"Ittai the Gittite"
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Takeaway: Are you a loyal person? Are you a loyal person to your friends? Will you stand by them no matter what? Are you a loyal follower of Jesus Christ? Will you stand by Jesus no matter the situation?
Bottom Line: You are a friend of God – Are you faithful and loyal like Ittai?
2 Samuel – 15:13-22 - 13 A messenger soon arrived in Jerusalem to tell David, “All Israel has joined Absalom in a conspiracy against you!” 14 “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.” 15 “We are with you,” his advisers replied. “Do what you think is best.” 16 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. 17 The king and all his people set out on foot, pausing at the last house 18 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. 19 Then the king turned and said to Ittai, a leader of the men from Gath, “Why are you coming with us? Go on back to King Absalom, for you are a guest in Israel, a foreigner in exile. 20 You arrived only recently, and should I force you today to wander with us? I don’t even know where we will go. Go on back and take your kinsmen with you, and may the Lord show you his unfailing love and faithfulness.”
21 But Ittai said to the king, “I vow by the Lord and by your own life that I will go wherever my lord the king goes, no matter what happens—whether it means life or death.”
22 David replied, “All right, come with us.” So Ittai and all his men and their families went along.
Just who was Ittai? Why did he come to Jerusalem?
Ittai was from Gath – people from Gath were called “Gittites.” The Giant Goliath, was from Gath! The very giant David had killed as a young boy. Even though Ittai was a fellow Gittite to the legend Goliath, he was barred from his country and on the road with a force of 600 fellow mercenaries under his command. They came to Jerusalem with their families, basically on the run from their own country.
Why come to Jerusalem? It was not uncommon for David to have foreign, but loyal “non-Israelites in his armed forces. It is highly likely that Ittai and many of his fellow soldiers were friends of David that he had acquired when he was hiding from Saul many years before. The incredible gift of leadership and ethics given to David by God, obviously had a profound affect on Ittai and his countrymen. For that reason, they were ready to stand beside King David in spite of the pending rebellion led by David’s own son, Absalom.
Faithful Ittai wins the distinction for Most Loyal New Friend, encourages David, and secures the kickoff spot in our list of amazing, yet under-recognized biblical characters.
Ittai was faced with a situation that could land himself, his family and 600 fighting men and their families in a situation that could result in submission, slavery and even death.
In verse 21 we hear these incredible words spoken by Ittai in spite of that situation: “I vow by the Lord and by your own life that I will go wherever my lord the king goes, no matter what happens—whether it means life or death.”
Ittai’s loyalty to King David is quite remarkable for many reasons. Ittai was used to frontal attacks that he could see. But this time, Ittai was standing with David against a most formidable foe – David’s own son – which complicated matters considerably. Ittai more than likely didn’t know the extent of the complications this “son in rebellion” created for his friend David.
Just how formidable of a foe was Absalom? Let’s take a look!
In 2 Samuel 15 the beginning of the chapter, shows Absalom’s double-crossing intent of his own father, King David.
He was incredibly handsome and charismatic – a Bible-Times Rockstar! see 2 Samuel 14:25-27 - Now Absalom was praised as the most handsome man in all Israel. He was flawless from head to foot. 26 He cut his hair only once a year, and then only because it was so heavy. When he weighed it out, it came to five pounds![a] 27 He had three sons and one daughter. His daughter’s name was Tamar, and she was very beautiful.
Absalom was a schmoozer! See 2 Samuel 15:5-6 - When people tried to bow before him, Absalom wouldn’t let them. Instead, he took them by the hand and kissed them. 6 Absalom did this with everyone who came to the king for judgment, and so he stole the hearts of all the people of Israel.
Absalom was David’s son, but similarities stopped there – David was a King for his people, Absalom wanted to be a King for himself. He wanted to take Jerusalem because it was the capital city, full of government actions and businesses and culture.
Why didn’t David just “squash” Absalom and his rebellion as Absalom entered Jerusalem? Three probable explanations:
1. The rebellion was wide-spread and would not be suppressed easily.
2. He loved his son and didn’t want harm to come to him even though his son was bent on unseating him as king.
3. He loved his city, it’s architecture and its culture and didn’t want it destroyed during a historical battle.
Ittai was a true “loyal” friend. His loyalty extended as far as humanly possible.
What do we learn from Ittai?
If your commander is God – then serve Him without reservation or condition.
If your commander is God – then be faithful and loyal.
If your commander is God – then follow Him until you die.