Read: Psalm 3:1-8
Consider: Psalm 3 is entitled, ‘A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom’. We need to look back to 2 Samuel to understand what happened to make David flee from his own son. In 2 Samuel chapters13-15 we read of Amnon, another son of David and half-brother to Absalom and his sister Tamar. He was infatuated with his half-sister to the point that he forced himself upon her. While David was furious when he heard about it, he did nothing to punish Amnon. Absalom waited two years for his revenge and he finally had Amnon killed. That could have been the end of it, but instead Absalom fled to Geshur and stayed away for three years. Absalom was finally allowed to return to Jerusalem and he began to ingratiate himself with the people. After four years he felt ready to oppose David and as a consequence David fled from the danger.
It was within this context that the psalm was written and David was able to say: Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! Many are saying of me, ‘God will not deliver him’ (Psalm 3:1-2). Despite Absalom’s treachery and the danger David was in, he was able to say: But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high (3:3). David must have been very disappointed that Absalom and his followers were willing to oppose his kingship. The final outcome for Absalom was that he died at the hands of David’s men. King David revealed his deep love for Absalom when he heard of his death. We read: The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: ‘O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you – O Absalom, my son, my son! (2 Samuel 18:33).
What are we to learn from today’s reading? Many things happen in life over which we have no direct control. Just as David did not respond to Absalom’s treachery with hatred, so we should not allow our minds to be filled with thoughts of revenge for the wrongs others do to us. This was Absalom’s problem; he harboured hatred for Amnon in his heart that led to him having Amnon killed. He also allowed himself to arrogantly think that he could stand against David for the kingship. More importantly, in this psalm and 2 Samuel, we have a picture of a father who loved his son, despite his rebellion. Isn’t this just exactly like God, who expresses his unfailing love to us, despite everything we do to rebel against him. While Absalom could have been reconciled to his father, he chose instead the road that led to his own destruction. This is a picture of so many people in society today who, despite God’s offer of forgiveness, reject it and head down the road to destruction.
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it (Matthew 7:13-14).
Pray: Father, we see in the story of David and Absalom a father who loved unconditionally, despite his son’s rebellion. We praise you for your unfailing love for us and your willingness to forgive anyone who turns to you in repentance. Amen
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