Archive for February, 2016

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 74

Managing to take hold of his dagger, Absalom wildly jabbed its point towards Joab, but Joab deftly took hold of his hand and thrust it back mercilessly into Absalom’s heart. He followed this by plunging his spear into Absalom’s twitching frame. Then a second and third.

Joab’s armour bearers joined in, striking Absalom’s body until it fell. As his body lay on the ground, it was unrecognisable except for his hair, much of which still remained entangled in the tree.

Those who had gathered around now stood in horror. Joab ordered the signaler to blow the trumpet to regather his soldiers from their pursuit of the remnants of Absalom’s shattered and spend forces. The battle was won.

Roughly dragging Absalom’s limp frame by the hair, as if it was a bag of refuse, Joab cast it into a deep pit in the forest. His deep, course, rasping voice broke the silence, “This young man may have been the kings son but he was a murderer and rebellious criminal. He deserved to die. If he had won this battle none of you would have been spared. He would have murdered his own father like he did his brother. The law of God demands that the grave of a rebellious son be heaped with stones. If what I am saying is wrong then kill me also. But if I am right, then show no mercy!” Joab threw the first stone and each man followed until a wild frenzy of stones were heaped upon Absalom’s bloody and broken body.

 Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

It seemed like an eternity that David had been sitting between the outer and inner gates of the city. When the watchman notified him that he could see only a single runner, he presumed the news was good. It was customary to send two unknown runners if the news was bad and someone well known if the news was good.

Before the runner arrived, the watchman informed the king of another runner. Since they were not together David still hoped for the best. He was even more encouraged to see that the first runner was Ahimaaz.

Ahimaaz, the son of Zadok the priest, had been overjoyed when he arrived back to Joab and had asked special permission to take the news of victory to the king.

Joab had said, “Why do you want to go, my son? I assure you there is no reward for giving the king news about Absalom.” Ahimaaz was insistent. “Alright go, but when you arrive, tell him only of victory. Nothing about Absalom, understand! I will send one of the Cushite runners to tell him of Absalom.”

Taking a shorter path, Ahimaaz arrived before the Cushite. When he ran through the gate he was breathless but managed to say to the king, “All is well.” He prostrated himself before king David.

“Blessed is the Lord your God, for He has delivered you from your enemies.”

“Is it also well with my son Absalom?” said David.

“I can only report to you of victory, my lord. The Cushite runner will tell you more.”

When the Cushite arrived, he also gave the news of victory.

David interrupted him, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?”

The Cushite reached into the folds of his coat for a lock of hair. He handed it to king David. Then he voiced what David had been afraid to hear, “Let all the enemies who do evil against my lord the king, be as that young man!”

David was so deeply affected that he left the room immediately, unable to speak for some time. Up in the chamber over the gate, grief overwhelmed him and he paced the floor trying to escape the hollow, searing pain in his heart from which hope had been seized. He wept bitterly. In deep anguish, he repeated over and over, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! I would have preferred to die instead of you. O Absalom, my son, my son!”

Advertisements

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

 © by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 73

The slaughter was horrendous. At battle’s end, 20,000 men lay dead. Because of the strategic positions of Joab’s men, more of Absalom’s forces died in the forest that day than in open combat by the sword. David’s careful strategy and many years of guerrilla warfare in rugged terrain such as this had taught Joab how best to use the geography of the country to full advantage in battle.

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

His long hair flying in the wind, Absalom rode his mule towards the thickest part of the forest he could find, Abishai’s men in pursuit. As his mule veered sharply, careering under the thick branches of a great oak, there was no time to lower his head, and crossed branches were thrust under his chin.

The shuddering halt caused extreme trauma to his pharynx. His head caught fast in the oak and his neck was almost broken. As the momentum of his body swung, its full weight wrenched on his spinal column and Absalom momentarily lost consciousness. A tingling sensation ran down his spine from his head and the impact left him temporarily unable to move his arms or legs.

Growing his hair had made him a further victim of his vow against David. Now it was caught around the branches so that he was left hanging awkwardly between heaven and earth. Balanced precariously, in shock and fear, he waited for the end to come.

The man who had followed Absalom saw that he was unable to move. He sheathed his sword and sent word immediately to Joab. When Joab arrived he was furious, “You saw him and you didn’t strike him down! I would have given you ten pieces of silver and a belt as a reward.”

The soldier was defensive. “Even if you gave me a thousand pieces of silver, I would not have killed him. He is the king’s son. You heard what the king said. He told you to protect him. We all heard the command. Besides, I am sure that if I had killed him you would not have supported me before the king.”

“Don’t waste my time.” I’ll deal with your insolence later. He pushed the man out of the way.

For a fleeting moment Absalom saw Joab moving towards him with a spear but then as he slipped once again into the ethereal world of semi-consciousness, he seemed to hear his father’s voice say, “He is my son.” Then the strong hands of his father were reaching up to free him. Father, spare my life again!

Searing, throbbing pain pierced through his body, singing with increasing volume in his head. Absalom saw himself seated on the throne of David’s kingdom with his father now lying prostrate before him, begging him for mercy. Will I send you into exile or keep you under house arrest for the rest of your natural life?

“Bring me my dagger”, he said, but his voice seemed to be deep and gravelly. One of the soldiers nearby brought a dagger to him. It had strange carvings on the handle of a lion and a wolf in mortal combat.

David was tied, hands outstretched, suspended from the branches of a tree. You will pay! He raised the dagger and thrust it toward his father’s heart. As the dagger moved closer he looked on with the delight of insanity written into the features of his face.

But the face changed. Instead of his father, the face that looked at him was now the face of Amnon. As the dagger continued its journey and in the flickering filtered light, the face changed again and again.

Eternity was opening its doors and he saw the face of Ahithophel just before he hanged himself and many of the faces of the soldiers wide-eyed in the terror of certain death. In the array of faces that appeared was a man whom he did not recognise with a crown of thorns on His head and nails in His hands His feet.

The dagger had reached its destination as the face changed for one final timeless moment. My own face! To his horror, he realised that he was executing himself. “No! Stop!” he yelled.

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 72

A murmur went through the crowd, each person shocked at David’s proposal. Joab thought No-one is going to agree with this, and he was right.

David had planned as carefully as he could. Firstly he had set commanders over every hundred men and overall commanders over every thousand men. Each of the commanders were seasoned warriors. He had divided his army further into three groups, headed by Joab, Abishai, and Ittai the Gittite. But as he finished his battle plan and strategies he had said, “I will lead you out and may the Lord be with us.”

For a moment there was silence and then everyone began to speak at once. One man said, “My lord, you should not go with us. You are their main target. They are not concerned about us. If half of us died, they would still only be concerned to find and kill you.” Another man confirmed this by saying, “You are worth ten thousand of us, my lord.” One of the commanders of thousands said, “Please, my lord, it would be better that you remain in the city and be ready for the last line of attack.” They were all united in their agreement.

David could see that it was not worth arguing. He had not been looking forward to facing his own son in battle so this came as a welcome relief. “As you wish. I’ll do whatever you think is best.”

He then spoke to Joab, Abishai and Ittai, in the hearing of all the people, “I command each of you to deal gently with Absalom for my sake. He is my son. Bring him back to me alive.” Abishai and Ittai gave their agreement. Joab snarled something under his breath and began to get his commanders ready.

As his forces left the city in their regiments David stood at the gate and prayed God’s blessing over them.

Joab sent scouts ahead. “Find out where Absalom’s men are stationed and give me a report of the terrain.” They were familiar with the drill.

The battle began as Absalom had hoped. David’s forces led by Ittai attacked the superior numbers of Absalom’s army. They came swarming out of the forest, shouting and waving their swords, shields and spears. It was not long, however, before Ittai’s forces looked as if they would be overwhelmed.

Suddenly, Ittai did the only thing he was able to do. He sounded a retreat. Absalom signalled his troops to pursue the enemy. From his vantage point, he could see that they would be trapped by the rugged terrain.

Ittai’s men looked helpless as they ran headlong back into the forest. They stopped before a large pitted area. As Absalom had predicted, the rugged terrain would not allow them the time they needed to retreat any further. They could only watch as Absalom’s forces bore down upon them. Ittai faced his pursuers with courage.

Just before Absalom’s men engaged them in battle, Ittai turned to his trumpeter and said, “Now!” The trumpeter signalled the attack. When Joab heard the signal his men suddenly closed in from the sides.

The ambush was successful but the sheer numbers of Absalom’s army meant the battle was not yet won. Ittai manoeuvred his forces and speared his way out of the forest splitting the rest of Absalom’s distracted army in half. From his position, Absalom had no way of knowing his men had fallen into Joab’s trap until he saw his army being separated.

Simultaneously, Abishai’s men had manoeuvred themselves behind Absalom’s main command force and attacked them. Without their commanders, Absalom’s army was in disarray and was now scattering all over the countryside. Many, disoriented without their commanders and not understanding what had happened in the forest, continued to run straight into Joab’s trap.

Abishai’s troops systematically cleaned up the remaining forces from behind and fought wherever they were needed the most. The battle was long and bloody.

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 71

His arrival was royally received. David had chosen the Levitical town of Mahanaim deliberately. It had been the capital of Saul’s son, king Ish-bosheth, and so it was already known as a royal city. Strongly fortified, it was the boundary between the lands of Gad and Manasseh, a strategic place to be for a king who did not want to divide his people. For David, it was also a sacred place, a town assigned to Levites back in the days of Joshua – a place where I can pray.

Grateful for the blessings of his journey so far, he thanked God for the people of the region. They had brought them every form of refreshment they needed; beds, basins, pottery, wheat, barley, flour, grain, beans, lentils, seeds, honey, curds, sheep, and cheese. The food was a welcome greeting after their journey through the wilderness.

Such generosity had followed them through their travels so far. In thanksgiving prayer David recalled the generosity of Ziba, the servant of Mephibosheth, while he had been on the Mount of Olives. And now Barzillai, an old and trusted ironsmith had also brought him supplies and weapons of extraordinary quality.

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

It was Hushai who reported to Absalom. His news was disturbing. “Ahithophel has hanged himself.” Absalom seemed unperturbed and said absently, “Well, Ahithophel, … that was unexpected. It seems he does not take well to his new king refusing to take his advice. Bury him in his father’s grave, privately. Tell people he was ashamed of failing his king.”

As Hushai arranged for Ahithophel’s broken body to be buried without ceremony, he thought, You were once one of David’s closest counsellors, but now you will be remembered as a traitor. You have failed the king, but it is not Absalom. At times remorse pursues men relentlessly to their deaths.

In years to come the spirit of Ahithophel would enter a man called Judas as he greeted Jesus, the One called the Son of David, and betray him with a kiss. Judas would also hang himself.

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

Some days later Absalom crossed the Jordan with his huge army. It appeared as if all the men of Israel were with him. Absalom had chosen a man called Amasa to lead his army to face Joab. Amasa looked very much like Joab, tall and well-built. Amasa’s father had married the sister of Joab’s mother. Absalom had chosen him deliberately. Nephew against Uncle. Son against father. Brothers against brothers. They would camp at Gilead, in the mountains.

The day of reckoning has come, thought Absalom as he rode before his army, with a smile on his face. His army greatly outnumbered David’s. And his spies had discovered the position of David’s forces. My greatest goal will soon be achieved.

 

P.S. Don’t forget to purchase a copy of Above the Storm, my new e-book on the ancient book of Job, full of short stories to help you understand some deep truths. This is a creative exploration of Job. You will not read another commentary like it. All royalties for the e-book, if any, will go to Hope Street in Sydney, Australia.

Pastor Ross

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 70

Ahimaaz and Jonathan remained completely still, straining to hear as much as they could from the darkness above them. They were crammed into a small space inside a well in the middle of the courtyard. Eliana had placed a covering over the well and spread grain on it so that it looked like the place of threshing. They heard her say, “Can I offer you some food, sir” and knew that she was trying to entice someone away from their hiding place.

Something in her manner seemed to be unusual, but Paltiel could not pinpoint what it was. He had been here only once before, visiting Eliana’s husband, asking many questions about the people in the area. Since he had appeared to be friendly, her husband had welcomed him.

Eliana thought, If only Azriel were here now. They had long since assumed Paltiel to be one of Absalom’s spies. There were those in Bethurim who were very much against David. Many of them had agreed to be Absalom’s eyes and ears. When Ahimaaz and Jonathan had arrived she had the wisdom to have the road watched and the well ready for use.

As Eliana stood in the courtyard she could see the hate in Paltiel’s eyes. She had seen that same hate burning in the eyes of another man named Shimei. A hatred fired white hot and molten in the furnaces of Absalom’s war.

Not willing to move a muscle, Ahimaaz and Jonathan remained silent. They could hear the sound of their own breathing but nothing else. How long could they maintain their positions? Extremely uncomfortable they waited and the confinement of the well seemed to be pressing in on them with each minute that went by. They could hear nothing from above.

Then, when they were least expecting it, the covering of the well began to move. Suddenly, light flooded into to their hiding place, hurting their eyes and exposing their vulnerability. Ahimaaz could hear his pulse pounding in his ears as he felt a hand take hold of his wrist. He flinched but the grip was strong. We have been discovered!

“You can come out now”, Eliana said, with music in her voice, “They’re gone.” Both of them breathed a sigh of relief as they were assisted from the well. They were cramped and aching from the confined space. A smile radiated from a red and bruised face as they departed. This brave woman had risked her own life to save theirs.

The search had apparently continued for some time but to no avail. Eventually, frustrated and angry, Paltiel and his men had returned to Jerusalem.

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

David’s men recognised Ahimaaz and Jonathan at the ford and they were ushered into his presence. They were both breathless as they gave their warning, “You will need to cross the Jordan immediately! Ahithophel has counselled against you.”

David spoke with Joab,

“We will head towards Mahanaim.”

“Yes, my lord. I shall speak with the other leaders.”

“No. Tell them only one part of our journey at a time. Absalom may have spies among us and I don’t want to risk the lives of so many people.”

David mobilised his people immediately and by dawn, they had all crossed the Jordan.

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 69

After losing Absalom’s spies, Hushai spoke with Zadok and Abiathar the priests. He related everything that Ahithophel had counselled as well as his own advice to Absalom.

“Because I was sent out of the room before the decision was made, you will need to send a message to David immediately telling him not to spend the night at the fords. Tell him to cross over at once. He and all the people with him are in danger of their lives. As you know, Absalom’s spies are everywhere. How do you intend to get through to David without arousing suspicion?”

Zadok said, “Our sons, Jonathan and Ahimaaz are staying outside the city at En-rogel so as not to be seen entering and leaving Jerusalem. We will send a servant girl to them with your message and they will go to king David.” The plan seemed acceptable to Hushai.

 Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

“My lord, a man from En-rogel is here. He says he needs to speak with you immediately.”

Absalom instructed his servant to let the man in. When Paltiel had been instructed to watch Ahimaaz and Jonathan like a hawk, Absalom had said, “They may be used to get a message to David. Report anything you see that may seem unusual.”

“What news do you have?” Absalom asked.

Paltiel replied, “They met with a servant girl from the city and then headed towards Bahurim, my lord. I know that they have friends in Bahurim but they seemed to be in a hurry. This is also the first time they have moved from the house. It is as if they were waiting for the servant girl to arrive. It may be nothing, but it seemed suspicious to me.”

Absalom said, “Well done. Now take some of my servants with you and intercept them immediately. Bring them here for questioning.”

The man smiled. “Yes my lord”, he said.

Paltiel was the man to whom King Saul had once given his daughter, Michal, in marriage. She had been David’s wife, but when David was forced to flee, he had left her behind. David had demanded her to be returned as part of his negotiations with Abner. This had devastated Paltiel for he had been deeply in love with Michal.

Serving Absalom was Paltiel’s way of dealing with the injustice of this event. His name, Paltiel, meant God has delivered. “I intend to see my wife delivered from David’s clutches as decisively as she had been wrenched from mine,” he had told Absalom.

A contingent of men was chosen and Paltiel was on his way. When they arrived at the house in Bahurim, Paltiel stationed his men. A woman greeted him at the door and though he recognised her, he said abruptly,

“Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?”

“They are not here.” Paltiel struck the woman across the face with the back of his hand. He didn’t have time to waste.

“I know they have been here”, he said, “Now tell me where they are!” The woman held her face and was visibly shocked by Paltiel’s aggression.

“They are not here.” Her voice was quivering but indignant, “They have gone over the brook.” Paltiel gave his orders, “Search the brook and the house. They cannot have gone far.”

As some of the men searched the house, he strode out into the courtyard. His quick eyes surveyed the area. The woman followed him out. She felt a tense knot forming in her stomach but tried to hide any evidence of her fear and her deception from her face.

P.S. Don’t forget to purchase a copy of Above the Storm, my new e-book on the ancient book of Job, full of short stories to help you understand some deep truths. This is a creative exploration of Job. You will not read another commentary like it. All royalties for the e-book, if any, will go to Hope Street in Sydney, Australia.

Pastor Ross

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 68

“But it is not enough simply to humiliate David and destroy his reputation.” said Ahithophel, “We must also destroy him!”

Absalom said, “Go on.”

There is only one way to destroy David now,” said Ahithophel. I know David’s tactics. If we give him any time to think, he will devise a plan to win back his kingdom. Let me choose 12,000 men and I will pursue David tonight. He will still be exhausted from his rapid retreat out of Jerusalem. If we attack him while he is least expecting it we will decimate his army. Most of the people with him will flee for their lives in the confusion. Those who remain will be scattered. Before he can regather his army I will strike him down. Then we can return with the people he has taken with him. They will refuse to return unless he is dead. They will accept you as king if he is dead because you are his son. Then and only then will there be peace. 

The elders thought that this plan was good. Absalom agreed except he would have liked to have been there to see David die. Just as he took delight in watching his brother die, so too he saw in his mind the death of his father. Still, something didn’t appear right about this. It seemed too simple. He said, Your plan is good but I want to hear what Hushai the Archite has to say. Bring him back to me and explain your plan to him. 

Ahithophel felt confident about this request and left immediately to bring Hushai to Absalom. Along the way, he spoke to Hushai and told him to affirm his plan. Hushai listened carefully and came before Absalom.

Ahithophel has a plan to decimate the army of my father. Absalom said. Once more the plan was outlined to Hushai and Absalom said, What are your thoughts? Do you agree?

The room was silent as Hushai looked at Ahithophel and then back to Absalom. In that brief moment, he prayed fervently that the Lord would help him to thwart the counsel of Ahithophel, and give him the right words to say that would bring disaster on Absalom. He was not used to public speaking but his deep resonant voice rang in each person’s ears as if it had been amplified by the Spirit of God himself. He said, “With due respect to Ahithophel, this time, I can’t agree with his advice.” 

Ahithophel’s eyes narrowed and he frowned as Hushai continued speaking directly to Absalom. You know your father and his men. They are as fierce and mighty as a bear robbed of her cubs. Your father is an expert in strategic warfare. He knows that country like the back of his hand. He won’t spend the night with the people. He has most likely hidden in a cave or in some other place suitable for an ambush. 

This is not a good way to begin your campaign; with little organisation and only 12,000 men. The whole of Israel will say that you sent these men to their slaughter. After that, it won’t matter how valiant your soldiers are. They will lose heart completely. 

Your father has a reputation for being a mighty man and those who are with him are very experienced and valiant warriors. This action will only increase his reputation and make you weak in the sight of all Israel.

My counsel is to take time to gather all the men of Israel from Dan as far as Beersheba so that you have an army which will be like the sand of the sea. They will be so abundant that you will not fail to reach your objective. Then I would suggest that you personally lead them into battle. When you find your father, you will decimate his army so completely that not one of them will remain alive. If a city opens its gates to him, then we will drag that city into the valley until not one stone is left standing. By this time, Hushai’s voice had reached a crescendo and his argument had been very convincing. He could see that Absalom was in agreement, but both he and Ahithophel were ushered out of the room before the decision was made.

Ahithophel said to Hushai on the way out, If your advice is taken then this day you have betrayed Israel! Hushai remained silent. It was amusing to him that a traitor to king David would accuse him of betrayal. He prayed fervently as he then made his way undetected by Absalom’s spies to his first rendezvous with the priests Zadok and Abiathar.

Absalom was convinced and came to the point. He said, The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than Ahithophel’s counsel. The elders were in agreement. Absalom would continue his celebrations while Hushai’s plans were being put into operation. It would take some days to gather his full army.

Absalom looked out at Jerusalem. It was on this same roof that David had once looked upon Bathsheba. That afternoon and in the days to come, as the wine flowed and the celebrations became raucous, David’s concubines were brought into Absalom presence. Each of them had been used like slaves serving Absalom’s men at the tables. In his drunkenness and thirst for more power over David, he brought each of them forcefully onto his rooftop balcony and sexually abused them. He wielded his dagger and threatened them with death until they were too afraid to resist. News of Absalom’s perversion spread quickly as his army was gathered from every corner of Israel. Hushai could do nothing. He thought, In broad daylight he brings shame to the family of Davidbut most of all he is bringing shame upon himself.

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 67

David’s concubines were paraded before Absalom’s men as slaves and humiliated into serving them.

Absalom had called Ahithophel into his conference room with his elders. They were both intoxicated from the celebrations. But Absalom was far from satisfied. He threw his cup against the wall in frustration and said to Ahithophel, “How can I establish my authority as the new king when my coward father is not even willing to fight?” The years of bitterness demanded overt expression. I despise you, father? He looked at Ahithophel with both helplessness and hatred in his eyes, “I need your advice. Tell me what I can do next to decimate the kingdom of David?”

Ahithophel mumbled something as he observed what was happening through drunken eyes. Speaking slowly so as to make his point and with too much animation he said, “What you have done there,” He pointed to the concubines, “will have the advantage of sorting out the loyalty of your followers. If you humiliate David you will ‘make yourself strong’ in their eyes and they will have even greater resolve to establish you as David’s successor. Your reputation as one who despises anything to do with David will be quickly broadcast throughout Israel.”

In the past, the advice that Ahithophel had given had been regarded by David and Absalom to be prophetic. He was a very learned man. He knew the Word of God as given by the prophets, and studied the written documents religiously. Hushai, who stood near the door thought, How can this proud, arrogant fool apply God’s Word to his decision-making when his thinking is distorted with wine?

In his intoxicated state Ahithophel was rambling about the past. He was remembering his granddaughter, Bathsheba when he said, “When David committed adultery with Bathsheba and murdered my son-in-law to cover it up, Nathan the prophet came to David with a prophecy. Do you remember?”

The words of Nathan’s prophecy now rang in Ahithophel’s memory. Both Ahithophel and Absalom had been in the room as Nathan had said to king David, “This is what the Lord says: ‘From one who is very close to you I will bring calamity upon you. Before your very eyes, I will take your wives and give them to one who is very close to you, and he will have sexual relations with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret, but this thing will take place before all Israel.'”

Ahithophel now saw Absalom as the fulfilment of that prophecy. It all made sense. He said to Absalom, “If you really desire to make yourself offensive to your father then you will fulfil the prophecy of Nathan and establish yourself in the way of kings gone by. Make these concubines yours.”

“They are mine!” said Absalom.

“Then sleep with them and let it be known in broad daylight that you are humiliating the name of David!” He waited for his words to have effect upon Absalom. Absalom knew of this practice. His thoughts immediately went back to his childhood.

But each one of these women was old enough to be his mother. He had grown up with their children, Shammua, Shobab, Nathan and the others. I despise you all! he thought, All of you are threats to my kingdom. What better way to express my power over you, father?

A kind of perverted vengeance rose up within him. Sleeping with these women would extinguish the very seed of king David. It would make his own seed dominant and declare all that is of David to be his. He said in a whisper that could have come from Satan himself, “I have captured your kingdom and I will destroy your seed. Any children now born in this kingdom will now come through me!”

Absalom said under his breath, “Like Abner.” Ahithophel thought for a moment and then said, “Yes, like Abner.”

The incident had happened as Absalom was growing up as a young prince in David’s court. Abner had once been king Saul’s leading general in the North. He had been accused of sleeping with Rizpah, a concubine of Saul. This had sent shock waves all over Israel. Rumours were rife. It was well known that if someone wanted to indicate defiance to the king then this was the ultimate statement of rebellion. The words used to describe this were, to make yourself strong. In Absalom’s mind, it was the perfect way to express his utter contempt for his father and make himself strong in the eyes of all Israel.

Proceedings seemed to be winding up so Hushai took the opportunity to take his leave.

But Ahithophel was not finished.

 

P.S. Don’t forget to purchase a copy of Above the Storm, my new e-book on the ancient book of Job, full of short stories to help you understand some deep truths. This is a creative exploration of Job. You will not read another commentary like it. All royalties for the e-book, if any, will go to Hope Street in Sydney, Australia.

Pastor Ross

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 66

As Hushai was received into Absalom’s presence he said without hesitation, “Long live the king! Welcome to Jerusalem, my lord.” He had taken the initiative to ask for an audience with Absalom.

Absalom saw no reason to be anything but blunt. He said, “It is well known that you are my father’s friend. Why have you remained in Jerusalem? It seems to me that you lack the loyalty of a friend. Why didn’t you go with him?”

Absalom was curious and suspicious of those who were not of the sons of Israel. Ahithophel seemed to think that Hushai would not cause trouble. Never-the-less, Hushai had been an important advisor to king David and it must not be assumed that his intentions were honourable.

Hushai almost interrupted Absalom by saying, “No, my lord! I am the servant of the one whom the Lord and all the people of Israel have chosen. I have served in your father’s presence. It is only right that I should serve in your presence as well.” The answer was acceptable to Absalom, though not entirely trustworthy. Since Hushai collected intelligence in Jerusalem for Ahithophel, he thought, You may be of some use to me for now.  After all, you might provide balance to the counsel of Ahithophel. Absalom’s men knew that it went without question that he would have to be watched.

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

“Get out of here, man of bloodshed. Get out! God has brought this upon you because you don’t deserve to be king. Your own son will kill you as you have killed many of the sons of Saul. You have been overtaken by your own evil.”

When David passed through the village of Bethurim, Shimei, in a fit of rage had pelted David with stones and followed him, shouting his abuse. A relative of king Saul, his own son had died in battle, and he had blamed David.

The servants shielded king David immediately to protect him from the onslaught of stones. Abishai, Joab’s brother, had drawn his sword and offered to cut off Shimei’s head but David was unwilling to take such extreme measures with a man who was obviously giving vent to his hurt.

This man is obviously crazy.” said Abishai. Why aren’t you doing anything about him, he thought. “Why should this dead dog be allowed to curse you, my lord?”

David looked at Abishai.

“What am I going to do with you sons of Zeruiah?” You are so much like Joab. Remembering Joab’s hurt and anger at losing his younger brother in war, David reflected on the irrationality of Joab’s grief. It had resulted in impulsive revenge and in Abner’s murder. He said, “Perhaps the man is not crazy. This may well be a test from God to prove that I am not the man of blood that he says that I am. Would you have me kill him and prove him to be right? Both of you are intent on proving that I am as unjust as Absalom thinks I am. 

I don’t understand the events that have taken place recently any more than you. I have been asking the Lord what He is trying to say to me. What if the Lord has sent him to curse me? Who is going to question the Lord with a sword? Who is willing to kill a man who is sent from God and risk bringing the judgement of God upon our heads?” Abishai was silent. This is bizarre! You are not making any sense, he thought.

David gave a command to the servants who were about to take Shimei into custody. “Leave him alone and let him curse. My own son, Absalom, is seeking to take my life, so I think we can put up with the words and stones of this Benjaminite. The Lord has told him to do it. Perhaps the Lord will look on my situation and turn his cursing into blessing.”

They arrived weary from the ordeal. Shimei had continued to cast stones, curses and dust from the hillside parallel to them throughout their journey.

Pastor Ross

P.S. Don’t forget to purchase a copy of Above the Storm, my new e-book on the ancient book of Job, full of short stories to help you understand some deep truths. This is a creative exploration of Job. You will not read another commentary like it. All royalties for the e-book, if any, will go to Hope Street in Sydney, Australia.

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 65

Though this was the moment for which he had waited, Absalom still felt betrayed and angry. It was a little less dramatic than he had expected. His father, the king, had not been willing to stand up to him and fight. The city had been evacuated of his followers. Today you may flee for your life, but sooner or later you will pay, father, Absalom thought. One day you will be humiliated as you have humiliated me. You will not get away so easily.

For now, Absalom was content to go to the palace, accompanied by the cheers of the people; his people. The celebration would go on for many days.

His men searched the palace thoroughly. No-one was left in ambush. Ten of David’s concubines who had been assigned by David to look after the palace were incarcerated. For the moment, I will trust no-one. Some of their rooms were set aside for Tamar who was installed immediately.

Twenty of Absalom’s best men were sent out as spies into the city to discover David’s whereabouts. “Bring me anyone who even smells suspicious.” A list of the most likely problem people was drawn up and he would determine whether or not they were still in Jerusalem. Then and only then would he succumb to the celebrations.

But Absalom was still not satisfied. Rage still ate away at him from the inside. He had the hearts of the men of Israel but his own heart burned with the smouldering coals of malice. When he discovered that Zadok and Abiathar were still in the city, his suspicions were aroused. They were asked to report to Absalom immediately.

Priests in charge of the temple, Zadok and Abiathar left their sons and the Levites to fulfil their duties as they came and bowed respectfully before Absalom who now sat on David’s throne. After the formalities were observed, Absalom spoke first and got to the point, “I expected that you would have taken the ark and fled with my father? Why are you still here.”

Zadok replied, “We thought that we might be expected to go also, so we had the Levites take the ark to king David. We warned him that the Lord may place a curse on him as He did with the Philistines if he were to take the ark from Jerusalem.

He instructed us to return the ark to the temple and escape from the city as quickly as we could because you would surely kill us by the sword. But we know you to be a man of justice, my lord. We have decided that we should remain where we belong, in the service of the Lord. We are needed here to attend to the sacrifices.”

It was verified by some of the spies who had been left in the city that the ark had been taken from the temple by the Levites and then returned.

Absalom had no time for priests and had a superstitious fear of the Ark of the Covenant. “Return to the temple. I will offer sacrifices of thanksgiving to the Lord in the sight of all the people left in Jerusalem, of course, but in the meantime, you will keep watch and report to me of anything suspicious. Otherwise, stay out of my sight.” The priests returned quickly to the temple, satisfied that they had not aroused too much suspicion. Absalom had them watched as they expected.

The words of king David were imprinted in Zadok’s memory as they returned to the temple, “You are a man with prophetic insight. Return to Jerusalem in peace with Abiathar and your two sons. I will wait at the fords of the wilderness until I receive word from you to inform me.

If I find favour in the eyes of my Lord, then He will allow me to return to Jerusalem, and to the place of His presence. But if He says to me that He no longer delights in me, then let Him do to me whatever seems good to Him.” Zadok had sensed the very presence of God surrounding them as they spoke. There was no question in his mind as to whom he should serve.

Returning the ark of God to its tent, Zadok and Abiathar had remained in Jerusalem as they had been instructed. They would make sure that they kept their eyes and ears open as the days went by and get news to king David whenever they could. They would also remain open to the Lord and pray.

 

P.S. Don’t forget to purchase a copy of Above the Storm, my new e-book on the ancient book of Job, full of short stories to help you understand some deep truths. This is a creative exploration of Job. You will not read another commentary like it. All royalties, if any, will go to Hope Street in Sydney, Australia.

Pastor Ross