2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33
5The king gave orders to Joab and Abishai and Ittai, saying, ‘Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom.’ And all the people heard when the king gave orders to all the commanders concerning Absalom.
6 So the army went out into the field against Israel; and the battle was fought in the forest of Ephraim. 7The men of Israel were defeated there by the servants of David, and the slaughter there was great on that day, twenty thousand men. 8The battle spread over the face of all the country; and the forest claimed more victims that day than the sword.
9 Absalom happened to meet the servants of David. Absalom was riding on his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a great oak. His head caught fast in the oak, and he was left hanging between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him went on. 15And ten young men, Joab’s armour-bearers, surrounded Absalom and struck him, and killed him.
31 Then the Cushite came; and the Cushite said, ‘Good tidings for my lord the king! For the Lord has vindicated you this day, delivering you from the power of all who rose up against you.’ 32The king said to the Cushite, ‘Is it well with the young man Absalom?’ The Cushite answered, ‘May the enemies of my lord the king, and all who rise up to do you harm, be like that young man.’
David Mourns for Absalom
33 The king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept; and as he went, he said, ‘O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would that I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!’
Devotion by Lynne Buell
This conflict was disturbing for me to read. What was more disturbing, were the events that I read about that led up to this story about an extremely dysfunctional family. “The Ice Storm” by Rick Moody came to mind as I scanned the stories in 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel. Could the anger, violence and guilt have been avoided? Clearly, we hear about situations every day about individuals, families, and nations facing bad situations and hostility. It is obvious that David’s love for his son, Absalom, was far greater than his love of power in his lament in verse 33. While we can hardly fix the entire world, how can we use forgiveness and understanding to urge folks out of difficult circumstances and find comfort with God’s love before it’s too late?
I am so grateful for this community. Pilgrimage has provided a beautiful place for me to go and be with such a wonderful group of people. The journey I began nine years ago has helped me immensely. When I ponder over unhealthy and disturbing situations, I do find comfort in prayer. Answers to questions don’t always appear, but I feel a renewed strength and patience for whatever the new day brings. I am in harmony with the Holy Spirit and it feels pretty great.
God of love help us to be transmitters of the courage and love you shower upon us; that we can help people who are in bad situations. Amen.