Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Promises, Promises

Today's passage:  II Samuel 15
      It looks as if David's reign as king is over.  David can not know any differently.  After all, he has sat on the throne for a while now.  The one who wants to take his throne is his own son.  It is not as if God has not kept his promise to David.  The Lord told David that his kingdom would continue on, that his line would sire the Messiah.  Both parts of God's promise will still be fulfilled if Absalom's rebellion is successful.  Now David (a much older man by now) is weeping in the wilderness, wondering whether he will die here.
     That beguiling son of David had charmed the people into thinking he should be king now, instead of when David died.  He convinced the people that David did not care about the problems of the common man.  He disciplined himself (good to know he was disciplined about something) to wake and arrive early at the city gate each morning.  He greeted and campaigned, listened to the people's gripes and offered his solutions.  Sounds a little like a presidential candidate.  Only Absalom doesn't want to wait for an election, he wants to oust his father and replace him.  Why the hurry?  Absalom was the next successor to the throne.  Why shouldn't he bide his time?  I think partly because he wants to hurt his father.  His feelings of pride at not having been received by David as soon as he was invited back to the palace are still strong.  He wants to show good old Dad that he will make a better king.  He certainly can't do that when the old man is dead, so he must prove it to him while he is living.

Absalom's rebellion (cropped)--Taken from Religion in the Home (Part 4)  The United Kingdom
By Charlotte M. Yonge, Illustrated by Julius Schnorr von Karolsfeld
Published by George W. Bertron, 1913

     David can't be sure that God is not in this usurping.  He knows it is not the way God would have done things, but he does not know if this is not a plan of God to teach some lessons.  He can not be sure that his kingship is over, that God will move him onto new things, that maybe He will move him into Heaven.  David has no way of being able to see ahead to know any differently.  He can see his mistakes.  He is looking back at the way Absalom was raised and realizing what he could have been wiser.  He is praying that he will have another chance to do things right by Absalom, to be the leader God wants him to be.  All those years in the wilderness, preparing for the monarchy, did not prepare him that he would one day be back here.  All the opportunities he had to take Saul's life, and spared him, was not taken into account for his own throne.  Where was the law of sowing and reaping?  David had showed such high regard for the man God allowed to wear the crown.  Why wasn't God allowing David to have some measure of that respect shown towards himself?  Why is God allowing David to be so dishonored?  I know David's possible folly in rearing Absalom will bring about consequences.  But isn't it strange that the consequences God should choose to allow come to David would be in something he would never have been involved?  David would have never plotted against Saul, looking for ways to win the hearts of the people (even though he had those hearts early in Saul's reign).  David could have whispered all of the court secrets about Saul's moodiness around the palace, influencing them that he should no longer be their leader.  David could have abused this and taken the throne from Saul.  David could have raised an army of supporters while in the wilderness and stormed the castle, ousting Saul from his position.  David could have made Jonathan (the next in line) his enemy rather than his bosom friend. It just seems odd that God would choose this set of circumstances.  I think that if it had not been David's own flesh and blood leading this coup, he would have had his armed men destroy the usurper.  Since it was his own son, not only would he not want to harm him, but he could not know whether his time on the throne had expired, and God was allowing his son to reign in his stead.  David knew what God had promised him, but he did not know just how God was going to keep this promise.  Remember this covenant?
II Samuel 7:12-15
12 And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.
13  He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.
14  I will be his father, and he shall be my son.  If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men:
15  But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee.
16  And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee:  thy throne shall be established for ever.  
     There is nothing in this promise that says how long it will be before David will sleep with his fathers.  This could be the time for that.  David does not know.  Absalom is his seed, so God is honoring the covenant He established with David.  It is David's prayer that this is not the end, but he can't know for sure.  And I can't be critical of David's seeming lack of faith, because given the evidence, David's time might be up.
     I can remind God of His promises, but I can't tell Him how to carry them out.  David knows this too.  He is humbled by what God is doing in his life.  He knows God has given him a promise and he will cling to that, but he can't know just how God will fulfill it.  God has promised us a lot of things in His Word.  Some of those things will be realized while I am living but some of them won't be realized until I am sleeping with my fathers.  And I don't know how soon that may be.  It may be tomorrow, it may not be for another forty years. In any case, when God surprises me yet again with the way He chooses to do things, and it wasn't the way I expected, I have to trust and believe that He will get more glory doing it His Way.
      Why does God allow David to go through this?  Why does He allow his reign to be compromised in a most disrespectful way?  I can't say.  I know that David was not wrong to be an honorable follower under Saul.  I know that David did not do that thinking in the back of his mind, "When I am king someday, people will show me the same respect."  The sowing and reaping principle does not always parallel our lives exactly.  The loyalty that David displayed will be realized in the son who will eventually take the throne.  God has to prepare the way for Solomon, in order to carry out His Word to David, and getting Absalom out of the way is how God will get there.
     God's promises have never failed.  Not then, not today.

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