Have you ever thought that this world would be wonderful if it weren’t for people? Our reading today shines the light on the beautiful complexity of personal relationships, particularly family relationships. At best, David and Absalom had a tenuous father-son relationship. The handsome and charismatic son was filled with potential and deeply loved by David. However, Absalom lost a tremendous amount of respect for his dad when David failed to punish Amnon for the rape of his sister. As Absalom consistently failed to listen to healthy advice, he temporarily usurped his father’s throne in Jerusalem. In an effort to avoid a civil war, David left the capital city under jeers and mockery. And yet we find no evidence of an embittered heart within David. Imagine the gossip in town! The scandal! The tabloids of the day would certainly be buzzing about the king falling to a more politically savvy son. David has met his match, or so it seems.
When we find ourselves in family feuds or broken friendships, the temptation is to retaliate, to punish those who have wronged us. But David was a different kind of man by this point in his life. He had received a new spiritual heart from the Lord through his previous brokenness. He was a new creation. His response could therefore reflect the kind and merciful heart of God. This is where we find grace in real life.
As it became clear that Absalom was dangerous as a leader over Israel, David knew he needed to regain the throne in Jerusalem. He had every right to tell his leaders to kill his son, the traitor, but instead he showed mercy, telling them, “Deal gently with the young man for my sake.” Where can you spread similar grace with your words today?
Merciful God, give me the strength to offer the same grace to others that you have so freely offered to me this day and every day. Amen.
David’s family was a mess. Among his children there was rape, murder, and a plot to overthrow him by his son Absalom. Violence followed, and Second Samuel tells the story of Absalom’s death. Even though Absalom had betrayed him, David still loved his son with a parent’s never-ending love—the kind of love that God demonstrates perfectly for us, as David celebrates in Psalm 34. The author of Ephesians warns against acting out of anger, wrath, and malice (the very things that tore apart David’s family). We should instead forgive, as God in Christ has forgiven us. In John, Jesus restates that he is the path to God because he teaches God’s truth. Jesus will give his own life, then raise up those who believe in him.
Read 2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33. What helps you to “deal gently” with others? What makes it challenging at times?
Read Psalm 34:1-8. When have you been able to “taste and see” God’s goodness?
Read Ephesians 4:25–5:2. How do your words and actions reflect what you profess to believe about Christ?
Read John 6:35, 41-51. God comes to us in unexpected ways. Is there someone you have overlooked or dismissed as a servant of God? How can you work to see people as God sees them?
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