2 Samuel 15:13-37
13 A messenger came and told David, “The hearts of the people of Israel are with Absalom.” 14 Then David said to all his officials who were with him in Jerusalem, “Come! We must flee, or none of us will escape from Absalom. We must leave immediately, or he will move quickly to overtake us and bring ruin on us and put the city to the sword.” 15 The king’s officials answered him, “Your servants are ready to do whatever our lord the king chooses.” 16 The king set out, with his entire household following him; but he left ten concubines to take care of the palace. 17 So the king set out, with all the people following him, and they halted at the edge of the city. 18 All his men marched past him, along with all the Kerethites and Pelethites; and all the six hundred Gittites who had accompanied him from Gath marched before the king. 19 The king said to Ittai the Gittite, “Why should you come along with us? Go back and stay with King Absalom. You are a foreigner, an exile from your homeland. 20 You came only yesterday. And today shall I make you wander about with us, when I do not know where I am going? Go back, and take your people with you. May the Lord show you kindness and faithfulness.”[a] 21 But Ittai replied to the king, “As surely as the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king may be, whether it means life or death, there will your servant be.” 22 David said to Ittai, “Go ahead, march on.” So Ittai the Gittite marched on with all his men and the families that were with him. 23 The whole countryside wept aloud as all the people passed by. The king also crossed the Kidron Valley, and all the people moved on toward the wilderness. 24 Zadok was there, too, and all the Levites who were with him were carrying the ark of the covenant of God. They set down the ark of God, and Abiathar offered sacrifices until all the people had finished leaving the city. 25 Then the king said to Zadok, “Take the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the Lord’s eyes, he will bring me back and let me see it and his dwelling place again. 26 But if he says, ‘I am not pleased with you,’ then I am ready; let him do to me whatever seems good to him.” 27 The king also said to Zadok the priest, “Do you understand? Go back to the city with my blessing. Take your son Ahimaaz with you, and also Abiathar’s son Jonathan. You and Abiathar return with your two sons. 28 I will wait at the fords in the wilderness until word comes from you to inform me.” 29 So Zadok and Abiathar took the ark of God back to Jerusalem and stayed there. 30 But David continued up the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went; his head was covered and he was barefoot. All the people with him covered their heads too and were weeping as they went up. 31 Now David had been told, “Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.” So David prayed, “Lord, turn Ahithophel’s counsel into foolishness.” 32 When David arrived at the summit, where people used to worship God, Hushai the Arkite was there to meet him, his robe torn and dust on his head. 33 David said to him, “If you go with me, you will be a burden to me. 34 But if you return to the city and say to Absalom, ‘Your Majesty, I will be your servant; I was your father’s servant in the past, but now I will be your servant,’ then you can help me by frustrating Ahithophel’s advice. 35 Won’t the priests Zadok and Abiathar be there with you? Tell them anything you hear in the king’s palace. 36 Their two sons, Ahimaaz son of Zadok and Jonathan son of Abiathar, are there with them. Send them to me with anything you hear.” 37 So Hushai, David’s confidant, arrived at Jerusalem as Absalom was entering the city.
There’s a lot happening in this passage for King David! He is aware that he is about to be usurped by Absalom, who has positioned himself as ‘a man
of the people’, winning the hearts of those in Israel. David decides to make a getaway before a battle is started for the throne in Jerusalem and sets out with his many men. As David is watching the men go before him, he calls one man out of these many – Ittai the Gittite. The Gittites were foreigners who had not been with David for long, only since the day before! And yet when David encourages him to leave and go back to Absalom, where he will surely have more certainty, Ittai tells him “As surely as the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king may be, whether it means life or death, there will your servant be.”
This is such a strong depiction of biblical loyalty, particularly in the face of uncertainty. Ittai follows David, although he does not know what this will lead him to. What he does know is that David is the rightful king, and he wants to be under his leadership, regardless of the outcome. What challenges me about this is that David was an imperfect human! Yes, he was the appointed king, and he was a godly man. But he was still fallible, he made mistakes and those mistakes often had negative consequences. Yet Ittai chose to be loyal.
How much more loyal should I be to the leadership of a righteous and perfect God, even in the face of uncertainty, even when it may cost me? I am challenged by this passage to look at my heart and consider my loyalty to Christ in everything that I do.
Lord thank you that your ways are higher than ours, that your plans are perfect. God it can be so hard to follow you when we have no idea where you are leading. But we confess that it is far better to be under your leadership than our own. Help us to make choices each day, whether big or small, that are loyal to you and your ways. Amen.
Written by Ps. Madelaine Tarasenko