Psalm 3 - David Fled from Absalom
INTRODUCTION: This time I selected the KJ21 version (King James 21st Century) for the text of Psalm 3, and the study will include some of the scriptural history relative to the background for the psalm. David had defeated Goliath and the armies of the Philistines, but later became a fugitive from a jealous King Saul, for perhaps some ten years. David first became king of Judah at Hebron after Saul's death, when David was about thirty years old, and he reigned there for seven years and six months. During his time there he was at war with the house of Saul, and scripture records the birth of six sons from six different wives. "2 And unto David were sons born in Hebron: and his firstborn was Amnon, of Ahinoam the Jezreelitess; 3 and his second, Chileab, of Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite; and the third, Absalom the son of Maacah, the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur; 4 and the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; and the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital; 5 and the sixth, Ithream, by Eglah David's wife. These were born to David in Hebron." (2Sa 3:2-5 KJ21). David became king over all Israel and reigned at Jerusalem for thirty-three more years. "12 And David perceived that the LORD had established him king over Israel, and that He had exalted his kingdom for His people Israel's sake. 13 And David took more concubines and wives out of Jerusalem after he had come from Hebron; and there were yet sons and daughters born to David. 14 And these are the names of those who were born unto him in Jerusalem: Shammua, and Shobab, and Nathan, and Solomon, 15 Ibhar also, and Elishua, and Nepheg, and Japhia, 16 and Elishama, and Eliada, and Eliphelet." (2Sa 5:12-16 KJ21). The foregoing list spans the period of time David fathered children during his reign in Jerusalem.
But when David was perhaps between forty and fifty years of age, he took Bathsheba, another man's wife, for himself, and arranged to have her husband die in battle. God spared David's life, but spoke of David's future through Nathan the prophet. "10 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. 11 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 neighbor, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun. 12 For thou did it secretly; but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.'" (2Sa 12:10-12 KJ21). Nathan spoke this prophecy when Absalom was already a young man, but before Solomon was born.
Evil (<Strong's #07451> distress, injury, misery, calamity) did surely develop among the sons of David, beginning with Amnon. "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." (2Sa 13:1 KJ21). Amnon raped Absalom's sister Tamar, and Absalom killed Amnon about two years later. David at first believed he had lost all of his sons. "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." (2Sa 13:32 KJ21). After the murder, Absalom took flight from Israel for about three years, then returned and had limited freedom for another two years because David longed to have Absalom back. "And the soul of King David longed to go forth unto Absalom, for he was comforted concerning Amnon, seeing he was dead." (2Sa 13:39 KJ21).
When David relaxed even more and allowed Absalom complete freedom, Absalom began to build his own following. "And it came to pass after this that Absalom prepared himself chariots and horses and fifty men to run before him.", "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 in this manner did Absalom to all Israel who came to the king for judgment; so Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel." (2Sa 15:1, 5-6 KJ21).
When Absalom was sufficiently prepared (about age forty?, or in about the fortieth year of David's reign?), he began to actively launch the conspiracy to overthrow his father David, and become king in Israel. "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 Geshur in Syria, saying, `If the LORD shall bring me again indeed to Jerusalem, then I will serve the LORD.'" 9 And the king said unto him, "Go in peace." So he arose and went to Hebron. 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.'"" (2Sa 15:7-10 KJ21). Absalom had developed his support over a period of years after returning from exile for the murder of his brother Amnon; and King David was vulnerable to usurpation in his waning years. "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 who 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 the sword." (2Sa 15:13-14 KJ21).
As David and his party fled eastward from Jerusalem, a man cursed at him. "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 art taken in thy mischief, because thou art a bloody man." 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, because the LORD hath said unto him, `Curse David.' Who shall then say, `Why hast thou done so?'" 11 And David said to Abishai and to all his servants, "Behold, my son, who came forth from my loins, 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 affliction, and that the LORD will requite me good for his cursing this day."" (2Sa 16:7-12 KJ21). As David finds himself in great peril from his own son, he leaves the final outcome with the Lord. So, David fled for his life, then Absalom entered Jerusalem and carried out the second part of Nathan's prophecy. "20 Then said Absalom to Ahithophel, "Give counsel among you what we shall do." 21 And Ahithophel said unto Absalom, "Go in unto thy father's concubines, whom he hath left to keep the house; and all Israel shall hear that thou art abhorred by thy father. Then shall the hands of all who 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." (2Sa 16:20-22 KJ21).
Psalm 3:1-2 (KJ21)
1 <<A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son.>> LORD, how they have increased that trouble me! Many are they that rise up against me! 2 Many there be that say of my soul, "There is no help for him in God." Selah.
COMMENTS: As David leaves Jerusalem in flight for fear of death at the hand of his own son, it is likely that there was a flood of thoughts in review of calamitous events after his sin with Bathsheba. Surely this action by Absalom was a very grievous matter to him, if it was to become the final chapter of his life, at the end of many blessings mixed with hardship, since Samuel had anointed him to become King of Israel nearly fifty years earlier. Though David had been established as king for many years, this may have represented a time for him when it seemed his opponents within his own country were in their greatest number and strength.
Psalm 3:3-4 (KJ21)
3 But Thou, O LORD, art a shield for me, my glory and the lifter up of mine head. 4 I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and He heard me from His holy hill. Selah.
COMMENTS: The Lord was indeed a shield to David, as he had promised to be a shield for Abraham, because David was a son of Abraham, both in the flesh and in the spirit. "After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, "Fear not, Abram. I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward."" (Ge 15:1 KJ21). David needed to remember the faithfulness of the Lord in his past as expressed in another of his psalms, and thereby be sustained in the present, through faith believing. "The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped. Therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth, and with my song will I praise Him." (Ps 28:7 KJ21). The many troops that would go out in battle against the forces of Absalom were not the shield of protection for David, because the Lord was truly the only effective shield he could have. David made his cry for help to the holy hill, the representation of God's dwelling, for a direct appeal to his Savior. David's humility may have been as great at this point as was Paul's when Paul said, "9 And He said unto me, "My grace is sufficient for thee, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Most gladly therefore will I glory rather in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in privations, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then am I strong." (2Co 12:9-10 KJ21).
Psalm 3:5-6 (KJ21)
5 I laid me down and slept; I awaked, for the LORD sustained me. 6 I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people that have set themselves against me round about.
COMMENTS: David's party was received warmly with provisions on the east side of the Jordan, even by an Ammonite, Ammon being one of the nations subject under David's kingdom. "27 And it came to pass, when David had come to Mahanaim, that Shobi the son of Nahash of Rabbah of the children of Ammon, and Machir the son of Ammiel of Lodebar, and Barzillai the Gileadite of Rogelim, 28 brought beds and basins and earthen vessels, and wheat and barley and flour and parched corn, and beans and lentils and parched pulse, 29 and honey and butter, and sheep, and cheese from cows, for David and for the people who were with him to eat. For they said, "The people are hungry and weary and thirsty in the wilderness."" (2Sa 17:27-29 KJ21).
He was refreshed and was able to rest again. David was not in continual flight as he had been from Saul many years earlier, but was rather lodging in a city from which he would send out his army. When David sent his troops out to battle, his concern was not for himself, but for his son Absalom. "5 And the king commanded Joab and Abishai 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. 6 So the people went out into the field against Israel. And the battle was in the wood of Ephraim," (2Sa 18:5-6 KJ21).
Psalm 3:7 (KJ21)
7 Arise, O LORD! Save me, O my God! For Thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheekbone; Thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly.
COMMENTS: The victory for David's forces that day was deliverance by the Lord, as "the woods devoured more people than the sword devoured." "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 there was scattered over the face of all the country; and the woods devoured more people that day than the sword devoured." (2Sa 18:6-8 KJ21). It was very difficult for David when he learned of the death of Absalom in battle, but one might wonder if he had felt anticipation in his heart that this was to be the conclusion to the affair that had started with the elder son Amnon. "31 And behold, the Cushite came; and the Cushite said, "Tidings, my lord the king; for the LORD hath avenged thee this day of all those who rose up against thee." 32 And the king said unto the Cushite, "Is the young man Absalom safe?" And the Cushite answered, "The enemies of my lord the king, and all who rise against thee to do thee hurt, be as that young man is." 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!"" (2Sa 18:31-33 KJ21).
After he was rebuked by Joab about excessive mourning over the death of Absalom, he took his public place in the gate of the city for the sake of the people, and to honor the Lord. "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 got themselves 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!" 5 And Joab came into the house to the king, and said, "Thou hast shamed this day the faces of all thy servants who 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 comfortingly 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." (2Sa 19:1-8 KJ21).
Psalm 3:8 (KJ21)
8 Salvation belongeth unto the LORD. Thy blessing is upon Thy people. Selah.
COMMENTS: David concludes his psalm by ascribing salvation to God alone, much as he had said after he had escaped from King Saul many years earlier. "The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower." (Ps 18:2 KJ21). The word buckler above, is representative of the Lord's shield of protection again. And in another place David had said, "19 Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah 20 He that is our God is the God of salvation; and unto GOD the Lord belongeth the discharge from death." (Ps 68:19-20 KJ21). The "discharge from death" can apply to situations while we are in our mortal body, but more importantly, it applies to our soul for the Lord's eternal salvation from the second death.
--- Reflections in prayer ---
Lord, your enemies are also the enemies of the saints, for you have said, "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." And conversely, your word tells us that "friendship with the world is enmity with God." Few saints could compare their situation with that of King David for the unique position you designed for him in your plan of salvation through his descendent. But all saints are in spiritual conflict that requires complete dependence upon your shield of protection because the powers of darkness are far superior to our frail abilities without the Spirit of the Lord. You are the glory of the saint, and the never failing shield. No matter where I might be in this world, if I cry unto you, you will hear from your holy hill. I can lie down in peace, knowing that you will sustain me regardless of the number of foes counted against me. Make me ever mindful Lord that my relationship with you must always be ahead of any other relationship, regardless of how dear another person might be to me. Arise O Lord, and fulfill the promise that salvation belongs to you alone, and that your blessing will rest upon your saints. Selah. Amen.
Published 28 March 2005