“And the king (David) commanded Joab and Abishai and Ittai, saying, Deal gently for my sake with the young man, even with Absalom…” II Samuel 18:5
In my study yesterday I read again this bitter story where David’s son undermines him, steals the hearts of the people, wages war against his father and tries to take the throne from him. During one of these dreadful days as David fled for his very life into the mountains
“…David…wept as he went up, and had his head covered, and he went barefoot: and all the people that was with him covered every man his head, and they went up, weeping as they went up.”
I weep with David for I have sons, and the love I have for those young men and for my daughter is beyond sounding. Its raw deep cannot be fathomed, and I suspect that a person who has not a child can in no way understand the passion of such relationship. So, I see David weeping as he trudges up the hillside, head bent, head covered, his feet bare…weeping, soul-sick.
THE land on the east of Jordan, where David found a refuge,
was called Gilead, a word which means “high,” because
it is higher than the land opposite on the west of
Jordan. There, in the city of Mahanaim, the rulers and
the people were friendly to David. They brought food of
all kinds and drink for David and those who were with
him; for they said, “The people are hungry, and thirsty, and very tired, from their long journey through the wilderness.”
And at this place David’s friends gathered from all the tribes of Israel, until around him was an army. It was not so large as the army of Absalom, but in it were more of the brave old warriors who had fought under David in other years. David divided his army into three parts, and placed over the three parts Joab, his brother Abishai, and Ittai, who had followed him so faithfully.
David said to the chiefs of his army and to his men, “I will go out with you into the battle.”
But the men said to David, “No, you must not go with us; for if half of us should lose our lives, no one will care; but you are worth ten thousand of us, and your life is too precious. You must stay here in the city, and be ready to help us if we need help.”
So the king stood by the gate of Mahanaim while his men marched out by hundreds and by thousands. And as they went past the king the men heard him say to the three chiefs, Joab, and Abishai, and Ittai, “For my sake, deal gently with the young man, Absalom.” (Scripture translation from the Baldwin Project)
Deal gently, men. Deal gently with my son.
And to those who have wronged us, we pray aloud, deal gently, God, deal gently. And perhaps, just perhaps, those against whom we have trespassed will in a gracious forgiving moment pray also, deal gently, God, deal gently.
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