Saturday, May 31, 2014

Absalom (part 4)

Continuing on then, the Absalom story moves along to his insurrection against his father, King David.  Clearly, it is not going to be a mystery as to why this insurrection is going to take place.  Absalom feels slighted by his father.  As far as he was concerned, his father, having never spoken out against nor condemned his son Amnon for his heinous crime against Absalom’s sister (the rape of Tamar), at least according to the Scriptural record, was by extension in complicit agreement with the action. 

Surely, Absalom felt that, having waited two years for some type of movement, his father was never going to take action in this matter, so he would have to take justice into his own hands.  The fact that he had been forced to flee from home when he carried out what he saw as just retribution against Amnon, with his father not reaching out to him for three years, would have to have been galling.  His self-imposed exile would come to be interpreted as a banishment, with Absalom never receiving the honor that he believed was due to him for avenging the shame that had been brought to his sister and his family. 

His actions, as far as he was concerned, constituted a measured response.  He did not respond like Simeon and Levi of old, following the rape of their sister.  He did not slaughter an entire community of men because of the actions of just one individual.  No, he simply carried out that which should have been carried out by his father.  Absalom could have reasoned that his father should have thanked him for fulfilling the obligation that he was obviously refusing to carry out, but he did not. 

Even when he was called out of exile and invited to return to Jerusalem, his father still maintained an effective position of banishment, forcing him to remain separate from the king and not allowing him to see his father’s face.  When summoned from Geshur, surely Absalom felt that his father had finally come to his senses, realizing that Absalom had acted justly in dispatching Amnon with prejudice, with this dispatching taking place after a two year period of patient waiting. 

When finally summoned to the throne room, it had been seven years since the rape of his sister had been perpetuated, five years since he had dealt Amnon death’s fatal blow, and two years since he had returned to Jerusalem.  Even then, the summon for Absalom had not been solely the desire of the king, but had come at the request of Joab, who, having had his fields set ablaze by Absalom in order to gain his attention, reluctantly agreed to intercede to the king on behalf of his frustrated son, doing so because now the issue was of personal consequence.  So when Absalom comes before the king, it was only because of Joab’s influence over David (which was significant because of what Joab knew about the Bathsheba/Uriah incident), which meant that David was still not going to look favorably upon his son. 

While he must have been grateful to finally see him, as David kissed an Absalom that was bowed down before him with his face to the ground, based upon what follows, one can be confident that David’s response was not what Absalom had long desired.  At this point, because of all that had happened (or not happened) in regards to the situation of the rape, it probably became quite clear, at least in Absalom’s mind, that his father had forfeited the legitimate and moral right to rule the Creator God’s people.  Thus Absalom would take matters in to his own hands in order to correct the prevailing issue of injustice as he saw it.  

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