THE DEATH OF ABSALOM

Pastor James J. Barker

Text: II SAMUEL 18:5-15,24-33




INTRODUCTION:


  1. There are consequences to sin Ė far-reaching and tragic consequences. We see this vividly drawn out in the life of King David. After his sin with Bath-sheba was exposed, Nathan the prophet rebuked him and said these words: "Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house" (II Sam.12:10-12).
  2. David repented, and his repentance is recorded for us in Psalms 32 and 51.
  3. David repented and so God did not kill him. And it is clear from the text that if he had not repented, God would have killed him (II Sam.12:13).
  4. But his baby died (12:14). When the child was sick, David fasted and wept. But after he died, David ate some food and felt better (12:15-20).
  5. His servants could not understand this so David explained himself to them (12:21-23).
  6. Then, later on, another son died. Amnon was murdered by his younger half-brother Absalom. Concerning the death of Amnon, we are told that David "wept very sore" (13:36) and "mourned for his son every day" (13:37).
  7. And then, a few years later Absalom died. And David took his death very badly. His grief was inconsolable. The Bible says he "was much moved," and he wept and he cried out: "O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!" (18:33).
  8. Why do you suppose David took the babyís death so well, and why do you think he was so upset when Absalom died?
  9. I believe I know the answer: David knew his first son went to heaven and he would meet him there (12:23). Therefore, he was calm and at peace because he knew the child went to heaven.
  10. On the other hand, I believe David knew that Absalom went to hell.
  11. And what it made it even more painful was that David knew he was partly to blame for the way things turned out.

 

I. DAVID REAPED WHAT HE SOWED (cf. GAL.6:7).

    1. David made many mistakes, and he suffered greatly because of them. Certainly one of Davidís biggest mistakes was marrying several wives!
    2. "The inconceivable evil of sensuality was surely never more awfully burned in upon any sinful house than it was upon Davidís house" Ė Alexander Whyte. "Polygamy is a dunghill with hell at the heart of it" Ė A. Whyte.
    3. Many wives means many problems (plus Ė think about all the mother-in-laws he had!).
    4. I recall working on a construction job many years ago with a couple of "Rastafarians." I was trying to give them the Gospel when one of them remarked that Solomon had 1,000 wives. That was about all he knew of the Bible.
    5. Solomon might not have learned from Davidís mistakes but his descendants learned from him. And eventually polygamy died out in Israel (cf. I Kings 11:1-3).
    6. When David was a young man, he was wild. And like many a young man that lives recklessly, he paid for it later in life. Mark it down: eventually the bill will come (like credit cards).
    7. I know a man who was brought up in a Christian home but when he grew up he became worldly. He started drinking and became a drunk, often winding up in the gutter. Eventually he repented and got things right with God and now he is a preacher. But he suffers from liver problems. Eventually the bills come in the mail.
    8. You reap what you sow. When David was a young man, he was wild and reckless. Do you remember that in his attempt to flee from King Saul, he moved to the land of the Philistines (I Sam.27:7). And while he was there, he married the king of Geshurís daughter. Her name was Maacah (II Sam.3:2,3).
    9. Scofield says, "Of her was born Absalom, and in him was her wild Bedouin blood, and the blood of a father who had been the reckless chief of a handful of desperate men, and whom only the divine love could tame. In Absalom David reaped from his own sowing" (p. 369).
    10. Of course, Davidís greatest sin was seducing Bath-sheba and then having her husband killed in battle. Nathan the prophet told him that God would not let him get away with this. And it was not long before the chickens came home to roost (II Sam.12:10). II Samuel 13 follows chapter 12.

 

II. DAVID SHOULD HAVE PUNISHED AMNON FOR HIS HORRIBLE CRIME (II Sam.13:21-23).

    1. David should have punished Amnon but he did nothing about it. Because of his own moral failures, particularly his sinful behaviour with Bath-sheba, David was a very lenient and indulgent father.
    2. One preacher said: "It is difficult to wield a heavy sword with a maimed arm."
    3. Undoubtedly, one of the reasons many people (fellow politicians, the media, etc.) have been so easy on our ex-president is because they themselves have moral problems.
    4. We have millions of parents today who grew up in the hippie era. They went the limit in sin. They indulged in drugs and promiscuous sex. Now how can they punish their children for doing the same things? It is very difficult for a father to tell his children to do right when he himself has not done right. This was Davidís problem.
    5. Another reason for Davidís leniency was probably that Amnon was Davidís first-born son and heir to the throne (II Sam.3:2).
    6. If David would have punished Amnon as he should have, Absalom would not have taken matters into his own hands and murdered him (II Sam.13:22,28-32). Things would have turned out differently.

 

III. DAVID SHOULD HAVE FORGIVEN ABSALOM (14:21-24,28).

    1. After Absalom killed Amnon, he fled to Geshur, where his maternal grandparents lived (13:37).
    2. He stayed there for three full years (13:38). Two thoughts stayed on his mind: David was unjust for not punishing Amnon. And now that Amnon was dead, perhaps he would be next in line to the throne.
    3. Joab, Davidís general, tricked David into calling for Absalom. He fetched a wise woman from Tekoah, who persuaded David to bring Absalom home (14:1-3,12-14,19-23).
    4. But David did not reconcile with Absalom (14:24-28). Half-hearted forgiveness is worse than no forgiveness at all (14:32). The stage is now set for an insurrection. First of all, Absalom is not repentant. And he is very bitter towards David. And secondly, David made no effort to see Absalom or to genuinely forgive him. This was a big blunder, and David would pay dearly for it.
    5. After Absalom had Joabís barley fields set on fire, Joab brought him to David (14:28-33). It had been seven years since Tamar had been raped and five years since the murder of Amnon. For five years Absalom had not seen his father. All the while he was quietly planning on taking over the kingdom. Finally, Absalom made his move (15:10-13).
    6. One cannot help but wonder how all of this could have been avoided if David was not such a negligent father. But David was a negligent father and his son Absalom grew to hate him (cf. 17:1-4).
    7. David effectively broke the natural bond of affection that a father has with his son and he inadvertently turned Absalom into his bitter adversary.
    8. Things got worse and civil war broke out. And at Mount Ephraim, 20,000 men were killed in battle (18:7). One manís sin can destroy thousands Ė even millions of others.
    9. David specifically gave orders to his men to "deal gently" with Absalom (18:5), but Joab disobeyed his command (18:9-17).
    10. This brings us to the end of the story. David is sitting between the two gates. He is waiting for news about the battle. And the watchman informs him that a man is running toward them (18:24-33).

CONCLUSION:

  1. David was a man with many faults. He failed time and time again. But David loved the Lord and God called him a "man after His own heart."
  2. Throughout this terrible ordeal, while he was fleeing from his own son Absalom, David knew he was suffering under the disciplinary hand of God.
  3. First of all, he did not want to carry the ark because he knew he was being judged (II Sam.15:24-26). He did not want to give the appearance that everything was right because hew knew he brought much of this upon himself.
  4. Secondly, when Shimei cursed him, he admitted that the Lord allowed it happen for a reason (16:5-13). He humbly submitted to Godís chastening.
  5. But it was too late for Absalom. He knew nothing of the love of God. He knew nothing of the grace of God. And he died a horrible death, suspended from a tree and being slain by ten soldiers (18:14,15).
  6. And our story ends with the grief-stricken King David, crying out: "O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom!" (18:33).
  7. Absalom was in hell and David was partly to blame.


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