1. BITTER EFFECTS OF SIN
a. Explain the changes that occurred after David’s sin. Proverbs 6:32, 33.
“Though David repented of his sin and was forgiven and accepted by the Lord, he reaped the baleful harvest of the seed he himself had sown. The judgments upon him and upon his house testify to God’s abhorrence of the sin. . . .
“David’s transgression had changed his relation to God. The Lord could not in any wise sanction iniquity. He could not exercise His power to protect David from the results of his sin as he had protected him from the enmity of Saul.
“There was a great change in David himself. He was broken in spirit by the consciousness of his sin and its far-reaching results. He felt humbled in the eyes of his subjects. His influence was weakened. Hitherto his prosperity had been attributed to his conscientious obedience to the commandments of the Lord. But now his subjects, having a knowledge of his sin, would be led to sin more freely. His authority in his own household, his claim to respect and obedience from his sons, was weakened. A sense of his guilt kept him silent when he should have condemned sin; it made his arm feeble to execute justice in his house. His evil example exerted its influence upon his sons, and God would not interpose to prevent the result. He would permit things to take their natural course, and thus David was severely chastised.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 723.
2. WICKEDNESS IN THE SONS
a. What is written about Amnon, David’s first-born son? 2 Samuel 13:1, 2, 10–16. Why did David neglect to carry out his convictions regarding Amnon’s violent act? Verse 21; Romans 2:1.
“The shameful crime of Amnon, the first-born, was permitted by David to pass unpunished and unrebuked. The law pronounced death upon the adulterer, and the unnatural crime of Amnon made him doubly guilty. But David, self-condemned for his own sin, failed to bring the offender to justice.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 727.
b. What should we realize about the way Amnon had to be brought to justice? 2 Samuel 13:28, 29, 32; Proverbs 29:15.
“Like other sons of David, Amnon had been left to selfish indulgence. He had sought to gratify every thought of his heart, regardless of the requirements of God. Notwithstanding his great sin, God had borne long with him. For two years he had been granted opportunity for repentance; but he continued in sin, and with his guilt upon him, he was cut down by death, to await the awful tribunal of the judgment. . . .
“When parents or rulers neglect the duty of punishing iniquity, God Himself will take the case in hand. His restraining power will be in a measure removed from the agencies of evil, so that a train of circumstances will arise which will punish sin with sin.”—Ibid., pp.727, 728.
c. How did David handle Absalom’s crime? 2 Samuel 13:38, 39; 14:21–24, 28.
“David, feeling that the crime of his son demanded some punishment, refused him permission to return. . . .
“Tenderly as he loved this beautiful and gifted son, [David] felt it necessary, as a lesson both to Absalom and to the people, that abhorrence for such a crime should be manifested. Absalom lived two years in his own house, but banished from the court.”—Ibid., pp.728, 729.
3. CHARISMA, CHARM . . . AND TREACHERY
a. What factors made Absalom attractive to the people, and how did he craftily use these to his advantage as the unsuspecting king welcomed him step by step? 2 Samuel 14:25, 26; 15:1–6.
“[Absalom’s] sister dwelt with him, and her presence kept alive the memory of the irreparable wrong she had suffered. In the popular estimation the prince was a hero rather than an offender. . . . It was not wise for the king to leave a man of Absalom’s character—ambitious, impulsive, and passionate—to brood for two years over supposed grievances. And David’s action in permitting him to return to Jerusalem, and yet refusing to admit him to his presence, enlisted in his behalf the sympathies of the people.
“With the memory ever before him of his own transgression of the law of God, David seemed morally paralyzed; he was weak and irresolute, when before his sin he had been courageous and decided. His influence with the people had been weakened. . . .
“Through the influence of Joab, Absalom was again admitted to his father’s presence; but though there was an outward reconciliation, he continued his ambitious scheming. He now assumed an almost royal state, having chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him. And while the king was more and more inclined to desire retirement and solitude, Absalom sedulously courted the popular favor.
“The influence of David’s listlessness and irresolution extended to his subordinates; negligence and delay characterized the administration of justice. Absalom artfully turned every cause of dissatisfaction to his own advantage. Day by day this man of noble mien might be seen at the gate of the city, where a crowd of suppliants waited to present their wrongs for redress. Absalom mingled with them and listened to their grievances, expressing sympathy with their sufferings and regret at the inefficiency of the government. . . . [2 Samuel 15:3, 5 quoted.]
“Fomented by the artful insinuations of the prince, discontent with the government was fast spreading. The praise of Absalom was on the lips of all. He was generally regarded as heir to the kingdom; the people looked upon him with pride as worthy of this high station, and a desire was kindled that he might occupy the throne. [2 Samuel 15:6 quoted.] Yet the king, blinded by affection for his son, suspected nothing. The princely state which Absalom had assumed, was regarded by David as intended to do honor to his court.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 729, 730.
4. RISING TO THE CRISIS
a. Explain the hypocritical plot of Absalom. 2 Samuel 15:7–12; Psalm 55:21.
“Absalom’s crowning act of hypocrisy was designed not only to blind the king but to establish the confidence of the people, and thus to lead them on to rebellion against the king whom God had chosen.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 730.
b. Relate the startling news brought to David and the strategic steps he took. 2 Samuel 15:13–17. What was his noble aim in taking this action?
“In his great peril David shook off the depression that had so long rested upon him, and with the spirit of his earlier years he prepared to meet this terrible emergency. Absalom was mustering his forces at Hebron, only twenty miles away. The rebels would soon be at the gates of Jerusalem.
“From his palace David looked out upon his capital—‘beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth . . . the city of the great King’ (Psalm 48:2). He shuddered at the thought of exposing it to carnage and devastation. Should he call to his help the subjects still loyal to his throne, and make a stand to hold his capital? Should he permit Jerusalem to be deluged with blood? His decision was taken. The horrors of war should not fall upon the chosen city. He would leave Jerusalem, and then test the fidelity of his people, giving them an opportunity to rally to his support. In this great crisis it was his duty to God and to his people to maintain the authority with which Heaven had invested Him. The issue of the conflict he would trust with God.”—Ibid., p.731.
c. At this tragic hour, how was David comforted, especially by the faith of men such as Ittai the Gittite? 2 Samuel 15:18–23; Micah 7:8.
“David, with characteristic unselfishness, could not consent that these strangers who had sought his protection should be involved in his calamity. . . . These men had been converted from paganism to the worship of Jehovah, and nobly they now proved their fidelity to God and their king. David, with grateful heart, accepted their devotion to his apparently sinking cause.”—Ibid., pp.731, 732.
5. NOBILITY IN SUFFERING
a. Though David eagerly yearned to keep God’s sacred ark with him, what unselfish decision did he make? 2 Samuel 15:24–29.
“As the appointed ruler of God’s heritage [David] was under solemn responsibility. . . . Without divine authority neither priest nor king had a right to remove therefrom the symbol of His presence. And David knew that his heart and life must be in harmony with the divine precepts, else the ark would be the means of disaster rather than of success. His great sin was ever before him. He recognized in this conspiracy the just judgment of God.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 732.
b. How can every sinner be comforted by the hope David expressed at this dark hour? 2 Samuel 15:30; 16:5–12; Psalm 3:1–3.
“David utters no complaint. The most eloquent psalm he ever sang [Psalm 3] was when he was climbing Mount Olivet.”—Conflict and Courage, p. 181.
“When David went up the Mount Olivet, . . . the Lord was looking pityingly upon him. David was clothed in sackcloth, and his conscience was scourging him. The outward signs of humiliation testified of his contrition. In tearful, heartbroken utterances he presented his case to God, and the Lord did not forsake His servant. Never was David dearer to the heart of Infinite Love than when, conscience-smitten, he fled for his life from his enemies, who had been stirred to rebellion by his own son.”—Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, p. 11.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Why did normally strong David seem to be in a paralytic stupor?
2. How can we avoid repeating the mistakes of David’s family life?
3. What factors can trigger an Absalom in the church?
4. Relate some evidences of David’s nobility during this period.
5. Why could David trust in God even at this painful time?