Today on Insight for Living from Chuck Swindoll. Sometime when you are really in need, you will have a few friends who will say to you, I'll do whatever you wish.
I'm available. They'll be down there in the front lines where it isn't really pleasant protecting you from the blast, shielding and encouraging you in their presence by just their presence there. That's a friend. The consequence of David's moral failure was catching up with him. In the middle of his crisis, God provided a true friend. Chuck titled today's message Friends in Need. Friendship is a sheltering tree. I think of a friend and a few friends that make up friendship as great trees, leafy limbs that come around us and spread themselves over us and bring a shade from the sun. The blast of adversity, winter's wind of loneliness.
A great sheltering tree. That's a friend. You know, we have really been taught the wrong thing with regard to independence in the family of God. I was taught it for years. I was taught that if you are really mature, you don't need anybody else.
Just barrel on through life and it's the weak person that needs somebody. And I never could get around the fact that Jesus had 12. Three of them were intimate friends. Why did he have friends if what I was being taught was true? Well, the fact is I was not being taught the truth. And maybe you've been taught that it's a sign of weakness and immaturity to have a friend or to need a friend.
That is not true. It's a sign of immaturity to think you don't need a friend. Frankly, friends are like sheltering trees. There is no substitute at times in our lives for a friend, someone to care, to listen, to feel, to comfort, and to reprove even. Friends are essential. They're not optional. Friends must be cultivated.
They're not automatic. What does the Bible say? He who has friends must show himself friendly and to reach out. Now let me tell you the tragedy. Some of you have no intimate friends. You're the loneliest people here in this study at this time.
Not even one with whom you can be just out front honest, open with. And that's why life's so tough. Now as we look at 2 Samuel chapter 15, we're going to find a man who had not only a sheltering tree, but he had a grove of them. Let me show you the situation in which David found himself.
Let me give you three things just briefly. First of all, personally, he was virtually destroyed by guilt. He had gone into Bathsheba and we've studied that.
He had killed Bathsheba's husband. He had lived like a hypocrite for a year. He lost his baby. His whole world began to crumble.
So personally, he was really under the gun. Second, domestically, his home was shattered. A son rapes a sister. A boy rebels and leads a conspiracy against the throne.
His name is Absalom. We're going to read about him in just a few minutes. And lo and behold, David is literally driven from the throne and he loses touch with family. And that's the third. His political career is destroyed.
Personally and domestically and politically, he's hurting. Chapter 15, it came about after this that Absalom provided for himself a chariot and horses and 50 men as runners before him. You're going to read about the beginning of a conspiracy. Absalom used to rise early and stand beside the way to the gate. It happened that when any man had a suit to come to the king for judgment, Absalom would call to him and say, From what city are you? And he would say, Your servant is from one of the tribes of Israel. And Absalom would say, See, your claims are good and right, but no man listens to you on the part of the king. Moreover, he would say, Oh, that one would appoint me judge in the land. Then every man who has any suit or cause could come to me and I would give him justice. Sounds like he's running for office, doesn't it?
That's exactly what he's doing, except his running is illegal. His daddy's on the throne and he's down there at the peripheral area when people come in with their suits and needing counsel. They bring these lawsuits with them and they come to seek the counsel of the king and Absalom says, Wait a minute, you know, there's nobody up there that cares for what you've got to say.
But I do. Oh, that someone would see the value of my wisdom and let me come into that office. I'd show you what justice is all about. Verse five. And it happened that when a man came near to prostrate himself before him, he would put out his hand and take hold of him and kiss him. And in this manner, Absalom dealt with all Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole away the hearts of the men of Israel.
It worked. And little by little, he etched away on that big rock of granite until finally he got a cave built. He got his people together and he says, I am your man. Verse 10. So Absalom sent spies throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then you shall say, Absalom is king in Hebron.
That's exactly what they did. The blast of the trumpet and he was on his way. Verse 13. Messenger came to David, saying, Well, this must have been hard to hear. The hearts of the men of Israel are with Absalom, David. And it's with a sigh that this good man, broken, fractured in his spirit, feeling like there's not a friend around, said to all his servants who are with him at Jerusalem, Arise and let us flee.
He knew his son, for otherwise none of us shall escape from Absalom. Go in haste. Hurry up now. Lest he overtake us quickly and bring down calamity on us and strike the city with the edge of the sword. He'll set this place on fire. I know that boy.
So get your things together and let's go. Now picture the scene. Here's this good king who's done a super job. In the last few months, there's been a breakdown in leadership.
But good man. And all of a sudden, his son is moving in and the troops are surrounding that area. And they're grabbing things out of the cupboards and putting them in bags and laying them on the backs of the horses and the donkeys.
And they're on their way out of the city, running for their lives. There's a revolution led by the king's son. Now, does David need a sheltering tree? Oh man, if ever a man did, he did.
Now watch it happen. The king's servants, verse 15, said to the king, your servants are ready to do whatever my lord the king chooses. So the king went out and all his household with him. Verse 17, the king went out and all the people with him. They stopped at the last house. Boy, there's a lot of feeling in that. Came out of the city, great city of Zion, and they came just to the edge and they looked back over it.
Great place that David had seen God build. Man, his heart must have been broken. He stood at the last house and there was kind of a pass and review. Few women, children, few of his belongings on the back of these beasts of burden, and they're running for their lives. Maybe you're there, the last house. That would have been a good title for this message. He needed a tree to give him some shelter. So do you. Just somebody that'll say, David, I'm there with you.
I don't have the answer, but man, my heart goes out to you. And the chips are down and there's nobody to applaud and you run out of armor and there's no more ammunition and the lights are out. God sends a sheltering tree. I want you to see him. Here are five of them.
Here we go. Now these names are going to blow you away. Verse 17, stopped at the last house. All his servants passed on beside him. All the Carathites, all the Pelethites, and all the Gittites, six hundred men who had come with him from Gath, passed on before the king.
They're just going by. He's just standing there alone. Then the king said to Ittai the Gittite, as our first friend, Ittai the Gittite.
It sounds like he's from hunger. Man, where's he been? Well, he's a friend of the king, but you'll never know it because he never gets in the limelight until the chips are down and he's at the last house. And there's no more throne, no more glory. Suddenly he comes out of the woodwork and he says, pal, I'm with you.
It's an amazing thing to me. He's a Gittite. Why will you go with us, says David?
Got him by the shoulders, perhaps. Return and remain with that king, Absalom. You're a foreigner and also an exile.
Return to your own place. You know what a Gittite was? It's a man from Gath. Does that ring any bells? Who was from Gath?
Ah, a few Bible students here tonight. Goliath rose from Gath. Well, what's he got? 600 guys and a leader named Ittai from Gath.
Why are they there? Well, remember, David's a champion. He swept into Philistia and he's brought into exile some of those people from Gath. But you know what's happened since he's brought them into his camp? They've fallen in love with him.
And the leader, Ittai, he's not going to go live down there with Absalom. He's a friend, you see. And he says to David, in effect, I stand with you, my friend. Life or death, I'm here.
Listen to his words. You know, David says, take off. This is your chance to run. Go on back. 20, David says, you came only yesterday. Shall I today make you wander with us while I go where I will? Return and take back your brother's mercy and truth be with you. Shalom, brother. Go on. Get away.
It's going to be hard where I'm going. And Ittai, this friend, answered and said, as the Lord lives, as my Lord the King lives, wherever my Lord the King may be, whether for death or for life, there also your servant will be. That's a friend.
He's an intimate friend. He says, David, if they string you up, I'm putting my neck in the noose with you. If they feed you to the dogs, I'm with you. If the whole world turns against you, I'm there. I support you. Boy, there are not many friends like that. Here's this broken king standing alone and Ittai the Gittite walks up and says, I'm with you.
I support you. Well, that would be great if he were all alone, but he's not. In fact, David says, verse 22, go and pass over. So Ittai the Gittite passed over with all his men, all the little ones who were with him. They brought families.
So Ittai says, come on, Gittites, let's go. So they go over the hill and they leave Zion, and they're on their way with the king to someplace, no man's land, without any promise, but he's with his friend. When everything else fails, everybody else is turned away, there will be precious few that will give you a call and say, I'm with you. I'm there. Count on me. I won't kick you when you're down.
I understand. Sometime, amazing, it might be a person from Gath, a person who some time ago had been an enemy, but now had come full circle and realized you really are a person of integrity. Second, now if Ittai the Gittite isn't bad enough, look at verse 23. While the country was weeping with a loud voice, all the people passed over, the king passed over the brook Kidron, and all the people passed over toward the way of the wilderness. Now behold, there he is. Isn't this fun?
All these people just kind of jumping out of the Bible. This guy's name is Zadok. Have you ever done a Bible study on Zadok?
Looks like a misprint, doesn't it? Zadok. Zadok came and all the Levites carrying the Ark of the Covenant, and they set down the Ark of God, and here's the second friend. Here's the next friend, Abiathar. These guys run together, by the way. They fall under classification B on your outline.
Ittai the Gittite is A. Zadok and Abiathar are second. They came up until all the people had finished passing from the city. So we got people passing, leaving the city, and here come these two guys hauling the Ark, this piece of furniture from Jerusalem, and they come running for David, and they set that thing down. And they look at David, and he looks at them, and they say, where do we go from here? We're with you, David.
Zadok and Abiathar, we've been with you all along. These are priests. These are representatives of God who minister in the house of God. Now notice what David says to them.
He doesn't say, let's go together. He asks them a favor. Now mark that, verse 25.
The king said to them, return the Ark of God to the city. If I find favor in the sight of the Lord, then he will bring me back again and show me both it and his habitation. Look at the next verse on sovereignty. But if God should say thus, I have no delight in you. Behold, here I am. Let him do to me as seems good to him. That is a teachable spirit. That's how to ride out the whirlwind of consequences. Lord, if you choose to finish me off, I'm available.
If you want to use me, I'm thrilled. But I'm exposed to you and I abandon my future into your hands. And Zadok and Abiathar hear him say, take that Ark back to the city. See, David knew that his son wasn't walking with God and probably would not begin. And for all he knew, the presence of that piece of furniture and the ministry of Zadok and Abiathar would be enough to turn his heart around.
At least it was worth a try. And so he says to those men, hey, why don't you go back to the city? And why don't you minister there? You're needed there.
And that's exactly what they did. The king said, are you not the seer? Verse 27, aren't you a prophet?
Return to the city in peace with your two sons. See, I'm going to wait at the forge in the wilderness until word comes from you to inform me. So Zadok and Abiathar returned the Ark of God to Jerusalem and remained there. They had some things to lose, by the way.
Raymond Brown and his fine little book, Skillful Hands, a biography of David, writes this. Their duty at that moment was to obey their friend and to trust his wisdom. It meant that they were going into a life of hardship and insecurity, privation, suffering, and possibly death. But they would do as their friend asks, and that would be enough. Sometime when you are really in need, you will have a few friends who will say to you, I'll do whatever you wish.
I'm available. And they're the Zadoks and Abiathars of your life. No one will ever know about them, but they'll run interference for you. They'll be down there in the front lines where it isn't really pleasant, protecting you from the blast. And they've got their necks way out, shielding and encouraging you in their presence, by just their presence there. That's a friend.
A different kind of role to fill, but they're willing to do it. Now verse 30, David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives and wept as he went. Boy, this is a broken man. His head was covered and he walked barefoot. Picture that king, barefooted, head covered, looked like a tramp. And all the people who were with him each covered his head and went up weeping as they went. Verse 32, here's the third friend. It happened as David was coming to the summit where God was worshiped, that behold, Hushai the Archite. Who is Hushai?
Oh, you get that? Who is Hushai? Hushai. Well, verse 37 says he's David's friend.
That's all it says. You won't read anything else about Hushai of any significance. He's his buddy.
And Hushai the Archite, what does he do? Oh, was he important. He met David with his coat torn and had dust on his head. Now, he hadn't been in a fight. That's what men did in those days to express total bankruptcy. That's why Job tore his garments and sat in this pile and threw dust on his head. It was as if to say, I have nothing else.
I am bankrupt. And this Hushai was so touched with David's feelings. He met David and bore the marks of this compassionate feeling and David spotted it. You know you can spot a friend that understands?
Just in their presence. I was with an individual just this weekend who had lost a daughter. He's a pastor. And he was ministering to some in that city where he is.
Several of them have lost children. And I said to him, what do you do? Tell me what you do when you minister to those who have suffered such losses. What do you say?
He says, oh Chuck, I don't say anything. I just embrace him. I'm just there.
I said, that's exactly my philosophy. Sometime when the pain is so great and you have come to the last house and there is no one to understand that person, that Hushai, comes and with his presence wraps himself or herself around you, that says all that needs to be said. He's there. He's there. So David gave him a very significant task. Verse 33, he says, if you pass over with me, you'll be a burden. Now you see, he would have been offended if that had been an acquaintance.
But when you've got a close or intimate friend, they're not offended at that. He says, now you don't come with me. That'll be a burden. If you return to the city and say to Absalom, I'll be your servant, O king, as I've been your father's servant in time past, so I'll now be your servant, then you can thwart the counsel of Ahithophel for me. Who in the world is Ahithophel? Well, he's a counselor of Absalom. And what he's saying is this, I'm going to set up a strategy of spying.
And Hushai, the best thing you can become is a turncoat. You can look like you're a friend of Absalom, but you will be the checkpoint, you will be the supply line of communication from the very central headquarters of Absalom's military establishment all the way out to where I'm going to be bivouacked, out here on the hillside. And we'll set up a chain of command so that that information that comes from the heart of the king, Absalom, will pass through messengers one by one, first with your lips and then all the way to my ears, and then we will find a way to turn that throne against him.
What could be more painful than having a son who's on a rampage to destroy your family? Or in this case, to sabotage David's rule over Israel? You're listening to Insight for Living and the Bible teaching of pastor and author Chuck Swindoll. He titled today's message Friends in Need. And we're just getting started in what is proving to be a fascinating study of human conflict.
To learn more about this ministry, we invite you to visit us online at insightworld.org. God never promises His children that the journey of life will be easy, but He does promise to help us and even to strengthen us so we can survive whatever trials come our way, even the painful ones like dealing with family conflict or trying to survive an aggressor like Absalom. In this partnership with God, it's our responsibility to prepare for the unexpected. And that's the purpose of Chuck Swindoll's classic book called Strengthening Your Grip. The subtitle is How to be Grounded in a Chaotic World. In this book, Chuck addresses 16 relevant topics such as managing your money, coping with the aging process, making time for leisure, and setting proper priorities. Each chapter is designed to help you strengthen your grip on the things that matter most.
To purchase a copy of Chuck's book, Strengthening Your Grip, call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. For more details, visit us online at insight.org slash offer. Bear in mind that while you're listening to Chuck's teaching today, you're joined with fellow listeners around the world. Insight for Living is translated into eight additional languages other than English, and we're hearing from grateful listeners from all points on the map. This extension of our ministry is made possible through the voluntary and needed contributions of friends like you. To give a gift today, call us.
If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888, or go online to insight.org slash donate. You've heard him teach about the Holy Land using word pictures to make us feel like we're actually strolling through the Old City. Learning about Jerusalem is fascinating for sure, but seeing the land of Israel with your own eyes is life-changing.
In fact, it's absolutely magnificent. And now you can see Israel with Chuck Swindoll and the gracious hosts and experts assembled by Insight for Living Ministries. Join us on an unforgettable 12-day tour, March 5th through the 16th, 2023. At special sites along the way, I will teach from God's Word, we'll worship at the Mount of Beatitudes, and share the Lord's Table at the Garden Tomb. In fact, we'll sail the Sea of Galilee together, and we'll visit places where Jesus walked and taught. To learn more, call 1-888-447-0444.
Just imagine walking along those sacred sites and seeing the Bible come to life before your very eyes. Mark your calendar for March 5th through the 16th, 2023, and make your reservation by calling 1-888-447-0444, or go to insight.org slash events. Insight for Living Ministries Tour to Israel is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend. I'm Bill Meyer. Join us when Chuck Swindoll continues his message called Friends in Need. That's our topic again tomorrow on Insight for Living. The preceding message, Friends in Need, was copyrighted in 1978, 1988, 1997, and 2009, and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2009 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. The implication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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