1Someone told Joab, “The king is crying because Absalom is dead.”
2David's army found out he was crying because his son had died, and their day of victory suddenly turned into a day of sadness. 3The troops were sneaking into Mahanaim, just as if they had run away from a battle and were ashamed.
4David covered his face with his hands and kept on crying loudly, “My son, Absalom! Absalom, my son, my son!”
5Joab went to the house where David was staying and told him:
You've made your soldiers ashamed! Not only did they save your life, they saved your sons and daughters and wives as well. 6You're more loyal to your enemies than to your friends. What you've done today has shown your officers and soldiers that they don't mean a thing to you. You would be happy if Absalom was still alive, even if the rest of us were dead.
7Now get up! Go out there and thank them for what they did. If you don't, I swear by the Lord that you won't even have one man left on your side tomorrow morning. You may have had a lot of troubles in the past, but this will be the worst thing that has ever happened to you!
8David got up and went to the town gate and sat down. When the people heard that he was sitting there, they came to see him.
Israel and Judah Want
After Israel's soldiers had all returned home,
Two brothers coached the opposing teams in the 2013 NFL Super Bowl. Which team, I wondered, would the parents be pulling for?
If their hope for the success of each of their sons was equal, the final score really didn’t matter. Any result registered a winner. By the same token, they couldn’t avoid a loss. Did they have favourites? Were they parents first? Were they fans of a particular team first? Or did they feel something squarely in between?
A similar dynamic plays out on a massively different scale when David’s kingdom is saved but his son dies the ignominious death of a traitor. At the moment he learned Absalom was dead, the role of king was the farthest thing from David’s mind. He was first and foremost a grieving father. He wept and mourned and caused the faces of everyone around him to fall.
Alas, almost immediately, David’s personal grief intruded on his duty as a king. As the victorious troops came marching into the city prepared to celebrate their triumph, they were met by the sad face of their leader and forced to mask their joy. They were made to feel that their loyalty was betrayal, that their honorable efforts were a supreme disservice.
It took a strong, longtime colleague to remind David of his duty as a military commander and civil ruler. These people had risked their lives to serve him. He owed it to them to carry out the responsibilities of a king. David could not abdicate his role.
So … he sucked it up and got back to work. At this point, it didn’t seem to matter. David’s joy was gone. He lost a son, but kept a job. Whenever people are required to perform duties at odds with their heart, their passion disappears and their leadership is compromised.
O God, save me from ever having to choose between righteous duty and family relationship. Guard my actions and guide my steps so that I make the kinds of decisions each day that help me to avoid compromising situations down the road. Help me to be both loyal and true.