His name means: "Father Is Peace"
His work: David's third son, Absalom, was a brilliant military and political strategist.
His character: Absalom's remarkable assets of good looks and diplomacy became great liabilities, leading to his untimely death.
His sorrow: When Absalom's sister was raped by his oldest half brother, Absalom began a life of anger, rebellion, and revenge.
His triumph: For a time, Absalom was successful in gathering support against his father's reign.
Key Scriptures: 2 Samuel 13-15
A Look at the Man
Absalom was a very special young man. Brimming with gifts and natural abilities, he was a natural-born leader. People were drawn toward him.
But Absalom was also a vicious conniver. Throughout his life, his bitter heart became a cauldron of hatred and death.
Growing up in the palace of the king of Israel may not have been as delightful as some in the kingdom may have envisioned. Absalom's father's sinfulness and the confusion of living in a home with David's multiple wives and a houseful of half-siblings would likely have created untold chaos. Imagine this...
Absalom had a sister, Tamar, by his mother, Maacah. His half brother and David's oldest son, Amnon, was in love with her and tried to seduce her. Because she resisted, he set a trap for her. Pretending to be sick, Amnon asked David to order Tamar to tend to her half brother, which he did. But when Tamar brought food to Amnon, he pled with her to sleep with him. When she resisted, he raped her.
When word came to Absalom that his sister had been violated, he hated Amnon but said nothing to him. For two years Absalom seethed, plotting his revenge against his half brother. When the trap was set, Absalom had Amnon murdered.
Absalom did not see his father for three years. And instead of seeking out Absalom and confronting him with his treachery, David "longed to go to Absalom." What Absalom needed was a father who loved him enough to deal strictly with his violence. What Absalom got was a tentative father who was unwilling to jeopardize his son's affection. And what David got in exchange for his fear was a son who hated him for his powerlessness—a son who secretly resolved to overthrow him.
Suffering from the guilt of his own sinfulness, David was unwilling to hand Absalom any semblance of justice. For three years Absalom plotted his father's demise. And like an unsheltered man unwilling to acknowledge a gathering storm, David refused to see the dark clouds in his son's eyes.
Absalom was a man overflowing with potential. If only he had channeled those talents wisely! If only his father had helped him. But because he had neither the self-control nor the parental control to reign in his resentment and acrimony, Absalom died violently.
And David was forced to spend the rest of his life dealing with the agonizing "if onlys." If only I had not sinned with Bathsheba, bringing all of this treachery to my family. If only I had loved my children enough to discipline them.
When the Cushite reported to David that Absalom was dead, he was shaken. "O my son Absalom! My son Absalom!"
The tragic story of Absalom ends with one final "if only" from the king. "If only I had died instead of you," David wailed uncontrollably. "O Absalom, my son, my son!"
Reflect On: 2 Samuel 15:1–12
Praise God: For acting with both justice and mercy.
Offer Thanks: For the ways God has disciplined you.
Confess: Any tendency to blame others for problems and difficulties you have brought on yourself.
Ask God: To treat you not as your sins deserve but according to his mercy.
Today's reading is a brief excerpt from Men of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Men in Scripture by Ann Spangler and Robert Wolgemuth (Zondervan). © 2010 by Ann Spangler. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Enjoy the complete book by purchasing your own copy at the Bible Gateway Store. The book's title must be included when sharing the above content on social media.
Absalom was a natural-born leader.