Friday, September 9, 2011
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
This is poignant, raw grief... and yet, so much more. David is inconsolable at the moment. I believe the depth of emotion stems not just from the death fo Absalom. I think a huge amount of regret is in this sorrow over David's LIFE with Absalom. David is mourning all the lost opportunity with his son. He never really reconciled with him, and that is very, very painful.
There is a grief that comes with a lost reconciliation. It is multiplied in David due to the factors involved. David did not reconcile with his son. He chose to ignore him. The closeness of the relationship demanded he act on the opportunity to restore. David did not do so. He put it off to the point that his inaction eventually involved the entire nation of Israel in a civil war. It was a big mess. Perhaps David secretyly hoped that Absalom would surrender in the battle or be captured alive so that a reconciliation might be possible under David's exclusive terms. But that was a fantasy... a deadly delusion.
David had to know that the troops would be making Absalom the first objective. If given him as a target of opportunity, they would take it. He warned the generals to spare Absalom. But this was war, and in the mix of God's providence (Absalom's hair snares him in a tree) and war's uncontrolled passion (Joab and his troops target Absalom), the king's wish is not followed.
All this speaks to the tragedy of missed restoration. In David's case a paralysis of leadership mixed with personal pride and political protocols to short-circuit the process. And it led to literal warfare before it all ended... badly. The warning to us is that failure to extend grace, mercy, and to act on a commitment to the hard work of reconciliation can lead to awful personal devastation. Absalom was not the only Israelite to die in the guerilla warfare in the forest of Ephraim on that day. Unresolved conflicts claim many casualties in the collateral damage of the battle.
- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13