December 26, 2021
Scripture: And the king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And as he went, he said, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!” 2 Samuel 18:33 ESV
Observation: This is an intriguing chapter as it pertains to the valuation of life. In verses 2 and 3, David and his men dialogue about whether their king should go out with the fighting men to attack his son Absalom’s army. David’s militia argues that no one will care if half of them die, but their king is worth 10,000 of them. David acquiesces but orders his general, Joab, and two other officers to deal gently with Absalom, the son who now despises his father and no longer values his father’s life (verse 5).
As the battle unfolds, Absalom’s long-flowing hair catches in the branch of an oak tree as he flees on the back of a mule (verse 9). A foot soldier spots Absalom suspended by his hair from the branch of the tree and reports the news to Joab. Furious that the soldier did not kill Abolam, Joab tells this infantryman that he would have given him ten pieces of silver and a belt if he had taken Absalom’s life. The soldier vehemently replies that he would not have struck down the king’s son for even ten thousand pieces of silver (verses 10-12). Finding the whole conversation tedious, Joab takes matters into his hand and strikes Absalom in the heart with three javelins (verse 14). When David receives the news of his rebellious son’s death, he bitterly weeps and declares that he would have rather died in his son’s place (verse 18 above).
Takeaway: This tragic story of family strife prophesied by Nathan in response to David’s acts of adultery and murder highlights two aspects of sin: it’s often generational, and it devalues life. Absalom followed his father’s example and became a violent man who made poor decisions regarding the value of life. Seeking revenge for his half-brother raping his sister, Absalom orders the execution of Amnon (2 Samuel 13:28-29). Later, as he sought to usurp his father’s throne, Absalom follows Ahithophel’s advice to publicly display disrespect toward and dominance over his father by having sex with David’s concubines in the sight of all Israel (2 Samuel 16:21-22). Now the violence comes full circle, and David loses a second son.
Thankfully, there is redemption to this story. As prophesied, David would retain his throne and live to old age. His second son from Bathsheba, Solomon, would assume his father’s throne and unite and strengthen Israel. But ultimate redemption would come a millennium later when Jesus, from the line of David, would suffer an unjust death when pierced in his side for our transgressions, and all for thirty pieces of silver. But our Lord would gain the victory over our accuser, Satan, and cover over our generational sins. Indeed, for our sake, our Kingly Father offered his priceless Son who knew no sin to become sin for us that we might become his righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for the priceless life of your Son, who paid the penalty for our sins that we might have freedom in him. Would you please help us to value life, ours and others, with respect and gratitude? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling