Tuesday, September 6, 2011

a lesson in failed fathering

And a messenger came to David, saying, "The hearts of the men of Israel have gone after Absalom." Then David said to all his servants who were with him at Jerusalem, "Arise, and let us flee, or else there will be no escape for us from Absalom. Go quickly, lest he overtake us quickly and bring down ruin on us and strike the city with the edge of the sword."
2 Samuel 15:13-14

Thus begins a sad episode in the life of David. His own son, Absalom, manages to lead a conspiracy of revolutionary proportions. The result is that David believed the reports of Absalom's success and in fear vacated the throne. He wished to avoid a civil war, but conflict would be unavoidable.

Absalom had crafted this rebellion over four years. He saw his father as weak and indecisive. He set himself up at the gates of Jerusalem to judge matters that people were wanting to bring to the palace. He managed to endear himself to the people through his handsome friendliness and really, back-slapping politics, all in the name of justice. The nation knew that Absalom was the prince that did the work of the king. Absalom was probably very self-assured in this practice of his. He had seen his father neglect justice twice with his own family. I am sure that Absalom believed himself to be the victim who understood other's rights and was thus an empathetic judge. He was very personable with all who came to him and that is how he eventually won a substantial following (2 Samuel 15:4-6).

David's powerlessness to confront Absalom led to his present exile. As he weeps his way through the city, the days of David the giant killer and darling of all Israel seem distant, ironically given over to his scheming son. The years of sorrow and neglect of his family come to visit David painfully on this slow journey marching out of the palace. The consequences of his own sins keep visiting him in new and painful ways. It is not pleasant to read.

David's paralysis of leadership in his own home is instructive. It warns fathers in particular of the dire issues at stake in caring for children with God's mercy and justice. David had struggled with seeing his own sons commit his own sins. He has been inconsistent and unresponsive to the spiritual needs in his home. And now that his oldest son has risen against him, he accepts the humiliation. The consequences of failed fatherhood are haunting his every move as he weeps with each step that leaves his kingly life behind into unknown exile.

- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13

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