Today we finish our series on the life of King David. As we have discovered, David was an incredible leader and valiant warrior and he had a real heart for God! But David came from a dysfunctional family, and some of that dysfunction followed him when he grew up and established his own family. Rather than deal openly with sin, he and his family ignored and swept it under the rug—and this led to more dysfunction. Childhood years shape us, for better or for worse, and influence the trajectory of our lives. Maybe you grew up in a family where when bad stuff happened, it was swept under the rug. No one talked about it. Uncle Bob, did something, you’re not sure what it was, but now he doesn’t come around anymore. Maybe your dad had an explosive anger, or your mom was on top of the world one minute, and depressed the next. You never knew what you were coming home to. Let’s explore David’s home.
It was common in David’s day for prominent men to have a lot of wives. And because they had a lot of wives, they had a lot of children. Today’s story revolves around just three of David’s children: Amnon (David’s oldest son), Tamar (Amnon’s beautiful half-sister), and Absalom, Tamar’s brother. Lots of wives, lots children, leading to lots of complicated relationships. Amnon has a crush on Tamar (2 Samuel 13). He knows it’s wrong, but he can’t get Tamar out of his head. Amnon’s cousin proposed a solution—just rape her (v. 5)! This sets off an unbelievable chain of events in David’s home. All eyes are on David. What’s he going to do? The integrity of the judicial system hangs in the balance. David is angry, but does nothing. Absalom is angry, and secretly schemes to avenge it. It becomes the family secret. Everyone in David’s family knows what happened, but they sweep it under the rug. But what they can’t sweep under the rug is the anger and revenge which this great sin provoked. Sometimes people say, “Time heals all wounds.” No it doesn’t! The effects of unresolved conflict can extend for a lifetime. Time doesn’t heal wounds—forgiveness does!
For some reason, David didn’t take a stand. Maybe he blamed himself for letting it happen. Maybe he felt like a hypocrite about confronting Amnon because of his sin against Bathsheba. Whatever the reason, David’s silence and inaction in the aftermath of Tamar’s rape only made things worse. Absalom made a plan for revenge (2 Samuel 13:28-29). Absalom did what a lot of us do when things don’t go the way we think they should: he took matters into his own hands—and made the situation even worse! Then he went into exile for three years.
Meanwhile, David’s heart yearned to be reconnected with his son. Perhaps the passing of the years took the edge off his bitterness. Parents understand this; no matter what your child has done, you still love them. You desire connection with your own flesh and blood. So David sent a member to speak with Absalom. Absalom returned to Jerusalem, but David is conflicted and said: “Absalom can live in his old house, but I don’t want to see him.” Finally, after five long years of separation Absalom got really frustrated and hatched a plan to replace his father as king (2 Samuel 15:1-6). After four years of scheming, Absalom has 20,000 followers and decided it was time to attack the house of David and set up the kingdom of Absalom (2 Samuel 15-17). As David sends out his troops, he has one request: that they spare the life of his son (18:5). Despite his treason, David still cares deeply about Absalom. In the midst of the battle, one of David’s general’s sees an opportunity to kill Absalom, and rejecting David’s command, he kills him. David was overcome with emotion. He went up to the room over the gateway and burst into tears. And as he went, he cried, “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). David’s heart is shattered, because he understands that you don’t really win when you lose a relationship.
So I ask you… when those awkward family situations arise, “Are you going to build a wall, or are you going to build a bridge? Aren’t you glad that God built a bridge rather than a wall when you sinned, when you did things for which you should be ashamed? God didn’t decide to hold those offenses over our heads. God didn’t send his wrath to you, He sent his Son for you! He didn’t build a wall, he built a bridge! We should do the same.
APPLICATION / CHALLENGE
- Rather than building walls, extend bridges towards those who have hurt you and caused you pain, because you don’t really win, if you lose a relationship.
TAKE ONE STEP
Each week, write down one doable concrete step of obedience, small or large that you will put into practice this week. (James 1:22: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”)