem of course, it that eventually that sin is going to stink up the place. It seems like Joab is getting away with a bunch of sin – that’s not going to be the case forever.
__a. The time to deal with sin is now!
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14 And he went through all the tribes of Israel to Abel and Beth Maachah and all the Berites. So they were gathered together and also went after Sheba. 15 Then they came and besieged him in Abel of Beth Maachah; and they cast up a siege mound against the city, and it stood by the rampart. And all the people who were with Joab battered the wall to throw it down. 16 Then a wise woman cried out from the city, “Hear, hear! Please say to Joab, ‘Come nearby, that I may speak with you.’ ” 17 When he had come near to her, the woman said, “Are you Joab?” He answered, “I am.” Then she said to him, “Hear the words of your maidservant.” And he answered, “I am listening.” 18 So she spoke, saying, “They used to talk in former times, saying, ‘They shall surely seek guidance at Abel,’ and so they would end disputes. 19 I am among the peaceable and faithful in Israel. You seek to destroy a city and a mother in Israel. Why would you swallow up the inheritance of the LORD?”

A. Joab pursues Sheba to the city of Abel & Joab begins to lay seige to it. The whole city would be destroyed in the pursuit of one man, had this woman not spoken up & intervened.
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20 And Joab answered and said, “Far be it, far be it from me, that I should swallow up or destroy!

A. There’s just a touch of irony in Joab’s answer. He claims to want to avoid unnecessary destruction, yet that’s exactly what he just got done doing with Amasa. Joab’s reputation for blood had preceded him, which is why the woman responded the way she did.
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21 That is not so. But a man from the mountains of Ephraim, Sheba the son of Bichri by name, has raised his hand against the king, against David. Deliver him only, and I will depart from the city.” So the woman said to Joab, “Watch, his head will be thrown to you over the wall.” 22 Then the woman in her wisdom went to all the people. And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri, and threw it out to Joab. Then he blew a trumpet, and they withdrew from the city, every man to his tent. So Joab returned to the king at Jerusalem.

A. Brutal, but effective. Justice was carried out & innocent lives were saved.
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23 And Joab was over all the army of Israel; Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and the Pelethites; 24 Adoram was in charge of revenue; Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder; 25 Sheva was scribe; Zadok and Abiathar were the priests; 26 and Ira the Jairite was a chief minister under David.

A. Just a record of the chief officers in David’s court. We don’t know too much about some of them, but what they did was enough in the sight of God to have been recorded in Holy Scripture!

Mephibosheth & Shimei were dependent upon grace… David demonstrated grace… Joab did not. Are you dependent upon grace? Are you demonstrating grace?

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