Summary: Absalom provides a good example of the sin of pride and the conseqence of breaking the fifth commandment, Honor your father and mother.
Today we will see from the life of Absalom what the outcome of breaking God’s fifth command is. It reads, “ Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” Absalom, who was King David’s third son, had his life cut short because of the way he dishonored his father; he tried to kill him.
The book of Proverbs often addresses sons with wisdom they need to hear. I remember when we had a teenage son in our home and I remember as parents praying that he would not go astray. There were times when our son did things that we didn’t approve of and on occasion I’d say, “Mark listen to this verse from Proverbs, “My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not your mother’s teaching.” At that time he wasn’t always very happy to hear those words, but now I imagine he’s quoting them to his own son.
The writer of Proverbs was Solomon, the younger brother of Absalom. I want you to read with me a portion of Proverbs 3 that illuminates the meaning of the fifth commandment, words that Absalom should have had taken heed of as a young man.
“My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; for length of days and years of life and abundant welfare will they give you. . . Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.”
When Solomon wrote those words he was God’s mouth piece. More than likely, Solomon pondered the undisciplined life of his brother, Absalom as he penned the words, “do not rely on your own insight,…be not wise in your own eyes, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.” And Solomon probably shed tears as he wrote “let your heart keep my commandments; for length of days and years of life and abundant welfare they will give you.”
Solomon may have grieved as much as his father did, crying out, “O Absalom, if only you wouldn’t have let your pride and your lust for power ruin you.”
The story of Absalom begins in chapter 13 when he murders his brother Amnon for raping their sister, It is not a good beginning. And his story ends in chapter19 when David, Absalom’s father, grieves about his son’s untimely death in the battle Absalom waged against his own father. There are seven chapters about Absalom and they contain lots of teaching material to help us avoid his mistakes.
This morning I can only chose pieces of Absalom’s story for our Scripture reading so I’ve divided it into three sections.
First, we will read the description of the young man Absalom – II Samuel 14:25, 26. “Now in all Israel there was no one to be praised so much for his beauty as Absalom; from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him. When he cut the hair of his head (for at the end of every year he used to cut it; when it was heavy on him, he cut it), he weighed the hair of his head, 200 shekels by the king’s weight.”
Next we find out how clever Absalom used his charm and father’s resources to gain power for himself. Chapter 15:1-6 “After this Absalom got himself a chariot and horses, and fifty men to run ahead of him. Absalom used to rise early and stand beside the road into the gate; and when anyone brought a suit before the king for judgment, Absalom would call out and say, “From what city are you?”
When the person said, “Your servant is of such and such a tribe in Israel,” Absalom would say, “See, your claims are good and right; but there is no one deputed by the king to hear you.” Absalom said moreover, “If only I were judge in the land! Then all who had a suit or cause might come to me, and I would give them justice.”
Whenever people came near to do obeisance to him, he would put out his hand and take hold of them, and kiss them. Thus Absalom did to every Israelite who came to the king for judgment; so Absalom stole the hearts of the people of Israel.”
Absalom’s next step was to go for the throne and that meant he had to overthrow his own father. So he schemed to get his father killed. The lust for power was overpowering. In chapter 15 we read that he put together a major army to capture his father. Then 15:13, 14 reads, “A messenger came to David, saying, “The hearts of the Israelites have gone after Absalom. Then David said to all his officials who were with him at Jerusalem, “Get up! Let us flee, or there will be no escape for us from Absalom. Hurry, or he will soon overtake us, and bring disaster down upon us and attack the city with the edge of the sword.” David in self-defense prepared an army to fight against his own son. What an ugly family struggle they were in when Absalom deployed his army with the intention of killing his father.