Summary: Learn how God's chastisement is indeed an agent of his grace and not an agent of God's anger.
Have you ever witnessed a scene like this? You drive up to a crosswalk and stop because there is a pedestrian. But as that person starts to make his way to the other side of the road, you nervously watch a car in the opposite lane. The driver of this car doesn’t seem to see that there is a pedestrian about to step across his lane. In fact he flies through the crosswalk almost hitting the individual! If there is no police officer to witness the scene and pull the careless driver over, he’ll just continue his reckless ways.
I think we can all agree that there should be consequences for reckless driving. So why do we complain when there are consequences for our reckless words and actions? The author of the New Testament book of Hebrews chided his readers: “And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.’ Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children…God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:5-6, 10b-11).
In our Agents of Grace sermon today, we’ll see how God used the rebellious Absalom to chastise King David for his sins against Uriah. God gave David a taste of hell at the hands of Absalom so that he would never give up striving for heaven. Let’s find out more.
Last Sunday we learned how David committed the sins of adultery and murder. He eventually repented and was assured of forgiveness, but he also learned that there would be consequences for his sins. His pastor Nathan relayed this message from God: “Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own… Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight.12 You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel” (2 Samuel 12:10-12).
Those words were fulfilled years later when David’s third oldest son, Absalom, rebelled. Absalom was handsome, but also very vain. He quietly stole the hearts of the people by sitting at the gate in Jerusalem and intercepting those who had come to see King David. Absalom would ask them their business, then sigh and say, “If only there was someone willing to listen to you, then you would get justice. Look, King David doesn’t care about you, but now if I were king…”
When Absalom felt he had enough support, he proclaimed himself king and advanced on Jerusalem. David was forced to flee just like the days when King Saul had pursued him. Only then David had been much younger. Plus now one of David’s most trusted advisors had gone over to Absalom. He instructed Absalom to sleep with the concubines David had left behind because this would make Absalom look as if he had control of his father’s domain. The humiliation David must have felt, should have reminded him of how he had humiliated Uriah by sleeping with his wife Bathsheba. It’s no wonder David wept as he climbed the Mt. of Olives, the hill opposite of Jerusalem. And his suffering only increased when a relative of King Saul’s hurled rocks, clods of dirt, and insults at David as he fled. David took all this as fulfillment of what Nathan had promised: consequences for his sins against Uriah.
David took refuge on the eastern side of the Jordan River and that’s where Absalom caught up with him. Although David himself had wanted to lead the fight against the rebels, his men wouldn’t let him. But as his army marched out, David pleaded with each one of his generals to deal gently with Absalom. David’s army routed Absalom, killing 20,000 of the rebels. Absalom himself fled and as he did, his head got caught in the branch of a tree where he was suspended in midair. When General Joab heard about this, he stabbed Absalom to death, in spite of David’s plea to deal with Absalom gently. David of course should have been happy at his army’s victory. Instead he wept bitterly for his son. David was so sad that Joab had to tell David to get hold of himself or he would lose the support of his men. This was all part of God’s chastisement for David, who had not shed a single tear when Uriah died. David now understood the grief that Uriah’s family must have felt.