1Some time later, Absalom got himself a chariot with horses to pull it, and he had 50 men run in front. 2He would get up early each morning and wait by the side of the road that led to the city gate. Anyone who had a complaint to bring to King David would have to go that way, and Absalom would ask each of them, “Where are you from?”
If they said, “I'm from a tribe in the north,” 3Absalom would say, “You deserve to win your case. It's too bad the king doesn't have anyone to hear complaints like yours. 4I wish someone would make me the judge around here! I would be fair to everyone.”
5Whenever anyone came to Absalom and started bowing down, he would reach out and hug and kiss them. 6That's how he treated everyone from Israel who brought a complaint to the king. Soon everyone in Israel liked Absalom better than they liked David.
7Four years later, Absalom said to David, “Please, let me go to Hebron. I have to keep a promise that I made to the Lord, 8when I was living with the Arameans in Geshur. I promised that if the Lord would bring me back to live in Jerusalem, I would worship him in Hebron.”
9David gave his permission, and Absalom went to Hebron. 10-12He took 200 men from Jerusalem with him, but they had no idea what he was going to do. Absalom offered sacrifices in Hebron and sent someone to Gilo to tell David's advisor Ahithophel to come.
More and more people were joining Absalom and supporting his plot. Meanwhile, Absalom had secretly sent some messengers to the northern tribes of Israel. The messengers told everyone, “When you hear the sound of the trumpets, you must shout, ‘Absalom now rules as king in Hebron!’ ”
King David’s son Absalom had plenty of reasons to be angry with his father. David did not act fairly as a parent. He favoured his elder sons and ignored the defiling of one of his daughters. When such family conflict was left unresolved, Absalom took matters into his own hands and murdered his own half-brother.
Absalom’s anger landed him a season in exile before David reluctantly allowed him to return to the proximity of the palace. But Absalom was not yet avenged. He used his charm to “steal the hearts of the people,” further undermining his father’s leadership.
Absalom had David’s charisma, but he didn’t have his sense of loyalty and he didn’t acknowledge his father’s God. His pride and ambition prompted a sorry story of betrayal and deceit, luring innocent people into a rebellion that tore the kingdom apart.
Few of us are in a position to divide kingdoms, but smaller scale conflicts may well be waging in our homes or workplaces. Are we doing our part to keep the peace? Are we acting justly and fairly, protecting the innocent and reprimanding the wrongdoers? Or do we disregard bad behaviour because we don’t want to rock the boat? Do we let things slide because it seems less bother at the time?
Evil doesn’t go away when we ignore it. In fact, it thrives wherever it is allowed to proceed unopposed. As surely as the tides rise and fall, untended pain begets further injury and misery follows upon sorrow. Violated people respond with violent acts. Relationships without love spawn loneliness and alienation. Irresponsible leaders invite usurpers.
Beware the flattering words of someone with a grudge and an ambitious agenda. Pay heed instead to those who are peaceable and compassionate. They may not seem powerful, but their way is worth following.
O God, how often do family patterns of behaving badly repeat themselves? How often does the failure of a parent lead to ongoing conflict and damaged lives? Thank you for all the fair and loving parents. And thank you for forgiving us when we acknowledge our failures and seek to remedy our neglects.