Well, good evening. Good evening, Sebastian.
Good evening, Skip.
How are you doing?
Good. Long time no see in this environment.
Well, you're sitting up here. Your brother's over here on the base, right?
Yes, it's a family thing.
And your dad's here tonight, is that right?
Yes. My dad is up there hiding in the balcony, But he's there.
Hiding in the balcony?
Yes, I believe-- Stand up.
We'll stand up?
Yeah, he's right there. He is standing up.
Look at that. He is standing up.
He's coming all the way from Canada, so it's worth, you know, make a point of it. Skip.
Well, what have we got tonight, Sebastian?
Well, we got questions, several questions.
These are internet questions?
Indeed. Indeed. And the first one, Skip, is anonymous. I need some advice. I was an avid-- I knew that that word would be a problem. Marijuana? How do you say that again, pot? Sorry.
It says, I was an avid marijuana smoker.
There we go, yes, for about six years. Sorry, guys. You know those words.
Did you write this?
Is this from you?
I'm busted. Yeah, but I never inhaled. So I--
OK. So let's continue.
Yeah, sure. For six years before Jesus Christ saved me and I was born again, you see I'm in a band. And before we turned our lives over to Christ, we were still using that stuff. Since then, I have quit entirely. But now that we're playing for God and that this band is God's band, some of us still can't seem to stop using it.
Well, I would say to anonymous--
OK, OK. And I know it's not you, because you're not in a band.
Your brother is, though.
Christian, listen carefully.
I'll tell you, the first thing I would do is to make sure-- when you say now the band is Christian-- make sure that the commitment level of everyone in that band is the same, that everyone is a believer and truly repentant following Christ rather than, yeah, I want to join the Christian band, too. I think there's a lot of bands today that call themselves Christian bands. They aren't full of Christians.
You know, if it's a band full of Christians, it's different than just a Christian band sometimes. So I would make sure that everybody has the same kind of a commitment. Jesus said, not everyone who says, Lord, Lord will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. .
And the other thing is sometimes individual commitment is quickly overturned by corporate pressure, peer pressure. Paul put it in First Corinthians 15 that an evil example can corrupt good morals or a solid commitment. So we have to make sure that we may make a commitment, but if the people we hang out with are going to influence us to do behavior that is unbecoming of a believer, you know, he may want to think about a new band and certainly a group of people who will hold him accountable to do the right thing rather than help him sink with them deeper and deeper.
And maybe may I add, because, you know, you seem to say that that's one of my problem-- no, just kidding. But the Bible says in Ephesians 5:18, and we've all heard that verse, do not be filled with wine, but be filled with the Holy Spirit. Maybe the search for the greater joy, the greater pleasure, in Jesus Christ--
Sometimes people go back to old addictive behaviors, because they have not found the true, pleasure, joy, and fulfillment in Christ.
So to whoever wrote--
--and whoever, just make sure that you really seek to draw close to Christ, to fulfill yourself in Jesus Christ--
--rather than in that stuff.
Instead of just looking at the negative, look at the positive. And what can you do to replace that with something better?
The next question is from Marla. If we ask God to forgive us and ask him to help us not to sin, but at times we do sin, such as lying, have we truly accepted God into our lives? Or are we just lying to ourselves?
I was reading yesterday where Jesus was asked a question about a group of Galileans whose blood Pilot had mingled with their sacrifices. They brought it to Jesus' attention. And he said, don't suppose that there were sinners, because this happened to them. For I say unto you, unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.
And then he gave another example, a current event of a tower in Jerusalem falling down and killing 18 people. And he said, don't suppose they were worse than anybody else. For I say unto you, unless you repent, you will likewise perish.
On the wings of that, he gave a parable about a man who had a vineyard and planted a fig tree and expected fruit, didn't find any, said I'm cutting it down. And the keeper of the property said, give it another year. Let's see if it'll bear forth fruit. If not, then cut it down.
It seems that Jesus was honing in on an issue that true repentance brings true change brings measurable fruit. You'll be able to see it. And so she is hitting on something very vital.
Some people, I think, are just kidding themselves. And they shed a tear. They made an emotional commitment that was never followed by true repentance that brought true fruit.
And God is very patient. OK, let's wait a while. Let's see what develops. Certainly, if the person is rooted in Christ, there's going to be some--
And then on the other side of that is, you know, the Bible says, if we say we have no sin, we're liars. The truth isn't in us. But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If any man sins, said John, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous.
So we all sin. We're all going to blow it. Nobody is going to live the perfect Christian life. We're going to struggle the flesh against the spirit. But if you call that a struggle and your whole life there is no real fruit--
Then you could question.
Then you could just be kidding yourself as she points out.
Good point. Thank you, Skip. And on a more political level-- I understand that Ishmael is the Father of the Arabs, Abraham, the Father of the Jews. But who was the Father of the Palestinians?
Yeah. I'm going to recategorize that into a historical question--
--rather than a political question. I don't like politics. I do love history, so I'm safe in that camp. There is no Father of the Palestinians, simply because there really is no official group called Palestinians.
This is what I mean by that. The word Palestinian comes from a corruption of the word Philistines. The Philistines were banished from the land after the time of David.
They didn't exist. At the time of the Romans overthrowing the Jews in Jerusalem, it was Trajan who decided to use the term Palestinian calling the Jews--
No one else, but Jewish people in Israel calling them Palestinians as a slur. of their ancient enemy, using their ancient enemy against them. Nobody really used the term until the mid-'60s when the Arab population in the Middle East-- and by the way, there's not just refugees in Israel. There are more refugees in Lebanon and Syria and Jordan than there are in Israel, Palestinian refugees.
So those who are of Arab descent certainly have Ishmael as their Father, genealogically. But as far as someone who is an original representation, you'd be hard pressed to find that historically. Because we just see the name adapted later on as a people who wanted to emerge separate with their own self-governance.
Interesting. Thank you, Skip. That's all the questions we have tonight.
Well, I have a question for you.
Yes, OK. Thank you.
No, I'm just kidding.
Listen, let's continue to worship and just lay our burdens down before the Lord as Marsh and the group leads us.
- Back at the statue, they'd found a ladder and a rope. The people were determined to topple Saddam.
- Tell me, will you bring his statue down?
- [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]
- A few hours later, they'd found a crane to do the job. For decades, his image could be seen at almost every turn in this country. But everything has changed here now. And then as evening fell, so did Saddam, removed from power.
- All of the people here is happy.
- As we process the historic events that today has brought to pass, we should also acknowledge the biblical implications of what is taking place in Iraq. Remember the geographical area that we know is Iraq is in the place of what the Bible calls Babylon, which is certainly a significant location in both ancient history and scriptural prophecy. This relationship between Babylon and the Bible has not gone unnoticed by major media.
- In Southern Iraq, a battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment, of that regiment, has reached Al-Qurnah. Said to be the site of the biblical Garden of Eden.
- But the biblical aspects of current events go far beyond this kind of speculation, because there are many parallels between Saddam Hussein and the topic of our current studies of Absalom in the book of Second Samuel. Because, interestingly, as we compare profiles of Saddam Hussein and David's son Absalom, it shows us that each was deeply affected by an emotionally distant father, that both men were impacted by the effects of family immortally. And let's also notice that Absalom and Saddam to power with the use of unlawful means and that their ultimate demise was greeted by approval from their people. And now, let's begin tonight's survey of Second Samuel by turning to Chapter 15 as we see both Bible history and current events coming alive, line online.
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First Samuel 15. History is full of the stories of tyrants and thugs who have arisen to power and usurped authority, a throne, as we're going to read tonight about one whose name incidentally means the Father of peace, Absalom or Avshalom. And yet this named person, Absalom, was anything but a peaceful person. But he became inebriated with power, couldn't get enough, wanted more, and usurped his father's throne.
Saddam Hussein was born just outside a little town in northern Iraq, the town of Tikrit. And he was born in a small village not far from that town. He was born in a very poor family. As indicated on the video, his Father left him when he was only months old.
And there are several stories as to what happened. The best story is that he left Saddam's mother, his wife, and went with another woman. Saddam's stepfather was harsh, cruel, beating his son, berating his son, making him work long hours out in the field, not allowing him to attend school. And at age 10, Saddam moved to Baghdad with his uncle who raised him there for several years.
Saddam Hussein was involved in an attempt to overthrow the government early on in his career, in his life, the prime minister of the country. He was involved in it. In the process, he was shot in the leg and injured. He had to flee the country. And he went and lived in Egypt for a while, then Syria, then came back to Iraq.
In the late '60s, around 1968, when the Ba'ath party came into power, in Iraq, Saddam Hussein worked his way through the ranks of leadership, becoming Vice President and high up in the administration. 1979-- the Ba'ath party elected him as their President. Immediately those who were with him and helped him get elected, five of his trusted counselors, in his group, along with 17 other rivals for office were executed by Saddam Hussein. So he killed off all the competition.
One year later, he invaded Iran. And during that time is when the infamous gassings took place of the Kurds and those in the northern part of his country as well as some Iranians. Saddam Hussein knew what it was like to be distant from a father, thirsted for power, would kill to get it.
At age 20, Saddam made his first assassination, killing a communist in his hometown of Tikrit. There are some similarities between his growing up, his life in the Middle East, and Absalom's life in the Middle East. Though Absalom was raised in a very rich home by an influential father, David was also distant and aloof. And Absalom was forgiven, so to speak, brought back to Jerusalem.
But his father really never had dealings with them for a period of two years. David had a wandering eye, loved many different women. Lusted after one named Bathsheba. You know the story. We've covered it. Solomon was second child in that relationship.
And in Chapter 15 to Chapter 18, we have his rise to power usurping the very throne of his father starting in Hebron, the very town his father started in and aiming to take over all of the country, even Jerusalem and its headquarters. In Ephesians Chapter 6 Verse 4-- and we mentioned this in closing last week-- it says fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath. Don't irritate them. Don't live in such a way that they grow up resenting you.
Absalom resented his father, because it was that forgiveness between them, these differences that seemed irreconcilable. because of this staunch, harsh, father figure that caused a bitterness to develop. And it's always true that unforgiveness breeds bitterness. And the result of bitterness seems to always be rebellion.
So David, unfortunately, helped create this problem. You might even say the chickens have come home to roost. Because in Chapter 12, God says that he would raise up adversity from his own household. And here we see it in the form of Absalom.
So in Chapter 15, we look at the rebel, Absalom, the usurper. In Chapter 16, we look at the runaway. That's his dad, David the King. Chapter 17-- the reconnaissance by a trusted friend of David who spies in the enemy Absalom's camp. Chapter 18 is the recovery of the kingdom back to David.
It says in Verse 1, after this had happened, that Absalom provided himself with chariots and horses and 50 men to run before him. Now, Absalom would rise early and stand before the way of the. gate. So it was whenever anyone who had a lawsuit came to the king for a decision that Absalom would call to him and say, what city are you from. And he would say, your servant is from such and such a tribe of Israel.
Absalom would say to him, look, your case is good and right. But there's no deputy of the king to hear you. Moreover, Absalom would say, oh, that I were a made judge in the land. And everyone who has any lawsuit or cause would come to me, then I would give him justice.
Absalom camouflaged a bad heart with good looks. He seemed to be so sensitive. Not only was he good looking, the guy seemed so caring. so sincere. so concerned about people's problems. He was a perfect politician, ready made for the job, a real back slapper, and a back stabber.
Now, if you go back to Chapter 14 just to remind you of who you're dealing with, Verse 25-- "in all of Israel, there was no one who was praised as much as Absalom for his good looks. From the sole of his foot to the crown of his head, there was no blemish on him." This guy was a model. He was a hunk. He was on the Israeli fashion network.
Israeli Idol had him on. Everybody loved him. He was fabulous, good looking, and a real hairy guy as well. Now, he's going to get really hung up on his hair later on you're going to see.
But he cut his hair once a year whether he needed a haircut or not. And his hair weighed four pounds. And he was good looking.
And so early in the morning, when law cases are disputed and settled just outside the gates of Jerusalem, like the Damascus Gate or the Jaffa gate, there he sat in his pomp, in his glory. And he seemed so concerned. And Verse 5-- "so it was when anyone came near him to bow down to him, he would put out his hand and take him and kiss him."
So he's really relational. "In this manner, Absalom acted toward all of Israel who came to the king for judgment." So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.
Can you just hear it? Can you just see it? David is the king. The people did love David. But David, after all, is the king. It gives him certain responsibilities.
He's got matters of state to decide. He's busy during the week meeting with people about matters of state, wars to fight, business to attend to. You'd never see a king out by the gate doing this. He couldn't do it.
And Absalom knew that. So he's going to undermine his father's authority by acting like he really cares about people. And probably some of the people were a little bit bitter that the king was unapproachable, aloof, because he's so hard to get a hold of. He's the king.
And Absalom goes, I know. Isn't it a pity? It's a shame my dad is so insensitive. He means, well. But, oh, you know, your case is so good and right. And, you know, if I were only in charge, if I had some kind of authority, I'd make sure that justice was served on your behalf.
But it says in Verse 6 that he stole the hearts of the men of Israel. He did it in a couple of ways. Not only did he act sensitive, but he used flattery.
Oh, your case is good. And you know what? You're right. People love to hear that. I have an issue pastor. Would you counsel with me?
And they part out. They love to hear it when you say, oh, you're right. You're absolutely right. I agree with you 100%.
They don't like it when you say, well, you know, I think you're not thinking right here. It's not biblical. Your position isn't good. In fact, you're wrong.
Well there's other churches. There's other counselors. Absalom used flattery. The Book of Proverbs tells us that whoever flatters his neighbor spreads a net for his feet. You're trapping somebody.
The word in Hebrew to flatter means smooth. And our English word comes from a Latin word that speaks of rubbing the flat of one's hand across something that is smooth. Thomas Brooks, the Puritan, used to say, whilst you pat the bottom of a donkey with your hand, you can lay any burden on his back.
That's the idea. Whoever flatters his neighbor spreads a net for his feet. Oh, you can get people so into you if you flatter them. But you're spreading the net for their feet.
You remember back, way back-- and I'm talking black and white days now. You remember Leave It To Beaver? How many remember Leave It To Beaver?
Come on age yourself, date yourself. Wow, you're old. Remember Eddie Haskell?
Eddie Haskell of ancient Israel? Oh, Mrs. Cleaver, aren't you beautiful today? And of course, when the Beav or Wally would listen, they go, oh, shut up, Eddie.
Because they know the guy's just making stuff up so that she'll like him and do whatever he asks. So Absalom's stole the hearts of the men of Israel. In Verse 10-- and we're going to skip some verses. I'll make some summaries as we go.
Absalom sent spies throughout all the tribes of Israel saying, as soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then you shall say-- get this-- Absalom reigns in Hebron. Now, Hebron's just a few miles away from Jerusalem. I bicycled it in just a couple hours.
Hebron is where King David started his reign. You remember that? He reigned in Hebron. Then he moved the capital city to Jerusalem. Why did Absalom go from Jerusalem to Hebron?
Well, a couple of reasons. Number one, he'd be out of sight, out of mind. He's already stolen the hearts emotionally in Jerusalem. Now, let's start the military coup at a town nearby.
But why Hebron? I don't know for sure. And I can't prove it. But it could be that some of the people in Hebron were still angry and bitter at David that he dared move the capital which was in Hebron to Jerusalem.
They felt cut off. They felt unloved. So, certainly, Absalom would find a hearing and sympathy supporters in Hebron.
In any case, that's where he started. With Absalom, when 200 men from Jerusalem who were invited-- and they went along innocently. They didn't know anything.
Absalom sent for Ahithophel. Now, keep that name in mind. I don't mean for good. I don't mean name your kid Ahithophel, but just keep it in mind for tonight.
You could name your child Ahithophel. I mean, if you're looking for biblical names, there are some great ones tonight. Hushai the Archite is one. Ittai the Gittite is another and, of course, Ahithophel the Gilonite, David's counsellor from his city, namely from Giloh, just a couple of miles from Jerusalem.
Well, he offered sacrifices. And the conspiracy grew strong. And the people with Absalom continually increased in Number And a messenger came to David saying the hearts of the men of Israel are with Absalom.
So David said to all of his servants who were with him at Jerusalem, arise. Let us flee, or else we shall not escape from Absalom. Make haste to depart lest he overtake us suddenly and bring disaster upon us and strike the city with the edge of the sword.
Why did he flee? Why so quickly? Why didn't he stand up and fight? Well, he answers the question.
Number one, he loves the city of Jerusalem. He loves his son Absalom. He doesn't want to make the city that he loves a bloody place of war. He doesn't want to hurt innocent people. He doesn't want to use them as shields for his behavior.
Number two, perhaps, and I think you'll see this as you go, he sees this as part of God's punishment on his life for his past sins. He says, OK, let's get up. We're out of here. We're history. Boom, they go.
However, though there is a conspiracy against David, David-- and this is what I want you to note in this chapter. There are some friends that David has. You know, you can always tell your friends when you're going through a crisis.
Your true friends will stick with you in a crisis. There's a great story about an English newspaper that offered a reward for the best definition of a friend. It was a sizable reward.
It would be published around the country. And there was a monetary reward as well. The definition that won said, a friend is somebody who comes in when the rest of the world goes out.
I've always loved that description. True friends will stick with you through thick and thin. And David has several in this chapter who emerge from his past that he has surrounded himself with, he is accountable to, he has a healthy relationship-- he has not isolated by any means-- who come to his aid.
There are different classifications of friends. I would say first classification are acquaintances. Everybody has acquaintances, people you meet.
Your interaction with them is shallow. It's superficial contact. And you say nice things to each other, but they're acquaintances.
You don't ask deep questions of acquaintances. I know some try. How you doing, brother? Good. No, how are you really doing? People are always intimidated by that unless you have earned the right to ask that question.
Number two-- casual friends. And casual friends have common interests. That's why they spend more time with each other. They like similar things. They ask each other personal questions.
Third, there are close friends. You just don't share general interests. You share life goals, common goals together. Your contacts are deeper with each other. Your fellowship is at a different level.
Then I would say there are intimate friends. And you probably have, like most people, many acquaintances, but very few intimate friends. These are people who are your shelter in a time of crisis.
They are your balcony people. They're the ones cheering you on when you need encouragement. They're the ones you call in the middle of the night, and never have to think, should I call. Because you know they'll be there. They're your shelter in a storm.
David had a few of them. I want to introduce you to them. First is Ittai, Ittai the Gittite. Verse 19-- the King said to Ittai the Gittite-- don't you just love that name?
It just rhymes. It's cool. Now, let me tell you what a Gittite is. A Gittite is somebody who used to live in Gath. That's a Philistine stronghold. A Gittite is a Philistine warrior, which would mean this guy was once David's enemy.
Isn't it beautiful how David once had an enemy, and now he's made him a close friend? That's the best kind. Somebody who was once against you now loves you. You won them over.
And we've gone through the history of how he won him over already by his stay in Gath. But Ittai the Gittite he said, why are you also going with us? Return and remain with the king. You are a foreigner and also an exile from your own place.
In fact, you came only yesterday. Should I make you wander up and down with us today, since I go I know not where? Return and take your brethren back. Mercy and truth be with you.
And Ittai answered the king and said, as the Lord lives, and as my Lord the King lives, surely in whatever place my Lord the king shall be, whether in death or life, even there also your servant will be. So David said to Ittai, go and crossover. And Ittai the Gittite, all his men, and the little ones who were with him, crossed over.
What a great friend. What a shelter in a time of crisis was Ittai the Gittite. OK. Let me introduce you to two more friends. There down in Verse 24 and a few verses after.
These are clergymen now. These are two priests, Zadok and Abiathar. They're priests who serve in the holy oracles of the nation of Israel. It always is good to have in your group your accountability, people who are close to the Lord, and serve the Lord, and minister to the Lord, and know the word of God.
Because when you go to council with them, if they are worth their salt, they'll tell you what God says. They'll tell you what the Bible says. Well, these two guys, they bring the Ark of the Covenant.
Notice, there was Zadok and all the Levites with them bearing the Ark of the Covenant of God. And they set down the Ark of God. And Abiathar went up until all the people had finished crossing over from the city.
The king said to Zadok, carry the Ark of God back into the city. And if I find favor in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me back and show me both it and his habitation. But if he says thus, I have no delight in you. Here I am, let him do. It seems good to him.
What an attitude, first to fall. Hey, I'm in God's hands. God may be doing this sovereignly.
He may be by his sovereign choice kicking me out of my place of comfort as king and allowing this to happen. And if not, God will delight of me. And I'll be back.
Why didn't he allow the Ark to go with him? Because David remembered his history. Oh, put that thing back, boys. Don't you remember back in First Samuel Chapter 5 when Eli was the high priest and Hophni and Phineas, his two boys, were keepers of the Ark up in Shiloh?
But remember how the children of Israel became raiders of the lost Ark? And they brought the Ark into battle in the Philistine battle. And the Philistines took the Ark on their side, and our country was debilitated because of it. No, you put that back.
It belongs here. It's the center of worship for the people. Who don't dare take that out on the battlefield. That's not where it belongs.
Now, look down to Verse 32. There's another friend, a shelter. His name is Hushai the Archite. It happened when David came to the top of the mountain where he worshipped God that there was Hushai the Archite coming to meet him with his robe torn and dust on his head.
And David said to him, if you go on with me, you'll become a burden to me. You say, well, that's not a friendly thing to say to a guy who's laying his life down for you. But here's why.
But if you return to the city and say to Absalom, I will be your servant, oh, king, just as I have been your father's servant previously, so I will now be your servant, then you may defeat the Council of Ahithophel for me. Who was Ahithophel anyway?
Well, get this. You know who Bathsheba was, right? It was the woman he lusted after and committed adultery with. Ahithophel was the trusted counselor and friend of David, but was the grandfather of Bathsheba.
It's interesting, because his counsel was so respected in Israel. Everybody looked up to Ahithophel. And yet it could be, and probably so, he was still angry, still bitter at what happened with Bathsheba and David killing her previous husband and getting her pregnant and then using him as a counselor to ingratiate himself with the people.
That's probably how he felt. So he's saying, yeah, OK, well, back at him. I'll be his undoing. In fact, if you would just go back a couple verses with me before we finish up this chapter-- and we're almost done.
Verse 30-- David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives and wept as he went up. He had his head covered. And he was barefoot. Ouch.
I've been on that road before with sandals. I can't imagine doing it barefoot. And all the people who were with him covered their heads and went up weeping as they went. And someone told David saying Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.
And David said, oh Lord, I pray, turn the council of Ahithophel into foolishness. Can I admit something to you? That has been my prayer ever since this war started, that God would take the counselors in Baghdad, Saddam and his crew, his sons, his war machine, and overturn their counsel and make it foolishness as David prayed, oh Lord, turn the counsel of Ahithophel, I pray, into foolishness.
I mean, God could only say no, right? What have you got to lose? David prayed it. God answered his prayer.
Something I passed over, and you ought to notice it in Verse 32, David gets to the top of the hill. That's the Mount of Olives. He's leaving Jerusalem now. He's going east toward the Dead Sea.
It says, where he worshiped God. How do you respond in a crisis? Put the friends aside for a moment. Just your own character, what are you made of?
When you're tested, what are you like? Do you pause and worship? Are you like Job who would say, oh the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
Or, will you shake your fist at Heaven? Why God, would you allow this to happen to me? Nothing bad should ever happen to me. It only happens to other People
Or, will you worship? David worshipped. He paused. He stopped in the middle of his crisis, his friends helping him, carrying him through. And there he worshipped.
Well, Hushai the Archite is told to go back to Jerusalem. He does to overturn the Council of Ahithophel, which he does. In Chapter 16 now, we continue with the runaway, David. He's running away, and he's in flight.
When David was a little past the top of the mountain, there was Ziba-- a lot of names tonight you've never considered-- the servant of Mephiboseth, who met him with a couple of saddle donkeys. And on them-- 200 loaves of bread, 100 clusters of raisins, 100 summer fruits, and a skin of wine. Now, I know what thinking.
You're thinking here's another good friend of his. What a nice guy. He's giving him previsions, man, refueling, energy. But watch. And the King said to Ziba, what do you mean to do with these. So Ziba said, the donkeys are for the king's household to ride on, the bread and summer fruit for the young men to eat, and the wine for those who are faint in the wilderness to drink.
And the king said, where's your master's son? Ziba said to the king, indeed, he is staying in Jerusalem. For he said, today, the House of Israel will restore the kingdom of my father to me.
So the king said to Ziba, here, all that belongs to Mephiboseth is yours. And Ziba said, I humbly bow before you that I might find favor in your sight. my Lord, oh king. Let me just say, quickly and frankly, this guy's a snake.
And I knew it from the first time I met him. You could just tell the way he came on the scene with David several chapters back. Because he comes and gives a gift that doesn't belong to him. It belongs to Mephiboseth.
Background-- Mephiboseth is the lame son of Jonathan, the son of Saul. And David woke up one day and goes, hey, is there any body left from the Kingdom of Saul that I can show kindness to? And guy goes, yeah, there's this guy name Mephiboseth.
And he's lame in his feet. He was dropped as a kid. And he's all alone.
David says, go get him. I'm going to treat him as royalty. I'll adopt him as my son and feed him royally the rest of his life.
Mephiboseth comes. Ziba is the servant. David instructs Ziba-- I'm giving you all my resources. You take care of them.
Now, Ziba comes with a present to ingratiate himself with David and to accuse his master Mephiboseth, of saying what he said, which you'll find out in Chapter 19, is a lie. It's not true at all. Mephiboseth was loyal to David.
But he can't get up and go up there and tell David that. He's at a disadvantage. He's a cripple. The cripple can't walk to the top of the Mount of Olives. But Ziba can.
And why is Ziba doing this? He wants a promotion. And he gets it. Well, listen, you take all this. It's yours then. Thank you. But it's a lie.
Whenever there is a coup of any kind-- and we talked about this last week-- there is misinformation. Whenever there's an incident, somebody has the story, a side, a thing to tell you. Remember when Absalom killed Amnon? We read that last week.
And the news came back to David. And somebody said, oh, your kids are dead. They killed them all. It wasn't true-- killed one.
That's bad enough. But the story that came from the war wasn't true. And so it's hard in a time of crisis to know what to do, what to believe. David just believed it and said, well, take it. It's yours.
During this incident, this crisis, this war in Iraq, you know the stories. You've heard him on the news, how soldiers have come up to people surrendering. And our troops believed the report.
Well, they're in civilian's clothes. They've got the white flag. And yet behind that surrendered person with the white flag was an AK-47 ready to unleash it on troops or a pregnant woman saying, I need help, who blew herself up and those with her in the car just to kill a soldier or two.
So whenever there's a crisis, a coup, an incident, a tragedy, be careful how you filter the information from people who are coming and sharing it with you. They may be well-meaning. They may be snakes.
We're dealing with an incident now with a church up in Santa Fe that has had a number of problems, a number of issues. And I've listened to the reports coming from it. And none of them agree.
It's rumor and gossip and stories from two sides. And it gets worse and worse. And if you hold on to one and grab on to one side, it's not the full story. If you grab onto another side, it's not the full story.
And so we've learned this lesson. We've seen it twice now, last week and this week, how when you get information during these times, you have to be careful how you touch it, how you deal with, and how you respond to it. Because it involves a lot of people and involved an innocent person here named Mephiboseth.
Well, it gets worse. I hate to tell you that, but read on just a few verses. Now, when King David came to Bahurim-- I don't know where that is, but it's got to be close-- there was a man from the family of the House of Saul whose name was Shimei the son of Gera coming from there. And he came out cursing continuously as he came.
And he threw stones at David. Throwing stones at the King-- not a good move. And all the servants of King David and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left.
And Shimei said thus when he cursed, come out, come out, you bloodthirsty man, you rogue. The Lord has brought upon you all the blood of the House of Saul in whose place you have reigned. And the Lord has delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom, your son. So now you're caught in your own evil, because you're a bloodthirsty man.
Who is this guy? Where does he come off? Well, get this. He's a distant relative of King Saul. That's who he is.
He's been angry and bitter, waiting for something to happen to David, and then he invokes the name of the Lord. God's getting you back. Remember doing that as a kid?
Your brother would do something. And then something would happen to him. You go, God's getting you back, man. It's the oldest trick in the book
I hate to tell you this. But there are people who would love to see you fall. They'd love to see you stumble. They'd love to see you, as a Christian, fail or trip. Because they'll be the first to say, I knew it all along.
Now, these are people who don't really do anything in their own life. They really don't have a life. They don't contribute much. But they're just waiting for you to fall, so they can go, ah, knew it all along.
Shimei was that kind of a person for David. God's getting you back, David. Because you stole with blood the Kingdom of Saul and took it upon yourself, which is not true at all.
So David has friends. He's got an army he's going out with, lots of people around him. But there are pockets of resistance still in the land.
Then Verse 9-- Abishai, the son of Zeruiah said to the King, why should this dead dog curse my Lord the King? Let me go over and take off his head. And the King said, what have I to do with you, son of Zeruiah? You're not using your head.
So let him curse, because the Lord has said to him curse David. Who then shall say why have you done so? You know, I really am still amazed at David's view of the sovereign nature of God. Whether he's right or wrong, he is able to say even when the chips are falling against him, well, you know, this could be the Lord.
This could be the Lord telling this guy to come against me, just like it could be the Lord, because of what I have done, getting my kingdom ripped away. I'm just going to leave it in God's hands. And David said to Abishai and to all his servants, see how my son who came from my own body seeks my life, how much more now may this Benjamite?
Let him alone. Let him curse for so the Lord has ordered him. It may be that the Lord will look on my affliction and that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing this day. As David and his men went along the road, Shimei went along the hillside opposite him and cursed him as he went and threw stones at him and kicked up the dust.
So he's not getting too close. He's standing on the other side just enough to let his words be heard, kick up little dust and throw rocks. If you got too close, he'd be history. The King and all the people who were with him became weary, so they refreshed themselves there.
Now, you know, are times when silence is your best response. What does Proverbs 15 say, Verse 1? A soft answer turns away wrath. Harsh words stir up anger.
Sometimes you just have to let people vent, get it out of their system. give you a piece of their mind that they really can't afford to lose, but they will anyway. Let them. Smile at them.
Consider the source. And then you may want to say, I'm so sorry. Can I pray for you? Now they may go, oh. Or they might go, ah, yeah.
And you might be able to heal a very, very scarred heart. I was watching today on the news-- and don't think that I do that all day long. But you know, this is a historic day. And I watched one of our soldiers standing in a public place.
And people were happy and excited, were liberated, they said. They were jumping for joy and shouting. But every now and then, you'd spot some factions, some group.
And there was one woman that came up to him and shouted something in Arabic and moved her arms and shook her fist. And the soldiers just smiled, looked at her, smiled. And eventually, she went on.
Now, he could have gone-- wouldn't have been a good move. A soft answer turns away wrath. Harsh words stir up anger.
Before we leave that thought, just listen to this verse from the New Testament. Look what Peter says. I'm going to read it to you. It's in First Peter Chapter 2. "For this is commendable if, because of conscience toward God, one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently?"
OK. You do something wrong. You do something dumb. You say something wrong. You say something dumb.
You get rebuked and reproved for it. And you go, well, I'm going to take it patiently. So what? It's your fault.
But when you do good and suffer for it, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us leaving us an example that you should follow in his steps. This is where taming your tongue comes in, which you know you can't do, right?
No man can tame the tongue. Didn't James say that? That's where you need to stop. And have you ever prayed that?
Lord, I need you now. Control my speech, because I'm ready to unload. Control my tongue. Tame it, Lord.
David had a little bit of experience in this. It was Saul who threw a spear at him one time. What did David do? Ducked.
Do you ever think about that? Here's David. Spear is over now on his side of the room. David could have easily looked up at that quivering spear and gone-- and he was a better shot. You know that. He wouldn't have missed.
But he didn't. He ducked. And when Jesus was reviled, he, like a lamb, led before her sheers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. He opened not his mouth. He ducked.
When they arrested Him, when they crucified Him, when they put a crown of thorns on His said, do you ever read about Jesus saying, wait'll after the Resurrection.
I'm coming back. And I'm going to be mad.
Nope. For it says, who committed no sin, nor was guile found in his mouth. Whenever you deal with people, you need to have the heart of a child, the wit of an ambassador, and sometimes the hide of a rhinoceros. Be open, be loving, be healing.
But you're walking through thorns. Keep the boots on. Sometimes they just say nasty things. Let them say it. Close it up, move forward.
Well, we're about done. Go down to Verse 22 of Chapter 16. So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the top of the house. The rest of the verses basically say Hushai went into town was there with Ahithophel, greeted him, said I'm on your side.
Absalom wasn't sure of it, but he let him stay anyway. Absalom moves into Jerusalem. David moves out. So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the top of the house.
Absalom went into his father's concubines in the site of all of Israel. And the council of Ahithophel which he gave in those days was as if one had inquired at the oracle of God. You get that? You hear how esteemed this guy's counseling was?
When this guy spoke, people listened. He's like EF Hutton. It would be like Billy Graham speaking or, in some circles, a Papal dictum. It's an oracle of God.
Ahithophel said it. He was highly esteemed. So what does that mean to us? It means that Hushai the Archite has his work cut out for him, right?
Now, I'm going to sum up Chapter 17. And we're going to stop there. And I'm going to end with an interesting story. At least, it's interesting to me.
It says in Verse 1, Ahithophel said to Absalom, now let me choose 12,000 men. And I will arise and pursue David tonight. I'll come on him while he's weary and weak and make him afraid. And all the people who were with him will flee.
And I will strike only the King. And I will bring back all the people to you. When all return except the man whom you seek, then all the people will be at peace. And the saying pleased Absalom and all the elders of Israel.
What's his advice? King, I suggest a preemptive strike. It will surprise David. You'll come upon him suddenly. He's not too far from town.
Well, Hushai the Archite's there. So Absalom goes, good, like that. Right on. But, you know, since Hushai is here, let's ask the Archite boy what he says. Hushai, what do you say?
Hushai says, well, let me just tell you something. David is a seasoned warrior unlike your army. He's done this for years. He's brilliant, and he's strong. Down in Verse 8, "for, said Hushai, you know your father and all his men. They're mighty men. They're enraged in their minds like a bear robbed of her cubs in the field. And your father is a man of war and will not camp with the people."
Verse 10-- "and even he who is valiant, whose heart is like the heart of a lion, will melt completely. For all Israel knows your father is a mighty man. And those who are with them are valiant men." So what Hushai the Archite says is this.
Look, go after David, but don't go now. You need to organize your army. You need to organize people first. And once they are well-organized, trained just a little bit, then go after him and get him.
Now, what this did was buy David some time so he could get further out into the wilderness, stay in a cave and hide. And then Zadok and Abiathar could send what Hushai said to him and he bought into out to David. And David could have a plan of defense, which is exactly what happened.
So that the counsel of Ahithophel was turned, and they listened to Hushai for-- look at Verse 14. "Absalom and all the men of Israel said, the counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel. For the Lord had purpose to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel to the intent that the Lord might bring disaster on Absalom.
Now you'll read, if you keep reading on your own later on, that what happens is this so upset Ahithophel that he commits suicide, very similar to Judas. Judas betrayed his master, committed suicide. This guy does the same thing.
But because of Hushai the spy saying I'm on your side, the Lord used him to overturn the armies of the usurper. and bring the kingdom back to David. Now, let me tell you a story. Years ago, in the '60s, late '50s, and '60s, there was a man named Eli Cohen.
He was a spy for Israel. Actually, Eli Cohen was born in Egypt, raised in Argentina, and moved to Syria. He got in close with the Mossad. The Mossad is the secret service agency of Israel.
There had been skirmishes up in the Golan Heights for a number of years as the Syrians have always wanted to control the Golan Heights. And at one time, they controlled a good part of it. And they were launching attacks into Israel, shooting any kind of thing they could to kill anybody it would hit.
It's been that way for a long time. Israel wanted to know how the Syrians were thinking and what their plans were. They sent Eli Cohen to live in Syria. To be involved politically, which he was. He met with the parliament in Syria every day. Got information, would go home and, through Morse code, would send back what he had heard in the parliament, what the plans of the Syrians were back to Israel.
One day he managed to get some officers from Syria out on the Golan Heights where they were staging future attacks. They were going to mount up an army of 70,000 Syrians on the Golan Heights and, from that vantage point, attack the Hula Valley and the area of the Galilee. But the Golan Heights, though it's beautiful and has thick shrubbery, there were no trees. And the sun can be very hot in the summer when they planning to attack.
The morale of the troops was down, because there really wasn't shelter. And Eli Cohen said, you know, you guys should plant some trees. And they said, come on, no tree grows fast enough to provide shade for what we're going to be doing in the next few years.
And Eli Cohen says, well, you know, where I am from in Argentina we have these trees that are fast growing trees. And with the amount of water you have in this area, they would grow rapidly. They're eucalyptus trees.
Let me go back to Argentina and get some. I'll show you how fast they grow. And we'll place them at all the bunkers and positions of your army. And what that will do is provide shelter for your troops.
They said, that's a good idea. So Eli Cohen pretended like he went back to Argentina, went into Israel, told them his plan, got the eucalyptus trees from Israel. They had already planted him in the Hula Valley to drain the swamps, brought them back to the Golan Heights and planted all these things. And they grew.
And then he told the Israelis. Now, when these things grow up and Syria's planning to attack you, when they do, just aim all of your tanks, all of your guns, all of your artillery wherever you see eucalyptus trees. And in the '67 war, it was Eli Cohen's plan like Hushai the Archite that defeated the Syrian army and drove them all the way back into Damascus.
And it was only just a few tanks that were able to do this on Israel's side. All of these troops, just a few tanks and at one point a single tank, pushed the Syrians back far enough that a radio announcement came to Damascus saying the Israelis have pushed us out of the Golan Heights and they are in control of Damascus, which wasn't true. There wasn't any Israeli within 60 miles of Damascus.
But it caused such a panic. That they gave up the Golan Heights. And it's in the control of Israel today. And all their big electronic equipment for the land is still up on the Golan Heights.
And one of the big contentions today is Syria saying, we want it back. Now they had it. They attacked Israel, because they wanted the northern part of it. Israel, in the war that they responded to the attack on, took over the Golan Heights.
And now, Syria's saying give it back, or we'll tack you again. So they find themselves in that predicament. But as in the Bible, the Lord overturned the counsel and gave victory to his people.
Heavenly Father, as we close tonight, we, like David, stand on the threshold of many historic events. Some we rejoice in, but so many of them we don't quite know how to read exactly. We don't know exactly what it all means at this point, just as David when he was leaving Jerusalem and when Shimei cursed him and when his own son rose up against him.
He didn't quite know how to take it, but he trusted you. And he prayed to you. And he worshiped you. And you upheld your covenant to him, to David, and to the House of David.
You overturned the counsel of Ahithophel by, for some of us, up to this point an unknown named Hushai an Archite. Lord, I pray that the lesson we walk away with is that you are trustworthy. And there is never a time in our life when we can't stop and pray and trust our situation to you and worship you.
And even now, Lord, though we're rejoicing tonight for the events historically, what happened today with the liberated people in a city, at the same time, Lord, we know that our troops are still there. There are pockets of resistance. It still is dangerous. Our sons, daughters, husbands are still there.
We ask your protection. We entrust them to you. And we worship you, Lord, in the midst of this very trying situation in our world. You are worthy, Lord.
And we look forward to the day when you will come and reign over all the Earth. And the whole Earth will be full of your glory. We look forward to the day when they beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks, when nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they study war anymore.
We cry out with John even so, come, Lord Jesus. You're the ultimate solution then and now. And so our life, our children, our situation, we place in your trustworthy hands, because you are faithful. And now, Lord, we rise to worship you in Jesus' name. Amen.