Monday, August 10, 2015

Ittai of Gath

Today I read 2 Samuel 18-20 where David wins back the kingdom, but loses his son Absalom who had usurped his throne.

David wanted to go out with his men, but they strongly objected. Was this because the last time he stayed behind he ended up sleeping with Bathsheba? The King, even an old king, should be in the field with the troops. ?? When his son is killed the King mourns loudly and Joab his general strongly rebukes him for not showing loyalty to his troops who have risked their lives for him. Joab was right - David cared more about the rebellious son than the 1000's of men who risked their lives to save the kingdom.

One of David's commanders was a man named Ittai from Gath. Where did David pick up a Philistine? It must have been when he served the Philistines and hid among them while running from King Saul. Chapter 15 introduces Ittai to us. He was the leader of 600 Philistine warriors who decided to follow David. When Absalom staged his coup, Ittai stayed loyal to King David. What kind of man wins the loyalty of a platoon of foreign fighters? In chapter 15, David tells Ittai he shouldn't follow him. He is saying to him "you're a foreigner. You don't have a dog in this fight. Why do you want to get involved?" Ittai answers, "I vow to the Lord and by your own life that I will go wherever my lord the king goes, no matter what happens - whether it means life or death."

"Dear Lord,

King David, your great great great ... grandfather engendered such loyalty among people who were not his people. He failed so miserably at times, yet was so loved. His love for you made him attractive, a man to follow. He was real and vulnerable in his love and his sorrow.  You are the perfect One, the descendant promised to King David, the greater King, the Messiah, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Don't you deserve even greater loyalty? "I will go wherever my Lord goes."  You know my heart, you know the weakness of my flesh, you know everything about me. Help me to be steadfast and loyal to you - whether it means life or death. "  Amen