King David gives us a glimpse of the unbelievable forgiveness and love that we have from God our father.
2 Samuel 17:24-18:18
24 David went to Mahanaim, and Absalom crossed the Jordan with all the men of Israel. 25 Absalom had appointed Amasa over the army in place of Joab. Amasa was the son of Jether, an Ishmaelite who had married Abigail,[c] the daughter of Nahash and sister of Zeruiah the mother of Joab. 26 The Israelites and Absalom camped in the land of Gilead.
27 When David came to Mahanaim, Shobi son of Nahash from Rabbah of the Ammonites, and Makir son of Ammiel from Lo Debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim 28 brought bedding and bowls and articles of pottery. They also brought wheat and barley, flour and roasted grain, beans and lentils,[d] 29 honey and curds, sheep, and cheese from cows’ milk for David and his people to eat. For they said, ‘The people have become exhausted and hungry and thirsty in the wilderness.’
18 David mustered the men who were with him and appointed over them commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds. 2 David sent out his troops, a third under the command of Joab, a third under Joab’s brother Abishai son of Zeruiah, and a third under Ittai the Gittite. The king told the troops, ‘I myself will surely march out with you.’
3 But the men said, ‘You must not go out; if we are forced to flee, they won’t care about us. Even if half of us die, they won’t care; but you are worth ten thousand of us. It would be better now for you to give us support from the city.’
4 The king answered, ‘I will do whatever seems best to you.’
So the king stood beside the gate while all his men marched out in units of hundreds and of thousands. 5 The king commanded Joab, Abishai and Ittai, ‘Be gentle with the young man Absalom for my sake.’ And all the troops heard the king giving orders concerning Absalom to each of the commanders.
6 David’s army marched out of the city to fight Israel, and the battle took place in the forest of Ephraim. 7 There Israel’s troops were routed by David’s men, and the casualties that day were great – twenty thousand men. 8 The battle spread out over the whole countryside, and the forest swallowed up more men that day than the sword.
9 Now Absalom happened to meet David’s men. He was riding his mule, and as the mule went under the thick branches of a large oak, Absalom’s hair got caught in the tree. He was left hanging in mid-air, while the mule he was riding kept on going.
10 When one of the men saw what had happened, he told Joab, ‘I have just seen Absalom hanging in an oak tree.’
11 Joab said to the man who had told him this, ‘What! You saw him? Why didn’t you strike him to the ground right there? Then I would have had to give you ten shekels[f] of silver and a warrior’s belt.’
12 But the man replied, ‘Even if a thousand shekels were weighed out into my hands, I would not lay a hand on the king’s son. In our hearing the king commanded you and Abishai and Ittai, “Protect the young man Absalom for my sake.” 13 And if I had put my life in jeopardy – and nothing is hidden from the king – you would have kept your distance from me.’
14 Joab said, ‘I am not going to wait like this for you.’ So he took three javelins in his hand and plunged them into Absalom’s heart while Absalom was still alive in the oak tree. 15 And ten of Joab’s armour-bearers surrounded Absalom, struck him and killed him.
16 Then Joab sounded the trumpet, and the troops stopped pursuing Israel, for Joab halted them. 17 They took Absalom, threw him into a big pit in the forest and piled up a large heap of rocks over him. Meanwhile, all the Israelites fled to their homes.
18 During his life-time Absalom had taken a pillar and erected it in the King’s Valley as a monument to himself, for he thought, ‘I have no son to carry on the memory of my name.’ He named the pillar after himself, and it is called Absalom’s Monument to this day.
Have you ever contemplated the actions of parents?
Not 20 minutes after a full-on screaming temper tantrum you will find a mother cuddling and loving the ‘offender’ in her arms.
After being at the receiving end of a barrage of insults, swearing and ultimatums you will see a father helping the same teenage ‘offender’ by driving them to their friend’s house.
A week after being robbed and verbally abused you will see the parent of a drug addict, once again open their doors and offer food and refuge to the ‘offender’.
I too, fortunately, have been the recipient of these crazy parental actions. My parents certainly had to deal with my anger and frustrations growing up, and yet I could always count on a cosy home, their forgiveness and their unwavering love.
Most parents, thankfully, seem to have the ability to love and forgive despite the flaws of their children.
Unbelievable forgiveness and love!
If you have just joined us, there are a lot of names in the reading above to get your head around but the gist of it is that King David’s son Absalom, is trying to take over the throne of Israel and King David has fled to hide at a place called Mahanaim with his loyal troops. Absalom is in pursuit to kill his father David and claim the throne.
Here again, in verse 5 we see it – a crazy loving parent. See what David tells his troops about the son who is trying to kill him – he says, ‘Be gentle with the young man Absalom for my sake.’
Despite everything that has happened, David is still willing to forgive his son and let him live.
Unbelievable forgiveness and love!
(As we read on, we see this is not what happened, David’s commander, Joab, ignores his request and kills Absalom, restoring David to the throne.)
These pictures of human parental love and David’s love for Absalom, are a foretaste of the forgiveness and love we receive from God, our heavenly father. Regardless of what we have done, how awful we have been or how unlovable we feel, we are assured of forgiveness and love. This was displayed in action by Jesus dying for each one of us.
The ultimate unbelievable forgiveness and love!
Head: Can you think of a time where a parental figure or guardian displayed unconditional love to you when you did not deserve it?
Heart: Have you accepted that you have a Godly father whois willing to look past any awful things you have said or done and love you anyway?
Hands: Today offer some of this unconditional godly love to those around you who may not deserve it.
Prayer: Dear Father God. Thank you that through David and for some of us through parental figures in our own lives we get a glimpse of the forgiving and unbelievable love you are offering us. Thank you that because of Jesus you can forgive us for all the awful and unlovely things we say, think and do every day. Absalom was not worthy of David’s love and we do not feel worthy of yours – please help us realise we can come to you as we are to accept your love. We thank you for your unbelievable forgiveness and love. Amen
A song to listen to: This is love
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