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Summary: "...fathers, provoke not your children to wrath but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4).

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2 Samuel 13:23-39

The Rage of David (13:21, 22)

David got angry when he heard about the sin of Amnon but nothing more.

The Request of Absalom (13:23-27)

“And it came to pass after two full years” (13:23). This verse refers to the events recorded earlier in the chapter. Absalom’s sister Tamar had been forcibly raped by her half brother Amnon (13:14). Because of this vile act, Absalom had developed a deep resentment against Amnon and refused to speak to him (13:22). For two long years that bitterness had eaten away on Absalom’s spirit. Thoughts of “getting even” had crossed his mind many times; however, no suitable opportunity had presented itself.

Now Absalom came before the king to make a request. Initially, it seems there were no thoughts of malice or revenge. The feasts associated with sheepshearing were near. Absalom’s sheep were being sheared near the border of Ephraim in the village of Baal-hazor approximately fourteen miles northeast of Jerusalem (13:23). In preparation for the big event, Absalom was hurriedly extending invitations to all the king’s sons. How prestigious if David himself would attend! So Absalom asked his father and his servants to honor him with a royal visit (13:24).

David attempted to excuse himself by saying, “Nay, my son, let us not all now go, lest we be chargeable unto thee” (13:25). “Chargeable” means “to be heavy or burdensome.” The presence of the king’s court might be too great a burden on Absalom and his attendants. Absalom refused to be rejected so easily. Great preparation and planning had been made. Besides, Absalom might have felt his reputation as one of the king’s sons was at stake. Therefore, Absalom “pressed” his father to go. This word for “press” is used of the pressure exerted upon an immovable object such as a wall, with the result that there is a breakthrough. Even after the pressure, David stood firm, and the real reason is revealed. “Howbeit he would not go” (13:25). Literally, the Hebrew says, “And he was not willing to go.” David just did not want to take the time to participate in the interests of his son. This possibly strikes a responsive chord in the hearts of many father who are too busy to take an interest in the activities of their children. Such insensitivity can produce an unwanted reaction. Paul warned,

“Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged” (Col. 3:21).

"And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." (Eph 6:4)

"Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life." (Prov 13:12)

Fathers, we can quickly cause our children to be disheartened by uncalled-for irritation. David’s response to Absalom must have broken his spirit. Then to add insult to injury, David “blessed” his son, which would be like saying, “Have a great party!” How can you have a great party without the king? Maybe David said, “I’m busy I’ve got to go write the 23rd Psalm.” (“Duties never conflict”). David’s boys may have resented the 23rd Psalm. Don’t tell your kids the reason you have to be somewhere else is to write a sermon or prepare a Sunday School lesson they will learn to resent those things, especially when they see you watching three hours of television every night. They didn’t need a king or psalmist, they needed a dad.

Scottish novelist Sir Walter Scott first gained fame with his poems of medieval families living on the English-Scottish border. Although Scott was well known, his son was ignorant of his father’s literary fame, loving and admiring him for reasons closer to a boy’s heart. Once, the younger Scott was in the company of some older people who were discussing his father’s genius. "Yes," put in the boy, "He is usually first to see the rabbit." Apparently Sir Walter spent a good deal of time hunting rabbits with his son. That time together meant more to young Scott than all the novels his father would ever write.

The turning point?

Not willing to leave entirely empty-handed, Absalom made a slight change in his request. This may be the point where Absalom decided to avenge his sister’s shame. He asked if Amnon, as David’s representative, might be permitted to attend the celebration. The king was curious as to why Amnon should go (13:26), but Absalom’s answer is not given. However, he did continue to pressure his father until, in desperation, David yielded to the request and even decided to send all his sons (13:27). (Although it is impossible to prove beyond doubt, David might have thought Absalom would not harm Amnon while in the company of all the king’s sons.) From this incident and what follows, we should learn that hasty decisions made under pressure can lead to disaster. (“Can I dad, please, dad, please!”) We give in when we know we shouldn’t.

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