The Father, the Son and the Grandfather
January 30, 2015 Speaker: Chris Bruce
Scripture: 2 Samuel 13:1– 17:29
Synopsis: This message is a story without a happy ending. A father: King David, and his sons Amnon and Absolom, have unforgiveness and bitterness in their hearts, along with a grandfather, Ahithophel. Don’t allow their ending to become your ending too. Trust that God is able to carry you through those time of pain to a place of grace.
Scripture Reading: Ephesians 4:25-32
25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
I’m going to tell you a story about a family, a father and his sons. I’ll be focusing on the third eldest son; bit of a middle child, and then a little later I’ll include a grandfather.
Let’s start in the middle of the story with eldest son and the third son. Their names were Amnon and Absalom, sons of King David. It is one of the sadder stories in the Bible. It is found in 2 Samuel 13, and today we will be following the story all the way to 2 Samuel 18.
In 1 Chron 3:1-9, David’s family is listed, with 19 sons, along with a single daughter, Tamar
Whenever a woman is mentioned in the Old Testament, it means there is a bigger context to her story, Tamar was Absalom’s sister, and according to 2 Samuel 13, she was very beautiful, and Amnon loved her, or more accurately lusted after her. He desperately wanted to sleep with her and with his friend Jonadab made a plan, he pretended he was sick and he needed Tamar to feed him with her hand. When she came in to feed him, he made sure they were alone and then he raped her, and immediately the Bible says he hated her, sent her out the room and locked the door. Immediately Absalom hated his brother for committing this sin, but he was a patient person, and after waiting 2 years, he invited all the sons of David to a festival, and ended up having Amnon killed. Can you imagine his heart after 2 years of planning revenge. But he knew killing the King’s son was bad so we ran away for 3 years, it was only after Joab, one of David’s advisors tricked David with a story of a man needing forgiveness, did David allow Absalom back into Jerusalem, but he did not speak to him for another 2 years.
Once he regained the King’s favour, he started plotting again, this time he made himself an entourage of fifty men, who walked beside him while he rode in a chariot, he would then wait at the city gate and say the king had no-one to judge disputes, but if he ever was ruler, he would make sure there was justice. He did this for 4 years, and won the hearts of the people, he was also the most handsome man in the Kingdom, according to 2 Sam 14, he would cut his hair every hair and the weight of that hair was over 2 kgs.
So this prince was planning a coup against his father by looking fabulous and telling the people promises of when he would be in power. After those 4 years, he went to Hebron, and gathered an army, and then made his move to take power. The first thing he does is send for the grandfather of our story, Ahithophel, who had been David’s counsellor.
Then he gathers his armies to confront the king in Jerusalem. We see David behave very strangely; he runs away and hides.
According to 2 Samuel 16:23, when Ahithophel gave advice, it was as if God had spoken, he was a man who knew all David’s plans and strategies, we don’t know why Ahithophel was on Absalom’s side rather then David’s. I have a thought about it, but we’ll come back to that.
The story continues, with David praying an interesting prayer, basically he asks God to make this wise man give foolish advice. Can God do that? Absolutely. In essence, David is desperate, saying, “Oh, God, just this once make Ahithophel unwise.”
Then David gets smart. He sent his own trusted advisor Hushai to try to infiltrate Absalom’s inner circle:
Essentially now Absalom has two counsellors. Hushai and Ahithophel. But Ahithophel was the more trusted counsellor. His first bit of advice to Absalom, he tells him to go in and take over his father’s harem. This seems very strange to us.
But the people of the kingdom knew what this meant, It meant that Absalom was asserting himself and saying that He now had rights to everything that was David’s.
It was the ultimate slap in the face. This wise man knew how to show the people who was now the Ruler, but it doesn’t stop there. After Absalom does this, he turns to both men, Hushai and Ahithophel for advice on how to fight this coming civil war, how to defeat David’s armies in 2 Samuel 17:1-4, Ahithophel says give me an army of 12,000 men, we will chase him down, while he is tired and discouraged. No-one will fight except me, I will go into the King’s tent and kill him with my own hands, then all the people will turn to you.
It really was a good plan, and it would have worked, but David had his own man giving advice, Hushai says No, no, no, David hid from Saul for years, you will make yourself look foolish, rather plan a long term strategy, go before the people, to recruit more in the army, and lead the battle himself. Well, Absalom listened to Hushai, this bought David a lot of time and eventually David was victorious and Absalom was killed. In chapter 18, we read of David’s sorrow over the death of his son.
But what happened to Ahithophel? Let’s read: 2 Sam 17:23
23 When Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his donkey and went off home to his own city. He set his house in order and hanged himself, and he died and was buried in the tomb of his father.
So this once-proud man, who had been an advisor to the King, who had loved David, ended his life in disgrace and dishonour.
What happened? What had made Ahithophel so bitter?
If you have been listening there is an obvious question. Who is his grandchild? The Bible is not totally clear, but there are a few verses that show a possible family line
Let’s read 2 Sam 23 This is a list of David’s mighty men, those men who stood tall by David. We will only look at verse 34
34 Eliphelet the son of Ahasbai of Maacah, Eliam the son of Ahithophel of Gilo,
This is most likely correct as this is the home town, and he was well known, so we can presume these are the same person. Now turn with me to 2 Samuel 11:3
3 And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?”
So… Bathsheba was Eliam’s daughter and therefore Ahithophel’s granddaughter. We don’t know if this Eliam is the same Eliam as David’s mighty man, but that would give her context and a reason to live so close to the palace.
David then knowing who Bathsheba was, committed adultery with her, and then tried to frame Uriah for the child that was to be born, and when that failed he had Uriah killed. You must realise that the parents, with maybe some advice from the grand parents most likely had arranged this marriage. Uriah was the man they chose for Bathsheba, and David killed him,
Think about this. This man had served faithfully alongside David, supporting him, loving him. His own son had fought faithfully alongside David as one of his mighty men. That’s why the servant questioned David, when David demanded to have Bathsheba. Do you know whose daughter this is?
Imagine the hurt and pain Ahithophel felt? You did what to my granddaughter? You wicked old man, you ruined her marriage. Made her the talk of the town.
Also think of this. Because of David’s arrogance and sin: Ahithophel’s grandson died. And then when Solomon was born, every time Ahithophel looked at him, he was reminded of David’s sin.
I can imagine his anger. I will get David. This is not right. You can touch anyone, but not touch my granddaughter.
So that’s why Ahithophel wasn’t in Jerusalem anymore. He went back home. But he didn’t leave his bitterness behind. For years he plotted and grew bitter with anger.
All of this anger, bitterness and betrayal happened because of sin. Rape, murder, adultery, jealousy, covertness: These are all sins that lead people to bitterness, because of unforgiveness. In the end, when the Grandfather tried to kill David because of his bitterness, he ended up committing suicide. The son coveted the kingdom that wasn’t his and he died in a tree, and the Father had to battle his son, and see his closest advisor turn on him. David wrote these words about this time. Psalm 41:9
Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.
It’s sounds like a really sad story, but it can be worse. Think about your own life, which character are you?
Do you hold unforgiveness against anyone? Are you coveting something that is not yours? Or have you hurt someone so bad, they are plotting against you. Maybe not to the extreme of this story but in some part, we all fall into these traps at times.
Romans 12:14-18 says: “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”
Easier words to read then to apply, but the truth is that the Christian life is not our own we are called to a higher calling, to live as Christ. Our old life would like to repay evil for evil, but we have a harder responsibility, to repay evil with blessing, to live, speak, and act honourably. When you feel anger and hatred rising up to live peaceably with all. Remember the next verse: v 19
19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
I could teach you a 4 step process: Forgive; Prayer; Release; Move onwards. That implies follow these steps and you will be okay.
But I think life is never that simple, yet it is more simple. One single step. Col 3:17
17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
In application, it may mean physically forgiving, spending time praying and fasting, taking time to study the Scriptures and reading verses in context. It is all too easy to become bitter when we don’t see the result from God that we expect…
Hebrews 12:15: 15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;
We need to be reminded over and over again, that we are called to be forgivers, able to release what has happened in the past. Ephesians 4:32
32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
and Philippians 3:13
13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,
Each situation demands you seek God and find the path to follow. Our responsibility is to strain towards Christ, the example set before us, the author and finisher of our faith, our prize, the Giver of grace so that we become more like Him.
Conclusion: I’d like to repeat the Scripture Reading from this morning, listen in context with this story and your own life.
Ephesians 4:25-32: 25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Let us pray.