The 10-minute podcast at the end of this article is called: “But God…”
David was at that point in life where he was dreaming great dreams for his kids. He had killed his giants and conquered his kingdoms. That restless need to succeed no longer gnawed at him. When you’re older it’s easier to live vicariously, through your kids. Doesn’t take as much energy.
That’s why the news that day of war shocked him. He’d guessed it when he saw the second runner. The first runner came with a drive and a certain gait that could only belong to Ahimaaz, the priest’s son. That would be good news. General Joab wouldn’t send someone from an important family with bad news.
But it was that second runner that worried him. He hardly heard Ahimaaz’ breathless proclamation of an overwhelming victory against the massive rebel hordes. His life and kingdom were saved? “Good, but what about Absalom my son?”
Funny reaction isn’t it? He should have been shouting for joy. David hadn’t been around his son Absalom much the last years. This angry young man had murdered his vulgar elder brother– the one probably destined for the throne by the way. Three years of banishment followed and even when he permitted his good-looking son to return David felt he must keep his distance to teach him a lesson.
Eventually the ambitious young man lead a treacherous army, seeking to overthrow his father. Lots and lots of heartbreak for David because he loved his son incredibly and many of the people on the other side of this fight had stabbed him in the back by joining with Absalom.
Lots of good sermons in the story of this rebellion. Let’s see. “David Reaps What He Sows!” God’s Word comes true as misery rises up from David’s own family to punish him for his horrible sin against Uriah the Hittite. Or how about, “The Perils of Spoiling Kids!” The fellow who dotted the eyes of the giant was a big pushover when it came to disciplining his own children.
Even with Absalom, there’s good preaching everywhere, “Pride Precedes A Fall–Again!” Or, (for bald-headed preachers), “Get That Hair Cut Or You Might End Up Dangling From A Tree!” How about, “The Final Resting Place of Politicians”? No, scratch that last one.
What stands out here is something else, though. General Joab didn’t understand it, nor did David’s army. Try this sermon title, “God’s Broken Heart For the Rebel.” David faced proud Absalom. He really didn’t seem awfully surprised when the rebellion broke out. Not a lot gets past the king and he wasn’t stupid. He knew which way the political winds blew in his country.
But he couldn’t forget that little boy whose eyes shone with a certain light when people talked about his dad’s great victories. David knew how it felt to squeeze that little guy in a close embrace and feel the love that only a parent can have for his child.
He watched the teenager grow, develop muscles, then a shy but handsome smile. The great king thrilled as his son shed his skin of childhood and walked the first faltering steps of a man. Oh, how David had dreamed for this fellow! What could have been, burned deeply in his heart that tragic day when the slow faithful messenger chimed out the news of Absalom’s death by Joab’s hand.
“O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you–O Absalom, my son, my son.” (2 Sam. 18:33b). Willful, self-centered Joab couldn’t understand a love like that but I know someone who could.
The panorama of the city struck the young man once again, hit him right in the stomach. He stopped and looked from his position high over the stubborn, rebellious place. “If you had only recognized this day, and everything that was good for you!.” he sighed as big salty tears spilled out of his heart. “But now it’s too late. In the days ahead your enemies are going to bring up their heavy artillery and surround you, pressing in from every side. They’ll smash you and your babies on the pavement. Not one stone will be left intact. All this because you didn’t recognize and welcome God’s personal visit.”(Luke 19:42-44, The Message)
It hurts when someone you love hates you. It hurt David. It made Jesus cry.
Even now, it seems like I hear a big sigh from heaven’s throne from time to time as He looks down on men He loves so much—rebellious men who refuse to own Him as King.
I wonder if He still cries.
‘‘We’ve got to get under those things that God has placed over us so we can get over those things God has placed beneath us.” (Adrian Rogers speaking about authority)