The U.S. Civil War ended on April 9,1865, when Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at the Appomattox courthouse. While the war may have ended, it would be decades before the relationship between southern and northern states returned to normal. Even today, there are lingering regional differences that can be traced to this conflict.
David may have won the war, but the restoration of the kingdom was not going to come easy. The whole nation had been enamored with Absalom and had anointed him as king. They thought David’s reign had ended. But when Absalom died, David would have to make several difficult decisions to reunify the nation once again. Today’s Scripture reading describes four encounters David had on his way back to Jerusalem. These encounters demonstrate elements of David’s character.
First, David was politically shrewd. His first move was to replace Joab as general of his army for Amasa (v. 13). This may seem surprising. Joab had been David’s longtime commander, while Amasa was the general of Absalom’s army! But Joab directly and publicly disobeyed David’s command about his son (18:14). Amasa was David’s relative and appointing him to this post could help unify the nation.
Second, David was generous and forgiving. He showed grace to Shimei who had cursed and shamed him publicly (vv. 22–23). He had also listened to Mephibosheth’s defense of his actions. Mephibosheth claimed he had been betrayed by Ziba (vv. 24–28). David likely was unsure who was telling the truth. He found a solution that allowed both men to be welcome in his kingdom (v. 29). Finally, David won the loyalty of Barzillai who provided invaluable aid in his exile (vv. 31–38).
>> Forgiveness is a powerful means, working toward reconciliation. David’s actions here remind us of a later Son of David who prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Who can you forgive today?
For some of us, You have already laid on our hearts someone we need to forgive. Whatever hurt or anger we’re holding onto, help us let go—even if it never means getting an apology. Help us forgive, as You have forgiven us.