Read 2 Samuel 15:1-18
A messenger soon arrived in Jerusalem to tell David, “All Israel has joined Absalom in a conspiracy against you!”
“Then we must flee at once, or it will be too late!” David urged his men. “Hurry! If we get out of the city before Absalom arrives, both we and the city of Jerusalem will be spared from disaster.”
“We are with you,” his advisers replied. “Do what you think is best.”
So the king and all his household set out at once. He left no one behind except ten of his concubines to look after the palace. The king and all his people set out on foot, pausing at the last house to let all the king’s men move past to lead the way. There were 600 men from Gath who had come with David, along with the king’s bodyguard. (2 Samuel 15:13–18)
The poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge once described friendship as “a sheltering tree.” What a beautiful description of that special relationship. As I read those words, I think of my friends as great, leafy trees, who spread themselves over me, providing shade from the sun, whose presence is a stand against the blast of winter’s lonely winds. A great, sheltering tree; that’s a friend.
David was leaving the great city of Zion—the city named after him, the City of David. As he came to the edge, at the last house, he stopped and looked back over that golden metropolis he had watched God build over the past years. His heart must have been broken as he stood there looking back, his mind flooded with memories. All around him the people of his household scurried past, leading beasts of burden piled high with belongings, running for their lives.
He was at the last house, and he needed a tree to lean on. Somebody who would say, “David, I’m here with you. I don’t have all the answers, but, man, I can assure you of this, my heart goes out to you.” When the chips are down and there’s nobody to affirm you and you run out of armour and you have no reputation to cling to, and all the lights are going out, and the crowd is following another voice, it’s amazing how God sends a sheltering tree.
All of us need at least one person with whom we can be open and honest; all of us need at least one person who offers us the shelter of support and encouragement and, yes, even hard truths and confrontation. Sheltering trees, all!
Thankfully, David had a grove of such trees. As a result, he made it through the toughest and loneliest hours of his life.
Do you? If so, it is a good time to call them up and thank them for their shelter. If not, it’s a good time to get a shovel and plant a few. You’ll need everyone. Just ask David.
Taken from Great Days with the Great Lives by Charles R. Swindoll. Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. Used by permission of HarperCollins Christian Publishing.