We don’t get David’s victory against his usurper son Absalom in this chapter, but we get a massive spoiler: god has decided it.
It’s a bit like when harry potter takes the lucky spell – everything goes right for David.
Absalom has a super adviser, Ahithophel. He advises to attack David straight away to consolidate the insurrection, because, David and his core men have just run away from Jerusalem and will be the most tired, weak and friendless they will ever be.
And he says, just kill David and bring the rest of the men home without a massacre. They will unite under you because there is no one else. It’s pretty great advice.
David has a loyal friend planted in the palace, a sort of spy, who also advises: to wait a bit… And they follow his advice.
Ahithophel’s next bit of advice is to himself: you’re done for, you’re in the losing team, go and hang yourself, which he does.
And so it plays out. The friend in the palace, who bought some time, gets news out to David who gets allies and supplies to strengthen the men…
So where is god? What are we learning?
One thing, is very familiar. Today I sometimes wonder how powerful God could be when so few people are Christians.
The work of the world, the glamour, the important stuff all seems to go on without regard for the tiny band of church people who claim to have the answer.
But it was no different then. David is a true believer, but most people in Israel act exactly as they would if God didn’t exist. His son clearly didn’t receive his father’s faith.
David’s closest adviser, this Ahithophel is recognised as gifted in wisdom by God, but in his heart he is Machiavelli – total self interest.
And when his wisdom fails him, he has nothing else. His identity doesn’t come from being loved by God, so he kills himself. He’s put all his stock in his own brilliance.
And the people at large were only too happy to give their hearts to a populist leader who undermined David and promised the moon and stars. That was the basis of Absalom’s coup.
They are swayed by charisma, like the people today. There are very few people then or now who really love god in their heart.
It’s worth remembering that. So tempting to think that the good old days were so much better.