This past week, my oldest son said, “Dad, who do you love more?” My response to him was “God.” I continued to explain that although I love him, his brother, sister, and his mom, I love God more than all of them. The teachable moment was from what is recorded in Luke 9 and Luke 14 in Jesus’ teaching about the true cost of discipleship. It is God who created me, gave His Son for me, and instituted the church that I belong to, the family that I am blessed with, and the list could go on and on. When you think about that, how could I not love Him more than anything or anyone else? It is all about true loyalty. As I continued to think about our conversation, I thought about another father and son in the scriptures, specifically David and Absalom.
In 2nd Samuel 15, David’s son Absalom is found forming a coup and deceitful in his ways as he was stealing the hearts of the people, taking them away from the true anointed King of Israel, being Absalom’s father David. It is found that a majority were turning away from David and were following Absalom. David is found leaving Jerusalem and the few that would go with him. It is interesting to note that David’s own people rejected him and that those who followed after David were foreigners. There are several that are listed in the passage that proved their loyalty to King David by going with him wherever he ventured, but one in particular by the name of Ittai is specifically named recorded for us in 2 Samuel 15:10-23.
What we know about Ittai is that he was a foreigner, a Gittite, an exile from his own place. King David reminds Ittai that you just got here yesterday (20), and expressed that he didn’t want him to wander up and down with them that day since David wasn’t even certain as to where they were going.
Ittai was faced with a choice. There’s Absalom, the long-haired, promise-making, smooth-talking politician who is taking over, and then there’s David, who is the father of the one who he is escaping from. David even understands that the situation is grim and gave Ittai the Gittite, a way out, giving him permission to remain. Ittai has a choice to make. At this point, David’s on the run, escaping out of Jerusalem while Absalom is taking over. If we had a choice to make, which one would we choose?
Absalom is the NEW WAY, making all kinds of promises, making us FEEL REAL GOOD INSIDE. Absalom is the POPULAR CHOICE, notably even by the MAJORITY that was following him. He is noted as being HANDSOME, long flowing hair, ATTRACTIVE, successful! (14:26) We might say, “well I can see why the majority chose him.” For those not of the people of Israel, who would want to follow after someone who was rejected by his own people like David was?! Who wants to follow after David who although the rightful King of Israel, seems so pitiful, seemingly weak to give into his own son. When I think of God’s plan, the Lord’s design, His kingdom, it doesn’t look how we think it should. The disciples struggled with this. For the king of all kings, Jesus Christ to suffer and die doesn’t seem strong at all. To simply surrender to the mob that came to arrest him. What did Jesus say about the disciples? They would scatter, and they did.
It was Jesus who said, “…the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:14). Choosing to follow the ONE TRUE KING is not a popular choice. Jesus even said that if the choice is made to follow Him, to expect insults, oppression, persecution (Matt. 5:11; Jn 17:14).
Notice Ittai’s firm choice in verse 21: “As the LORD lives, and as my lord the king lives, surely wherever my lord the king may be, whether for death or for life, there also your servant will be.” There’s a similar statement that was made by Ruth to Naomi, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the LORD do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me” (Ruth 1:16-17).
Due to Ittai’s firm choice and resolve to remain with David, David said to Ittai: (in verse 22), “Therefore David said to Ittai, ‘Go and pass over.’ So Ittai the Gittite passed over with all his men and all the little ones who were with him.” Ittai would cross over along with the others fleeing from Jerusalem. In 2 Samuel 18 Ittai would be appointed a captain of 1/3 of David’s army. At the time in which we are looking at, in REAL TIME, I’m sure Ittai didn’t know exactly how this was going to turn out as of yet. At this particular time the situation was bleak. David didn’t have anything to give the people who were with him, yet Ittai resolutely said that whether in life or death, He was ALL IN! What Ittai did understand is what Absalom represented and what David represented.
To us the choice seems rather easy. Well of course we would choose David! David is the rightful king. How many say that today in regard to Jesus, who is the RIGHTFUL KING OF ALL KINGS, LORD OF ALL LORDS?!
I choose HIM, yet when it comes to making the choices of who we will follow, pleasure is chosen versus truth, wealth over integrity, the choice of popularity over that which is honorable.
Ittai stayed with the Lord’s choice, King David. Ittai wanted to be on the RIGHT SIDE. This is the same for us today. There’s a choice that has to be made. I think of Joshua in chapter 24 who said, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (24:15). Jesus said in Mark 8:34, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.”
This may sound simple and easy, but it is not. Here the cross symbolizes our willingness to make the choice that Ittai made. Self-denial, giving up our own lives to follow Jesus. Jesus was ridiculed and mocked, rejected by His own people, crucified, to be taken out of his own city. Jesus would rise again calling for people to come to Him. Hebrews 13:12-14, “Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.”
One who is true and loyal like that of Ittai will follow the TRUE KING wherever He leads. Even knowing that the Lord’s way is not of the majority, is NOT of the POPULAR crowd, we are LOYAL to His cause. The road that Ittai chose to travel was not going to be an easy one. Neither is the one, the narrow path that Christians will travel.
Ittai saw it as an honor and a privilege to serve. We should see it the same way as Christians today. You made a choice today who you were going to follow. You made choices today that was based either on Jesus or self? True loyalty to Christ doesn’t leave room for selfish interests. When there is a choice to do something of the world against something to glorify God, what will be chosen?
I hope we will all strive to be loyal and true every day to the ONE TRUE KING, no matter where He leads, we will follow (Galatians 2:20).
Something to think about. Have a great week! – DJ 😊