Read: 2 Samuel 18:1 – 19:8
Focus: The king was overcome with emotion. He went up to the room over the gateway and burst into tears. And as he went, he cried, “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you! O Absalom, my son, my son.” 2 Samuel 18:33
Today’s reading is heart wrenching. The whole story of David and Absalom is the extreme conclusion of one of a parents’ worst nightmares – complete rebellion by someone whom you love as much as we are capable of loving. In yesterday’s devotional, Kelli talked about the critical importance of parents practicing loving discipline of their children; if you haven’t read yesterday’s devotional yet, I strongly encourage you to read it.
When we go back and read the chapters preceding today’s reading, we can easily see the stage being set for such a heart breaking conclusion. Sin (through pride) gripped Absalom’s heart, which led to his treasonous actions. David also sinned — by refusing to effectively discipline his son, King David took the “easy” way out of parenting by sinfully abdicating his parental responsibilities. It’s not a stretch to imagine that one of David’s other sons, King Solomon, was thinking of this very situation when he wrote Proverbs 13:24: “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.”
So we’re left with a situation that is essentially a hot mess (ever notice how many “hot messes” we read about in the Bible – I think God is very intentional and purposeful in showing us examples we can relate to of the mess the consequences of sin brings about). As we learned in 2 Samuel 15, most of Israel decided to abandon God’s anointed king and instead threw their support behind Absalom, David’s traitorous son. As we’ve discussed, David is far from perfect in this situation; however, I still can’t help but see parallels to God’s love in David’s reactions. In verse 5 of today’s reading, David commands his generals to treat Absalom mercifully, in spite of Absalom’s rebellion and sin, even though under the law Absalom deserved to be put to death for his deadly treason. Paul tells us in Romans 6:23 that when we rebel against God, we too deserve death; however, God is more merciful in His treatment of us than we can even grasp. David’s grieving over the loss of Absalom in the focus verse reminds me of how God grieves when we rebel against Him. We know from the Bible that God grieves when our sin and rebellion pulls us away from Him and we suffer the natural consequences of our sin. For instance, we are told in Judges 10:3: “then the Israelites put aside their foreign gods and served the LORD. And He was grieved by their misery.” Psalm 78: 40 – 41 tells us: “Oh, how often they rebelled against Him in the wilderness and grieved His heart in that dry wasteland. Again and again they tested God’s patience and provoked the Holy One of Israel.”
Knowing that, where do we go from here? How do I apply this to my own life? I think the first lesson is that we need to be receptive to the speaking of the Holy Spirit, who we know lives within each and every believer once we acknowledge Jesus as our Lord and Savior. One of the roles of the Holy Spirit it to convict an individual of his or her sin. I really like how Billy Graham describes this role of the Holy Spirit in this article:
First, the work of the Holy Spirit is to convict us of our sin. Jesus said, “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8). The Holy Spirit uses a mother’s prayers, a tragic experience, a pastor’s sermon or some other experience to convict us of sin and of our need to turn our lives over to Jesus Christ. He points to us and says, “You are a sinner. You need to repent.” We don’t like to hear that, but that is the work of the Holy Spirit. Without that work we could never have our sins forgiven. We could never be saved. We could never go to Heaven.
The second lesson is that when the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin, we have two choices – we can confess that sin (admit it) and repent of it (turn away from the sin), or we can choose to ignore it. We know from Hebrews 3:7-11 that ignoring the convictions of the Holy Spirit is a very dangerous choice that will eventually lead to our hearts becoming hardened and us turning further and further from God.
In his book If I Perish, I Perish, Ian Thomas says this about the Holy Spirit convicting us:
The Holy Spirit is like a man with a lamp entering a dark and dirty room, and what you have learned to live with in the dark becomes repugnant in the light.
In that vein, I can’t think of a better choice than to turn away from our actions that once seen in the light of the Holy Spirit are clearly so repulsive.
And here’s the good news – as soon as we confess and repent of the rebellion that the Holy Spirit is convicting us of, it’s washed away as if it never happened (Hebrews 8:12). God tells us in 1 John 1:9 “But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” The imagery of how God forgives our sins through Jesus in Isaiah 1:18 always speaks to me: ‘”Come now, let’s settle this,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.”‘
Prayer: Lord, I’m sorry when I rebel against You. I know that I deserve death for my sin and rebellion; however, I am more grateful than I can express that You show me mercy and grace. Please search my heart and reveal anything that keeps me from You. Please give me the strength and courage to turn away from my sin; please bring me closer to You. I ask this in the power of Jesus’ name… Amen.