Understanding His story helps us to understand that His-Story is our Story!
How Much Do You Know?
Overview and Background
When Adam and Eve first sinned in the Garden of Eden, they realized that there were immediate consequences to their sin. Adam and Eve had changed and now felt something they had never known before… shame! But they could not have any concept of the consequences and results that their sin would produce. They had no idea that their first-born son would murder his own brother because of sin. They had no idea that little more than 500 years after Adam’s death; all of humanity would suffer the judgment of God in the flood because of sin! What might have been millions of Adam and Eve’s descendants were judged and likely cast into Hell during the first rain to ever fall on the Earth.
The consequences since then have been so great that only God Himself knows the number of people that have been cast into Hell because of sin and rebellion! Jesus said, “‘You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way.’” (Mat. 7:13 NLT) Wide indeed! Because of Adam and Eve’s single choice, the fate of the whole human race was changed. Because of that single choice, the Son of God had to humble Himself and take on the form of a man to die upon a cross like a common criminal! When we stop to look at the consequences of Adam and Eve’s singular sin we can’t help but ask what will be the consequences of our many sins?
The Great Commission tells us that the Gospel is designed to spread outward from our homes. Beginning in Jerusalem to Judea, Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the world, the Gospel was to radiate out from the home with the good news of salvation. Although we've heard this talked about many times, something that is not talked about, as much is the fact that sin also radiates out from the home! The sins of the parents are often learned, repeated and even magnified in the sins of the children. The old adage of “do what I say and not what I do” never works. In today's world, many parents have become indulgent parents. They give their children everything they desire and assume that their child would never be the one that would do what those other kids are doing! After all, they tell their kids what is right and what is wrong! “Surely they will do what I say!” But most parents, especially outside the church, do not understand that it is their own hearts and their own sins that will ultimately be reproduced in their children. It is the habits of the parents that will be reproduced in their kids! It is the priorities of the parents that will be the priorities of the children!
And it has been this way from the very beginning. David is a prime example of this kind of parenting gone wrong! David was an indulgent parent! And one night, David made one choice and everything changed for all generations that came after him! His example of sin and not the example of godliness is what his kids would follow! He would reproduce every sinful trait he had in his children. Yet there was always hope...
Students will learn that sin always has a higher cost than we can know or even imagine. They will also learn that overindulging children is destructive to the child and to the family! Through this study, we will see that David is not only an example of Christ at certain times in his life, but that he is also an example to us of what happens when we choose sin instead of righteousness.
INTRODUCTION: As 2 Samuel 18 begins… David was in the Judean wilderness with all of the people that had followed him when Absalom’s rebellion began. Absalom and his forces were in hot pursuit of David and his forces. David takes refuge and gathers his forces together in a small city called Mahanaim. It is a place we are familiar with - the Jabok! The Jabok (“emptying stream”) was the place where Jacob divided all of his family and belongings up into groups and sent them forward to Esau because of his own family problems. It was there that Jacob wrestled with the Angel of the Lord and may be the place where Jacob saw the ladder with angels descending and ascending. The place had become known as Mahanaim or Machanayim and a small city had been built there which was given to the tribe of Levi. The future of Israel would be decided there between Jacob and Esso and it would again be decided there between David and Absalom.
Here is a Little Something Extra
Today, there is a game called Machanayim. It is a game similar to dodge ball that is frequently played in Orthodox Jewish schools and summer camps. The name Machanayim (sometimes spelled Machanaim) comes from the Hebrew word meaning "two encampments".
1. The High Cost of One Sin…
“Then David numbered the people who were with him and set over them commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds. David sent the people out, one third under the command of Joab, one third under the command of Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab's brother, and one third under the command of Ittai the Gittite. And the king said to the people, "I myself will surely go out with you also." (2 Sam. 18:1-2)
Notice that David said, "I myself will surely go out with you also". Why would David go out to battle? Because he did not want to repeat his previous mistake! When he should have been with his troops he was at home with Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife! And he was still reaping the results of that night. The rebellion of Absalom is just the latest consequence of that sin. It looks like David’s failures multiplied after that night. Not only did he commit adultery and murder his close friend, but also his whole family situation changed from that point forward. Maybe it was because of guilt that his parenting skills were such a failure? He seems to have become a very indulgent parent toward his sons. There was no correction or punishment given to his sons because of their wrong doings and his kids were out of control!
The consequences of his sin had gone way beyond adultery! Uriah was dead. David’s first born, Prince Amnon, was dead. The child born to he and Bathsheba was dead. The life of his daughter, Tamar, had been destroyed. Ahithophel, his most trusted adviser and probably one time father figure, came to hate David and turned against him. Ten of his wives had been defiled and would now live the rest of their lives as widows, never being allowed to have children. His nephew, Amasa, sided with Absalom and would be killed by his cousin, Joab. The people of Israel had suffered and thousands were dead! And now, here in Mahanaim, he receives the news that his third son, Absalom, is also dead.
Sin snowballs into more and more sin! The results and consequences can be unimaginable at the time but just one sin can change everything! In fact, for David and even for us, the course of humanity was affected by David’s sin with Bathsheba! But God...! God works all things together… He not only continues His work through grace toward redemption, but He uses all of this to teach us about the dangers of sin! One little white lie leads to ??? More lies! More problems! David’s sin of adultery snowballed. Yes, he repented and God forgave him, but the consequences were still coming as he divided his forces in Mahanaim to face Absalom’s army!
2. The Outcome of Indulgent Parenting...
When David was told of Absalom's death, he suffered what may have been the lowest and most distraught moment of his life. The contrast between David’s reaction to the death of his first child with Bathsheba and the death of Absalom could not be more different. (See: 2 Sam 12) After the death of Absalom we are told, “The king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And thus he said as he walked, "O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!" (2 Sam. 18:33)
The Hebrew word for “deeply moved” is “Ragaz” and implies a violent trembling or shaking. David fell apart at hearing the news of Absalom’s death. Why so much agony over one who had turned against him and even hated him? I believe it was because he knew that his own sins had grown and become magnified in his own son! David felt responsible for his son's actions and death. Was it because of the sin and guilt in his own life he became an indulgent parent! I think that for whatever reason, he did not want to be too hard on his boys. After all he had not been the best example for them! Maybe he just felt guilty? David’s indulgent parenting was now reaping the harvest, as was David’s own example! David committed sexual sins! So did Absalom! David plotted and schemed to cover up his sin and so did Absalom! David murdered someone close to him because of his own selfish desires and so did Absalom! David’s inaction toward Amnon after he raped his own sister became Absalom’s motivation to action! David was indulgent to the point of literally allowing his son to get away with murder!
Again, this all started when David sinned with Bathsheba and then murdered Uriah! It was then that God promised David: “'Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.' Thus says the LORD, 'Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household; I will even take your wives before your eyes and give them to your companion, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight.’” (2 Sam. 12:10-11) There is no reason to believe that God caused these things to happen but we can believe that God saw the unintended consequences of David’s sins before they happened and told David they were coming.
As David is weeping before the people, he said that he wished it had been him that had died instead of Absalom! David recognized the fact that he was responsible for his son’s death and the actions that led up to it!
But God can use this too! David wishes that he could take Absalom’s place and die for him but he could not. What David was unable to do, the Lord was able to do! As David was mourning for his son, it was as if he was saying that his weaknesses are my weaknesses, his wicked desires are my wicked desires and his sins are my sins. This is exactly what Jesus did! Not that Jesus’ sins are our sins, but rather the opposite. He became our sins! He took on our weaknesses and our desires and overcame them all! He was able to die in our place and we do not have to suffer the fate of Absalom. If you think about it, when we hear the cries of David, we are really hearing the cry of God for those who are lost! We hear His desire to take our place and die for us!
3. The Consequences of Sin Continue...
As David is being restored to his throne as king of Israel there are some who opposed him. “Now a worthless fellow happened to be there whose name was Sheba, the son of Bichri, a Benjamite; and he blew the trumpet and said, ‘We have no portion in David, Nor do we have inheritance in the son of Jesse; Every man to his tents, O Israel!’ So all the men of Israel withdrew from following David and followed Sheba the son of Bichri; but the men of Judah remained steadfast to their king, from the Jordan even to Jerusalem.” (2 Sam. 20:1-2) The opposition is there among the Israelites and it is brewing! The Philistines are out there too and they still want David’s head! You might ask how the Philistines are a result of David’s past sins? It is not because of David’s past sins but it is because of the sins of the children of Israel during the conquest of the land! Joshua and Gideon and the leaders of Israel did not do as the Lord had commanded! They were to take the area of Gath and Ekron and they did not! They were to destroy the enemy there in the land of the Philistines and they did not! This meant that Israel now faced giants that should not exist, and they had David in their sights!
“Now when the Philistines were at war again with Israel, David went down and his servants with him; and as they fought against the Philistines, David became weary. Then Ishbi-benob, who was among the descendants of the giant, the weight of whose spear was three hundred shekels of bronze in weight, was girded with a new sword, and he intended to kill David.” (2 Sam. 21:15-16) In fact there are several giants that are specifically searching for David in battle and intend to kill him! It would be much like having a bounty on his head.
“Now it came about after this that there was war again with the Philistines at Gob; then Sibbecai the Hushathite struck down Saph, who was among the descendants of the giant. There was war with the Philistines again at Gob, and Elhanan the son of Jaare-oregim the Bethlehemite killed Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam. There was war at Gath again, where there was a man of great stature who had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number; and he also had been born to the giant. When he defied Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimei, David’s brother, struck him down. These four were born to the giant in Gath, and they fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants.” (2 Sam. 21:18-22)
Verse 22 tells us that David personally had a hand in the fighting at least one of these giants. That would be in verse 17. David actually fought the giant whose name was Ishbi-benob who was a son of Goliath, the first giant David killed. But David was not as young as he used to be and he grew weary from battle. He would certainly have lost his life to this giant but for Abishai the son of Zeruiah who, “helped him, and struck the Philistine and killed him” (21:17). This giant was probably not as big as Goliath whom David had killed with a sling when he was young! His spear was only half the weight of Goliath’s. Still, for a man to throw a spear with a seven and a half pound spearhead was impressive! But David was older now. He still fought in battle and he was holding his own until Ishbi-benob, one of the sons of Goliath, came after him. That’s when Abishai the son of Zeruiah, David’s nephew, helped him and killed the big man who was carrying a new (sharp) iron sword! After this, David did not go into battle anymore.
There were three more Philistines who were also sons of Goliath. They too wanted David’s head in revenge for what he did to their father all those years ago! Sibbecai the Hushathite, one of David’s captains and one of the Thirty Mighty Men, struck down the giant named Saph! Then in another battle, Elhanan, the Bethlehemite, killed Goliath the Gittite! That would be Goliath, Jr. today! Then, last but not least, was another man who was so large that he is apparently beyond the term giant! He is known as a man of great stature and had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot! The enemy threw the biggest they had at David and the Lord used the people whom He had placed around David in order to keep His promise to establish David’s kingdom forever.
Application: Finding Jesus on every page…
It's been said that sin cost more than you are willing to pay and takes you farther than you are willing to go! But the truth is that the cost is higher than we can even imagine. The Lord Himself paid the cost! The cost of a holy, perfect, infinite, all-knowing and all-powerful God lowering himself to become a human being. The ONLY GOD! We say all of this with such ease, but the fact that God Himself would do this is more than we can comprehend! We do not truly even begin to comprehend the seriousness of what He had to do in order to give us Grace and bring redemption! Then, He not only becomes a man, but also allows the creature (man) to nail the Creator to a wooden cross made from a tree that He Himself caused to grow and live so that His promises to us could be kept. David is a picture of Christ in so many ways. We are pictures of the rebellious children! The giants of sin in our lives are what caused His death upon that cross! If there were one thing I am sure the Lord wants us to understand from this study, it would be the high cost of our own personal sins! Not only the cost to Him, but also to the next generations after us! So, how do we avoid it? Change must occur in our hearts and then we can pass that on to the next generation instead of our own sinful habits and desires. It only takes one choice! One time! One bad decision and everything could change!
What Have You Learned?
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