Written by Daniel Hazard
2 Samuel 15:19-21
"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. 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.' 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.'"
Reflection by Kenneth L. Samuel
One of the greatest disappointments of his life had to be the day that King David discovered that his chief adversary and rival to the throne of Israel was his own son, Absalom. To be sure, the family of David was a troubled lot, but not many troubled families produce sons whose main objective is to disgrace, replace and destroy their fathers. Absalom's dogged determination to completely usurp the political authority and spiritual influence of his father, David, takes family feud to a whole new level.
Upon learning that Absalom has attained the support of the vast majority of his countrymen, and is about to lay siege upon the capital city of Jerusalem, King David and a remnant of his supporters quickly take steps to flee for their lives. As he makes his quick exodus out of Jerusalem, David picks up an unexpected companion, in the person of Ittai – an exiled leader from Philistia (a region on the south coast of ancient Palestine), who had six hundred men under his command. Later, when David reorganized his forces to meet Absalom, he placed some of them under the command of Ittai. With Ittai's help, David was able to defeat Absalom and regain the kingdom of Israel.
It's amazing how God raises up friends for us at some of the most unexpected times and in some of the most hostile circumstances. One of my best friends is a UCC pastor in Concord, New Hampshire. I was raised in a southern African American culture; he was raised in WASP New England. My religious traditions are holiness-Pentecostal; his religious traditions are Congregationalist. Our paths very likely would not have crossed had it not been for a crisis in my life and ministry that caused me to reassess my identity and opened me to the possibility of new and unusual alignments. In the midst of my great crisis, I gained a great companion. Crisis time is not only a time to make lasting enemies; it can also be a time to make lasting friends.
What new friendships and alignments do the crises we face today present us with? Do you know of anyone in a crisis who needs the friendship you could provide?
God, we thank you for providing friends in the fire for us. Now make us companions in the storm for others. Amen.