Jump Start # 2410
2 Samuel 18:33 “The king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And thus he said as he walked, “O my son, Absalom, my son, my son, Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son.”
Our verse today touches the hearts of every parent. The death of a child is something that is not supposed to happen. Our children are supposed to grow up and in time bury the parent. But, not here. And, this wasn’t the only time for David. There was that newborn baby from his adultery with Bathsheba. The baby died. There was Amnon, another son. He was killed by Absalom to avenge the rape of Tamar. Funeral after funeral. Child after child. David buried his children and grieved with a broken heart.
I can only imagine the tragic scene of an old David sitting among the graves of so many of his children. The children that sat at his table. The children that he saw grow up. And now, many of them buried. They died young. Some died violently. They died suddenly. And, no matter how a child dies, it breaks the heart of a parent.
There are some lessons from the cemetery of David:
First, life is precious. No one, not even our children are guaranteed a long life. Accidents, foolish mistakes, disease, victims of crime, and in an instant a life can be over. We know and we understand that life never ends. We merely pass through the doorway of death into the next room. However, it is so sad. I think of that poor widow in the N.T. who was heading to the cemetery to bury her only son. Jesus stopped the procession and raised the young man. Life can be ugly and cruel. Cancer can strike children. Accidents can happen, even at home. Every day, young people pass through the door of death. It is tragic.
Second, our choices in life often determine the length of life. Rebellion and sin, as chosen by Amnon and Absalom, resulted in their early and violent deaths. Choosing drugs, choosing to break the law, choosing to be wild and reckless often doesn’t end well for that person. Absalom and Amnon were not like David. The young David was thoughtful, good and close to God. We don’t see this in young Absalom and Amnon. We don’t read of any of their prayers. We don’t see them referring to God. We don’t see them walking in righteousness. Our choices in life, whether it’s habits such as smoking, or, drinking, or living immorally, or even violently will have a lot to do with how well and how long we live. Associated with wrong choices is wrong people. They put us in the wrong places. This is where trouble happens. This is where deeper mistakes are often made. And, some of these mistakes can be fatal.
Third, in tragic situations, parents often blame themselves. “If I had only told them not to go out tonight,” a sobbing mother cries, as she learns that her daughter was killed in a car accident. Guilt only lengthens grief and it makes it worse. There is no reversing what happened. The door of death swings one way. There is no going through that door yourself and pulling them back. I have preached the funeral of way too many young people and sitting in the audience was the heartbroken parents. A car accident. A drive by shooting. A sudden death. A heart attack. Cancer. I’ve seen the tears in those parents eyes as they try to make sense of these things. Blame doesn’t help, nor does turning ones back to God. There was a period in David’s life when he seemed distant from God. It was in those valleys that he seemed to make the wrong choices. But at the end of his life, after all those funerals, David seems close to God once more. Remember, God witnessed the death of His Son, Jesus, who was young, and died violently. You might say, “Sure, but Jesus rose from the grave.” Yes, and so shall we and so shall our children who have passed away. Babies never sin. Babies do not inherit sin. Babies are pure. The death of babies mean deposits in Heaven.
Fourth, a grieving parent must not neglect their other children. Most do not mean to, but how this is handled can create some jealousy among the other children. This is a difficult walk to make. Your heart is broken, yet there are others that still need you as a parent. You can’t take a year off from parenting. You can’t stay in your bedroom for days on end. One may need to talk to a counselor. One may need to open the Psalms and just read them aloud. Family and good brethren can be the best comfort and help in this tragic time. Understand that many have never been where you are. Sometimes things are said that comes out backwards and seem insensitive. People care, they just don’t know what to say. Don’t pay attention to much of it, for some of the things said will only get you angry. I’ve heard, “You can always have another child.” And, “Well, you have other children.” And, “It was just meant to be.” Those statements are cold, cruel and might cause you to smack someone, but don’t. People don’t know what to say, so they usually say the wrong thing. Let it pass.
I knew a young 16 year-old who was killed in a car accident. His parents were overwhelmed with grief. I told them, more than once, that this tragic event would either pull them closer together or it would pull them apart. In wasn’t too long after this that the parents divorced. A death in the family can pull us closer or it can separate us. The right choices, made by faith and a life built upon Scriptures makes all the difference.
Finally, God is aware of all these things. God knew that Pharaoh was killing babies in Egypt. He knew that Herod was killing babies in Judea. God didn’t stop them. Babies died. It is unfair. It isn’t right. Sin seems to dominate and Satan seems to win. For the moment, only for the moment. Pharaoh met a tragic death as the Red Sea closed in upon him and his army. As a parent, we want our children to always be happy, to grow up and find a wonderful person to marry. We don’t want them to be sick, bullied, or troubled in this life. But, remember, this isn’t Heaven. We had struggles, issues and difficulties. What we must teach our children is that the Lord is with them, even in those dark, dark valleys of death. We are marching to Zion and that’s where our hearts belong.
The funerals of David’s children…tragic, sad, but lessons to be learned.