Sunday, July 13, 2014

that this young guy had issues

I'm referring to one of King David's sons, Absalom, who is probably best remembered as the guy who almost succeeded in stealing his father's kingdom.

I find it interesting to trace his story, trying to determine why he would ever make such a defiant move. It isn't hard to figure out. The Bible reveals Absalom as the type who would quietly dwell on wrongs committed against him or those he loved, and let them fester. All the time, nobody could guess what was in his head until he struck. He behaved in that manner when his half brother, Amnon, raped their sister, Tamar. She was Amnon's half sister and Absalom's full sister, all children of David. Absalom quietly cared for Tamar in his own home and waited for an opportune moment to strike back at Amnon, which took a couple of years.

He behaved the same way with his father, when David allowed him back into the city after his time of exile. For a period of time David, although pining for his son, refused to see him. Eventually they seemed to make up. Absalom appeared to be on friendly terms with David, but he was biding his time, ingratiating himself with the people, building a following for himself, behaving like a politician. Then it was evident that striking for the kingdom and seeing his father dead had been his intention for a very long time. He just had to win people's hearts first. Bitterness and patience are a formidable combination.

The thing is, I get where he was coming from. Absalom is easy to understand. He had good reason to feel bitter about the chain of events which had occurred in his life. Amnon should never have laid a hand on Tamar. Their father, the king, shouldn't have turned a blind eye and let Amnon off, scott free. Nor should he have brought him, Absalom, back from exile, if he didn't intend to talk to him. And Joab the army commander, who had fetched him home in the first place, should have explained the way things would be, or at least come when he summoned him. No wonder Absalom took it upon himself to burn Joab's fields to get some attention. But I guess his story shows that even when we feel justified, nothing good can come of letting resentment and bitterness be the rulers in our hearts. We do have a choice. His choice was to let these toxic emotions sweep him away.

What a tragedy, when somebody with as much going for him as Absalom has his own life cut short as a result of his heart's thoughts and attitudes. Ladies, he must have been hot. The Bible doesn't dwell on a man's appearance, so when it does get a mention, it must have been remarkable. King Saul was called a fine young man who stood head and shoulders above other men, and David was described as ruddy and handsome in his youth. But neither of them had anything on Absalom, who must have been simply gorgeous. We are told, 'Absalom was greatly praised for his handsome appearance. No man in Israel was as handsome as he. No blemish was on him from his head to his foot. At the end of every year, Absalom would cut his hair, because it became too heavy. When he weighed it, it would weigh about five pounds by the royal measure' (2 Samuel 25-26).

Interestingly, the same week we were reading about Absalom in our Bible study, we were also assigned to read a convicting passage in 2Corinthians about guarding our thoughts. Especially Chapter 10: 1-5 which instructs us to capture every thought that doesn't line up with what we know God would have us think. With Absalom's situation still fresh in my mind, it was clear that his downfall was because he didn't do this. His attitude was the polar opposite to the one Jesus prescribed, when he said to forgive our enemies and pray for them.

Absalom got scarily close to causing the demise of his father and taking the kingdom, but some bad tactical advice proved to be his undoing, and ironically, all that gorgeous hair he was so proud of. It got tangled in the branches of an overhanging tree, pulling him right off his horse and leaving him hanging. Even though David pleaded, 'Please deal easy with the young man, Absalom,' his army commander, Joab, wasn't one for sentiment, and finished him off swiftly with a spear thrust to the heart.

What a tragic waste. It saddens me to read about the death of somebody who'd been blessed with enough natural gifts to be a potential hero. But two wrongs, or in his case, possibly more than a dozen wrongs, never make a right. It also shows that real life isn't really like Hollywood. Modern movie makers might have chosen a different story ending for a person like Absalom. Good looking hero is incensed when an innocent member of his family is viciously attacked, especially when those who should avenge her decide to do nothing. So he takes matters in his own hands, making it his goal to exact justice, however long it takes. Then he decides to win the people's hands and make himself rightful leader. That's not how he's remembered at all.

His story challenges me to let the past go, to let God be the judge. Let's not follow in his footsteps and let preoccupation with other people's faults suffocate our good thoughts and prevent us from leaving a good legacy.

Here's another post about someone who, when you think about it, would have been one of Absalom's many step mothers (as David had several wives) She was a tragic princess


  1. That was a great post, Paula. I never could understand why David didn't do anything about Amnon. I mean, Tamar was his "little girl" for crying out loud.

  2. Hi Lynne,
    I completely agree. What was he thinking? Well, Amnon got his just desserts eventually, however unethically.

  3. Great post Paula. Yes - I get where he's coming from too. Absalom's life is a classic example of what can happen when you don't 'let go and let God'. It's somewhat understandable what he did in regard to Tamar but the bitterness and anger over that situation wasn't appeased after exacting revenge on her behalf. How could it? It didn't change what had happened to his beloved sister. I'm also challenged to let go of the past and let God have His way. After all, He really does know best, doesn't He? As hard as that can be, it really is better in the long term.

  4. Hi Lesley,
    At least we have his story to learn from. I like your thoughts here. Not only did his action not change what happened to Tamar, but it turned out to be counterproductive too. He'd been her main source of support, but he was no longer any use to her in exile in Geshur for three years.

  5. Hi Paula, I agree with 'letting go' of past hurts. It's the best gift we can give ourselves and families. It's God's model for the way forward, as evidenced by His own offering of forgiveness to us.

    I'm at the RWA conference in the US this week. I've just finished a workshop on the Alpha Hero. I think Absalom would have been a PERFECT alpha hero, had he used his desire for justice to bring restoration instead of revenge.

    Dotti :)

  6. Hi Dotti,
    I'm sure you're having a wonderful time in the USA. I hope you'll share more of what you learned from the conference when you get back. The Alpha Hero sounds like a very interesting one.


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