King David tries to protect his son on the battlefield, but his plans are thwarted in the heat of battle. When messengers tell King David about the defeat of his enemies, David can only focus on the death of his son. He cries out in anguish, wishing he’d been the one to die instead. He experiences the bitter consequences of his own sins. (See 2 Samuel 12.) Nothing Absalom did kept his father from loving him. David, though a flawed man himself, loved his son—perhaps in part because David knew firsthand the consequences of a life gone astray. David wanted desperately to protect his son but in the end could only express his love by grieving for him.
My friend John’s son Fred cannot stay sober long enough to get his life on track. Fred has tried various programs and pills to get and stay sober. Time after time John, himself a recovering alcoholic, learns his son is again living on the streets or in prison. This has been going on for decades, and John grieves for Fred each time. Yet John continues reaching out to Fred and praying he will find his way to sobriety and a better life. John desperately wants Fred to kick the addiction that keeps him homeless and too often hopeless. Meanwhile, John prays and waits.
Not all parents are capable of the passionate commitment to their children demonstrated by King David and my friend John. However, parents like David and John reflect God’s eternal love and devotion to us. God knows us and desires that we be in good relationship with one another. These truths give us hope that God will intervene.
Gracious Lord, help us to trust that your love for us is stronger than any wrong steps we take. 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 but then raise up those who believe in him.
• Read 2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33. When have you been called to “deal gently” with a loved one?
• Read Psalm 34:1-8. Reflect on a time when you were able to intimately “taste and see” God’s goodness in your life.
• Read Ephesians 4:25–5:2. Are your words and actions imitating Christ?
• Read John 6:35, 41-51. God comes to us in unexpected ways. Who have you discounted as a servant of God? How can you support their ministry?
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