Summary: David teaches how to pray in dysfunction and tragedy
Praying in Tragedy
Tell the Story
- Like a season of the Sopranos
Amnon, heir to the throne, is obsessed by his half-sister Tamar (Absalom’s true sister) – he feigns illness and lures her to his room where he tries to seduce her, and then, when she refuses, he rapes her. His obsession turns to disgust and hated and he throws her out. She tears her clothes and puts ashes on her head so that everyone will know what Amnon has done.
David gets wind of the rape and seethes with anger, but he does nothing.
Absalom tells his sister to not worry – he’ll take care of things.
He hates Amnon for what he did, but waits for the right time. He may be motivated by more than revenge – Amnon is the only thing that stands between him and the throne on Israel.
2 years later, Absalom invites all of his brothers for a feast at the sheering of the sheep. Once Amnon is drunk, he orders his servants to kill him. All the brothers run from the table back to Jerusalem & Absalom goes into hiding in Geshur.
Absalom stays in self-imposed exile for 3 years – David might as well have exiled him, because he never called him back home. David wanted to call him back home, but he could not get over his anger to do it. He may have thought, “If he asks for forgiveness, I’ll give it.”
They were two hard-headed men at a stand still. Absalom is angry that he had to do what his father should have done in the first place, David is angry that Absalom went to far and killed Amnon. But they both want reconciliation.
Joab, David’s general, knows it & does what he can to bring the two back together.
Taking a page from Nathan’s book, Joab gets a wise old woman from Tekoa to tell a story.
She is a widow with two sons. The sons fought and one died – the family wants revenge, but that would leave her with no one. David sees her plihght and promises that her guilty son can come home without punishment so that he can support his mother.
She turns around and says, “If you would do that much for me, why would you keep Absalom from the whole nation?
David sees Joab’s hand in the ruse, but he is convinced and allows Absalom back to Jerusalem. But this is no “return of the prodigal” where the father runs out to greet his rebellious son come home. David stays put, and he won’t let Absalom come to him. Absalom comes to Jerusalem but not to the palace. David will not talk to Absalom. They are together and still apart.
Absalom gets tired of the practical exile and he hounds Joab to talk to David on his behalf. Joab ignores Absalom’s requests – he won’t even see him. So Absalom has some servants set fire to Joab’s field to get his attention – It works
Then Joab did go to Absalom’s house, and he said to him, "Why have your servants set my field on fire?"
Absalom said to Joab, "Look, I sent word to you and said, ’Come here so I can send you to the king to ask, "Why have I come from Geshur? It would be better for me if I were still there!" ’ Now then, I want to see the king’s face, and if I am guilty of anything, let him put me to death."
So Joab went to the king and told him this. Then the king summoned Absalom, and he came in and bowed down with his face to the ground before the king. And the king kissed Absalom.
Absalom’s anger at the way he has been treated does not subside with this reconciliation. He begins a rebellion – 15:2-6
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." Then Absalom would say to him, "Look, your claims are valid and proper, but there is no representative of the king to hear you." 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 they receive justice."
Also, whenever anyone approached him to bow down before him, Absalom would reach out his hand, take hold of him and kiss him. 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 people of Israel.