Summary: David, Pt. 12
IT’S LONELY AT THE BOTTOM (2 SAMUEL 15)
Several years ago, a Los Angeles Times (5/23/01) article with the curious headlines of “Pests Pester Even the Poshest of Posh Spots” caught my eye. The poshest of posh spots was the famed and luxurious, 285-room, 16-floor Four Seasons Hotel nearby the upscale Rodeo Drive shopping haven, and the pests were the cannot-live-with, hard-to-kill and never-say-die roaches that invade the main kitchen of the hotel.
The pest problems surfaced when the Los Angeles health inspectors paid a surprise visit and discovered six or more egg capsules behind an industrial-strength dishwasher, five or six dead insects on the floor, five or more live adults on the wall, 12 live nymphs or baby roaches and two dead nymphs stuck to some tape in the dishwasher area.
The powerful Department of Health Services, which has authorization to shut down food facilities for as long as necessary for the owners to correct conditions that pose a danger to public health, cited the hotel for vermin infestation and failure to prevent entrance and harboring of vermin. Two days later the county returned and reported after another inspection: “We went out and found the infestation was still there. We kept it closed.” Finally, three days later, the A rating was reinstated.
David had a secret, a skeleton and a stench in his closet that was not dealt with, but the infestation would not go away and would resurface at will. Absalom was the third son of David; his mother was the third wife of David and his grandfather was the king of Geshur (2 Sam 3:3). The most outstanding, charismatic and ambitious of David’s children, Absalom had the perfect looks, the perfect build and the perfect hair (2 Sam 14:25-26), but not the right or necessary character, temperament and maturity to be king. Passionate, impulsive and headstrong, he avenged his sister Tamar’s rape by killing their half-brother, Amnon (2 Sam 13), the number one son of David (2 Sam 3:1), and fled to his ancestor’s homeland of Geshur. After three years (2 Sam 13:38). Absalom secured permission to return to Jerusalem, but David did not meet or see him for another two years (2 Sam 14:28).
How do we deal with the past, especially one worth forgetting? What can we do in the present? Why is the future an opportunity?
Don’t Repeat the Past – Reform It
15:1 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 he gets 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 toward all the Israelites who came to the king asking for justice, and so he stole the hearts of the men of Israel. (2 Sam 15:1-6)
An elderly lady came into her doctor’s office and confessed to an embarrassing problem: “Doctor, I don’t know what the problem is, but I just can’t stop farting all the time. It’s not really a problem socially because they’re soundless and they have no odor. In fact, since I’ve been here, I’ve passed gas no less than twenty times. What can I do?”
The doctor nodded, gave her some pills and advised her: “Here’s a prescription, Mrs. Barker. Take these pills three times a day for seven days and come back and see me in a week.”
The elderly lady followed the doctor’s orders faithfully but the problem did not go away, so the furious elderly lady marched into the doctor’s office the following week, and confronted the doctor: “Doctor, I don’t know what was in those pills, but the problem is worse! I’m passing gas just as much, and they’re still soundless, but now they smell terrible! What do you have to say for yourself?” “Calm down, Madam. It’s alright,” said the doctor soothingly. “Now that we’ve fixed your sinuses, we’ll work on your hearing.”
Absalom did not know, see or recognize his problem. He was the product of a failed, ignorant and stubborn parenting method. When son number 1, Amnon, violated his half-sister Tamar, David was furious but said and did nothing (2 Sam 13:21). How could he? He did the same to Uriah and took his wife by force. Absalom hated (2 Sam 13:22) for more than ten years (2 Sam 13:23, 38, 14:28, 15:7) and killed Amnon to avenge his sister’s dishonor and fled to Geshur for three years, but David was consumed with the absence of Absalom (2 Sam 13:39), not his reform. David did not learn from the past. Like his infatuation with Bathsheba, David pined for and doted on the irrepressible, the incorrigible and the insubordinate Absalom. Both father and son repeated, recycled and revived past mistakes, and Absalom became even more conniving, cruel and cunning.