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A Friend In Need
Scripture: Proverbs 17:17; 2 Samuel 15:1-34
Track 16 of 19 in the David: A Man After God's Heart series
Running time: 53 minutes, 15 seconds.

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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

View all sermons by this speaker.

Friendship, a word that all of us know and in many ways, experienced. All of us have friends and all of us is a friend and has been friends to others. Being a friend and having friends is important to every human being that lives on the earth. Life would be very difficult if we didn’t have friends. And yet there are some who have no friends while others have so many friends that it is impossible to keep them all straight.

Are you a person, who by nature, makes friends easily or do you find making friends difficult to do? Do you enjoy making friends or is it something that scares you when having to make new friends all over again? In your life, in the list of things that are important to you, on a scale from 1-10 with 1 the lowest and 10 the highest, where does friendship rate? Why?

It is fascinating to me to understand why people pick some to be their friends. It is my observation that some friends don’t seem to go together. Have you ever wondered what friends see in each other? There are some that seem to go together but there are those who you wouldn’t guess would be friends together. Is there a magical formulas as to why certain people become friends or how people pick and chose their friends?

What does it mean to be a friendly person? Do you see yourself that way? What in a person would attract your attention to consider them to be your friend? Do you have friends that are not at all like you but you enjoy them as friends? Why? What attracts them to you?

What are the marks of a good friend?

Proverbs 17:17 A true friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.

Who do you go to when you are in trouble or in need of something? Who can you always trust when you are weak, vulnerable, lonely?

What kind of friend are you? There is a vast difference between knowing someone well and being a true friend. The greatest evidence of genuine friendship is loyalty (loving “at all times”). Too many people are fair-weather friends. They stick around when the friendship helps them and leave when they’re not getting anything out of the relationship. Think of your friends and assess your loyalty to them.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge once described friendship as a “sheltering tree”. The picture of friendship here is one of large trees with leafy branches spreading themselves over a person shading him from the heat of the day or the bad weather when it comes blowing in.

True or false: It is a sign of weakness and immaturity to have a friend or to need a friend. A sign of maturity is when you don’t need friends at all. False

If there was ever a man who knew the value of friendship, it was David. David was a man who depended upon his friends all his life. In fact, at the stage of David’s life we will study today, he is in grave danger of collapse. David is dealing with many things in his life after the mistake with Bathsheba. As we studied last week, there were a lot of consequences he had to endure because of his poor judgment when he sinned. One could say David deserved every bit of trouble that came his way but fortunately for David, his friends were loyal and looked beyond his mistakes and loved him through his time of need.

Isn’t that what a loyal friend does? What is a loyal friend like? What are the marks of a loyal friend?

Let me set the stage a little on what is going on David life as we look at 2 Samuel 15.

1. Personally, he was awash in guilt over the adultery with Bathsheba. Got had restored him but he felt the aftershocks of the sin. Deep down inside he was very sorry but he still had to deal with the sadness and sorry he and Bathsheba felt at the loss of their infant son.
2. Domestically, his home was in shambles. There was anger, bitterness, incest, rape, murder and rebellion among his now-grown children all leading to the eventual conspiracy by Absalom to take over the kingdom
3. Politically, David lost his respect and authority as a leader. The man that was once the hero of a nation, a king who was well loved by the people and someone who could do no wrong now faced a public where critics began to grow louder. The hero David had feet of clay.

What are the dangers lurking out there when we find ourselves in situations like David? What dangers should David be fearful of?

2 Samuel 15:1-4 In the course of time, Absalom provided himself with a chariot and horses and with fifty men to run ahead of him. He would get up early and stand by the side of the road leading to the city gate. Whenever anyone came with a complaint to be placed before the king for a decision, Absalom would call out to him, “What town are you from?” He would answer, “Your servant is from one of the tribes of Israel.” Then Absalom would say to him, “Look, your claims are valid and proper, but there is no representative of the king to hear you.” And Absalom would add, “If only I were appointed judge in the land! Then everyone who has a complaint or case could come to me and I would see that he gets justice.”

What does this all sound like? It sounds like he is running for office. What technique is he using in his method of politics? Does his method of politics resemble what goes on in our politics today?

2 Samuel 15:5-6 Also, whenever anyone approached him to bow down before him, Absalom would reach out his hand, take hold of him and kiss him. Absalom behaved in this way toward all the Israelites who came to the king asking for justice, and so he stole the hearts of the men of Israel.

What is the warning here? When we are confronted by individuals like Absalom, what should we watch out for?

It doesn’t take long for Absalom to put into place the plan to overthrow his father and become king of Israel. When it happened, it happened very quickly. David didn’t have time to pack; he fled and barely escaped the men who followed Absalom. The great hero, the great king was now reduced to a man running for his life from his son. The pain of that event had to be tremendous. There is nothing like being on top and in one short moment, crash to the bottom. It is when a man is down on the floor a man learns who his real friends are. It is even more shocking when a man is down on the floor who is willing to come up and kick him. David is now on the floor, face down and beaten.

In spite of all that had gone wrong in David’s life at this point, he had sheltering trees. In fact, in this lesson, he had several sheltering trees. Had it not been for these trees (friends), David might have gone out defeated and finished. But his friends didn’t let that happen.

2 Samuel 15:16-20 The king set out, with his entire household following him; but he left ten concubines to take care of the palace. So the king set out, with all the people following him, and they halted at a place some distance away. All his men marched past him, along with all the Kerethites and Pelethites; and all the six hundred Gittites who had accompanied him from Gath marched before the king. The king said to Ittai the Gittite, “Why should you come along with us? Go back and stay with King Absalom. You are a foreigner, an exile from your homeland. You came only yesterday. And today shall I make you wander about with us, when I do not know where I am going? Go back, and take your countrymen.

Here is one of those places when we see groups of people we don’t recognize and not take the time to check who they are. One man in particular is mentioned. He is never mentioned before in scripture until this time.

First Friend: Ittai the Gittite

I guess it is important to ask, who are the Gitties? Why are they mentioned here and what is so important about Ittai? Goliath was a Gittite. They are people from Gath. These 600 men who were now leaving to go and be with David were men from Gath who when David once lived there, attached themselves to David and his men. This gives us a glimpse of how influential David was to his enemies that even some of them loved him and joined to be with him.

2 Samuel 15:21 But Ittai replied to the king, “As surely as the LORD lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king may be, whether it means life or death, there will your servant be.”

What do people like Ittai teach us about friendship? What I find interesting about Ittai is there is no promise from David that he can pay Ittai anything for his loyalty. He didn’t befriend the king because he thought he could get something in return. Ittai came to the rescue because his friend David needed help.

2nd set of friends: Zadok and Abiathar

2 Samuel 15:23-24 The whole countryside wept aloud as all the people passed by. The king also crossed the KidronValley, and all the people moved on toward the desert. Zadok was there, too, and all the Levites who were with him were carrying the ark of the covenant of God. They set down the ark of God, and Abiathar offered sacrifices until all the people had finished leaving the city.

The next set of friends are priests. These guys have been with David from an early time in his life. Both proved their loyalty to David by standing with him when he was on the run as Saul chased him. Abiathar was David’s High Priest and both he and Zadok were moving the Ark of the Covenant out of Jerusalem as the king left. But David knew Israel needed to know that the Ark was still in the tabernacle. It was important for the people to send the priests back with the ark.

2 Samuel 15:25-26 Then the king said to Zadok, “Take the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the LORD’S eyes, he will bring me back and let me see it and his dwelling place again. But if he says, ‘I am not pleased with you,’ then I am ready; let him do to me whatever seems good to him.”

If the two priests went back with the ark, what dangers did they have to face? Notice what their reactions were? There wasn’t any; they did as they were told. What do people like Zadoc and Abiathar teach us about friendship? A friend in need has friends who will do whatever they ask; they are available for you anytime.

Tell me about fair-weather friends. What are they like and what impact do they have in your life? Are they a help or are they a hindrance? Why? Ahithophel was a friend of David’s, in fact; he was one of David’s close advisors. We read about him last week. He was the guy who convinced Absalom to sleep with David’s concubines on the roof out on front of all Israel. Would you say he was a fair-weather friend? Notice what scripture says about his advisor as David leaves Jerusalem.

2 Samuel 15:30-31 But David continued up the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went; his head was covered and he was barefoot. All the people with him covered their heads too and were weeping as they went up. Now David had been told, “Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.” So David prayed, “O LORD, turn Ahithophel’s counsel into foolishness.”

Have you ever been in a spot when the pain is so great that you can’t even speak? There is really nothing to say or there’s nothing that can be said to make things better?

This is where David is right now as he climbs to the top of the Mount of Olives. But when he gets there, a third friend is there to meet him. Notice what he does during this great time of pain for David. We never heard of him before this time but all scripture says about him is that he is David’s friend.

2 Samuel 15:32-34 When David arrived at the summit, where people used to worship God, Hushai the Arkite was there to meet him, his robe torn and dust on his head. David said to him, “If you go with me, you will be a burden to me. But if you return to the city and say to Absalom, ‘I will be your servant, O king; I was your father’s servant in the past, but now I will be your servant,’ then you can help me by frustrating Ahithophel’s advice.

If you’re David and you are barefoot and weeping, seeing a friend like Hushai will cause you to look up and take notice. Hushai didn’t have to say anything to his old friend, his actions and his weeping told David everything he needed to know. Immediately David knew he could count on Hushai to deal with an immediate problem…how to make Ahithophel’s counsel foolish. David asked Hushai to spy for him, a very dangerous job to ask someone to do but his friend agreed.

It is fascinating how Hushai communicated to David while he served Absalom

Hushai > Zadok > Abiathar > an unknown girl > Jonathan > Ahimaaz > an unnamed woman who hid two messengers > an errand boy that ran messages to David and back.

These all were friends of David. As you read the account of Absalom taking his fathers throne, there were many others. Most Christians have never heard of their names. Some are unnamed in scripture but they all knew David and they were loyal friends to him. A man blessed by God is a man with man loyal and trusted friends who are willing to do what it takes to help a friend in need.

What about your friendship? How good a friend are you? Are you a friend who helps a friend in need or are you a fair-weather friend?