One day toward the end of David’s life, troubling news came to Jerusalem.
David’s son Absalom, the most popular young man in all of Israel, had been proclaimed king in Hebron.
A wave of support for Absalom had been building for months. With the decision in Hebron, a tsunami was unleashed. All of Jerusalem was stunned by the news. David seemed to be the only man able to comprehend what needed to happen next.
A messenger came and told David, “The hearts of the people of Israel are with Absalom.”
Then David said to all his officials who were with him in Jerusalem, “Come! We must flee, or none of us will escape from Absalom. We must leave immediately, or he will move quickly to overtake us and bring ruin on us and put the city to the sword.” – 2 Samuel 15:13-14
David and his entire household left the palace, crossed the Kidron, climbed the Mount of Olives and made the long walk to Jericho as fast as they could move. There were 600 armed men with David, so close to 1,000 people were running for their lives.
Just the day before, they were living in luxurious normalcy.
Does that sound a bit familiar?
In the past few weeks, we’ve seen world leaders make astounding decisions. Hoping to stop a pandemic, they’ve destroyed their economies and brought normal life to a halt.
Schools are closed. Places of worship aren’t meeting. Automakers aren’t making cars. When people talk about the March Madness of 2020 in years to come, they won’t be talking about a basketball tournament. That March Madness was canceled, along with every other spring sporting event, concert and festival.
Even with all the dramatic actions, the pandemic has taken a stunning number of lives and is still threatening all of us. How bad would it have been if we’d not taken dramatic action quickly?
We need great leaders who can make the great decisions in a time of crisis. We need great men and women who can rise to the moment and do what needs to be done to save as many people as possible, no matter what the cost.
David knew it was time to run. Perhaps he’d seen it coming and had already thought through his options if Absalom made his move. Perhaps he drew on his career as a commander in war, where countless decisions had to be made quickly. Perhaps he drew on the spiritual strength he’d cultivated since childhood.
Bottom line, David knew what to do and he pulled the trigger.
His decision cost his family and his followers a great deal of hardship.
It also saved their lives. His decision saved the lives of those left behind in Jerusalem.
In time, Absalom and his movement died out. David and his family returned to Jerusalem. It took years to rebuild, but even as David neared his death, his son Solomon was already leading Israel toward its finest and most prosperous season. The crisis that had once caused so much havoc was practically forgotten.
By now, world leaders in every country are enduring angry criticism from those who didn’t know the weight of having to make the right decision in a crisis. By now, millions of people are so sick and tired of being quarantined they’ll focus their anger on anyone in charge. Second-guessers in the media will become louder with every passing day.
But when a crisis arrives, the worst decision of all is to put off the decision that needs to be made. Thank God we have leaders who placed our health above all other priorities. They made decisions that may very well cost them their jobs when the fall elections roll around.
As we pray for the sick, the bereaved and for those on the front line of this health battle, let us be faithful to pray for our leaders.
These are not normal days.
Theirs are not normal decisions.
We must pray like people running for our lives.