In 2 Samuel 18:14-15, we read that David’s son Absalom dies. This incident did not happen in isolation. It was the consequence of a long and sad chain of events, sinful events.
This second book of Samuel begins with David doing quite well. David rightly mourns the death of King Saul and his son Jonathan. Next David is anointed king over Judah, grows in strength against a rival who challenges his authority, becomes king of Israel, then conquers Jerusalem, defeats Philistines, brings the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem, and even receives the absolutely gracious promise that God will establish a Davidic dynasty.
Everyone would have lived happily ever after had the story ended there. Instead, David commits adultery with Bathsheba and, once he learns she’s pregnant, he has her husband Uriah murdered to cover up his sin. There was no reason for these things to happen. Sin and evil are like that: absurd.
What David did, however, was not hidden from God. God is not content to ignore, deny, or excuse this sin of David. God sends his prophet Nathan to confront David with his sin and its consequences. David repents. God forgives him.
Even so, God tells David his sin will bear destructive reciprocal consequences. David took Uriah’s wife? Someone will take and lie with his wives. David put Uriah to the sword? The sword will not leave his family. David showed contempt for the Lord and Giver of Life? The child born of this adulterous union will die.
The child does die.
The sword does not leave David’s family. David’s son Amnon rapes his half-sister Tamar. David rages but does nothing more. Absalom, Tamar’s brother, bides his time until he is able to murder Amnon. Absalom then lives in exile for three years until David is tricked into bringing him back to Jerusalem.
In the fullness of time, Absalom conspires against his father. David is forced to flee Jerusalem to save his life. While he is gone, Absalom lies with his father’s concubines in a tent pitched on a roof so that all know what is going on. David’s sin had its destructive reciprocal consequences.
But Absalom’s plot to murder David, his own father not to mention God’s anointed king, is also a sin with destructive reciprocal consequences. Absalom gets stuck in a vulnerable position and is killed by David’s soldiers.
This is a story without a happy ending. Yes, David lives, but amidst a spiral of increasing violence. May we heed this cautionary tale.
All rights reserved. Fair use encouraged.