When Family Bonds Shatter

Explore the Bible Series

November 23, 2008


Background Passage: II Samuel 13:1-20:26

Lesson Passage: II Samuel 13:19-22, 28a, 37-39; 14:23-24; 15:1-6




David endured one of the deepest heartaches anyone could endure, the rebellion of a child.How does one measure the depth of this grief?Perhaps the one thing we all fear is rejection by those we love.Nothing produces such agony as the betrayal of those who should love us most, and, in Davidís case, the king experienced the rebellion of his own flesh and blood.I suspect that David never truly recovered from the rebellion and death of his beloved son.


The Bible gives some indication of Davidís ineptitude as a parent, but he loved his children deeply.Absalom seemed to enjoy a particularly favored place in his fatherís heart, and this rebellion must have cut David to the quick.This young man should have loved and honored his father, but he did not.Many times, Godís children entrust their hearts to people that should return their love.Sometimes, however, the persons whom we love most reject our love.In Davidís case, the beloved son murdered a sibling, plotted his fatherís demise, undermined his fatherís position, dishonored his fatherís marriage bad, and led an armed rebellion; a rebellion he hoped would end with his fatherís death.If you have experienced such a heart-break, you are not alone.



Lesson Summary:


I.                   The Conflict Between Absalom and Amnon (13:1-39)

A.    The rape of Tamar (vv. 1-19): The main characters in this dramatic story were the eldest sons of King David, Amnon (by Davidís wife Ahinoam) and Absalom (by the Syrian princess Maacah).Apparently, a second son, Chileab, died in his youth, and Absalom stood second in line for Davidís throne.Perhaps Amnonís sexual aggression arose from both his lust for Tamar and his hunger to solidify his claim on Israelís throne.Whatever his motives, Amnon grew ill over his lust for his sister, and, acting on the salacious counsel of a friend (Jonadab, Amnonís cousin and King Davidís nephew), Amnon tricked Tamar into his bedroom.After she came to tend to her ill brother, Amnon raped Tamar.The poor girl protested her half-brotherís advances but to no avail.After assaulting Tamar, Amnon despised his victim and expelled her from his presence.She was, of course, disgraced by the rape, and she went to live with Absalom.

B.     Absalomís revenge (vv. 20-36): To his credit, Absalom tried to comfort his disconsolate sister, but he seethed with anger, an anger he concealed for two years as he plotted revenge. Itís worth noting that David apparently did nothing to correct the behavior of Amnon.Perhaps this gives some insight into the kingís weakness as a parent.His passive approach to this situation seems to add to Absalomís bitterness.After two years, Absalom planned a celebration that he used as a ruse to lure his brother to Baalhazor.As the festivities crescendoed with Amnonís drunkenness, Absalom gave orders for his servants to assassinate his brother.Davidís other sons, fearful of Absalomís wrath, fled hastily from the celebration.Servants brought an errant message to David that all his sons had been killed. Eventually, the grieving sons returned to their father, and they mourned together for the violence that tore apart the royal family.

C.     Absalom sojourn in Geshur (vv. 37-39): As David grieved for Amnon, Absalom fled to motherís Syrian family, in Geshur.He remained with his maternal grandfather for three years, and Davidís heart longed for his wayward son.


II.                Absalomís Return to Jerusalem (14:1-33)

A.    Joabís deception (vv. 1-24): The kingís general realized that David continued to grieve over Absalom; so, Joab took matters into his own hands in an effort to reconcile father and son.Joab convinced a woman of Tekoa to tell an elaborate lie to David in an effort to arouse the kingís willingness to bring Absalom back to Jerusalem.The womanís tale (See vv. 12-20) persuaded David to let Joab bring Absalom home, but the father and son remained estranged for two more years.

B.     An uneasy reconciliation (vv. 25-33): Absalom married (three wives) and began a family, but he still did not see his father.He grew impatient with the situation and sent for Joab to intercede. Joab refused Absalomís overtures, and, in a fit of anger, Absalom burned Joabís barley crop to get the generalís attention.Finally, David and Absalom, after a five-year estrangement, met and embraced each other.


III.             The Early Stages of Absalomís Rebellion (15:1-37)

A.    Absalomís efforts to disaffect the hearts of the Israelites (vv. 1-6): For four years Absalom waited at the gates of Jerusalem and stole away the hearts of his fatherís subjects.Rebellious men often bide their time as they conspire against the Lordís servants, and Absalom mastered the technique of obliquely affirming his fatherís alleged lack of compassion and poor administrative skills.Gradually, this defiant son managed to persuade the weak minds and will of many of the people.

B.     Absalomís establishment of a new capital at Hebron (vv. 7-12): Perhaps the inhabitants of Hebron chafed because David moved the capital to Jerusalem, and Absalom gave promise of reestablishing the prominence of Hebron.The conspiracy spread from Hebron as the rebel son sent messengers to all the tribes of Israel, and Ahithopel (some think he may have been Bathshebaís grandfather), Davidís trusted counselor defected to the kingís enemies.

C.     Davidís flight from Jerusalem (vv. 13-37): News arrived in Jerusalem concerning the popularity of Absalom, and David determined that he had to temporarily abandon the city.The king still had a loyal following, and many people, including some Gentiles, decided to accompany David on his flight.The king asked ten concubines to remain at the palace, and required that Abiathar and Zadok stay in the city.


IV.             Davidís Further Humiliation (16:1-23)

A.    The betrayal of Mephibosheth (vv. 1-4): Ziba, the former servant of King Saul, reported that Mephibosheth, a man to whom David had shown great kindness, had remained in Jerusalem, in hopes that he might gain the throne.Itís possible that Ziba lied to David to gain the property of Mephibosheth.

B.     The scorn of Shimei (vv. 5-14): As David traveled, a kinsman of Saul cursed the beleaguered king.One of Davidís supporters wanted to kill the insolent man, but David refused to take vengeance.Eventually, Shimei sought Davidís forgiveness (See II Samuel 19:16-23).Solomon, after Davidís death, had Shimei executed (See I Kings 2:39-46)

C.     Ahithophelís treachery (vv. 15-23): Ahithopel, Davidís former counselor, advised Absalom to violate his fatherís concubines.This disgraceful act confirmed Absalomís intent to displace and demean his father.


V.                Civil War in Israel (17:1-18: 33)

A.    The demise of Ahithophel (17:1-29): Ahithophel proposed a battle plan that aimed at the assassination of David, but Hushai, Davidís spy, convinced Absalom to follow an alternate plan.Ahithophel realized that he had lost the confidence of Absalom, and the unfaithful counselor returned to his home and committed suicide.

B.     The defeat of Absalom (18:1-33): David divided his troops into here companies and attacked Absalom in the forest of Ephraim.The kingís forces routed the rebel troops, and Absalom fled from the battlefield.As he rode his mule under a tree, his long, flowing hair caught in the branches.Joab, despite the kingís orders, killed Absalom, and David grieved deeply for his son.


VI.             The Aftermath of Absalomís Rebellion (19:1-43)

A.    Joabís concern about Davidís grief (vv. 1-15): Davidís grief prevented him from celebrating victory with his people, and Joab feared that the king would alienate the faithful men of Israel.Joab, of course, understood the kingís mourning, but he believed David had not shown appropriate appreciation for the sacrifices of the people.The king listened to the counsel of Joab and came out to acknowledge the service of Israelís troops.A brief dispute ensued concerning the appropriate way to bring the king back across the Jordan River.Judah and Israel united in welcoming David back to Gilgal.

B.     The pardon of Shimei (vv. 16-23): Shimei, the man who cursed David, fell before the king to ask forgiveness for his insurrection.The kingís aides advised David to kill Shimei, but David gave an oath that he would spare Shimeiís life.

C.     Reconciliation with Mephibosheth (vv. 24-30): Mephiboshethís loyalty to David had come in question, but the crippled man clamed that he had not accompanied David because a servant had deceived him.Itís difficult to determine Mephibosheth integrity in this affair, but David determined to divide Mephiboshethís inheritance between Saulís kinsman and Ziba.

D.    Davidís encounter with Barzillai (vv. 31-43): David honored an elderly man who had shown the king great kindness; in fact, David wanted Barzillai to come to Jerusalem.The aged man, however, proposed that, because of his infirmities, he should return to his home.David chose to reward a servant of Barzillai.It is worth noting that the chapter ends with the continued bickering about how to honor the victorious king.


VII.          The Rebellion of Sheba (20:1-26): Our lesson material concludes with a brief account of an insurrection led by a man named Sheba.Though a Benjamite, he provoked men in the northern tribes to rebel against war-weary David.The king met with treachery in his own ranks, but eventually Sheba was defeated.†† Joab and Abishai pursued the rebel to the city of Abel, and there they met a woman who predicted the violent death of Sheba, and the rebellious man died just as the woman anticipated.






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