Oh, my – so much drama! King David’s son, Absalom, ran David out of the city, taking over as king. But David was a warrior and military strategist, not to be outdone, even by his own son. He placed his lead counsel in the service of Absalom – a spy to help save his life and his reign. It worked, and Absalom was drawn out into battle. After getting stuck hanging in a tree (chapter 18), David’s armies killed Absalom and the coup was over. King David mourned over his son, and his counselors called to his attention his dismissal of the soldiers and commanders that had just helped him regain his throne. By mourning, David risked alienating the very people who put their lives on the line to return him to power. David knew he had to set his grief aside and keep moving forward as king.
In today’s reading, David knew he needed to return to Jerusalem, but he also needed to know that he would be welcomed. He pressed upon Amasa to rally the people to ask him to return, and it worked. King David regained his throne. We don’t often hear the parts of David’s story that don’t go so well. But this is one of just many political and military challenges David faced. It’s one of the stories that reminds us that God’s people were neither saints nor sinners – they were real people with real challenges. Sometimes things went well for them, and sometimes they did not. Through it all, David continued to demonstrate faithfulness. David seemed to be willing to accept whatever God ordained. At the same time, he relied heavily upon his skills and wisdom. He didn’t sit back and wait for life to happen – he went out and made it happen with the gifts God gave him.
2 Samuel 19:9-15
All the people were disputing throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, “The king delivered us from the hand of our enemies, and saved us from the hand of the Philistines; and now he has fled out of the land because of Absalom. But Absalom, whom we anointed over us, is dead in battle. Now therefore why do you say nothing about bringing the king back?” King David sent this message to the priests Zadok and Abiathar, “Say to the elders of Judah, ‘Why should you be the last to bring the king back to his house? The talk of all Israel has come to the king. You are my kin, you are my bone and my flesh; why then should you be the last to bring back the king?’ And say to Amasa, ‘Are you not my bone and my flesh? So may God do to me, and more, if you are not the commander of my army from now on, in place of Joab.’” Amasa swayed the hearts of all the people of Judah as one, and they sent word to the king, “Return, both you and all your servants.” So the king came back to the Jordan; and Judah came to Gilgal to meet the king and to bring him over the Jordan.