2 Samuel 18:1-18 (Part 4) – I Just Can’t Wait To Be King – I Want It Now!

Posted: July 31, 2018 in 10-2 Samuel

2 Samuel 18:1-18 (Part 4 of 4)
Absalom’s Defeat & Death

When I was a teenager, I thought that I knew more about what was best for me than my father. I was ready to be grown up and out of the house. I hated all my father’s rules and his age-old saying, “As long as you put your feet under my dining room table, you will do as I say.” That is a metaphorical way of saying that as long as I was living at home and he was feeding and clothing me, that fact alone gave him the right to his power over me. At the time, though, I thought I knew better than him. My dad was the dumbest man in the world to me when I was 14-18, those final years before I left home.

He got a little smarter when I moved out on my own when I started college and got married and had my apartment. I had worked since I was 14 years old to garner my spending money and pay for my car. The paying for my car irked me because I knew friends whose parents simply gave them their cars. However, I knew in marriage and living on my own that everything was on me, not my dad. I knew that and it seemed logical and fair to me. However, I was not prepared for all that comes at you financially when you are on your own at age 18. My dad became a little smarter then. His advice seemed a little more valuable. But yet I still as a typical teenager, though married, still resented his parental authority over me. Not rebellious angry but simply wondering when he would treat my like an adult.

Then after 5 years of marriage, we had our first child and then everything sped up – the bills, the living from one paycheck to another, the details of life on a grand scale. Then, as my child grew to age 5 ½ we had another child and the pace quicken more. During these years, I began to see that my dad’s toughness on me was worth it all. I was growing up and seeing that those lessons he was trying to teach me were for a reason. He became smart all over again. When I was child and pre-teen my dad was 10 feet tall and the smartest man in the world. As a teenager, I hated all his rules and expectations and his requirements of me. As I left home, he became a little smarter. Then, after I had children of my own, he became brilliant again. All that stuff he imposed on me, I began imposing on my own children. His ways became my ways as I waddled through the child-rearing stage of life. He was what I compared all my parenting to. He went from being dumb as a rock to me as a teenager to a brilliant man as I parented. It’s funny how that works. We want to grow up and grab the gusto of life without learning what needs to be learned. We want to be our own boss and all that when we are teenagers but little do we know is that at that age we don’t know a thing. Sometimes, waiting and maturing and learning from our fathers is what we need to do instead of impetuously and foolishly charging off on our own. It is only when life hits us in the face that we learn that our dads were bringing us along to be grown ups as we demonstrated the ability to handle things. But in those teen years we want none of that maturation and waiting stuff. We want to be large and in charge right away.

Let’s read this passage, 2 Samuel 18:1-18, for the fourth of four times before we move on to the next passage and see why this idea came to my mind today.

Chapter 18

1 David now mustered the men who were with him and appointed generals and captains[a] to lead them. 2 He sent the troops out in three groups, placing one group under Joab, one under Joab’s brother Abishai son of Zeruiah, and one under Ittai, the man from Gath. The king told his troops, “I am going out with you.”

3 But his men objected strongly. “You must not go,” they urged. “If we have to turn and run—and even if half of us die—it will make no difference to Absalom’s troops; they will be looking only for you. You are worth 10,000 of us,[b] and it is better that you stay here in the town and send help if we need it.”

4 “If you think that’s the best plan, I’ll do it,” the king answered. So he stood alongside the gate of the town as all the troops marched out in groups of hundreds and of thousands.

5 And the king gave this command to Joab, Abishai, and Ittai: “For my sake, deal gently with young Absalom.” And all the troops heard the king give this order to his commanders.

6 So the battle began in the forest of Ephraim, 7 and the Israelite troops were beaten back by David’s men. There was a great slaughter that day, and 20,000 men laid down their lives. 8 The battle raged all across the countryside, and more men died because of the forest than were killed by the sword.

9 During the battle, Absalom happened to come upon some of David’s men. He tried to escape on his mule, but as he rode beneath the thick branches of a great tree, his hair[c] got caught in the tree. His mule kept going and left him dangling in the air. 10 One of David’s men saw what had happened and told Joab, “I saw Absalom dangling from a great tree.”

11 “What?” Joab demanded. “You saw him there and didn’t kill him? I would have rewarded you with ten pieces of silver[d] and a hero’s belt!”

12 “I would not kill the king’s son for even a thousand pieces of silver,[e]” the man replied to Joab. “We all heard the king say to you and Abishai and Ittai, ‘For my sake, please spare young Absalom.’ 13 And if I had betrayed the king by killing his son—and the king would certainly find out who did it—you yourself would be the first to abandon me.”

14 “Enough of this nonsense,” Joab said. Then he took three daggers and plunged them into Absalom’s heart as he dangled, still alive, in the great tree. 15 Ten of Joab’s young armor bearers then surrounded Absalom and killed him.

16 Then Joab blew the ram’s horn, and his men returned from chasing the army of Israel. 17 They threw Absalom’s body into a deep pit in the forest and piled a great heap of stones over it. And all Israel fled to their homes.

18 During his lifetime, Absalom had built a monument to himself in the King’s Valley, for he said, “I have no son to carry on my name.” He named the monument after himself, and it is known as Absalom’s Monument to this day.

In this passage, we see that Absalom dies because of his pride and his vanity. The first issue is his pride. Absalom was leading his forces against David’s forces, despite having no previous combat experience, in part because of his pride. When Ahithphel advised him to send out troops immediately after David, part of what convinced Absalom to follow Hushai’s advice to wait for more troops was that Hushai also advised Absalom to lead the troops himself. So, here we have Absalom out on the battlefield. The second issue is his vanity. In an earlier passage we are told that he only cut his hair once a year when it became too heavy. In the same passage it tells us that Absalom was a handsome man. It is clear from that passage that Absalom took a lot of pride in his appearance, in particular his long hair. On this occasion, his pride in his long hair causes him trouble because his hair gets tangled in a tree and he cannot flee from David’s men.

This story is filled with betrayal. Absalom seems to trust anyone who will ingratiate themselves to him. He believes the wise Ahithophel, who encourages him to have sex with all of David’s concubines to demonstrate his conquest. Of course, that is the last thing Absalom should do because it will cause a permanent fissure Absalom and his father, David. Ahithophel, since he is a traitor, wants to make sure the father and son combo never get together to turn on him (and when it is clear that Absalom’s defeat is imminent, Ahithophel kills himself). His pride would not let him wait for what would be rightfully his at the right time. He wanted what he wanted right now and didn’t want to wait for it. When we charge off into situations, because of our pride, that we are not ready for, we will fail.

Absalom’s main problem is that he could not wait for the throne. His inheritance from his father was coming. But as he ventured out of his second act, he couldn’t wait for it. He wanted his glory so bad, he took 20,000 other men down with him. May we learn that nothing comes immediately, especially maturity. We get irritated about having to go through a process! Things take time. Maturity takes time. You can’t be a senior pastor til you have matured sufficiently that God will trust you with a flock of His children. Your two-year-old won’t become rational in a day. You won’t pay off your debt in a second. Things take time. Move with them.

Father in heaven teach us patience and teach us to appreciate that you have us where we are to learn what we need to learn. Even as adults, we are still learning each and every day. You have us in situations right now to teach us what we need to know to move to the next phase in life that you have in store for us. Teach us to be patient and soak in where we are now. Teach us to be patient and learn what you have for us to learn. Help us to trust you. Help us to have patience.

Amen and Amen.

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