Today’s reading: 2 Samuel 13-15.
Dry rot. Termites. Leaky roofs. Peeling paint. A homeowner who ignores these hazards will one day face expensive repairs or even the loss of his home. In 1984 a St. Louis woman noticed a few bees flying in and out of her attic, but ignored them until the whole ceiling caved in under the weight of hundreds of pounds of honey. King David had a much more serious problem than bees or termites. His own children committed grave sins that provoked him to righteous anger, but instead of acting he neglected the problems. His whole kingdom came crashing down as a result.
First crack: Amnon. David’s son, Amnon, lusted after his half-sister, Tamar. He plotted to be alone with her, raped her, then rejected her. David was furious, but the Bible records no steps he took to deal with the problem.
Second crack: Absalom. Tamar’s brother, Absalom, didn’t ignore the crime as his father did. He nursed his hatred until the time was right and then orchestrated Amnon’s murder. David wept for his son, but he also mourned for Absalom who fled to another country for refuge. However, David did not reach out to Absalom in discipline or consolation for three years.
Third crack: Ignoring Absalom. After three years David’s general, Joab, brokered Absalom’s return to Israel with David’s approval. But instead of reaching out to his son, David alienated him further by refusing to visit him or allow his presence in the palace. This went on for another two years until Absalom went to extremes to arrange a reunion with his father. It was Absalom, not David, who initiated the meeting.
Fourth crack: Ignoring disloyalty. We can understand Absalom’s disrespect for his father, but it’s hard to explain David’s continued failure to address his son’s transgressions. Absalom goes about sowing discord and rebellion for four years. David doesn’t stop him. Absalom then makes his move, rallying men from all across the country to join him in open battle against the king. David’s royal house came crashing down under the weight of his long ignored family problems. He had to flee Jerusalem as Absalom entered in triumph. The promise of an eternal kingdom must have seemed impossible as his life reached a low ebb. Things could have been different. David may have been reluctant to act because of his own sinful shortcomings, but his failure to intervene made bad situations worse.
- Sin must be confronted just as Nathan confronted David with the sin of his adultery.
- This promotes legitimate discipline or punishment, rather than the hateful vengeance that killed Amnon.
- It maintains respect for authority rather than the disrespect that led to Absalom’s rebellion.
- It paves the way for the extension of grace that can restore relationships, but where there is no grace there is bitterness and resentment.
Image by Terrie Schweitzer on Flickr, CC by-nc-sa 2.0