“You’ve got a friend in me. You’ve got a friend in me. When the road looks rough ahead. And you’re miles and miles from your nice warm bed.” This would somewhat describe 2 Samuel 15 that we looked at yesterday. Three friends emerge from that chapter. Ittai the faithful, Zadok the priest, and Hushai the friend. All these men proved helpful to David in one way or another. Just in passing, notice how Ittai’s words to King David, echo that of Ruth’s, “As Yahweh lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king shall be, whether for death or for life, there also will your servant be” (2 Sam. 15:21, compare Ruth 1:16-17). Those are my kind of people.
The song changes here a bit from “You’ve got a friend in me” to “You still got enemies” in 2 Samuel 16. David’s song is much better however, “O Yahweh, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; many are saying of my soul, ‘There is no salvation for him in God’” (Psalm 3:1-2). Psalm 3 was written, as the title says (or v. 1 in Hebrew), “A psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son.” Absalom is the biggest enemy of David’s but there are others, ones Absalom isn’t even aware of (e.g. Ziba and Shimei). Since Absalom is rebelling against God’s anointed, even seeking to put him to death (2 Sam. 17:2-3), he is rebelling against Yahweh Himself. For any rebellion against God’s anointed should be understood as rebellion against Yahweh Himself. What happens to those who rebel against God’s anointed (think Psalm 2)? Absalom will soon find out.
Ziba seems innocent enough, friendly and helpful in fact, by providing for David and the people with him donkey’s that are loaded (e.g. bread, summer fruit, and wine, 2 Sam. 16:2). Yet Ziba looks to seize on an opportunity when he lies to David about Mephibosheth, whom David welcomed as a son to his table (2 Sam. 9:7-8). When asked about Mephibosheth’s presence, Ziba replies to David, “Behold, he remains in Jerusalem, for he said, ‘Today the house of Israel will give me back the kingdom of my father’” (2 Sam. 16:3). Really? Absalom’s rebellion against King David is to give the kingdom back to a member of Saul’s household? Ziba’s story had holes in it, but when you are on the run for your life, you don’t think everything through, as a result David turns everything that was Mephibosheth’s (2 Sam. 9:9-10) over to Ziba (2 Sam. 16:4). Isn’t Ziba simply being shrewd? There is a difference in the way Jesus would desire us to be “wise/shrewd as serpents” (Matt. 10:16) and Ziba’s approach. Ziba is not driven by loyalty to Yahweh or to King David, God’s anointed, but he is driven by greed and covetousness. Thus an enemy.
Seeing Shimei as an enemy takes no effort. The man is a Benjaminite (a descendent of Gera, a son of Benjamin, Genesis 46:21), yes the same tribe as the former king of Israel, Saul. Shimei threw curses and stones at David and his entourage as they passed by (2 Sam. 16:5-6). Why? “Get out, get out, you man of blood, you worthless man! Yahweh has avenged on you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned…” (vv. 7-8a). Remember how David wept greatly after the news of Saul and Jonathan’s death (2 Sam. 1:11-12)? How David sought to distance himself from Joab’s cold murder of Abner, Saul’s commander (2 Sam. 3:31-39)? The text said, “So all the people and all Israel understood that day that it had not been the king’s will to put to death Abner the son of Ner” (2 Sam. 3:37). Have you heard some preacher or teacher say, “All means all, and that’s all all means”? False! Context determines meaning. Shimei believed that David’s hand was behind the deaths of Abner and Ish-bosheth (2 Sam. 4:5-12). Therefore, throwing curses and stones at David is an appropriate action. What does Abishai, Joab’s brother, suggest? “Let me go over and take off his head” (2 Sam. 16:9b). Yeah! But David says, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah?” (v. 10a). Nah! Joab slayed Abner and now Abishai is ready to take off Shimei’s head. David appeals to Yahweh to act on David’s behalf or not (vv. 10-12).
Ahithophel is the final enemy of David we see in 2 Samuel 16. David’s former counselor gives two pieces of advice (one in this chapter and one in the next). Ahithophel tells Absalom to go in to the ten concubines that David had left in Jerusalem (v. 21). Absalom has a tent pitched for him on the roof, the place where David first observed Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:2), and did as Ahithophel had directed. We must remember the words spoken by Nathan to David in 2 Samuel 12:10-12, for they are the driving factor for 2 Samuel 13-20. For example, in 2 Samuel 12:11b-12 we read, “And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.” This is the judgment of Yahweh upon David.
Not only that, if David cannot protect his brides then he certainly is not capable of leading and protecting the nation. Second Timothy 3:5, “For if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?” Similar idea, except the overseer is only fit to be such if he (notice the masculine pronoun) is “the husband of one wise” (2 Tim. 3:2). Absalom is cutting all ties with his father by Ahithophel’s first piece of advice. Absalom will appear strong, for turning against God’s anointed, and the hands of many of his men will be strengthened (v. 21b). One problem, it never ends well for those who fight or resist or rebel against God’s anointed, something we must all keep in mind.