What motivates us to get up in the morning? Is it personal glory and recognition or are we living for the things of God?
2 Samuel 15:1-12
15 In the course of time, Absalom provided himself with a chariot and horses and with fifty men to run ahead of him. 2 He would get up early and stand by the side of the road leading to the city gate. Whenever anyone came with a complaint to be placed before the king for a decision, Absalom would call out to him, ‘What town are you from?’ He would answer, ‘Your servant is from one of the tribes of Israel.’ 3 Then Absalom would say to him, ‘Look, your claims are valid and proper, but there is no representative of the king to hear you.’ 4 And Absalom would add, ‘If only I were appointed judge in the land! Then everyone who has a complaint or case could come to me and I would see that they receive justice.’
5 Also, whenever anyone approached him to bow down before him, Absalom would reach out his hand, take hold of him and kiss him. 6 Absalom behaved in this way towards all the Israelites who came to the king asking for justice, and so he stole the hearts of the people of Israel.
7 At the end of four years, Absalom said to the king, ‘Let me go to Hebron and fulfil a vow I made to the Lord. 8 While your servant was living at Geshur in Aram, I made this vow: “If the Lord takes me back to Jerusalem, I will worship the Lord in Hebron.”’
9 The king said to him, ‘Go in peace.’ So he went to Hebron.
10 Then Absalom sent secret messengers throughout the tribes of Israel to say, ‘As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpets, then say, “Absalom is king in Hebron.”’ 11 Two hundred men from Jerusalem had accompanied Absalom. They had been invited as guests and went quite innocently, knowing nothing about the matter. 12 While Absalom was offering sacrifices, he also sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counsellor, to come from Giloh, his home town. And so the conspiracy gained strength, and Absalom’s following kept on increasing.
The final line of the previous chapter states ‘And the King kissed Absalom’ you might assume from this action that there was reconciliation between Absalom and King David. After years of estrangement finally reunited as father and son.
However, the story continues here with Absalom plotting again. Remember he is the master of plotting. He has shown in previous chapters how his nature is to take matters into his own hands. If Absalom does not like something, he won’t accept it but tries to change the situation. For example, he kills Amnon to revenge his sister’s brutal treatment (chapter 13 vs 23-29), then when Joab won’t answer Absalom’s request, Absalom burns Joab’s field in order to get his attention and ultimately what he wants (chapter 14 vs28-31). Absalom is a man who plots to get what he wants.
This chapter describes his plotting again. His plotting has provided him with chariots, horses and fifty men. This is not enough. He wants more power and status and we can assume by his actions that this desire for power is all consuming as it causes him to wake up early and action his plan of ingratiating himself into the hearts of the people of Israel. Right under the eye of David but while he still slept Absalom was plotting.
Have you ever known someone to plot and scheme right under your nose? I have. Just look at many workplaces and it won’t be hard to spot. My first experience of this plotting, scheming, politicking was as a summer law clerk at a legal practice. The aim of the summer job was to try to impress the partners in order to secure a graduate job at the end of the year. Well there was one law clerk who had worked out her way of impressing. She would buy lunch for the partner she was working for, she would stay late (not sure if she was working but she was certainly seen to be ‘hard-working’). Interestingly I don’t really remember her ever taking much of an interest in her competition. She didn’t bother to get to know us well; I suppose that was not seen as part of reaching her goal. She had eyes for one thing only – personal glory. This is the character I see in Absalom. He flatters and in turn ‘he stole the hearts of the men of Israel’.
Head: How do we react when we see others plotting for personal gain does it spark us to compete or do, we see it for what it is, a mere chasing after the wind.
Heart: Ask God to search your heart for his motivations and not earthly ones.
Hands: What is one way you can practically do something for good for another and not for personal gain – now do that one thing today – maybe just a text to someone you know needs encouragement or a kind word in person.
Prayer: Dear Lord help me to set my mind on things above and not on earthly things. In seeking praise may it be that of my Heavenly Father and not of man. This is not easy to pray Lord as I get so distracted. Even in doing good I get distracted with pride. But you are the all-seeing all-knowing God and you are good. Let me seek your ways and your heart in all I do today. AMEN.
A song to listen to: Raised with Christ
Emma-Jane McNicol – Living Church Creek Road