On the Death of Absalom

The king said to the Cushite, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?” The Cushite answered, “May the enemies of my lord the king, and all who rise up to do you harm, be like that young man.” The king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept; and as he went, he said, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!”  2 Samuel 18:32-33

Second Samuel tells how Absalom launched a rebellion against his father King David. It all began when David’s firstborn son Amnon raped Absalom’s sister Tamar, and David refused to do anything about it. David, who raped Bathsheba and murdered her husband Uriah. In revenge for his sister’s rape, Absalom waited two years until the time was right, and then he murdered Amnon. Absalom fled the country until David cooled down, and then when Absalom returned to Israel he began a campaign to turn the people against the king. Eventually, Absalom had himself crowned king and raised an army to destroy his father. David had to flee Jerusalem and Judea just to save his life.

This reading (2 Samuel 18:32-33) comes after David’s army had defeated the rebels and killed the traitorous Absalom. Bringing the news of Absalom’s death and defeat, the messenger proclaims, “May the enemies of my lord the king, and all who rise up to do you harm, be like that young man.” David, nevertheless, weeps for his slain son.

Chapter 19 relates how David’s own Army felt disheartened and dishonored by David’s very public grief. The soldiers had risked their lives for David. They should be celebrating their victory and the survival of David’s reign, not mourning the traitor who had caused so much death and destruction by his rebellion.

May the enemies of my lord the king, and all who rise up to do you harm, be like that young man.

That’s a prayer that all who stand with the Lord’s messiah can pray. That’s a sentiment that you find throughout the Psalms. May the messiah be victorious. May his enemies be defeated. May his reign endure forever.

Indeed, the church of Jesus Christ has good news. The lamb has conquered and begun his reign, and his kingdom will have no end. The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever. No mutiny will stand.

All those who persist in their rebellion will suffer Absalom’s fate … but their defeat occasions tears as much as it does celebration.

The king weeps for his dead and dying sons and daughters. He puts his troops in harm’s way not only to make his name victorious, but to get back for himself the members of his household who have gone astray.

The conquering lamb, the true king of Israel, the true son of David, does indeed offer his own life for all the Absaloms of the world. The king’s life, instead of the rebellious child’s, is given for those who will accept it.

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