Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bitterness is lethal


2 Samuel 17:1-4 Now Ahithophel urged Absalom, “Let me choose 12,000 men to start out after David tonight. I will catch up with him while he is weary and discouraged. He and his troops will panic, and everyone will run away. Then I will kill only the king, and I will bring all the people back to you as a bride returns to her husband. After all, it is only one man’s life that you seek. Then you will be at peace with all the people.” This plan seemed good to Absalom and to all the elders of Israel.


King David is being run out of the palace and place of authority by his own son. Absalom covets his dads authority and position. He also has anger and bitterness towards his dad.  He had gone to a great effort to act on his bitterness and hatred towards his dad.  He had horses and chariots, runners, and an entourage. 

It is possible that having a chariot and horses and an entourage of fifty runners could be construed as official language for status as either a king or the heir to the throne. The chariots featured two yoked horses with one or two others harnessed beside. Two spoked, wooden wheels on a rear axle supported a small platform occupied by a driver and rider equipped with bow and spear. The sides only went up to midthigh on the standing occupants. The word used here suggests an ornamental chariot of the sort used both in Egypt and Mesopotamia. The luxury transportation of the day, these were typically gilded with all variety of gold, lapis lazuli and precious stones.

Those who run before chariots proclaim the presence of the king or prince and protect his person. In Hittite texts the gods are said to run before the king's chariot leading to victory. The men who run before the king's chariot function as heralds. Fifty was a regular unit within the military. Having such an entourage gave Absalom a bodyguard as well as the rank of captain. Wherever he went, his fifty runners would have raised attention and given credence to his claim to his status as heir apparent.

When a prince wishes to displace his father the king, it is inevitable that he will attempt to undermine the king's authority with public statements about corruption or governmental malpractice. For example, the Ugaritic king Keret is denounced by his son for not hearing the cases of widows, the poor or the oppressed. Absalom employs this same strategy, taking advantage of a lack of leadership on David's part (failure to appoint judges) and of growing discontent among the northern tribes. In addition to offering them a model of efficient administration of justice, Absalom also plays the “common man,” not allowing supplicants to bow to him but kissing them as an equal or friend.


Bitterness, covetousness, unforgiveness and anger are very dangerous and can be lethal to relationships. It is hard to imagine that Absalom was so full of bitterness that he approved his own dad being murdered. 


"Lord, please help me be aware of any and all areas of unforgiveness and bitterness in my life. Search me oh God, and know my thoughts I pray. See if there be any wicked way within me. In Jesus' name, amen"