The prayer of David: an uncommon discernment
Without a shadow of doubt, the greatest crisis that marked the reign of David was when his own son, Absalom, rebelled against his throne. Apparently this rebellion was birthed when Ammon had raped Tamar and David did not take care of the situation in the way that he should have, at least in the eyes of Absalom who decided to take justice into his own hands exacting revenge on the incest suffered by his sister. Absalom coldly murdered his own brother at a family gathering. It was a shocking way to denounce the impunity of the King.
Because of this, David simply exiled Absalom from the city and from his presence. The indifference of his father fueled the resentment of the injustice even more in Absalom’s heart. In the end, he merely did what the king should have done to Ammon for having raped his sister. The fact is, according to the law, the crime of Ammon should have been punished with his death.
After some time Absalom was brought back to Jerusalem. Still indignant, he began to steal the hearts of the people. He tried to convince the people that there was no justice in the kingdom of David. He was still deeply hurt by his father. He would detain the people who came to the Royal Palace resolving their complaints to the detriment of David’s government.
Finally, through his bitter scheming, he was able to garner enough support to declare a coup d’état. To demonstrate his intention of killing the King and occupying his place, he slept with his father’s concubines in full daylight. This was a tearful page in the history of David’s reign. What was really behind this terrible story? Why wasn’t David able to execute justice concerning his sons? What was the key that could unlock this whole legacy of immorality and violence that had cruelly struck the royal family?
Apparently the situation painted David as an innocent party and Absalom as the rebel, which is true. However, it is necessary to fully understand the facts to uncover the attitude and the discernment of David.
The truth is, going back to the source of the problem; everything began when David committed adultery with Uriah’s wife, which resulted in an unexpected pregnancy. After failing in his attempt to simulate a romantic encounter between Uriah and his wife to cover up the consequences of his sin, he ended up killing his faithful warrior with the sword of the sons of Ammon.
The scandalous details that we have been mentioning happened as a consequence of David’s crime. Everything happened just as the prophetic word had predicted:
Why have you despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon. Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ Thus says the Lord:’ Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. (2 Samuel 12:9-11)
Many years had passed and now God was confronting David’s sin through the rebellion of Absalom. However, it wasn’t Absalom that God was correcting, but David. When David perceived that the trap had been set, he abandon the palace in the attempt to save his life.
On the path of his flight, David was confronted by a name called Shimei who cursed him and threw stones at him. In reality, David was before one of the greatest circumstantial tests of his life. When Abishai, one of his men wanted to react against the insult and cut off the head of Shimei, David rebuked him revealing his discernment of the moment that confronted him. Understanding that in that moment God was correcting him and humiliating him, he submitted himself, accepted the humiliation and facilitated an incredible intervention and a tremendous prayer to God:
Let him alone, and let him curse; for so the Lord has ordered him. It may be that the Lord will look on my affliction, and that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing this day. (2 Samuel 16:11, 12)
That was an impressive thing for a king to do. Imagine someone cursing you and rejoicing in your destruction by telling you that you deserve the damnation that you are suffering! How could anyone say that such a thing was of God?! Normally it would be interpreted as something from the devil! However David did not say that Shimei was being used by the devil, but by God! He discerned the moment that he faced. He didn’t take the enemy’s bait! It wasn’t a fight against flesh and blood! He recognized that he deserved what was happening to him and submitted himself to the circumstance thus transforming the curse into a blessing. I would call that an intelligent prayer. I believe at that moment David turned the key in the spiritual world and the attack against his kingdom was destroyed.
The brokenness that came from the discernment of the present moment began to reverse the direction of the situation and with a brief “prayer of a righteous man” David reversed the direction of the spiritual battle that almost cost him his own life:
“O Lord, I pray, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness!” (2 Samuel 15:31)
Ahithophel was a principal counselor of the King. Unfortunately, he betrayed him by supporting the rebellion of Absalom. To choose to be on Ahithophel’s side represents choosing to be on the winning side. This man was so close to David that he knew exactly how to destroy him and for this reason David also discerned the need to offer this prayer and as a result God answered. When Ahithophel perceived that Absalom had not obeyed his counsel, he committed suicide. He was literally the “Judas of the Old Testament” (Psalm 41:9).
The most important thing in this whole story is that David discerned the moment that he was living in. He was being visited and punished by the consequences of his murder and adultery. He understood that the matter wasn’t between him and Absalom. God was visiting his sin through this terrible condition of cursing. Sin is always expensive. David still tried to save his son Absalom, who ended up being killed at the hands of Joab. However, the prophetic discernment of the moment led him to a level of brokenness and revelation that saved his life and preserved his kingdom.
This is the moral of the whole story: a great sin, a great repentance, a great punishment, a great discernment, a great attitude and a great prayer, the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man that avails much. The prophetic discernment of the present moment made all the difference!