Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Absalom (part 20)

While it is true that a great deal of time and space has been spent dealing with Absalom, it simply must be said that his story is truly and fascinatingly compelling, as it presents and ties together (as has been seen) multiple themes that run deep in Scripture.  Therefore his story lends itself to drawing many conclusions about the Creator God’s working, His mission, and what it is that the Creator God desires for His people (for all time), as it serves as something of a climactic turning point in the history of Israel. 

Now, it has been concluded that Absalom’s downfall came because he agreed with the idea of raising his hand against the Creator God’s anointed, thereby demonstrating that he did not fully trust that God and the promises upon which he may very well have been relying.  Is this sort of conclusion justified?  Apart from the example of Moses and Israel, which was an example and path from which Absalom was deviating, was there another example that he could have followed?  Of course there was.  It was the example that had been set by his own father, before he had been corrupted by the power of the throne. 

In the first book of Samuel, there are two occasions on which David had the opportunity to kill Saul, his oppressor and subjugator.  However, he did not seize upon either of those opportunities to do so.  In fact, David felt guilty for cutting off an edge of Saul’s robe (1 Samuel 24:4).  Of course, to this point Absalom had not even gone that far.  In response to his own action, David said “May the Lord keep me far away from doing such a thing to my lord, who is the Lord’s chosen one, by extending my hand against him.  After all, he is the Lord’s chosen one” (24:6). 

A short while later, David calls out to Saul and says “Even though I have not sinned against you, you are waiting in ambush to take my life” (24:11b).  In the case of Absalom, up until the point that Ahithophel and Hushai speak, there has been no talk, on either the side of David or Absalom, about one attempting to take the other’s life.  Certainly, it can be said that part of the judgment of the Creator God that came upon Saul was related to his ongoing desire to physically and violently raise his hand against the one that his God had been said to have anointed.  Absalom should have continued in the attitude modeled by David and said “May the Lord judge between the two of us” (24:12a), which had already apparently been happening in Absalom’s favor based on the fact of the peaceful exchange of power.  In relation to his opportunity to raise his hand against Saul, David continued with words upon which Absalom should have seized, saying “may the Lord vindicate me over you, but my hand will not be against you” (24:12b). 

Absalom already had the support of the people, and it would appear that David himself was willing to accept Absalom’s exaltation as king.  David had been disgraced and humiliated.  The last thing that Absalom needed to do was to take action that would draw attention, and perhaps even heap sympathy upon David.  Instead, it may very well have been better to completely forget about his father.  Surely, his attempted actions against David might have been perceived as a spiteful type of “kicking a man while he is down,” which would serve to elicit the sympathy and condolences of the people while creating an unfavorable opinion of Absalom as an oppressive ruler that, after all has been said and done, is not all that interested in justice. 

Now, David will be able to turn his words against Absalom, and paint him as a king who has had the hand of Israel’s God removed from him, in a way not unlike that which was experienced by King Saul, and say “Who has the king of Israel come out after?  Who is it that you are pursuing?  A dead dog?  A single flea?  May the Lord be our judge and arbitrator.  May He see and arbitrate my case and deliver me from your hands” (24:14-15).  David will now be able to turn the tables on Absalom, and make his plea for justice, when such, to that point, has been Absalom’s cry. 

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