Jump Start # 2602
2 Samuel 16:21 “And Ahithophel said to Absalom, ‘Go in to your father’s concubines, whom he has left to keep the house; then all Israel will hear that you have made yourself odious to your father. The hands of all who are with you will also be strengthened.”
Within our verse today we find the word “Odious.” We don’t use that word very often. The other translations help us to get the idea here.
- NIV: obnoxious
- ESV: stench
- KJV: abhorred
- CEB: alienated
All those words spell trouble. Absalom lost respect for his father. The rape of his sister, Tamar, brought no action from David. To Absalom, David isn’t this great national war hero like everyone believed. He saw his father as weak, ineffective and a coward. It was a time for a change in leadership. Absalom was going to steal the throne. He was trying to make his father look bad.
In the chapter before, Absalom appears with great show and pomp. He takes a prominent spot to address the people and their concerns. He reaches out and sympathizes with them in order to win their support and favor. He stole the hearts of the people and he stole the allegiance of David’s chief counselor. He is now ready to lead an insurrection against the throne. Within the plans of Absalom is killing his own father. There is such hatred towards his father. David does not defend the city nor himself. He flees. It echoes decades before when David was running from King Saul, who was trying to take his life. Now, it’s his own son that he is running from.
The rebel prince, Absalom introduces many valuable lessons for us to consider:
First, we see the break down of the home. Unhappy homes produce unbalanced children. Can you imagine sitting around the dinner table in David’s palace? Amnon looking lustfully at Tamar. Absalom, absorbed in himself. Solomon, reading books. But running through the hearts of these sons were all kinds of spiritual issues that would cripple their relationship with God and David. A lack of parental discipline breeds insecurity and resentment. Rules do not mean anything if they are broken without any consequences. You don’t find David disciplining any of these children. The law of God and the law at home were ignored and flaunted. Portraying an image of perfection looses credibility with children. We are perfect parents and our kids know that. But being more concerned about image than truth, will teach them to superficially look good for others without having to apologize, change or do what is right. And, what we see in this broken home are wounds that never healed. This sad, sad story is repeated far too many times in homes today. Prodigals leave angry, uttering cruel threats and some never return. There are few things that hurt more than the brokenness of family.
Second, we see what not to do when we disagree. This is a needful lesson. This is something that needs to be preached. What am I to do when I disagree with the elders? This has never been more seen than through this coronavirus storm we are in. The elders say for safety concerns, the church is not going to assemble. Immediately, some became alarmed. They took to Facebook and Twitter and blasted their shepherds for such a decision. Some were just going to ignore what the elders said. Time passed. Now, some leaders are saying that it’s time to assemble safely as a congregation. Others are speaking out. It’s too soon. It’s not safe. I’m not going to do what they say.
What to do when I disagree with leaders? We see what Absalom tried. In religious settings, rather than killing the king, those that disagree, find others and they break away. They start their own congregation. That rebel, “you can’t tell me,” spirit is something that some of us must really keep a lid on. I know. I’m one of them. I suppose I listen to far too many songs of the ‘60s that were about freedom, protest and rights. I went to a store recently. A large sign on the door said, “NO MASK, NO ENTRY.” They would sell you a mask for one dollar. I walked up without a mask. That ole’ rebel spirit starting rising in me. I thought, “You can’t tell me what to do.” But then I realized, they really can. It’s their store. They have that right.
The book of Romans and Peter tells us to submit to governing authorities. Hebrews tells us to submit to our spiritual leaders. They are watching out for our soul, the passage says. Submission means to bend the will. It’s more than simply going along. Many are going along but not happily. Read their Facebook posts. They rant and rant about this and that. To submit means you have turned your spirit. You have bent your will. You are going along, not as a pouting child, but as a willing team player.
The shepherds are looking at more than just you. There are factors, people and things that you and I probably never thought of before. They have weighed these options heavily. They have talked and talked this over for days. They have prayed. They have gotten advice. They have listened. And, now, they have made the choices that they think will work best for that congregation. And, here you and I stand. Rebels. Ready to charge the castle. Ready to stir things up. Ready to turn the hearts of the people away from them. Ready to overthrow them and take the place over ourselves. Really? Shame on us. God, forgive us. Such thoughts, such wrong attitudes, such evil things shared on social media, is hurtful and shameful to God.
Remember, when David had the chance to kill Saul, he wouldn’t do. Yet, today, we are ready to verbally and emotionally kill those we disagree with and often over nothing.
So, what am I to do when I disagree?
First, calm down. A quiet conversation with one of the leaders is what you ought to do. They may share things that you never realized. That right then, may be all it takes. Don’t be stirring things up. Don’t make your first move social media or finding out who agrees with you. Bend that will. Turn that spirit around.
Second, if the area of disagreement is Biblical, then do your homework and present your reasoning. You may have to leave if you feel your conscience is being violated. But understand, your dislike of something does not make that thing sinful. Only God can declare what is sinful. So many of our disagreements are about judgment calls, not doctrinal or Biblical matters. Calm down. Breathe. Put some thought into this.
Third, put yourself in their shoes. What would you do? If you have ideas, share them. But do this kindly and not in a threatening manner. Be helpful, not hurtful. You’ll see that so much of what they do is difficult.
Finally, throw your support behind them. Even if you disagree with some decisions, you let them know that they can count on you. They are trying their best to keep the congregation moving towards Heaven. They have so many factors to consider. What they do not need are rebels who are ready to storm the palace and take over. Can they count on you? Have you told them that?
The story of Absalom doesn’t end well. He’s killed. David cries and cries over his death. I wonder if those tears included regret, guilt and remorse for a relationship that was broken.
Are you a team player who is in subjection or are you a rebel who is waiting to oust the current leaders? That spirit makes all the difference. And, that spirit, if not right, can keep you out of Heaven.