David sent Joab to bring “Absalom back to Jerusalem. But the king gave this order: ‘Absalom may go to his own house, but he must never come into my presence’” (II Samuel 14:23b-24a, NLT). Not only did David extend a poor excuse for forgiveness to his son Absalom, but he didn’t even call him “son” when he sent for him. He told Joab, “go and bring back the young man Absalom” (II Samuel 14:21b).
Absalom had waited “two years” (II Samuel 13:23a) to avenge his sister’s rape; and he’d seen that their father David had no intentions of inflicting any sort of punishment on Amnon. That’s when he took matters into his own hands.
And paid a price for it. Absalom lived as an exile “in Geshur for three years” (II Samuel 13:38b) and then “in Jerusalem for two years” but “never got to see the king” (II Samuel 14:28). So Absalom had seven years of pain and bitterness and anger bottled up inside him.
Absalom sent Joab to speak to David on his behalf: “Ask the king why he brought me back from Geshur if he didn’t intend to see me. I might as well have stayed there. Let me see the king; if he finds me guilty of anything, then let him kill me” (II Samuel 14:32).
“So Joab told the king what Absalom had said. Then at last David summoned Absalom, who came and bowed low before the king, and the king kissed him” (II Samuel 14:33).
As I said yesterday, whether David was sincere or not at this point, it was a case of too little too late. Absalom’s hate-filled heart didn’t want to be reconciled with his father – he merely wanted his father to believe that was his intent. Just what was Absalom up to?
“After this, Absalom bought a chariot and horses, and he hired fifty bodyguards to run ahead of him. He got up early every morning and went out to the gate of the city. When people brought a case to the king for judgment, Absalom would ask where in Israel they were from, and they would tell him their tribe. Then Absalom would say, ‘You’ve really got a strong case here! It’s too bad the king doesn’t have anyone to hear it. I wish I were the judge. Then everyone could bring their cases to me for judgment, and I would give them justice!’” (II Samuel 15:1-4).
Absalom, it seems, had become quite the politician. “When people tried to bow before him, Absalom wouldn’t let them. Instead, he took them by the hand and kissed them. Absalom did this with everyone who came to the king for judgment, and so he stole the hearts of all the people of Israel” (II Samuel 15:5-6).
Absalom was headed down a path of no return. Had David properly disciplined his children; had he extended to Absalom the same measure of forgiveness that David had himself received from God; who knows how differently things might have turned out?
We’ll see what Absalom is up to tomorrow.
“Forgiveness is the economy of the heart... forgiveness saves the expense of anger, the cost of hatred, the waste of spirits.” (Hannah More)
“Throughout life people will make you mad, disrespect you and treat you bad. Let God deal with the things they do, ‘cause hate in your heart will consume you.” (Will Smith)
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates