I’ll take lesser known Old Testament characters for 1000, Alex.
This “career exile”, an exile of Gath, chose exile again, this time from Jerusalem, because of his loyalty to a king.
Who is Ittai the Gittite?
He didn’t have to go. Though David the king needed to flee Jerusalem because of Absalom’s insurrection, Ittai the Gittite, commander of a troop of 600 from Gath, didn’t have to leave too. David released him. Told him to stay. After all, reasoned the king on the run, Ittai didn’t really have a dog in this fight.
“Why do you also go with us? Go back and stay with the king, for you are a foreigner and also an exile from your home. You came only yesterday, and shall I today make you wander about with us, since I go I know not where? Go back and take your brothers with you, and may the LORD show steadfast love and faithfulness to you.”
(2Samuel 15:19-20 ESV)
Relative newcomers, Ittai & Co. could have chosen to walk under the banner of the same God while serving a different king. But they didn’t. How much Ittai understood the concept of God’s anointed I don’t know, but how much he had come to know, respect, love, and be loyal to David is evident.
But Ittai answered the king, “As the LORD lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king shall be, whether for death or for life, there also will your servant be.”
(2Samuel 15:21 ESV)
Ittai’s loyalty to David didn’t demand that the king have a palace or even that he be popular. Ittai didn’t join the parade for his own profit. But he pledged allegiance to David because David was king. Period. For better or worse. ‘Til death do them part.
Makes me think about this foreigner and exile sitting in this chair this morning, one who has also pledged allegiance to a King. Having left the world I was born into, I too have to make the choice to follow a King in exile. One increasingly rejected not just by outsiders, but even by those who think they can bear the banner of God without really acknowledging or following His Anointed. Who are okay with Jesus being their Savior, but not ready to unconditionally own Him as Lord. Okay if it comes with the benefits of ruling over a kingdom, maybe not so much if it means walking in the way of a cross.
I am Ittai. Even as the culture around me becomes increasingly secular, increasingly hostile, and increasingly intolerant of the Rightful Ruler, daily I have a choice to make. Go back and blend in or decide to follow Jesus — even in exile.
Oh, that I would be totally devoted to the King of kings during His rejection.
And by the way, Ittai’s name? It literally means “with me.”
Hear Jesus call, “Are you Ittai?” Are you with me?
By Your grace. For Your glory.