In Your Face
Text: 2 Samuel 14:21, 25-26, 28, 14b
2 Samuel 14:21 – 21Then the king said to Joab, "Behold now, I will surely do this thing; go therefore, bring back the young man Absalom."
2 Samuel 14:25-26 - 25 In all Israel there was not a man so highly praised for his handsome appearance as Absalom. From the top of his head to the sole of his foot there was no blemish in him. 26 Whenever he cut the hair of his head—he used to cut his hair from time to time when it became too heavy for him—he would weigh it, and its weight was two hundred shekels by the royal standard.
2 Samuel 14:28 - 28Now Absalom lived two full years in Jerusalem, and did not see the king’s face.
2 Samuel 14:14b “But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him.”
But God does not take away life. He works out ways to get the exile back.
David was without a doubt powerful leader. He was certainly an anointed worshipper. And yet for all of his power and anointing when we look to David as a father he falls completely on the other end of the spectrum. His family was completely and utterly dysfunctional. To say that his parenting skills were limited is a gross understatement. His family is marked by incest, jealousy, bloodshed and in the case of his most handsome, popular son Absalom, rebellion.
Absalom was an up and coming leader. He was the poster boy for StudsRus. He was athletic and powerful. He was skilled in fighting. The ladies would melt at the sight of him. He was a playa, if you will. He had perfect hair. But for all of his positive attributes he had some equally bad ones. You know that he had a problem with ego. He began to read his own press clippings and to listen to unwise counsel. He was unwilling to allow the natural order of succession to take place and had determined in his own mind that what David could do he could do better and he should do it now. He had an appetite for a throne. He had designs on a crown. He wanted to force his way into kingship.
The passage I read to you takes place just prior to his runaway ego. Here we discover that one of his issues was that he held grudges. If you go backwards one chapter into 2 Samuel 13 you discover that Absalom’s brother Amnon rapes their sister Tamar. Absalom finds out about it and he waits 2 full years take revenge by killing his own brother. David hears about what Absalom has done and gets angry. So Absalom flees to Geshur and lives there with his grandfather for 3 years. Three years away from David. Three years away from his father.
Then I read to you that David finally sends for Absalom and Absalom moves back into Jerusalem. However, it is here that we read the interesting and extremely sad portion of Scripture that says, “Absalom lived two full years in Jerusalem, and did not see the king’s face.”
It is this heart breaking and wrenching statement that I want to focus in on just for a few minutes. I want you, if you will, to take a moment and read between the lines of this statement.
Absalom lives in the same town as his father, the king, and never see’s his face. How does this happen? Does this mean that Absalom never attended any family functions? Does this mean the son would go out of his way to avoid the presence of the king or perhaps vice versa? Do you think that perhaps there were days when they were both in Wal-Mart that one would spot the other and before the other one would catch a glimpse of them they would turn down the aisle quickly and escape contact? How do you live in the same area of town, have contact and run with the same associates, belong to the same family and yet never see each other face to face.
Absalom continued to live like a prince. He had the benefits of the family name. He continued to have some measure of favor. His family was blessed. He had strong sons and a beautiful daughter. His finances were blessed because if you read 2 Samuel 15 he was able to muster a chariot and 50 men to run in front of him wherever he went. And yet, he lived in the same neighborhood, community, and cul-de-sac for 2 full years without ever seeing the face of the king!
I want to submit a thought to you this morning that is also a challenge. I wonder if this picture is an accurate glimpse into many of our lives?
- We attend church somewhat faithfully.
- We hang out with the family members.
- We are in the same neighborhood and vicinity of the king.
- We bear the benefits of having the name of the king. We are known by our name and have authority due to that name.
- Our family is blessed. We find that our provisions are blessed. We still live like an heir to the throne.
And yet, how many of us haven’t seen the face of the King for years. We set through worship service after worship service. We participate by letting the words roll off of our tongue. Yet, we remain in the outer court and never enter the Holy of Holies where we can peer into and be affected by the face of God.
How long has it been sense you encountered Him? I know you are blessed. I know you are highly favored. That isn’t the question! You should be blessed and favored because you carry His name. The question is, “Have you had a face to face encounter with Him lately?”
1. Remove obstacles
All of us have obstacles that keep us from seeing or seeking His face. What keeps you out of His presence? Comfort zone, pride, anger, pain, people, experiences, tradition, religion, grudges, apathy, laziness, spouse, or friends? What is it that keeps us from going hard after God? What is it that keeps us from pressing in? Lunch plans? Our plans? You do realize this morning that anything that has come between you and God has become your God. It doesn’t matter if it is made of gold, if it is made of feelings, or if it is made of flesh it has become an idol that keeps you from entering into His presence and it must be removed.
I don’t have time to go back and read to you all of the accounts in the Old Testament when idols had to be torn down and had to be removed before people could get into God’s presence. But I do have time to remind you that we are told in Romans that nothing shall separate us from the love of God. Remember the list? Trouble, hardships, persecution, famine, nakedness, sword, danger, angels, demons, death, life, present, future, power, nor anything else in all of creation. So if we are separated who did the separating? If none of those things have the innate power to separate us and then we allow trouble, hardships, famine, danger, our life, or anything or anyone else to separate us then who gave them the power? We allow things to become obstacles to His presence. Things that should be walked over and past in route to an audience with the king!
2. Fall on Face
Humble recognition that not only are we are blessed to even be allowed in His presence, but we also fall on our face in a posture of repentance knowing that we have also neglected the opportunity to be there. We don’t deserve access and although through Jesus we can boldly approach the throne there are times when we need to go back and fall on our face in recognition of our unworthiness. We take the favor for granted!
It is in this position that another young man approached David the king. Mephibosheth comes into the king’s presence (2 Samuel 9) and he goes to his face and says, "What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?" His approach produces acceptance, favor, and an invitation to live and dine at the king’s table!
Our posture must become one of humility. We can’t come in here and take this for granted. It is the privilege of lifetime to get an audience with the God of the universe! We should walk in this place ready to fall on our face at a moment’s notice. Every Sunday we should have baited breath. Our stomachs should be a little nervous. We should feel a little vulnerable and exposed. We have lost the awe the priests of the Old Testament felt. We need to understand that we are able to do what only one of them could do and in fear for his life!
3. Seek His face
We must come back to the place to where we cry out like David in Psalm 27:7-10 -
7Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me!
8You have said, (you hear that? He wants us to seek his face)"Seek my face. "My heart says to you, "Your face, LORD, do I seek."
9Hide not your face from me. Turn not your servant away in anger, O you who have been my help. Cast me not off; forsake me not, O God of my salvation!
10For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in.
David challenges us again in 1 Chronicles 16:11 - Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.
2 Chronicles 7:14 – We are told that if we will humble ourselves (fall on our face) and seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways, call on His name and then He will hear us!
We have to cry out for His face. We have to get in His face! Are we always seeking His face? This isn’t a passive deal where we just show up here or go through our day with a “let’s wait and see if we can see God today and if He doesn’t there is always next week” attitude. No this is an active pursuit of His presence! Our life depends on it! Our strength depends on it. We have become too lazy in our pursuit of His presence!
4. Understand that He is devising ways to get us into His presence!
I want this verse to get into your spirit. That is why I read it out of order. 2 Samuel 14:14b - “But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him.”
But God does not take away life. He works out ways to get the exile back.
God is devising ways to get you back into His presence. He is working behind the scenes to get you back face to face with Him. The turmoil, the trouble, the uneasiness, the unrest you have been feeling has been God trying to get you back to Him! He is working harder than you to get you into His presence!
If you don’t know Jesus, God has been devising ways to get you into relationship with Him. That is why you are here. He has worked it out, planned it, and pulled strings to get you here this morning so that you could get to know His son.
If you know Jesus, God is calling you back to chasing Him, seeking Him, and spending time with Him. I want us to get to the place where we are in God’s face again!