2 SAMUEL 13
Having grown up with apparently little strict paternal discipline, simply under the care of their different mothers, who were jealous of one another, David's sons fancied that they might gratify their own fleshly lusts, and carry out their own ambitious plans; and from this there arose a series of crimes, which nearly cost the king his life and throne. GEM
28 Now Absalom [Avshalom] had commanded his servants, saying, Mark ye now when Amnon's heart is merry with wine, and when I say unto you, Smite Amnon; then kill him, fear not: have not I commanded you? be courageous, and be valiant.
The sword shall not depart from thine house
For two full years, Absalom quietly waited his time, plotting vengeance for his sister, and finally the opportunity came, and he slew Amnon, and David begins to feel the inescapable hand of God's righteous judgment.
The mother of Absalom, as far as is recorded, was the only foreigner among David's wives, and thus God works out the punishment of one sin through the consequences of another. Absalom, whose name, pathetically enough, means "Father of Peace," was the principal instrument of David's punishment; and David's extreme grief at his death, after all his treachery, seems to indicate a special attachment to Absalom, even above his other children, and a bitter realization of what might have been had he himself acted differently.
Three years Absalom spends in exile at Geshur, and two more in Jerusalem before the king is reconciled to him. Seven years have now passed. Having returned, Absalom goes about cunningly to steal the hearts of the men of Israel. How easily are people deceived by a fair show and smooth words! How shallow and unstable is human loyalty! And, above all, how sharply the case of Absalom brings out the fundamental baseness of human nature, teaching us to ever look with distrust upon our natural desires and reactions.
Paul speaks of the foolishness of those who compared themselves with themselves and consequently found nothing wrong. Comparing their actions with their own natural conceptions and thoughts they found that they agreed perfectly. But what of the mind of God? A man's own heart is no safe guide.
But there is a lesson even in Absalom's wickedness -- the lesson of the unjust steward. Absalom yielded himself wholeheartedly to selfishness, and the murder of his own father was the logical conclusion, as he stood in his way. Having given himself over to evil, it would have been foolish to draw the line anywhere. He was wiser in his generation than those who go halfway into evil and still attempt to cling to an appearance of good, or those who but half-heartedly follow that which is good. Having chosen his course, he followed it through to the end and hesitated at nothing.
It was truly an evil, human course, but his pursuance of it is a lesson in single-minded perseverance. And his scheming patience, although directed to base and selfish ends, is an illustration of the latent powers in us all which are equally effective for evil or good.
Two years he quietly waited to avenge himself upon Amnon, but the wait did not dull the keen edge of his determination. How long before his insurrection he had harbored ambitions for his father's throne is not disclosed, but there is no haste in his methods -- only a painstaking and tireless singleness of purpose and a long and skillful planning -- so thorough that when the moment came all Israel was with him, and so secret that David was taken wholly unawares.
Absalom was strong-willed, clever, ruthless and patient -- attributes which could have made him as much a power for good as he was for evil, if he had been moved by the wisdom that is from above, instead of that which is from beneath. God allowed him to go far on the course he chose, for it suited God's purpose to do so, and each successful step would further embolden him for the next.
37 But Absalom [Avshalom] fled, and went to Talmai, the son of Ammihud, king of Geshur. And David [Dovid] mourned for his son every day.
"The sword shall never depart from thy house: because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife. Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine house . . . Thou didst it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun"
(2 Samuel 12:10).
In the working out of this sentence, we are face to face with a plain and signal and unmistakeable illustration of the ways of providence.
The evils to come upon David were to be the work of God-
- "I will raise up evil,"
- "I will do this thing,"
- "The sword shall never depart."
We trace the operation of the thing and we see only men at work so far as appearances and their motives go. David's domestic peace is interrupted by his son Amnon's behaviour to his daughter Tamar. The cloud brought on David's house by this incident is immeasurably deepened by the murder of Amnon in the avenging of Tamar by command of his brother Absalom. A gap is made in the king's domestic circle by the flight of Absalom consequent on this event.
...Apparently, God had nothing to do with it; for in the contemplation of all the events that fulfilled these sayings, nothing is seen but the play of human passion and human lust of power. Yet the evidence is before us that the whole trouble so developed was divinely caused by those angelic manipulations of human affairs... which are unseen by men and which are conducted without any interference with the freedom of human volition. Some have a difficulty in reconciling the two things; but the difficulty must come from want of reflection.
Ways of Providence Ch 17