Absalom has a ‘bad hair day’ !! Stephen remembers Moses.

30 06 2011

DAY ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY TWO : 2 Samuel 16 v. 15 – 18 v. 18; Acts 7 v. 20 – 43; Psalm 72 v. 1 – 20

2 SAMUEL
The Advice of Hushai and Ahithophel – Absalom, Ahithophel and ‘all the men of Israel’ arrive in Jerusalem, and David’s friend Hushai goes to greet Absalom. Absalom wonders why Hushai hasn’t gone with his friend, David, but Hushai pledges allegiance to Absalom
‘Just as I served your father, so I will serve you.’
Ahithophel advises Absalom to sleep with David’s concubines, who had been left to care for the palace; the advice is that this will strengthen Israel’s view of Absalom and will strengthen their hand. Ahithophel’s advice had as much weight, in those days, as if it were God’s word to them.
He goes on to advise that 12,000 men be chosen  and that they set out in pursuit of David. They are to assassinate David and bring the people who are with him back home. On this occasion, Absalom seeks Hushai’s advice too, asking him whether Ahithophel’s plan was a good one.
Hushai tells Absalom that Ahithophel’s plan is not good, and lays out his own, encouraging Absalom, himself, to lead out an army of all Israel against David, being prepared to strike first, and ruthlessly killing them all.
Absalom (and all the men of Israel) prefer Hushai’s plan.
Hushai gives word to Zadok and Abiathar, for them to pass to David, urgently.
Jonathan and Ahimaaz get their cover blown and have to flee from Jerusalem with the message to pass to David. They end up hiding down a well, in a courtyard in Bahurim. When the search party have passed by, Jonathan  and Ahimaaz climb out of the well and go to David to inform him of Absalom’s plans.
David and his men cross the Jordan, fleeing further from Absalom.
Ahithophel takes it very badly that Absalom chose Hushai’s advice over his, so he goes to his own town, puts his house in order and kills himself.
So David stops at Mahanaim, where some of the Ammonites and Gileadites bring them provisions (wheat, flour, grain, beans, lentils, honey, cheese etc to eat). Absalom sets up camp (with a new army commander, Amasa), in Gilead.
 
Absalom’s Death – David strategically places commanders over thousands and over hundreds, and sends the troops out under the command of Joab, of Abishai, and of Ittai (the Gittite).
Though David is keen to go out and be with them in battle, they urge him to stay in the city, which he does. (‘You are worth ten thousand of us…‘).
David urges them to‘be gentle with the young man Absalom for my sake’, and everyone heard this command.
The forest of Ephraim became the battle ground, where Israel was defeated by David’s men – 20,000 men died on that day, the battle spreading out far and wide.
Absalom, also, falls into the hands of David’s men; his hair got caught in the branches of a large oak, as he rode past on his mule…
David’s men come across him, hanging by his hair in the tree. Joab orders one of the men to kill him, but he reminds Joab of David’s order not to harm Absalom. Joab, however, takes things into his own hands and plunges three javelins into Absalom, his armour-bearers also laying into him.
Absalom’s body is taken down and thrown into a pit in the forest.
The Israelites all flee.
There is a monument mentioned, which Absalom had had made for himself, really. As he had no sons to carry on his name, he set up this memorial in the King’s Valley.

ACTS
Stephen’s Address to the Sanhedrin (continued) – Stephen continues his statement before the ruling council. He reminds them of the role of Moses, raised up to bring God’s people to freedom, ‘educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action’.
He tells of Moses’ murder of the Egyptian who mistreated a Hebrew slave, and of his flight to Midian, settling as a foreigner.
Forty years on, and Moses meets an angel in the burning bush, and hears God’s voice call him.
‘I am the God of your fathers….take off your sandals, this is holy ground….I have heard my people groan and have come down to set them free…I will send you back to Egypt…’
Stephen goes on to show how, time and again, the Israelites turned against Moses, though he was clearly God’s chosen leader for that time. Moses also talked of a time when God would send ‘a prophet like me from your own people’.
‘Our fathers refused to obey him. Instead, they rejected him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt.’
He reminds them of the golden calf, and their turning away.
The result of their turning away, was ultimately exile in Babylon.

PSALM – a song dedicated to Solomon:
‘Endow the king with Your justice, O God…he will judge Your people in righteousness…
He will defend the afflicted…save the needy children…crush the oppressor.
He will endure as long as the sun…
like rain falling on a mown field…
the righteous will flourish.
He will rule…to the ends of the earth.
He will take pity on the weak and the needy…
LONG MAY HE LIVE!
May gold of Sheba be given to him…
may his name endure forever.
PRAISE be to the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvellous deeds.
May the whole earth be filled with His glory.
AMEN and AMEN.’

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