Today’s reading (2 Sam. 16-19) addressed the civil war between King David and opposing forces within the tribes of Israel. Leading one of the rebellions was King David’s son, Absalom. In spite of the outright defiance of his very own child, the ruler asked his military leaders to deal gently with his son. Unfortunately, the story does not end well for Absalom as he suffered a head injury from a freak accident in a tree. Joab plunged a sword through the hanging man’s chest, killing him and putting him out of his misery. The king’s grief proved overwhelming, as he mourned the loss of his son. The rebellion finally came to an end, but in victory’s wake, many lives were lost. It was a bittersweet triumph.
The story of love, even amid great controversy is intense throughout this narrative. We see the love of a father, the price of rebellion, and the ultimate return of those who left the order of God. Our journey and place in the world reveal itself in this text, for we know what it is like to start out on a path that only leads to destruction. We rebel and struggle to find our own way, regardless of God’s guidance. We fail to be an obedient church as we take the reigns and declare before the Lord Almighty, “I disagree with you. I can do this on my own, no help needed.” And thus our path to destruction is complete.
But wait, there is more to the story. It does not end with rebellion, but with reconciliation. Our King loves us, no matter how far we stray off the beaten path. We pay the price for the ravages of our choices, but God’s covenant to love us in the middle of our stuff never goes away. Unlike Absalom, death is not our final sentence. Our gift is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord. May we remember to live in the fullness of our redemptive story.