Lord, help me to cultivate harmony within my immediate and extended family.
Read 2 SAMUEL 18:19–33
19 Now Ahimaaz son of Zadok said, “Let me run and take the news to the king that the Lord has vindicated him by delivering him from the hand of his enemies.”
20 “You are not the one to take the news today,” Joab told him. “You may take the news another time, but you must not do so today, because the king’s son is dead.”
21 Then Joab said to a Cushite, “Go, tell the king what you have seen.” The Cushite bowed down before Joab and ran off.
22 Ahimaaz son of Zadok again said to Joab, “Come what may, please let me run behind the Cushite.”
But Joab replied, “My son, why do you want to go? You don’t have any news that will bring you a reward.”
23 He said, “Come what may, I want to run.”
So Joab said, “Run!” Then Ahimaaz ran by way of the plain and outran the Cushite.
24 While David was sitting between the inner and outer gates, the watchman went up to the roof of the gateway by the wall. As he looked out, he saw a man running alone. 25 The watchman called out to the king and reported it.
The king said, “If he is alone, he must have good news.” And the runner came closer and closer.
26 Then the watchman saw another runner, and he called down to the gatekeeper, “Look, another man running alone!”
The king said, “He must be bringing good news, too.”
27 The watchman said, “It seems to me that the first one runs like Ahimaaz son of Zadok.”
“He’s a good man,” the king said. “He comes with good news.”
28 Then Ahimaaz called out to the king, “All is well!” He bowed down before the king with his face to the ground and said, “Praise be to the Lord your God! He has delivered up those who lifted their hands against my lord the king.”
29 The king asked, “Is the young man Absalom safe?”
Ahimaaz answered, “I saw great confusion just as Joab was about to send the king’s servant and me, your servant, but I don’t know what it was.”
30 The king said, “Stand aside and wait here.” So he stepped aside and stood there.
31 Then the Cushite arrived and said, “My lord the king, hear the good news! The Lord has vindicated you today by delivering you from the hand of all who rose up against you.”
32 The king asked the Cushite, “Is the young man Absalom safe?”
The Cushite replied, “May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up to harm you be like that young man.”
33 The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!”
New International Version (NIV)
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“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them” (Isa. 42:16).
In family conflicts, there are generally rights and wrongs on both sides. Grievances and hurts pile up and intertwine in a way that is hard to untangle. Yesterday, we observed Absalom’s struggle, starting off on the right impulse but operating outside of God’s will and ending in calamity. Today, we consider David’s side of the story.
The clash of perspectives in our text challenges us to ask: “What is God’s take on all this?” Both messengers consider the outcome as God’s clear vindication of the king—and therefore good news (19,31). David, meanwhile, is concerned only about Absalom’s safety (29,32). Should we see his behavior as positive? He certainly cares more for family than position (33), and it is hard not to sympathize with his solicitude. Family does matter. Yet, hints abound that David himself contributed to the tragedy.
First, Old Testament narratives often express a spiritual reality through the physical. Thus, it is perhaps symbolic that the king is sitting between the inner and outer gate (24), a place of limbo. The gate is where justice is administered, and the king has not been there for a long time. He has not dealt with sin in his own family (Amnon’s rape of Tamar, Absalom’s murder of Amnon), so wounds have festered without resolution and healing. Second, the messenger announcing Absalom’s death recalls another messenger from Joab, bringing news of Uriah’s death (2 Sam. 11:24). We are subtly reminded of the beginning of David’s troubles. In his adultery with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah, not only has David sinned, but he has set a terrible precedent for his sons to follow. Nathan has warned of ongoing family conflict (2 Sam. 12:10,11), played out openly in this turn of events. The king’s physical and spiritual restoration will happen, but only through a painful lesson that involves deep loss.
How many families do you know of that crashed as a result of a willful disregard of God’s way of doing things?
Open our eyes, Lord, that we might have Your perspective on our lives.