Posts Tagged ‘Absalom’

Identity Theft - Photo by Rachel Bennett and Ross Cochrane

IDENTITY THEFT – Photo by Rachel Bennett and adjusted by Ross Cochrane

Psalm 3 – HOW CAN I EXPERIENCE PEACE IN TIMES OF PRESSURE? – Part 5

Identity Shield

He needs an Identity Shield, a service that will provide him with total protection to keep his name and identity safe. He needs lost wallet protection and a $1 million plus insurance policy to cover costs incurred due to loss. For David, it needs to be a mobile service because he is presently on the run. Well, maybe David doesn’t need all those optional extra’s but his identity is certainly being threatened by a malicious source.

Well, maybe King David in Psalm 3 doesn’t need all those optional extra’s but his identity is certainly being threatened by a malicious source.

Absalom, David’s own son, is wanting to take over his father’s identity as King; the lot. If he lived today he’d want his private phone number, social security number, address and credit card information, bank account information and medical insurance. He wants to be King, live in the palace, change the photograph and signature on the official passport and have it all; a whole kingdom; wine, women, wealth and worth.

Absalom’s scam was subtle but effective. He began Phishing for information about David’s kingdom, winning people’s hearts and allegiance. He Shoulder Surfed the crowd with deceitful charm, looking to undermine David’s security codes and Skimmed for information useful in orchestrating a successful rebellion and takeover.

Is David grieving over identity theft when He writes Psalm 3?

In Psalm 3:3 (NLT) David He prays and says to God, “You are my glory, the One who holds my head high.” The glory of being King of Israel had been ripped away from David when he fled from Jerusalem. His cultural identity had been questioned big time. He feels the grief of his loss deeply.

2 Samuel 15:30 (NLT) says “David walked up the road to the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went. His head was covered and his feet were bare as a sign of mourning. And the people who were with him covered their heads and wept as they climbed the hill.” 

That doesn’t seem to be much hope. How can he be grieving and then say, “But You, O Lord, are my shield; You are my glory, the One who holds my head high”? (Psalm 3:3).

How can you have peace in times of pressure? 

It seems David has peace despite the loss of the trappings of power and the discouragement of having to leave Jerusalem.

3. REMIND YOURSELF OF WHAT YOU KNOW ABOUT GOD

It seems that God is all the glory David needs. There is a spiritual battle to be won and God is his shield. He worships the King of glory and he will reign as King by allowing that glory to flow through him, despite his circumstances. It is enough to have Him in his life. His spiritual identity is untouched.

a. God Is My Shield – He takes the blows in the midst of my spiritual battles.

b. God Is My Identity – I find my identity in Christ. He lifts up my head when I lose perspective.

Absalom may look like him, talk like him and masquerade as him but he does not have the identity found in God of a king; the calling of a king, the anointing of a king, the heart of a king. His own identity is blurred and marred by his sin. God lifts David’s head up high when all seems lost outwardly.

When I am cowered by my regrets, worries, difficult circumstances, opposing voices of culture and individuals who seek to devalue my faith in Christ, I remind myself that God lifts up my head. He not only encourages me but He personifies encouragement in me. He not only forgives me. He is my forgiveness. He not only identifies with me. He is my identity.

Absalom tries to masquerade with David’s identity. David may have temporarily been dethroned but God is still on the throne and sovereign. While God is still on the throne then David is still King. While God is still on the throne of my life, then my identity is found in Him.

When I face the pressures of life and my identity is threatened, the invitation of Psalm 3 is to allow God to be the lifter of my head and I am reminded that He knows who I am better than I know myself. Since my identity is found in Christ I can be at peace.

Pastor Ross

P.S By the way, speaking of identity theft, I’ve said before that I’ve been searching through Christ’s mail to source His ID; His statements, offers, distinguishing bits of information, etc. It’s there for all to see. After reading what He posts, I am able to get His personal data. It’s quite a revelation.

I remember that time in my own life when I first came to a knowledge of who Jesus was. I didn’t have to search through His trash. He had none, but I did have to search through mine. In doing so I found out about my own shortcomings and longed to change my identity. It happened on a Christmas day. It was an “Ah Ha!” moment. I discovered identifying evidence of who Jesus is. That revelation changed my life forever. Jeremiah 29:13 (NLT) says “If you look for Me wholeheartedly, you will find Me.”

An exchange took place that day as I surrendered my old life to Him. I was born again and I took on a new identity. I exchanged my sin for His righteousness. I didn’t work for it, earn it or deserve it in any way. But it was credited to my account. I was living on His credit card.

My malicious software (sin) stole His life when He died on the Cross and grace gave me mine. He paid the price for me. He picked up the tab at the Cross. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV) says “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” Galatians 2:20 (NLT) says “… It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” “… the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” (1 Corinthians 6:17 NLT).

Ephesians 2:10 (NLT) says “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has CREATED US ANEW in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.”  1 John 5:11 (NLT) says “… this life is in His Son.” 2 Corinthians 5:13-15 (NLT) says“…He died for everyone so that those who receive HIS NEW LIFE will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.” 

Barabbas wasn’t the only one who was exchanged for Jesus on the day of His crucifixion. I was too! Jesus paid the punishment for my sin. The innocent Son of God was indicted on my behalf. Jesus died but the exciting thing is that He invites us to exchange His righteousness for our sin. He has given us freely His identity and we have the resources of heaven at our disposal. Ephesians 1:3-5 (NLT) says that God “…has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are UNITED WITH CHRIST.” Philippians 1:20-21 (NIV) says “… For to me, TO LIVE IS CHRIST and to die is gain.” IDENTITY THEFT? Not really. Identity exchange. He freely offers us the identity for which we are created. 

Pastor Ross

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Sword and Shield – better proportions and lighting

A post shared by Ross Cochrane (@pastorross1) on

The Sword Shall not Depart from your House © Ross Cochrane

 

Psalm 3 – HOW CAN I EXPERIENCE PEACE IN TIMES OF PRESSURE?

The Sword Shall not depart from you – Part 3

2 Samuel reads like a Starwars prequel to Psalm 3. Luke Skywalker had some issues with his Dad, Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi. So does Absalom.

What happened to make Absalom hate his father so much?

2 Samuel tells the story of how Absalom had a beautiful sister whose name was Tamar. When Amnon raped Tamar, King David did nothing. Perhaps that’s when Absalom began to hate his own father and lost his faith in God.

Absalom was not about to sit around and do nothing. Two years later, his simmering rage against Amnon had not been assuaged. So he plotted revenge.

Absalom invited Amnon to a harvest feast and then murdered him. He escaped to live with his grandfather, Talmai, King of Geshur. David does nothing to get him back or hold him to account for his crime.

Why does David let Absalom get away with murder?  

Well, perhaps David’s own conscience plays a part in his decision-making. Is he reluctant to act because of his own sin of adultery and murder?

David’s life moves from a soap opera to a murder mystery to a Starwars premake. David had slept with Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba. But worse still, to cover up his sin, he had murdered her husband Uriah by putting him in the thick of battle without support. Perhaps these sins made him inept when it came to disciplining his sons.

David confesses his sins bitterly when confronted by Nathan the prophet, but Nathan prophesies that “The sword shall not depart from your house” and this prophecy was finding fulfillment in the most horrible way.

Sword2

David suspects nothing when Absalom is eventually allowed to return to Jerusalem. Instead of behaving in humility to his Father, Absalom patiently and relentlessly wins the hearts of the people (2 Samuel 15:13) and stages a rebellion.

WHY DID DAVID WRITE THIS PSALM?

With all this emotion and action spinning around in the background and threatening another episode, Psalm 3 begins to take on a new meaning. It is said that David composes this Psalm when he is forced to leave Jerusalem, fleeing from Absalom’s army, as he passes by the mount of Olives. 2 Samuel 15 recounts how he weeps, with his clothes torn, and with dust on his head as a sign of his grief and shock at such a revolt. Not only his son but many people he trusted have turned against him.

Although David grieves over his son’s rebellion, somehow David finds peace during this terrible situation. This Psalm indicates that he runs FROM Absalom but INTO the arms of God. His defense from Absalom’s huge army is this prayerful Psalm.

“How do I continue to have peace in times of pressure?” David leaves me an example when I am facing circumstances I face as a consequence of my own mistakes in life.

  1. BE HONEST WITH GOD ABOUT THE PRESSURES AND THE CHALLENGES YOU ARE FACING but also, like David
  2. MAKE A DECISION TO RECOGNISE YOUR DEPENDENCE ON GOD

Terrorists, drug lords and presidents and kings only seem to get away with their sinful behavior.

Consequences and forgiveness are different. The Bible indicates that although we often face the consequences of our own sin against others, God forgives us when we honestly confess our transgressions to Him. But let’s not pretend that this forgiveness did not come at a price. Christ paid for us the supreme cost by dying for us on the Cross. The Cross pays our debt of sin and our relationship with God is restored when we place our trust in what Christ has done.

We may face consequences and pressures that directly result from our sins yet God can give us the peace we need while He deals with the mess we make at times with living. He gives us peace when we are surrounded by circumstances that are far from friendly and absorbs the blows of the enemy. (Psalm 3 has a lot more to say about this).

Pastor Ross

Light Saber.png

Steampunk Lightsaber Created by Ross Cochrane on Paint.net . (Inspired by GC Geek at  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6lSfOfiXHY)

Psalm 3 – HOW CAN I EXPERIENCE PEACE IN TIMES OF PRESSURE? The Darkside – Part 2

Watch King David if you want to know about pressure. When he wrote Psalm 3, he was surrounded by people who wanted to kill him. I have never faced that kind of situation.

In the book of 2 Samuel in the Bible, it tells of a rebellion against David. To be specific, it tells of Absalom’s rebellion against David. What makes it horrible is that Absalom was David’s own son.

What happened to make Absalom hate his father so much?

There are overtones here of the Starwars Trilogy. Luke Skywalker had some issues with his Dad, Darth Vader. Attacking the Death Star in an X-wing is nothing compared to the internal conflicts he faces in the final battle with Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi.

Luke says he’ll never submit to the dark side of the Force, but then again killing your Dad with a Lightsaber is not an easy thing to do.

Quantum leap back to my study. I can’t say I ever wanted to be like my Dad. Unwittingly I made a choice early in my life never to be a son. I didn’t learn from him and avoided him. I look a lot like him now and our relationship was reconciled before he died in an amazing way.

What’s all this got to do with Psalm 3? Wind back the scene to the window of 2 Samuel and you will see that Absalom never reconciles. He was an angry young man and battled all his life with issues to do with his father.

Unlike in the lightsaber episode of Starwars, it was the son, Absalom, who gave way to the “dark side” big time and not the Father, David. David refuses to face his son in battle and seeks to protect him to the end. Yet some think of David as an evil king. Why does David have so many enemies? Is he really that unlikeable?

I spoke to my friend Joyce a while ago who doesn’t know the Bible very well but even she said that she doesn’t like King David. She doesn’t like him because he committed adultery and murder. He seems to get away with it without consequences.

Is this a clue as to why King David has so many enemies? His abuse of leadership earlier in his life? Do they all feel like Joyce? Is he like so many terrorists, kings, presidents, and drug-lords who seem to get away with their sinful behavior?

To really understand why David wrote this Psalm, you have to know the prequel. It is not a pretty story and it is found in the ancient book of 2 Samuel, but you will have to wait to find out more (might as well make a trilogy from this amazing Psalm).

Pastor Ross

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

 Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 75

No-one dared to stop Joab. The door was nearly unhinged as he thrust it open and roared at David with the gravelly voice more like that of a war-cry, “Today you have covered this city with shame. Everywhere I go the faces of the warriors who saved your life and the lives of your family are filled with a sense of regret. Your sons and daughters, your wives and your concubines are alive today because of them but it seems that you love your enemies who hate you and use you, and you hate those who proved their love by killing your enemies. I don’t understand you at all. You have shown today that those who serve you mean nothing to you. If Absalom were alive today and all of us were dead, maybe then you would be pleased.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. How am I supposed to feel about the death of my son? What do you expect of me?”

“I expect you to go out to your servants who fought hard to save you today and have some kind things to say to them, instead of heaping guilt upon them. I swear by the Lord, if you do not go out to them now there will not be one man left to stand with you by the time this night is through. You don’t seem to realise that if they leave you now this could be the worst thing that has ever happened to you.”

“All right, Joab! Leave me!” It seemed that the spirit of Absalom still had the power to wrest a kingdom from David’s hand, this time by using his grief.

David came to his senses and despite the ache in his heart, he went out and sat between the inner and outer gate of the city. The news travelled quickly and everyone came to see their king and to share their victory with him.

Many people were already making their way back to Jerusalem. Absalom was dead. They wondered what the future held for them but they could do no more than to return to their homes.

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

Zadok and Abiathar wasted little time with preliminary greetings but said, “King David has sent word to us. He has told us to speak with you. His message is, ‘Why is it that you are the last to bring your king back to Jerusalem and to his palace. All of Israel waits for you. You are my brothers; bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. Why then should you be the last ones to take action?’” Relief swept across the elder’s faces as sat together at the gate of Jerusalem, except for Amasa, Shimei and Mephibosheth who were among them.

Zadok continued, “King David also says to you, Amasa, ‘You are my own flesh and blood, my nephew. May God deal with me severely if I do not appoint you to be commander of the army in place of Joab.’” David intended to replace Joab because he had disobeyed him concerning his son, but to place such trust in the man who led the opposing army against him was almost more than these men could comprehend.

Humbly, Amasa gave voice to their thoughts. “What kind of king could forgive in such a way as this? King David bears no malice. He truly is a man after God’s own heart.”

“Perhaps he will find it in his heart to forgive me also.” said Shimei.

A message was sent to the king immediately, inviting him to return.

There were no stones in Shimei’s hands this time as he met king David at the Jordan. “Forgive me, my lord. Please do not remember the wrong I did to you when you left Jerusalem. Please don’t take these things to heart. I know that I have sinned. That’s why I am here. I wanted to be the first to meet with my lord the king.”

Abishai had no sympathy. He said, “This scoundrel deserves to die! He has cursed the Lord’s anointed! What reason do we have for not putting him to death, my lord? What would you have me do with him?”

David spoke directly and firmly to Abishai, “You have also opposed me when you all disobeyed me concerning Absalom. Perhaps the question you should be asking is what will I do with you? Let me make it quite clear that it is not a good idea for you sons of Zeruiah to make mention of the death sentence concerning those who have cursed the Lord’s anointed.”

Looking out at a sea of serious faces, David smiled and said, “Why should any man be put to death in Israel today? This is a day to celebrate! This day I am king over Israel!” There was much cheering and a shout went up that seemed to echo in eternity and down the corridors of time, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

The king crossed the Jordan with his people. David forgave those who had opposed him such as Amasa, acknowledged those who were disabled such as Mephibosheth, and honoured those who were old like Barzillai, the man who had provided for him in Manahaim.

“Such a king as David will rule with justice.” Barzillai said to his old friend Obed-edom, “It seems that as our king returns, the very presence of God is also returning to Jerusalem with him.”

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!”

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