2 Samuel 14-18 must be one of the saddest sections of the bible. We pick up after Ammon has committed incest with his half-sister Tamar, and Absalom has killed him. Absalom flees for 3 years in fear. Finally after the prompting of Joab, King David allows Absalom to return, but doesn’t see him for 2 years! So much is revealed in these chapters. Why did David not go and reconcile with Absalom? David was a great warrior, and a great king, and he has the promised covenant with the LORD for a perpetual throne, which Jesus our Savior will sit. But David was a terrible father figure. After the adulteress event with Bathsheba, David is never the same; whether out of fear or guilt – David doesn’t display the courage and power he once had.
With King David displaying a “hands off approach” towards Absalom; Absalom takes things into his own hands. in 2 Samuel 15:7, it says “after 40 years” – this is near the end of King David’s reign. Absalom is usurping authority from David by engaging with the people before they have audience with the King. I cannot help but think that David knew this was going on; but he let it go on. Eventually, Absalom gets enough power and people on his side – what does David do, but flee the city and leaves it to Absalom. David leaves 10 concubines behind, and sure enough – in a display of assuming the throne power, Absalom has relations with them in public eyes. David never corrected or dealt with the events of his children. Absalom is the 3rd child of David by way of Maacah, the Daughter of the King of Geshur – which happens to be the place where Absalom ran after he killed Ammon.
One by the name of Ahitphoel, becomes the counselor of Absalom – by now the strength of Absalom is well-known, and all of Israel – except those faithful to King David have followed Absalom – in fact in 2 Samuel 16: 16, under disguise Hushai declares Long Live the King, Long live Absalom!
How bad did it get? David is beaten down, he even allows a man names Shimei to curse him and throw stones at him, David’s response “perhaps God is telling him to cures me, why would I go against what God has said.” So sad – I think the sin of Bathsheba, and the unchecked sin of Ammon and Absalom has caused David to become a “non-entity” – powerless because of sin that has occurred in his life. Sin will paralyze us if we let it. We must have faith and confidence that when we confess our sins and repent from them [turn away] that God will hear the fervent prayer of His children and will forgive our sins. 1 John 1:9 rings true. Even when we are not faithful – God will always be faithful. Jesus died and rose again for our justification. We are not just exonerated from the penalty of our sins, but we have been washed, cleansed from all unrighteousness in Christ. David was enslaved to his past. That is guilt – God doesn’t deal with us according to our guilt but according to the perfect sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ. We are freed from the tyranny of Satan the accuser, who has been defeated. David was not living in the victory, but in the defeat of sin!
The family coup extended into the whole nation and tribes of Israel. Finally, there is a war, but on that day 20,000 people died. Odious – the bible says that Absalom had become repulsive to David – while that may be true to some extent, I also find that David for whatever reason, couldn’t bring himself to deal with Absalom. He even asks that Joab, Abishai and Ittai deal gently with Absalom. Joab hears that Absalom is stuck in the fork of a tree where his hair got caught. Joab then thrust three spears through Absalom. I know Joab thought he was doing right to Absalom, but he rejected the wishes of David. Absalom is dead, Ammon is dead, and Tamar is scarred. I wonder how different it would have been if David the father would have been the parent they needed both in loving and correcting them?
King David was a great man of God, a great King, but he failed as a father. This just reinforces that no matter what else is going on – family must come first!