One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Wednesday, May 29, 2013: II Samuel 14:1-15:22
38 So Absalom fled and went to Geshur, and was there three years. 39 And King David longed to go to Absalom, his son. II Samuel 13:38-39 (NKJV)
And the king said, “Let him return to his own house, but do not let him see my face.” So Absalom returned to his own house, but did not see the king’s face. II Samuel 14:24 (NKJV)
And Absalom dwelt two full years in Jerusalem, but did not see the king’s face. II Samuel 14:28 (NKJV)
One of the strongest bonds in the world can be the father-son relationship. It can also be one of the most painful and destructive. Fathers are designed by God to give their children protection, identity, discipline, and approval. When fathers function as God has called them to, their sons grow to be strong men and their daughters learn the beauty of a secure identity.
All boys grow up asking what it means to be a man. Their first model is their father. Leanne Payne says of the father-son relationship, "the quiet tree of masculine strength within the father protects and nurtures the fragile sapling of masculinity within his son." Fathers have incredible, God-given ability to mold their sons for good. Unfortunately, far too often this potentially wonderful relationship turns bad. What could have been the source of strength becomes the bedrock of anger and defeat.
John Eldredge speaks to all men when he says, "Every boy, in his journey to become a man, takes an arrow in the center of his heart, in the place of his strength. Because the wound is rarely discussed and more rarely healed, every man carries a wound. And the wound is nearly always given by his father." This is a tremendously powerful principle and has shaped many a man's life. The desire for a father's approval is powerful. The injury of a father's harsh words can stain a heart for years.
David's son Absalom was a leader in the mold of his father. He was a man of action -- attractive in every way (II Sam. 14:25). He defended his sister Tamar when David, the father, would not. By all accounts David loved Absalom dearly, but found himself unable to express it.
David, though a great man in his own right, was also a deeply flawed man. He had failed in the adulterous, murderous disaster surrounding Bathsheba. It is clear that David felt he had little right to bring judgment on others concerning sexual misconduct. David was a warrior on the battlefield, but he was a wimp among his own children.
The stand-off between David and his son, Absalom, grew deeper and deeper. All it would have taken was for David to forgive his son and welcome him back. Instead, the Bible says that David would not let his son "see his face" (II Sam. 14:24, 28). It was a broken relationship.
Absalom resorted to extreme measures in order to get his father's attention. He lit a field on fire! (II Sam. 14:30) How many times have sons done crazy things trying to get their fathers to notice them. It can be self-destructive. Their good actions don't elicit their father's praise, so they resort to bad things. They rebel against their fathers in order to get their father's to acknowledge them! That's exactly what Absalom did.
Ultimately Absalom gave up. He finally got a token "kiss" from his father (II Sam. 14:33), but he knew down inside it would not make any difference. So, he declared war. He incited an all-out nation-wide rebellion.
Sons know that they have a destiny to follow in their fathers' footsteps. Absalom knew that he could some day be king. He felt, however, that David would NEVER give him approval, so he launched out to claim it on his own.
The end result was death. Absalom dies in battle and David grieves in a way that surprises the nation. Why did David wait until the DEATH of his son to show how much he loved him?
Several fatherhood lessons present themselves out of this story:
1. Godly fatherhood works -- no matter what you've done.
David failed to bring needed care to his family in the incident of Amnon and Tamar. He just got angry. Men cannot let their past failures NEUTER them to the point that they fail to fulfill their needed role. God forgives our past failures. Now we are needed to set the right standard for our sons and daughters.
Even when you don't know what to say, at least say something. "I love you." "I forgive you." David did not let Absalom get close enough to him. Therefore Absalom had not idea what David thought of him. This became the set-up for worse problems.
3. Transparency and time.
David's failure to allow Absalom to "see his face" was more than physical. When relationships go bad, the result is usually distance -- and then more distance. David had a hard time letting his guard down. Many fathers are that way. Our kids need to not only see what we do, they need to see our heart.
4. Hear what your son (or daughter) is saying.
David was so wrapped up in his own guilt and anger he couldn't hear what Absalom was trying to tell him. As a result, Absalom's "shouting" got louder and louder until it became a war.
There is a wonderful promise God gives to fathers and sons. It is actually the last verse in the Old Testament. It speaks of the heart of our Heavenly Father. "And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers" (Mal. 4:6). When this doesn't happen, it brings a curse, but when fathers and sons walk together, blessing is released. So be it!