2 Samuel 15 is one of the low points in David’s life, as his son Absalom steals the hearts of the people and steals his kingdom away from him. Absalom’s rebellion is so far-reaching that David has to sneak out of Jerusalem and hide in the wilderness to keep from being attacked and killed. Absalom takes over the entire kingdom, moves into David’s palace, gains control of the army, sleeps with David’s concubines, and prepares to search after David, his own father, and strike him down. This is a violent coup and yet highly successful because the hearts of the people are with him. If Absalom plays his cards right, David will soon be dead and his kingdom will be firmly established.
While this story has many plots and twists, one amazing aspect is David’s reaction to the entire episode. As David is running for his life, Zadok, Abiathar, and the Levites bring the Ark of the Covenant with them to travel out of the city with David. David, however, sends them back and says, “if the Lord sees fit he will bring me back to see the Ark again, but if he is through with me let him do what seems best to him.” (1 Sam 15:26) Later, as they are traveling, Shimei, who is a member of the same clan as Saul, comes out and starts throwing rocks at them and cursing them. Some of David’s men want to shut Shimei up permanently, but David stops them and says, “leave him alone to curse, perhaps the Lord has told him to do it. Or maybe the Lord will see the wrong I’m enduring and bless me for it.” (2 Sam. 16:11-12) Here is David, running for his life because his own son his stealing his kingdom and he simply says, if it’s God’s will so be it. If it’s not God’s will he will take care of me. While David would be justified in being angry and fighting back, in complaining about his situation or using his power to stop those who are against him, he leaves everything in God’s hands. If God wants to stop it he will. If God doesn’t want to stop it he won’t. There is nothing to be done except to wait for God.
Now it is true that David may be responding in this way because he knows his own sin has led to this rebellion. His sin with Bathsheba and Uriah has led to continual fighting within his family. His mistake and blatant abuse of power could be the very reason that he is running for his life today. So it’s possible that he reacts in this way because he recognizes that ultimately he is at fault. However, he has also reacted this way in the past. One great example is when he was running from Saul and had the chance to kill him on two separate occasions but refused to do so. Saul was the Lord’s anointed and if God wanted David to be king he would make it happen on his time. David knew that God was in control and he was content to wait for God to make things right. He was content to live in whatever situation God placed him.
That is so hard to do. It is hard to live in the situation we find ourselves in. We want to control life, we want to force the issue, we don’t want to wait. Yet God works not when we think is best but when he knows is best. God promises to take care of us and provide for us. God promises to watch over us and be near us. God promises to care for us as a shepherd cares for his sheep. We may not always like where we are at the moment, but the question is, do we trust God enough to believe he is with us? Are we content enough to say, “God, may your will be done?” Somehow David was content in the situation. Somehow we must learn the same trait.