“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.'” (2 Samuel 15:19-21 NLT)
Heard of a Pakistani terrorist who would one day become a key general of the Indian army? Welcome to another similar, yet Biblical account which would fit perfectly in Ripley’s of Believe it or not!; the David and Ittai the Gittite story. The residents of Gath were called the Gittites; note that a notorious Philistine warrior and a giant thorn in the side of the Israelites, Goliath, was also a Gittite.1 Sam 17:4.
Let’s pick up from 2 Samuel Chapter 15 verse 13 onwards and what do we see? King David’s situation, which was the very definition of instability! With the shocking news of rebellion of one of his favourite sons, Absalom, just revealed, the greatly unprepared (for civil war) King David basically presses the figurative panic button, and flees from Jerusalem, his capital city, with his loyal Jewish men in tow! Where would he flee for safety? Where and when would he re-organize his army? With these kinds of questions hanging before David, it would take quite a loyalist to throw his weight behind him now. In this “doom and gloom” scenario, it’s safe to bet that David was quite bewildered to see a Philistine Asylum seeker named Ittai the Gittite marching right alongside his Jewish loyalists during the hasty retreat from Jerusalem. But what was David’s reaction? Well, according to scripture…
“What are you doing here? Go on back with your men to Jerusalem, to your king, for you are a guest in Israel, a foreigner in exile. It seems but yesterday that you arrived, and now today should I force you to wander with us, who knows where? Go on back and take your troops with you, and may the Lord be merciful to you.” (2 Sam 15:19-20 TLB)
And what was Ittai’s perceptive response? Pointing back to scripture…
“I vow by God and by your own life that wherever you go, I will go, no matter what happens—whether it means life or death.” (2 Sam 15:21 TLB)
Is this starting to sound like the Naomi-Ruth tale enshrined in Ruth 1:15-17? Doesn’t the wise Law always insist on having two witnesses to underscore a point (Deu 19:15), which in these cases both benefit from wise perceptivity?
Before the perceptive eyes of Ittai the Gititte, the image of David, though physically forlorn, was not one of instability, but rather one of security. Presently chastising but a covenantal God would never leave him or forsake him forever, (2 Sam 7:8-16) but rather would guard him as the “apple of his eye” (Psa 17:8).
Now what benefits came to Ittai, courtesy of his amazing perceptivity? Unbelievably, he’s promoted to a commander in David’s Army! Keeping this in mind, Ittai’s background is it not an earth-shattering one, especially when we factor in the point that King David’s army is also called the “Army of God” (1 Chro 12:21-23 CJB). Boy, a despised gentile hailing from an enemy country now is helming the Lord’s army! While such a juicy news piece would have been heaven-sent manna for the WSJ (had it been in circulation in the Biblical age), for the faithful lot who feed on God’s word it is yet another reminder of how blessings would come one’s way–on account of decision making borne out of wise perceptivity.
While on the subject of Absalom’s rebellion, it wouldn’t be out of place to state that out of two of David’s constant counsellors (1 Chro 27:33 TLB), the one who sided with Absalom, Ahithophel, went to an early grave whereas the other, Hushai the Archite, who threw in his lot with David, had a blessed role to play in influencing the outcome of that civil war.
An unworthy servant
J and SM Ministries
(To access the entire “Rising Above the ‘See’ Level” mini-series, please clickhere.)