Jump Start # 2978
2 Samuel 15:13 “Then a messenger came to David, saying, ‘The hearts of the men of Israel are with Absalom.’”
David could kill giants but he could not control his family. Anger, jealousy and hatred filled the halls of the king’s palace. David appears to be out of touch with his kids. He could rule a nation but his lack of action at home created a dysfunctional environment that was unhealthy and destructive.
In our verse today, Absalom is actively trying to take over. He wins the hearts of the people. That’s the first step. He rallies the troops to his side, the second step. He marches into the city to take over, the final step. David flees. This is the first time since David became king that he runs. The capitol is at risk. Absalom gives the order to kill his father, the king. And, all of this is taking place among the people of God. And, all of this is within a family.
As the story unfolds, David’s men engage Absalom’s troops. A fierce battle takes place. Absalom is killed. The threat is over. Peace returns. David is broken. So many mistakes. So many times he was neglectful. Maybe he was gone too much. Maybe he didn’t want to deal with conflicts at home. His home was not a reflection of godliness. A great man with a terrible home.
First, unhappy homes produce unhappy people and unhappy people produce unhappy homes. A home without guidance, instruction, rules and authority is ripe for selfishness. When more than one selfish person surrounds the table, the climate becomes negative, ugly and a battle ground. Some have in their minds that what works in math works in the home, two negatives will make a positive. That looks good on paper, but not in a family. Two negatives is all it takes for a declaration of war. The place to begin is with yourself. Then, the role of parents, that’s next. They set the tone for the family. If they are bitter, angry and selfish, so will the rest of the family.
Second, a lack of discipline leads to problems. One of David’s sons, Amnon, rapped David’s daughter, Tamar. Nothing was done. For two years, nothing was done. Absalom took matters into his own hand and killed Amnon. David remains silent. Absalom flees. Nothing from David. After a few years, he returns. He is in the same city as David and they do not speak. Was David afraid? Did he not care? Maybe David should have sent Amnon off to battle the Philistines before his passions got the best of him. He didn’t. Discipline is never fun. It’s usually not easy. But unless there is some accountability and responsibility, problems will only worsen. Some parents would rather be their child’s friend than parent. That’s not the role you play. Parenting involves instruction, guidance, examples and discipline.
Third, portraying the image of perfection denies reality and looses credibility. This is the stumbling point for many of us. We want our family to look normal like all the other families in church. We don’t want others to know that we have issues and problems. So, rather than seeking help, we put on masks. We pretend everything is great when it is not. And, when the truth comes out, and it usually does, our image is shot. Instead, we need to see things are they are. ALL families have issues, problems and struggles. They may not have them all the time, but they do. What we see for a couple of hours on Sunday often hides what happens behind the closed doors of home. Concerned more about the image is something that elders and preachers often struggle with. Rather than getting the help, they deny that there is anything wrong. The marriage may be rocky, but the preacher would never let anyone know that. The kids are addicted or kicked out of school or sexually active and unmarried, yet the image is what the family is concerned about. Where these people are with Jesus is not as essential as what everyone thinks about them. Keeping the image up, becomes a priority. Living a lie is what they are doing. It would be more helpful to be truthful and honest. It would be more beneficial to put the cards on the table and seek help. And, the image of the preacher’s family and the elders’ family is something that no one else can live up to. The perfect darlings are really demons in school and in the community. The king had trouble at home. Was admitting that a sign of weakness? Is it for us? Is it a sign that we have failed as parents? Maybe it’s time for some honest talk. Maybe that honesty would help others.
Fourth, the failure to repair broken relationships can create a wound that will never heal. For some, there is no communication between siblings or parents and grown children. Words were said. Choices were made. And, now there is such a breech in the relationship that it will never be healed. I see this with David and Absalom. I see this with David and Amnon. Without a foundation of love, grace and forgiveness, the separation becomes permanent. I’ve known some who didn’t even attend their own parents funeral. No love lost. No feeling. Nothing. David seems to have cried more after Absalom died than he ever did while his son was alive. Tears never seen and love never felt. Lost tears.
There is a lot of turmoil in families these days. Problems do not work themselves out and problems do not go away. Ignore them and they will grow and multiple. Deal with them, as painful and hard as that may be, and some positive solutions can be found.
The man who was after God’s heart, had a home that wasn’t. What a shame. What a loss. May we learn and may we do better.