Sunday, June 22, 2014

[Matt's Messages] "The Return of the King"

“The Return of the King”
The LORD Is My Rock: The Message of 2 Samuel
June 22, 2014 :: 2 Samuel 19:9-20:26

This is the last of three messages that in the story arc of Absalom’s conspiracy.

Two weeks ago, we saw Absalom steal the hearts of the men of Israel and conspire to take over the throne of David in the city of David.

King David was forced to flee to the other side of the Jordan.

Then last week, Absalom’s and David’s armies fought one another to see who would ultimately win.  David won, but it didn’t feel like it because Absalom died and David was overwrought with grief and sorrow.

Today’s message finishes that story with a sermon that I’m going to call (with apologies to J.R.R. Tolkien), “The Return of the King.”

This is the story of how David came back to the city of David, how King David became King of Israel once again. The Return of the King.

You might have thought and been excused for thinking that the return of the king would be relatively easy.

It’s not.

Even though Absalom has died and many of those who supported him also died, there is still much civil unrest.

There is a fundamental hostility between the northern 10 tribes, often called “Israel,” and the two southern tribes, often called “Judah.”

And after Absalom died, there was a squabble between them over whether or not David should return as king!

What should be obvious apparently still wasn’t.

Chapter 19, starting in the last part of verse 8.

“Meanwhile, the Israelites had fled to their homes. Throughout the tribes of Israel, the people were all arguing with each other, saying, ‘The king delivered us from the hand of our enemies; he is the one who rescued us from the hand of the Philistines. But now he has fled the country because of Absalom; and Absalom, whom we anointed to rule over us, has died in battle. So why do you say nothing about bringing the king back?’”

Apparently, there was a debate going on about whether or not to re-accept King David.

They were arguing with each other.  King David beat the Philistines. King David was our king.  But then he wasn’t because of Absalom whom we anointed. But now Absalom is dead, why don’t we have our king back, immediately?!

It seems that Israel (the northern tribes, catch that) is ready to bring him back. It didn’t take much arguing.

However, they’re first!  The southern tribes, including Judah, whom David was a member of were apparently hesitating. V.11

“King David sent this message to Zadok and Abiathar, the priests: ‘Ask the elders of Judah, 'Why should you be the last to bring the king back to his palace, since what is being said throughout Israel has reached the king at his quarters?

[Have you heard what they’re saying up north? They want me back.]

You are my brothers, my own flesh and blood. So why should you be the last to bring back the king?'

And say to Amasa, 'Are you not my own flesh and blood? May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if from now on you are not the commander of my army in place of Joab.'’”

Whoa! That’s a bold move.

Who was Amasa? He was the general of Absalom’s army (17:25)!

He was a traitor.

And David was promoting him above his own general!

That’s a brilliant move.

David was demoting Joab who had killed his son Absalom.

And he was building bridges toward those who had been his enemies.

It’s brilliant, and it works. V.14

“He won over the hearts of all the men of Judah as though they were one man. They sent word to the king, ‘Return, you and all your men.’

Then the king returned and went as far as the Jordan. Now the men of Judah had come to Gilgal to go out and meet the king and bring him across the Jordan.

Shimei son of Gera, the Benjamite from Bahurim, hurried down with the men of Judah to meet King David. With him were a thousand Benjamites, along with Ziba, the steward of Saul's household, and his fifteen sons and twenty servants. They rushed to the Jordan, where the king was.”

Remember a couple of weeks ago, as David left the city, he kept encountering people?

And I said that in times of trouble, you often can find out who your friends really are?

Well, it’s a little harder to tell when you’re a winner than when you’re in trouble.

But David meets the same people (and few more) going back than when he came out.

The first is that man who didn’t pretend to be David’s friend when he was down. Shimei. V.18

“They crossed at the ford to take the king's household over and to do whatever he wished. When Shimei son of Gera crossed the Jordan, he fell prostrate before the king and said to him, ‘May my lord not hold me guilty. Do not remember how your servant did wrong on the day my lord the king left Jerusalem. May the king put it out of his mind.

For I your servant know that I have sinned, but today I have come here as the first of the whole house of Joseph to come down and meet my lord the king.’”

Pretty good speech for a guy who was pelting David was rocks and dirt the last time he saw him!

Abishai who wanted to kill him then hasn’t forgotten. V.21

“Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said, ‘Shouldn't Shimei be put to death for this? He cursed the LORD's anointed.’

David replied, ‘What do you and I have in common, you sons of Zeruiah? This day you have become my adversaries! Should anyone be put to death in Israel today? Do I not know that today I am king over Israel?’


So the king said to Shimei, ‘You shall not die.’ And the king promised him on oath.”

Verse 24.

“Mephibosheth, Saul's grandson, also went down to meet the king. He had not taken care of his feet or trimmed his mustache or washed his clothes from the day the king left until the day he returned safely.

That’s important. That detail is important. Why?  Because it shows Mephibosheth’s loyalty.

I have 3 lessons to learn from this story today, and the first one is summarized with that one word.


Mephiboseth’s loyalty has been in dispute.

Do you remember what Ziba had said about him back in chapter 16?

Ziba had shown up with a string of donkeys and some much needed refreshment and had said that his master Saul’s grandson, whom David had shown hesed to was excited about the conspiracy and was hoping to be restored to the kingship through this rebellion.

And David had given everything of Mephibosheth’s to Ziba, assuming the king returned some day.

But is that what happened?  V.25

“When he came from Jerusalem to meet the king, the king asked him, ‘Why didn't you go with me, Mephibosheth?’

He said, ‘My lord the king, since I your servant am lame, I said, 'I will have my donkey saddled and will ride on it, so I can go with the king.' But Ziba my servant betrayed me.  And he has slandered your servant to my lord the king. My lord the king is like an angel of God; so do whatever pleases you.

All my grandfather's descendants deserved nothing but death from my lord the king, but you gave your servant a place among those who sat at your table. So what right do I have to make any more appeals to the king?’

The king said to him, ‘Why say more? I order you and Ziba to divide the fields.’  Mephibosheth said to the king, ‘Let him take everything, now that my lord the king has arrived home safely.’”

So, according to Mephibosheth, it was Ziba’s fault. He wouldn’t bring him his wheelchair so he had to stay home and Ziba spread slander about him.

How does David know that Mephibosheth is telling the truth?

It’s the feet and mustache and clothes. Mephibotsheth had gone into exile with David  in his spirit and had dressed like it even while stay in the land ruled by Absalom.

That was taking a risk while Absalom was ruling!

And he also knows that Mephibosheth is telling the truth because all he seems to care about is the return of the king. V.30 again.

“Let him take everything, now that my lord the king has arrived home safely.”

That’s a great attitude, and it shows both humility and loyalty.

Loyalty is another word to translate the Hebrew word “hesed.”

Loyal love. Steadfast commitment to another.

The Lord is the best at loyalty, and He wants us to develop it ourselves.

This last week, Heather and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary, and one of the things I’ve always love and appreciated and have been overwhelmed by is her fierce loyalty to me.

It makes sense that married people should be and would be loyal to each other, but I never knew how strong loyalty could be and how sweet it could be until I had been married to this woman for some time.

To whom should you be loyal?

To whom should you be showing hesed, unfailing love?

It’s not just something that married people ought to show.

Mephibosheth is showing it to David his uncle who had been showing it to him.

Often, the person who needs the loyalty is in trouble and needs help.

They don’t look like a winner at the time.

They can’t scratch your back, so it would be easy to ignore their backs.

But that’s not what a friend does.  Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

That’s what Barzillai did. V.31

“Barzillai the Gileadite also came down from Rogelim to cross the Jordan with the king and to send him on his way from there. Now Barzillai was a very old man, eighty years of age. He had provided for the king during his stay in Mahanaim, for he was a very wealthy man.

[He had been there for him during the hard times.]

The king said to Barzillai, ‘Cross over with me and stay with me in Jerusalem, and I will provide for you.’

But Barzillai answered the king, ‘How many more years will I live, that I should go up to Jerusalem with the king? I am now eighty years old. Can I tell the difference between what is good and what is not? Can your servant taste what he eats and drinks? Can I still hear the voices of men and women singers? Why should your servant be an added burden to my lord the king? Your servant will cross over the Jordan with the king for a short distance, but why should the king reward me in this way? Let your servant return, that I may die in my own town near the tomb of my father and mother.

But here is your servant Kimham. Let him cross over with my lord the king. Do for him whatever pleases you.’ The king said, ‘Kimham shall cross over with me, and I will do for him whatever pleases you. And anything you desire from me I will do for you.’ So all the people crossed the Jordan, and then the king crossed over. The king kissed Barzillai and gave him his blessing, and Barzillai returned to his home.”

Again, we have a picture of loyalty. Someone whose main concern was not for themself but for someone else. The thing that Barzillai cared the most about was simply the return of the king.

How happy and content he is that the king is safe again and crossing back home!

And notice how blessed he is because of his loyalty.

Remember, when King David is at his best, he reminds us of what King Jesus will be.

And notice how King David, upon his return, rewards those who have been faithful to him.

How much more will King Jesus, upon His return, reward those who have been faithful to Him!

Loyal to Him!

Whose main concern is the return of the King!

Paul said to Timothy – “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”

Who have been longing, loyally longing for the return of the King.

Is that you?  The New Testament commands us to long for, to wait with constant expectation, for the return of King Jesus.

And there is great reward in store for those who have longed for His appearing.

Now, David finally returns home, but that doesn’t mean that all is well. V.40

“When the king crossed over to Gilgal, Kimham crossed with him. All the troops of Judah and half the troops of Israel had taken the king over. [Uh oh.] Soon all the men of Israel were coming to the king and saying to him, ‘Why did our brothers, the men of Judah, steal the king away and bring him and his household across the Jordan, together with all his men?’

All the men of Judah answered the men of Israel, ‘We did this because the king is closely related to us. Why are you angry about it? Have we eaten any of the king's provisions? Have we taken anything for ourselves?’”

[A few days before, they were arguing about whether or not to do it, now they are arguing over who has the right to do it and who would do it better!]

 Then the men of Israel answered the men of Judah, ‘We have ten shares in the king; and besides, we have a greater claim on David than you have. So why do you treat us with contempt? Were we not the first to speak of bringing back our king?’ But the men of Judah responded even more harshly than the men of Israel.”

Bunch of bickering children!

Nu uh.
Uh uh.
Nu uh.
Uh uh!

Going to turn into a shoving match soon. In fact, that’s what Sheba is counting on. Chapter 20, verse 1.

“Now a troublemaker named Sheba son of Bicri, a Benjamite, happened to be there. He sounded the trumpet and shouted, ‘We have no share in David, no part in Jesse's son! Every man to his tent, O Israel!’ So all the men of Israel deserted David to follow Sheba son of Bicri. But the men of Judah stayed by their king all the way from the Jordan to Jerusalem.”

David is home, but all is not well.

There is another civil war!

Sheba is a troublemaker. He wants to divide and conquer. He is certainly not loyal, and he wants to dissuade anyone from being loyal to King David.

He plays off of the civil unrest to try to create a civil war.

And David knows he must do something about that, but first, he does something about the concubines. V.3

“When David returned to his palace in Jerusalem, he took the ten concubines he had left to take care of the palace and put them in a house under guard. He provided for them, but did not lie with them. They were kept in confinement till the day of their death, living as widows.”

Here’s our second key word for today:


If there has been one theme running through all of the sermons from Mother’s Day to today, it would be that God will not be mocked, a man reaps what he sows. Your sin will find you out.

Even when there is forgiveness of sins, there often will be consequences.

Dire consequences.

There were dire consequences for David’s sin with Bathsheba and against Uriah.

A sword pierced his family.

And these 10 women suffered for it. Didn’t they?

Raped by Absalom who had taken such umbrage at the rape of his sister Tamar.

David believes he has to sequester them for the rest of their lives so that they live as widows. A consequence of his sin and Absalom’s.

It’s the right thing to do in a difficult situation.

And it’s consequences.

We like to think that we’re going to get away with everything.

That God may not be watching.

That there may not be any negative effects from our sin.

But that’s wishful thinking. Our sin carries consequences, and not just for ourselves.

Is there a temptation in your life right now?

Sexual immorality?
Anger, rage, bitterness?

Is there a temptation in your life right now that seems like a victimless crime to commit?

There are no victimless crimes against God.

And He’s watching. We have see that again and again.

Yes, there is forgiveness. Turn from your sin and trust in the Savior. He will forgive.

His blood is powerful, and it is enough!

But don’t turn towards sin presuming upon forgiveness and assuming that no one will get hurt.

David was on the roof of his palace when he gave in to lust.

And then Absalom was on the same roof when he gave in, as well.

And these 10 ladies had to pick up the pieces and live with them for their whole lives.

Think. And turn away from sin.

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”


In chapter 20 there are a lot more consequences. V.4

“Then the king said to Amasa, ‘Summon the men of Judah to come to me within three days, and be here yourself.’ [We’ve got to do something about Sheba, and now.] But when Amasa went to summon Judah, he took longer than the time the king had set for him.

David said to Abishai, ‘Now Sheba son of Bicri will do us more harm than Absalom did. Take your master's men and pursue him, or he will find fortified cities and escape from us.’

[Notice that Joab is passed over again as head of the army. David is very mad at him for having killed his son Absalom. But also notice that Joab goes with Abishai and still seems to be in charge. V.7]

So Joab's men and the Kerethites and Pelethites and all the mighty warriors went out under the command of Abishai. They marched out from Jerusalem to pursue Sheba son of Bicri.

While they were at the great rock in Gibeon, Amasa [finally!] came to meet them. Joab was wearing his military tunic, and strapped over it at his waist was a belt with a dagger in its sheath. As he stepped forward, it dropped out of its sheath.

Joab said to Amasa, ‘How are you, my brother?’ Then Joab took Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him.

Amasa was not on his guard against the dagger in Joab's hand, and Joab plunged it into his belly, and his intestines spilled out on the ground. Without being stabbed again, Amasa died. Then Joab and his brother Abishai pursued Sheba son of Bicri.”


In this case, it’s Amasa’s consequences for being a traitor to David.

He’s family with Joab and doesn’t realize that he’s in trouble.

Joab drops his dagger, and scoops it up with his left hand, his defensive hand.

With his right, he grabs Amasa as a kinsman for a kiss, and gives him the cold blade.

That’s murder, folks, and Joab (for a time) gets away with it.

But there will be consequences. Count on it. V.11

“One of Joab's men stood beside Amasa and said, ‘Whoever favors Joab, and whoever is for David, let him follow Joab!’ [Never mind that David had said that Amasa was the new commander.] Amasa lay wallowing in his blood in the middle of the road, and the man saw that all the troops came to a halt there. When he realized that everyone who came up to Amasa stopped, he dragged him from the road into a field and threw a garment over him.

After Amasa had been removed from the road, all the men went on with Joab to pursue Sheba son of Bicri. Sheba passed through all the tribes of Israel to Abel Beth Maacah and through the entire region of the Berites, who gathered together and followed him.

All the troops with Joab came and besieged Sheba in Abel Beth Maacah. They built a siege ramp up to the city, and it stood against the outer fortifications. While they were battering the wall to bring it down, a wise woman called from the city, ‘Listen! Listen! Tell Joab to come here so I can speak to him.’

He went toward her, and she asked, ‘Are you Joab?’ ‘I am,’ he answered. She said, ‘Listen to what your servant has to say.’ ‘I'm listening,’ he said. She continued, ‘Long ago they used to say, 'Get your answer at Abel,' and that settled it. We are the peaceful and faithful in Israel. You are trying to destroy a city that is a mother in Israel. Why do you want to swallow up the LORD's inheritance?’

‘Far be it from me!’ Joab replied, ‘Far be it from me to swallow up or destroy! [That’s audacity, I would say!] That is not the case. A man named Sheba son of Bicri, from the hill country of Ephraim, has lifted up his hand against the king, against David. Hand over this one man, and I'll withdraw from the city.’ The woman said to Joab, ‘His head will be thrown to you from the wall.’

Then the woman went to all the people with her wise advice, and they cut off the head of Sheba son of Bicri and threw it to Joab. So he sounded the trumpet, and his men dispersed from the city, each returning to his home. And Joab went back to the king in Jerusalem.

Joab was over Israel's entire army [that uncontrollable rascal Joab]; Benaiah son of Jehoiada was over the Kerethites and Pelethites; Adoniram was in charge of forced labor; Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was recorder; Sheva was secretary; Zadok and Abiathar were priests; and Ira the Jairite was David's priest.”

Here’s my one word for all of this:


The return of the king is all about God keeping His promises to David and to Israel.

The wise woman of Abel Beth Maacah reminded Joab that her city (v.19), “the LORD’s inheritance.”

The land that God promised to His people.

And God has made some big promises to King David.  We read about them back in chapter 7.

How would those promises been kept if David had not returned to Jerusalem?

God always keeps His promises.

The kingdom is saved–not because the kingdom was good, but because God is keeping His promises.

As Joshua told the people at the end of his life, “You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the LORD your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed” (Joshua 23:14).

And we know Who keeps all of those promises. The Apostle Paul said, “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:20).

God keeps all of His promises, and they are yes in Christ.

Have you trusted in Jesus Christ to be the fulfillment of all of God’s promises for you?

He is the great YES to all of those promises.  Trust Him.


Messages in This Series

00. "How the Mighty Have Fallen!"
01. King David
02. David's Kingdom
03. The Right Way to Worship
04. "I Will Build a House for You."
05. The Rule of King David
06. David's Scandal
07. Why Is This Sordid Story in the Bible?il This
08. Absalom's Conspiracy