HEARING HARD TRUTHS
Lord, help me to prioritize relationships correctly.
Read 2 SAMUEL 19:1–8a
Joab was told, “The king is weeping and mourning for Absalom.” 2 And for the whole army the victory that day was turned into mourning, because on that day the troops heard it said, “The king is grieving for his son.” 3 The men stole into the city that day as men steal in who are ashamed when they flee from battle. 4 The king covered his face and cried aloud, “O my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son!”
5 Then Joab went into the house to the king and said, “Today you have humiliated all your men, who have just saved your life and the lives of your sons and daughters and the lives of your wives and concubines. 6 You love those who hate you and hate those who love you. You have made it clear today that the commanders and their men mean nothing to you. I see that you would be pleased if Absalom were alive today and all of us were dead. 7 Now go out and encourage your men. I swear by the Lord that if you don’t go out, not a man will be left with you by nightfall. This will be worse for you than all the calamities that have come on you from your youth till now.”
8 So the king got up and took his seat in the gateway. When the men were told, “The king is sitting in the gateway,” they all came before him.
Meanwhile, the Israelites had fled to their homes.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop” (Matt. 13:23).
We have reached the turning point in the long story of David’s drifting away from God’s service, a story that starts with adultery and murder and ends in the death of his beloved son. The king’s pain is heart-wrenching, and the damage to his family cannot be undone. Yet even now, David has a choice, presented by a most unlikely messenger. Joab is a brutal general with a cast-iron stomach who understands the political necessity of retaining power, yet his words highlight how much David’s priorities have become skewed. He has been so absorbed in his personal grief for the son who did all he could to destroy him that he ignores the people who stood by him during the ordeal.
In fact, David’s present actions reflect his previous behavior, as we saw yesterday. Earlier, David neglected justice, putting his personal feelings for Absalom first—neither condemning him, nor approaching him. Ironically, had David carried out his royal duty (judging rightly in Tamar’s case and in Absalom’s), his private life may have survived major damage. Were this indicative of a wider problem of public neglect, it may explain how his son’s claim to bring justice, if he were king, appealed to Israel (2 Sam. 15:4).
It is difficult to receive hard truths from others, but even more so from someone we respect only marginally. Joab has proven himself a thug more often than a counselor, so it speaks volumes for David’s character that he is willing to listen. While Joab asks only for some encouragement of the troops, David realizes his mistake and sits down in the gate (8) ready to receive those who stood with him. This is the defining moment in the story; David is now on the road to recovery in every way.
Can each of us keep an open mind to hear truth—even from unlikely sources?
Lord, give me the ability to know when someone not to my liking is nonetheless speaking wisdom.