Posts Tagged ‘dealing with bad behavior now’

2 Samuel 18:19-33
David Mourns Absalom’s Death

When you are a parent and raising kids and having a career, life is a blur. So much life happens when you are raising kids and life flies by so fast. School, school activities, homework, sports, our daily work lives, meshing all that together, dinner, baths, bedtime, rest. It is a fast-moving cycle that never ends. The next thing you know, your kids are teenagers and the then next thing you know they are out of the house. In the midst of that fast-moving train called raising children, we are supposed to raise them up to have good character, good work ethic, and common sense, so that they can survive in the world after they leave home.

Sometimes, we miss the opportunities when our kids are young to stop behaviors that can become bad character traits when they are grown. How often do we say, “ahh, he/she is just a little kid, I have plenty of time to deal with that later.” Sometimes, it’s just easier in the hustle and bustle of raising a child and often multiple children to put off til later what we should be doing today when it comes to character issues. As the old saying goes, “there is no time like the present!” This saying is especially true when it comes to raising children. We must deal with bad behavior that leads to bad character as early as possible – even as infants and then at each step along the way as they grow up.

That’s the thing that I see here in the story of Absalom. David lost focus on being a parent when he went through the troubles caused by his sins related to Bathsheba and Uriah. He got so wrapped up in his own problems he forgot to be a parent. His children ran wild. Half-brother rapes his sister. Raped sister is not supported in her grief over her rape. Half-brother gets away with rape for two years. Half-brother then kills half-brother. Murdering half-brother runs away. David never deals with these situations. You would think that Absalom would have been happy. But he is angry at his dad. Angry for being absent and not dealing with family issues.

In this broken world of multiple marriages and divorces, we often see it is the kids who are often left to their own devices. Instead of being parents to them, we get wrapped up in our divorces and who did what to who. We get wrapped up in our new found singleness and lose our minds and relive our party days and the kids are left in the dust. We get wrapped up in ourselves and forget to be parents. That’s why David’s life is so intriguing. It is a mirror of us even thousands of years later in modern American culture.

That’s what I thought of this morning as I read about David mourning the death of his son. Let’s read the passage, 2 Samuel 18:19-33, now:

19 Then Zadok’s son Ahimaaz said, “Let me run to the king with the good news that the Lord has rescued him from his enemies.”

20 “No,” Joab told him, “it wouldn’t be good news to the king that his son is dead. You can be my messenger another time, but not today.”

21 Then Joab said to a man from Ethiopia,[a] “Go tell the king what you have seen.” The man bowed and ran off.

22 But Ahimaaz continued to plead with Joab, “Whatever happens, please let me go, too.”

“Why should you go, my son?” Joab replied. “There will be no reward for your news.”

23 “Yes, but let me go anyway,” he begged.

Joab finally said, “All right, go ahead.” So Ahimaaz took the less demanding route by way of the plain and ran to Mahanaim ahead of the Ethiopian.

24 While David was sitting between the inner and outer gates of the town, the watchman climbed to the roof of the gateway by the wall. As he looked, he saw a lone man running toward them. 25 He shouted the news down to David, and the king replied, “If he is alone, he has news.”

As the messenger came closer, 26 the watchman saw another man running toward them. He shouted down, “Here comes another one!”

The king replied, “He also will have news.”

27 “The first man runs like Ahimaaz son of Zadok,” the watchman said.

“He is a good man and comes with good news,” the king replied.

28 Then Ahimaaz cried out to the king, “Everything is all right!” He bowed before the king with his face to the ground and said, “Praise to the Lord your God, who has handed over the rebels who dared to stand against my lord the king.”

29 “What about young Absalom?” the king demanded. “Is he all right?”

Ahimaaz replied, “When Joab told me to come, there was a lot of commotion. But I didn’t know what was happening.”

30 “Wait here,” the king told him. So Ahimaaz stepped aside.

31 Then the man from Ethiopia arrived and said, “I have good news for my lord the king. Today the Lord has rescued you from all those who rebelled against you.”

32 “What about young Absalom?” the king demanded. “Is he all right?”

And the Ethiopian replied, “May all of your enemies, my lord the king, both now and in the future, share the fate of that young man!”

33 [b]The king was overcome with emotion. He went up to the room over the gateway and burst into tears. And as he went, he cried, “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you! O Absalom, my son, my son.”

In this passage, we see that we must ask the question, “Why was David so upset over the death of his rebel son?” There are several reasons. First, David realized that he, in part, was responsible for Absalom’s death. Nathan, the prophet, had said that because David had arranged the death of Uriah, his own sons would rebel against him. Second, David was angry at Joab and his men for killing Absalom against his wishes but yet knowing that it was militarily necessary. Finally, David did truly love his son even though Absalom had this seething anger toward his father. David knew that it would have been the better thing to deal with Absalom and his runaway ego long ago when Absalom was younger. If he had not been so preoccupied with his own issues, he could have recognize the need for being a stronger dad toward Absalom. Sometimes, the things we shy away from as parents come back to haunt us and we regret not dealing with character issues in our children when they were younger.

That’s the takeaway this morning. David shows us the regret, the irretrievable regret, for not having been a parent to his children. His kids are a mess, two of which are now dead since his sin with Bathsheba and against Uriah. David has no one to blame but himself. Parenting is full-time job no matter what is going on in your own life. Kids require molding into adults of good character. We are not put here just to accommodate their wishes. We are given our children by God to mold them into children who have good character and can make it on their in the outside world when it is time for them to leave home. Sometimes, that means dealing with bad behavior – even if we feel guilt for having committed those same behaviors in our own life. We must take the approach of transparency when we are disciplining our kids for the behaviors we have displayed in our lives. Don’t end up like me. Don’t make the same mistakes I made. Don’t be stupid like me. See what’s happened in my life are all often the responses we have to use with our kids.

But the main thing is to deal with issues head on at the time they happen. No putting off key parenting moments. When you miss those moments, you will regret it later as the problem gets bigger and bigger each time you don’t deal with it. It does not matter if you or I are going through a deep dark valley in our own life. We don’t get to take days off as parents. It is a job for which you are on-call 24/7/365. No breaks ever. Even if you are going through a nasty divorce, you can’t quit being a parent. Even if you are dealing with mistakes made in your life, you can’t quit being a parent. Even if you are unhappy with the results of your own mistakes, you cannot quit being a parent. They will not grow up on their own. They need you. It is our God-given responsibility to be a parent to our kids. We love them no matter what they do just as God loves us no matter what we do. However, God does discipline us in our lives as His children. We can do no less for our own children. God doesn’t take weeks and years off from us. We cannot take weeks and years off from our children just because we are going through stuff in our own lives. God keeps working on us. We keep working on our kids no matter what’s up with us personally. Otherwise, we will end up like David – mourning and lamenting over what happened to our kids and the fact that we should have done a better job of parenting them. Let us be parents without regrets.

Amen and Amen.

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