David is running from his son Absalom. Meanwhile, back in Jerusalem, Absalom makes his entrance. He seeks counsel on how best to twist the knife in David’s heart.
Absalom worked for four years getting the people of Israel to like him better than his father, David. As David was leaving he sent one of his advisors to ‘help’ Absalom because Absalom had recruited David’s best advisor, Ahithophel. David’s friend Hushai was came into Jerusalem from one gate while Absalom was coming in another. He was David’s eyes and ears in the palace and there to lead Absalom astray. Let’s peek in on this story.
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Hushai is hurrying to Jerusalem after leaving David. They met as David was going up the Mt. of Olives on his way to safety. David needed him in Absalom’s presence. Hushai is rehearsing his speech to Absalom on the way to the palace.
“I am ever your loyal servant.” “Accept my loyalty.” “I will serve whom the Lord and the people have chosen.” “Yes, that feels better” thinks Hushai. When he arrives at the door of the palace he straightens his robes and then announces himself to the guard. “I have come to serve the king.”
The guard looks him over then announces his presence to Absalom. “Hushai awaits an audience with you my king.”
“Send him in.” Absalom knows that Hushai is a friend of his father’s. He wonders why he is presenting himself so soon.
Hushai enters and bows low. “Long live the king! Long live the king!” (verse 16b).
Absalom is suspicious but is enjoying the praise being offered. He narrows his eyes and addresses Hushai. “Is this your loyalty to our friend? Why did you not go with your friend?” (verse 17b). Absalom nearly spit as the word ‘friend’ left his lips.
Hushai could hear the venom and sarcasm in Absalom’s words. He needed to sell this so he could be part of the decision being made. “No, for whom the Lord and this people and all the men of Israel have chosen, his I will be, and with him I will remain.” In his heart Hushai is thinking that this actually isn’t a lie as he IS serving the man the Lord chose, David, by his being in Absalom’s presence. “And again, whom shall I serve? Should it not be his son? As I have served your father, so I will serve you” (verse 18). This last part hurt because it couldn’t be disguised as indicating David. It was a necessary lie though.
Absalom was satisfied with Hushai’s answer. He now had two of David’s trusted advisors in his own court. Absalom had called Ahithophel from his father’s house when he was in Hebron being crowned king. Ahithophel accompanied him to Jerusalem. And now that Absalom was in David’s palace he really didn’t know what to do next. He turned to HIS advisors for direction.
“Give your counsel. What shall we do?” (verse 20b).
Ahithophel answered him. “Go in to your father’s concubines, whom he las left to keep the house, and all Israel will hear that you have made yourself a stench to your father, and the hands of all who are with your bill be strengthened” (verse 21).
Absalom was very pleased with this idea. This would show great disrespect to David. This would also be payback. Absalom would rape David’s concubines for David’s refusal to deal with the rape of Tamar.
Absalom spoke to his guard. “Erect a tent on the roof of the palace. I want all the people to be witness.”
The guard bowed and left the throne room. As soon as the tent was ready he returned to inform his king. “Your pleasure awaits my king” said the guard with a sneer.
Absalom rose from his seat and made his way to the stairs leading to the roof. On the way he instructed his guard; “Bring the women out to me one at a time.”
David’s concubines had been confined in a room since Absalom and his men had entered the palace. They were huddled together, waiting to see what would happen next. They had no weapons but their wits and no standing beyond that of concubine to king David. When the soldiers entered the room where they were being kept they immediately knew something was about to happen.
“You, come with me” said the guard while pointing to one of the women.
She quickly stood up but before she could move one of her ‘sisters’ asked, “Where are you taking her?”
“Silence!” demanded the guard. “You will all see soon enough” he said with a sneer on his face again.
David’s concubines were led one at a time to the stairs that ascended to the roof and then to the tent pitched for their shame. Absalom walked the roof as they were each brought to them so that all Israel could see him. Some of David’s concubines went quietly into the tent to be set upon by Absalom while others fought or cried out. All left with their heads hung in shame and their clothing in tatters. Absalom wanted them to experience the same sham Tamar had as she came to him for help after Ammon had defiled her.
This spectacle lasted all day. As each woman was taken from the tent she was brought to a different room than her sisters who awaited their appointment with the king. Absalom didn’t want the previous occupants of the tent to influence the future ones. Absalom took great pains to inflict as much pain and degradation upon these woman as possible. They suffered the injuries Absalom longed to inflict on his own father.
There was no going back from this. For Absalom or David’s concubines.
(to be continued)
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I feel for these women. First they were used by a society that didn’t give them any status. They were concubines. Not wives. Not virgins. Not eligible to be married to another. Someone to please the king whenever HE chose. Then they were publically humiliated and raped to ‘help’ establish a new king. I cannot imagine being in their place. I would like to say that if I were one of them Absalom would regret the day he EVER touched me; but I can’t because I have no idea what it would be like in their shoes. I am grateful for my place in history!
I’m glad David was able to slip a spy in Absalom’s court. I wish it could have helped these women. He will come in handy later on, but that is a story for another day.
Did you notice that Absalom’s actions were a direct fulfillment of Nathan’s prophecy to David? “Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. 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” (2 Samuel 12:11). Absalom made sure ALL Israel witnessed his act. He chose the rooftop to display his acts.
God spoke these words through Nathan to David. Make NO mistake here. God did NOT ordain the rape of these women but he foretold it. He knew Absalom’s heart and where it would lead him. God allowed Absalom to follow his own path. Absalom chose the path of evil and God used it for His own purpose.
Father God, I pray You comforted these women. These women were never the same, even after David returned. They were locked away and treated as widows. They were at least still cared for. As I said before Father, THANK YOU for placing me in this time in history!
I pray for women today who are still used and abused. Their suffering doesn’t have to mirror David’s concubines to be true suffering. Please continue to work in the hearts of the nation’s so that ALL people are treated as You would desire; with love and compassion. I know it will get worse before it gets better here on earth but please keep those who trust in You safe until Jesus calls us home.