In Order. Positioning, Division, Usurping


II Samuel 15.1-6
After this, Absalom bought a chariot and horses, and he hired fifty bodyguards to run ahead of him. 2 He got up early every morning and went out to the gate of the city. When people brought a case to the king for judgment, Absalom would ask where in Israel they were from, and they would tell him their tribe. 3 Then Absalom would say, “You’ve really got a strong case here! It’s too bad the king doesn’t have anyone to hear it. 4 I wish I were the judge. Then everyone could bring their cases to me for judgment, and I would give them justice!”
5 When people tried to bow before him, Absalom wouldn’t let them. Instead, he took them by the hand and kissed them. 6 Absalom did this with everyone who came to the king for judgment, and so he stole the hearts of all the people of Israel.

After having his half brother Amnon murdered for the rape of his sister Tamar, Absalom set his sights on usurping his father David’s throne. His pride, arrogance, lust for power and anger toward his father led him to steal the throne by stealing the hearts of the people. His use of flattery, false modesty, innuendos about his fathers leadership and lack of care for the people positioned him as the people’s King. He became more popular and more trusted than David.

    - He carefully crafted his image (chariots and horses, and fifty bodyguards to run before him)
    - He worked hard (would rise early to network with disaffected people)
    - He positioned himself well (at the gate of the city)
    - He looked for needy people (anyone who had a lawsuit)
    - He faked genuine interest in people (What city are you from?)
    - He agreed with the offended (you’ve got a strong case)
    - He never attacked David directly (no judge of the king to hear you)
    - He left the troubled person more troubled (no judge of the king to hear you)
    - He promised to do better than the King (I wish I were the judge.Then everyone could bring their cases to me for judgment, and I would give them justice!)
    - He uses false modesty (took people by the hand and kissed them)

Absalom's clever scheme divided David's kingdom without saying anything specific that would indict him. If someone objected Absalom could say, "Tell me one specific thing that I have said or done." In fact, Absalom could say, "I'm helping David to deal with all this discontent" while Absalom was purposely promoting discontent. The people were on their way to see the king and Absalom intercepted them. Pinning anything on Absalom would be like trying to nail Jello to the wall.

Divisive people and usurpers almost never see themselves as such. They truly believe God's hand is upon them and they are the God’s anointed successor to the leader they so disdain.

With Absalom went two hundred men invited from Jerusalem. Absalom is so cunning he knew that he needed others to appear to endorse his hostile take over. He counted on these two hundred men, who were not against David, to be silent and give the impression that they were for Absalom. When innocent and unknowing people are among the divisive and usurper their silence is always perceived as agreement.

It is better to wait for God to give you position than to position yourself to get something that God knows you are not ready to receive nor have the ability to discharge properly. What you use to get something is usually what it takes to keep the thing. Absalom’s reign will be short and disastrous. 

“Heavenly Father help me today be content with the position in life you have given me. May I be Christlike, loving, and the servant of all, may nothing I do be done from selfish ambition, jealousy or strife. May all I ever hope to be come as a gift from your gracious hand not by any scheme of mine.”

Sal Sberna

Sal Sberna was Lead Pastor at The MET Church in Houston, Texas for 20 years. He retired on February 2015. He and Kristi Sberna have been married since 1981. They have two children, Salvatore and...more