It is sad when heartbreak comes to a parent through children who grow up to disrespect them. Many parents in our culture know this heartbreak well because they raised their kids during a time when it was believed that discipline would “scar” them and would “stifle their individuality. I want to share with you just such a story. I want to take you back to a period in the world’s history when a nation stood out among it’s peers for its power and it’s seemingly favored position in the universe.The powerful king of this powerful nation had a very handsome son who had beautiful long locks of hair and was the apple of his father’s eye. The King’s name was David and the son’s name was Absalom. I believe that we receive some valuable lessons from studying this father-son relationship. Consider that …
The Son’s Character Development Was impacted by the Lack of Parental Attention/Discipline While Growing Up.
The King, as often happens with busy fathers, was very busy in the affairs of his kingdom. He was a very sincere, religious and hard working man. He had a sense of values and he knew the importance of modeling good character before his children. He was just distracted with the business of the kingdom. To put it bluntly, he failed to watch his kids grow up. One biographer said of David, “He helped conceive lots of children but he helped rear none of them” (Swindoll, p. 153).
In the course of that neglect, character development suffered. Absalom built resentment towards his absentee father. He sees the messages repeated continually that his father has no backbone for discipline. David failed to teach Absalom to respect God and others. Again, to put it bluntly, Dad had been too busy doing “king stuff” to be a dad. Another factor that contributed the the son’s lack of character development was the fact that there were many other wives and kids in the picture. Talk about “blended families,” the king had 11 wives and at least 20 kids (See 1 Chron 3). Now, the son was one of the most handsome in the land – and he knew it. Bad character plus good looks. That is a formula that spells trouble!
Absalom had a sister named Tamar to whom he became very close. Despite his character flaws, Absalom felt very responsible to protect his younger sister. He comes to her rescue when she is raped by a half-brother. Amnon. Absalom, for two years, seethes in his anger toward Amnon over this incident. He cannot believe that his father does nothing about this shameful incident in their family! He is outraged by the injustice done to Tamar! Absalom plots his revenge. He tells David, “Father, I am planning a sheep-shearing party at Baal Hazor and I would like you and all of your servants to come. I have invited all of my brothers as well.” David declines his son’s offer but puts his blessing upon the event.
Absalom prepared a banquet fit for a king. He made sure there was plenty of wine to help him carry out his evil plan. When Amnon arrived at the banquet the servants of Absalom said to him, “Welcome Prince Amnon, your brother has prepared a sumptuous feast! Come and take your fill. We have plenty of wine so drink up!” As Amnon is feeling no pain, the servants of Absalom fulfill the commands of their master and execute the death sentence.
As Absalom flees the scene, after Amnon is dead, it is noteworthy where he goes. “He takes refuge with his granddad. Apparently Absalom had established a link with him and found something in the home of Grandfather Talmai that he couldn’t find in David’s. He remained there for three years.” Also, consider secondly that …
The Son’s Appetite for Power was Whetted by What He Saw Lacking in His Father’s Style.
Raised in an unruly, undisciplined, completely dysfunctional home, the son’s heart grew wicked and ungrateful and cruel in the three years he was away from the palace. And while there he had begun to formulate a plan to take the throne and kingdom away from his father and make himself king instead. He began to live in a kingly luxurious way.
He would also rise early, go to the gate of the king’s palace and offer to judge the cases of those who came to see the King. He would tell them, The King is busy! He will not take the time for you, but I will consider your pleas!” In the course of time, he “won the hearts of all he met.” while his father the king isolated himself in the palace. Slowly the kingdom was slipping away from the king and he was oblivious to it. And finally, see that …
The Son’s Reward Was Predictable Based Upon His Wrong Priorities.
After 4 years of plotting and winning the popularity of the people with his judgement, the son felt he had a solid enough hold on the hearts of the people to assert his power directly. Under the guise of going on a mission of mercy, he assembled an army of confidants and one of his father’s chief advisors. He sent messengers throughout the land spreading the message that he was now king. The news made its way to the palace that the son had made himself king, that the army supported him and that the hearts of the people were with him.
The King, not knowing who to trust or where to go, fled for his life. David cried, “Up and out of here! We must run for our lives or none of us will escape Absalom. Hurry, he is about to pull the city down around our ears and slaughter us all!” Amidst the sorrow and lament prevalent during the escape, David is found weeping and walking barefoot as he mourned the betrayal of his son. Eventually, however, forces loyal to the king, who had remained behind as insiders to evaluate the situation, were able to lead a return of power to the king. In the ensuing conflict between those loyal to the king, and those loyal to the son, the son fled the palace and his long beautiful hair became caught in an oak tree. As he hung suspended from the oak, one of the soldiers in the kings army stabbed him through and he died.
We can learn valuable lessons from history, especially from biblical history. George Santayana (1863-1952), philosopher, essayist poet and novelist, said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (Life and Reason (1905-1906), Vol. I, Reason in Common Sense). Have we learned anything from the story of David and Absalom (1010-970 B.C.)?
My “second-half” work (see the book Hatltime by Bob Buford) is focused on ministering to families who are struggling with these and similar issues.
Warning: What follows in my “two-minute commercial” for my website and my T.G.I.F. Toastmasters club.
I invite you to visit my website often. I attempt to deal with these issues. Read my Vision Statement and Guiding Values. and feel free to post your comments on anything that you read at http://achristiansvoice.com.
Mission Statement: Dedicated to Youth and Mens’ Ministry, the purpose of ACV is to provide ministry and outreach services to families that include: consulting, christian counseling, teaching, coaching and mentoring through a number of defferent avenues. ACV will provide public speakers and teachers for events, write feature articles for publications and provide supply chain management functions for churches and other ministry partners.
Our Guiding Values:
To Act with Integrity in All We Do
To Model Jesus with a Servant’s Heart
To Treat All with Respect and Honesty
May all be to God’s glory! Lord help us to be an influence on the lives that we touch. Make us an instrument of your
Note: This article is based upon the text of a speech that I gave yesterday at the T.G.I.F Toastmasters club which meets (7:00 – 8:30 A.M. the first and third Fridays of the month during November and December; second and fourth Fridays the remainder of the year) at the Marriott Courtyard, 11001 Woodson, Overland Park, KS. (See our website http://www.tgiftoastmasters.com/directions.html and come by and visit if you happen to be in our area. In the two years that I have been a member of the club, I have found the members to be a great encouragement to my personal and professional development. The energy level evident at the meetings is absolutely amazing considering the early hour.