“And the king ordered Joab and Abishai and Ittai, ‘Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom.’ And all the people heard when the king gave orders to all the commanders about Absalom.” – 2 Samuel 18:5
If King David and his family were alive today, they could star in their own soap opera or reality show. Here’s a quick recap in case you missed the last few episodes: David’s son Amnon raped his sister Tamar. Absalom, David’s son by another woman, demanded vengeance and killed his step-brother. David, who favored Absalom over all of his other children, nevertheless exiled him for his crime. After three years, the king relented and allowed his wayward son to return. Absalom said “Thanks, Dad,” and promptly began scheming to overthrow him.
In today’s reading, Absalom has raised an army against his father. The future of the kingdom is as stake. And yet, in another interesting plot twist, David instructed his commanders not to harm his son. All of them heard the order, but only one of them obeyed. When they found Absalom dangling from a tree with his head caught between two branches (you can’t make this stuff up), Joab and the others decided they knew best and killed him. Then they rushed back to the palace and essentially said, “Great news, King David, we defied your explicit orders and murdered your son!” I’m not sure how they expected him to react, but we read that “the king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept” (v. 33).
Despite the fact that his son was trying to steal his throne, David offered forgiveness. Even though Absalom would almost certainly have killed him given the chance, the king extended grace. His purpose was reconciliation, not destruction. He longed to unify his people and his family. And he mourned when he lost his child. David frequently modeled sin and human frailty, but in this case, he demonstrated God’s boundless love for his children.
Sometimes we get mired down in our failures and sins. We wonder how God could ever want or forgive us after all we have done. And yet, if a human father is capable of such extravagant grace and forgiveness, how much more can our heavenly Father pour out upon us! David was no paragon of virtue. His transgressions included adultery and murder, to name a few. And yet, the Lord forgave and redeemed him time and time again. We, like David, are invited to receive those gifts. As we shall see tomorrow, we are also called to share them with others.
Reflect and Respond:
Are you holding on to past sins? Ask God to help you release them and accept his unconditional love and forgiveness. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Let's face it, the Christian life is hard. Relationships take work. Christians forget. Sometimes it is tempting to go back to the days when God was not the center of our lives - to backslide. We are all faced with tremendous pressures to drift away from intimacy with Jesus and the community of the Church. However, the Lord invites us to pay attention, to move forward, to draw near, and to live lives of worship. Draw Near: Hebrews on Christian Worship is a Bible study on the Book of Hebrews intended to lead participants into a deeper intimacy with the Living God in the context of New Testament worship. Draw nearer to God in authentic worship today!
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