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February 11, 2024

Put Yourself in Their Shoes - David's Flight from Absalom

I've heard the saying many times, "Put yourself in their shoes".  In other words, think about what someone else is going through.  That is something we should do with people around us, to help us understand why they do the things they do.  But it's also true when we read the Bible. 

God doesn't give us details about everything in the Bible.  If he did, as John tells us in his gospel, "if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written" (John 21.25).  So we need to sometimes slow down, study the details, and put ourself in the shoes (or sandals) of the people in the Bible.

For example, when King David fled from Absalom, we are only told a few details about his flight.  We don't know how many people went with him, the ages of the people, how long it took, what hardships they endured, etc.  However, if we look at the clues God gave us, we can figure some of it out.  Proverbs 25:2 says, "It is the glory of God to conceal a thing; but the honour of kings is to search out a matter."  We need to search out the matter and figure out the details.

In II Samuel 15:28, David tells Zadok the priest that he'd wait in the plain of the wilderness until he had news from Zadok.  David was referring to the plain by the Jordan River, which I didn't know until I studied Bible geography while writing my book.  It's around 25 miles from Jerusalem to the Jordan River.  It would have taken them a whole day to travel that far.

The next clue we have of their journey is in II Samuel 17:22, "Then David arose, and all the people that were with him, and they passed over Jordan; by the morning light there lacked not one of them that was not gone over Jordan."  In other words, they crossed over the Jordan before it was light.  They crossed the river in the dark!  Now, if you have ever walked through a river, you know that it's not an easy task.  There are slippery rocks, places where you sink in the mud, and the current trying to sweep you away.  They did that with women, babies, toddlers, children, and elderly in the dark.  There were thousands who had to cross in the dark!  We don't know how many people went with David, but since there were around 2,000 Philistines (600 men plus their wives and children), I'm guessing there were 5,000-10,000 total.  I'm sure the strong men probably had to go back and forth numerous times, carrying small children on their shoulders, holding the hands of the older children, helping the elderly, so they wouldn't get swept away in the current.  It was a hard task!  I never realized how hard it was until I studied it while writing the book, The Loyalty of Ittai.

In verse 24 of the same chapter it says, "Then David came to Mahanaim."  Again, we need to study out the details of what was summed up in one verse.  Mahanaim was approximately 50 miles from where they crossed the Jordan.  It would have taken 2-3 days to get there after crossing the Jordan.  They probably followed the river for a while, which was a gentle uphill climb.  Once they left the Jordan River valley, they would be climbing in altitude quite a bit to get to Mahanaim.  Not an easy task with children, babies, elderly, etc.  I can hear the kids saying, "are we there yet?"

In The Loyalty of Ittai I tried to describe many things as they may have happened, to help us understand what David, Ittai, and the others went through to save David's life.  If you haven't read the book yet, I believe it will be a blessing.  Besides the flight to Mahanaim, it also talks about many other Bible stories that we sometimes skim over, not thinking about the details.  It may help you to put yourself in their shoes. 

Put Yourself in Their Shoes - David's Flight from Absalom

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