2 Samuel 18

2 Samuel 18
by Pastor Lawrence Bowlin

This is one of the most heart-wrenching accounts in the life of David adding sorrow upon sorrow for the death of his beloved son, Absalom, the third son to die as a result of David’s sin, and he would not be the last. Of course, Absalom had clearly sinned against the Lord and against his anointed king in very egregious ways. Not only had he usurped his father’s throne; he also had slept with his father’s concubines and now was seeking to kill his own father in order to maintain his own power. Thus Absalom’s sin was very wicked in the sight of the Lord, raising his hand against his own father in addition to raising his hand against the king, which was, in a sense, raising his hand against the Lord.

But David did not take Absalom’s sin as serious as he should, nor did he correct him as he should, nor even communicate with him after bringing him back to Jerusalem. In a sense, he had put his own son Absalom before the Lord and all of Israel suffered as a result. Even when Absalom was seeking to kill his father and wipe out all of David’s allies, David was still seeking to protect this rebel and tyrant that should have been put to death for raising his hand against the king and for raising his hand against his own father (see Dt. 21:18-21), but he was unwilling. As a result he put Joab, his mighty men and all of Israel at risk in telling his men to treat Absalom gently. Clearly, Joab understood the dangerous situation they were in and took matters into his own hands by putting Absalom to death.

In a sense, one could say that Absalom was hung for his offense, then pierced for his transgression, then stoned to death because of his great sin. Stoning itself was commanded for all those children who raised their hands against their parents in the Old Testament, and Absalom should not have been an exception. In order for David’s kingdom to be preserved, Absalom’s kingdom had to come to an end and so would his life. But seeing David mourn uncontrollably without hope over his son should clue us in that David is not thinking clearly. Somehow he had put his sons before God and that would lead to much bitterness in his life.

The same thing could be said about any parent today who puts his or her children before the Lord—it will not end well. Jesus said in Matthew 10.37, “Whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” It is understandable if David is weeping over his son, especially if he was on the road to hell. Nevertheless, there has to be a time in which the father or mother must turn their children over to the Lord and acknowledge them as gifts, understanding that God’s gifts are never greater than the giver Himself. And because God is greater, we must pursue the discipline of the Lord in relation to our children. We must speak the truth to them in love, and we must cherish God’s favor over theirs whenever these two things are in conflict. For although we are called to love and rear our children, God’s love and His will are paramount. Losing sight of this one truth, everything is out of order and idolatry is prevalent.