Sunday, August 2, 2015

When Victory is Bittersweet

"O Absalom!  My son, my son!"

This is David's famous line after hearing of his son's death.

He is visibly broken by the news, saying this as he wept.

At this point, David must be wondering what has gone wrong to bring him to this point in life.  He had actually been involved in a civil war with his son, Absalom and they had been engaged in battle.  Absalom's forces had been routed (David was the more experienced military commander) and Absalom was killed by David's commander Joab even though he had given an order to capture him alive.

Why Joab took matters into his own hands, we cannot say.  He and Absalom seemed to be at odds in the story.  He refused to attend to Absalom once when called and so Absalom had his field set on fire to send a message.  Joab then answered the summons!

But maybe it was simply a military commander that did not wish the rebel to escape and cause further dissent and bloodshed for the kingdom.  He knew of David's reluctance to bring harm to his son.

Our fights with one another may not be as savage
but the outcomes may be the same.
Absalom represents the all-too human nature of the young seeking to overthrow the old.  In nature we see this play out when younger male animals challenge older patriarchs as they seek to take their place through bloody combat.

David obviously did not wish the conflict with his son to come to this.

Where does God speak to us when we go to war with family?  How can we find peace again in our lives when the barbs thrown are not lethal but strike deeply nonetheless?

This Sunday, we will feature 2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33 from the lectionary in worship at First United Methodist Church in Edmond.  You'll want to be present if you're in town!

In Christ,


Photo by By Martin Cathrae (Timber Wolves Fighting  Uploaded by Mariomassone) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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