A child runs off the playing field because no one picked him for a team. A teenager frowns after the boy she likes ignores her. A man weeps when the company he faithfully served for decades includes his name in the first round of layoffs.
David also experienced rejection. He was devastated by how swiftly the hearts of his people had turned from him, how craftily his own son had plotted against him, and how thoroughly his life had been turned upside down. Seemingly overnight he had been changed from hero to zero. People who before had risked their lives for him were now acting as if he would be better off dead. Their actions sent the message that he was disgraced, without honor, and unworthy of their loyalty (v. 31; see 2 Sam. 17:1–4).
Rather than fight to defend his position and his honor, David withdrew in disgrace. Absalom’s sister, Tamar, had been disgraced; now it was David’s turn. He disfigured his royal appearance, covered his head, and slunk out of the palace. He wept as he retraced the route he had often traveled in triumph, now as a broken, barefoot exile.
David wondered if God was punishing him, causing him to question whether he was a victim or the bad guy. He cringed at the thought God might be rejecting him, just as He had rejected Saul (see 1 Sam. 15:26).
In faith, David placed himself and his honor in God’s hands, praying as he fled, “Lord, how many are my foes!... Many are saying of me, ‘God will not deliver him.’ But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high” (Ps. 3:1–3).