Please read these five chapters now – space does not allow a full summary of all the details. It is worth your time – no James Bond spy thriller can beat these chapters for intrigue and betrayal!
In Chapter 15, Absalom spends forty years of David’s relatively peaceful reign plotting to usurp the throne from his father. Like a great politician, he does whatever he can until he “…has stolen the hearts of the men of Israel” (15:6). David and all the people loyal to him flee to the wilderness across the Jordan. David knows this is God’s judgment for his sin with Bathsheba, and his heart for God earnestly repents as he flees.
In Chapter 16, David plants his friend Hushai as a spy in Absalom’s court, charged with keeping David informed. In Chapter 17, Hushai miraculously convinces Absalom to overrule his trusted advisor Ahithophel, whose counsel is considered by both Absalom and David as “…if one inquired of God” (16:23)! Absalom accepts Hushai’s “plan” for capturing David. Hushai then informs David, who completely destroys Absalom’s army in Chapter 18. But Joab (David’s army commander) disobeys David’s order to protect Absalom’s life and Absalom is killed.
Despite the thrilling twists and turns that save David’s kingship, it is David’s intense, never-ending love for his very imperfect family that causes him to completely ignore his people at the moment of victory in Chapter 19. He sinks into passionate mourning for Absalom and repentance for all the damage brought by God’s judgment, for which David accepts full responsibility.
David awakes from his malaise to horrible quarrels among all the tribes of Israel. He then applies some wonderful examples of perfect unity in practice. Our leaders can learn much from David in these modern times of political and religious combat, if we are to save our country (God will save our church!):
- Be accessible to the people you want to unite (19:8).
- Listen carefully to their grievances and do not take offense (19:9).
- Find reasonable, respected intermediaries to connect with the side that opposes you (19:11).
- Share your common passion, your common “flesh and bone”, your overarching principles toward which all must rise in order to survive (19:12-13).
- Assign qualified members of the opposition to work with you to develop trust (19:13).
- Stay the course, refusing anything that disunifies, until “the hearts of all men” are “as one man” (19:14).
David could not have done this if he had not been truly broken first at the loss of his son. And David had to accept responsibility for his own complicity for God’s judgment in visible, passionate repentance.
Disunity was not worth the cost.
How broken does America have to become before we see the damage we are doing because of disunity?
Where is the leader today who can reverse this? David was as flawed as he could be, but when his heart after God shone through, it was possible to see glimmers of unity.
May every citizen in the land ponder these thoughts as we step into the booth to vote!