2 Samuel 18:1-19:8: Judgement on Absalom
Love made a god becomes a demon. This is a paraphrase of a point C S Lewis makes in his book The Four Loves. When we love something too much, when we make a god of it, we turn it into a terrorising demon in our lives. Central to the books of 1 and 2 Samuel is the notion of God sovereignly causing His will to come to pass, the same is true of 2 Samuel 18:1-19:8 as we see God judging Absalom. But there is always a side story as we have documented the sins or obedience of the others involved. In our portion today we witness David, the man credited with being a man after God’s own heart, being self-absorbed and a man after his own heart. David is absorbed with a selfish love for his son. Perhaps to your mind, the words selfish love are mutually exclusive and there can be no such thing. But it is not true. Our sinful hearts are able to make love a selfish thing and David does in this chapter.
Civil war has broken out between those loyal to David and the huge army Absalom has amassed to kill David. As David addresses his forces he says, ‘Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom,’ v5. Absalom is a traitor who deserves to die, and yet David loves his son so blindly, that he asks for gentleness for Absalom. Absalom will die, as a fulfilment of God’s purposes. And when the good news is told David, it is bad news and he turns victory into defeat by his selfish grieving. Joab has to come in a be a ‘dutch uncle’ who tells David the hard truth. So as we go through this chapter I want you to think about your love, and the love you have for your families, your dreams, and I want you to evaluate whether like David those things are an idol in your lives. Remember how we identify idols in our lives. When an idol is removed, does it make us mad, sad, bad or glad. Angry at God and others, so sad we fall into depression or suicide, we sin in order to have it, or as a punishment upon God because it has been taken away, or it is something that we have made necessary for our ultimate happiness. Or another way of identifying an idol is when something in your life apart from God is necessary for your identity, purpose, satisfaction or security. We will look at this chapter in three parts, firstly, Absalom’s deserved judgement, David’s selfish grieving and Joab’s necessary counsel.