Good morning and welcome to worship on this Lord’s Day. Every day is the Lord’s Day but Sunday, the day Jesus rose from the dead, is special. It is the Lord’s Sabbath. Once a week we set aside this day to rest and worship and listen to what the Lord has to say.
In the 3rd commandment the Lord commands us to “Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy”. The letter of Hebrews says, “Let us not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Heb 10:25
Without the Word and the regular fellowship of God’s people we drift into dangerous waters and don’t even know it. Today’s family portrait from the OT illustrates this. Our character is a man named Absalom, one of the sons of King David.
Absalom seemed to have it all. Movie star looks, money, athletic, charismatic, son of the king. At least that’s how things looked on the surface, but here’s the rest of the story. Absalom’s home life was a mess.
Now there’s no such thing as a perfect family. What may look wonderful on the outside may not be so wonderful on the inside. Children suffer the sins of their parents and parents suffer the sins of their children. Yet, through it all, God is there for us, if we will look to him.
Absalom’s mother was the daughter of a petty king in the north of Israel. His father was the great King David, a man chosen by God to be the shepherd king of Israel. David loved the LORD, but he was also a sinner. Like most of the kings of his time, David was a polygamist. 500 years earlier God warned his people through Moses.
“When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, “Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us …. He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray.” Deut 17:14, 17
And that’s what happened to David. The Bible lists 8 wives and 10 concubines but there were more. 19 children are named but there were more. Most of these marriages were political. Our focus today is a boy named Absalom, David’s third son by his third wife.
Absalom grew up in the jealous bickering dysfunction of the harem. He had little to no relationship with his Dad who was busy with leading the army, administrating a growing kingdom, writing worship music, making treaties, and more political marriages.
David’s household was in Chuck Swindoll’s words “a seething caldron of intrigue and deceit”. Moses told Israel’s parents that it was their job to instruct their children in the way of the LORD but David was too busy to do this. Instead of loving his children and training them in the way of the LORD, he abandoned them to their own devices.
When Absalom’s sister was raped by her half-brother, instead of casting the offender out of the community like the law required, the Bible says David got angry but that was all. Maybe the reason he didn’t discipline his son was because of his own guilt over his affair with his best friend’s wife and then his murder to cover it up.
The prophet Nathan told David, “The sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.” 2 Sam 12:10 And that’s what happened.
When Absalom murdered his half-brother, David did nothing. Rather than confronting the situation, David avoided it. After the murder, Absalom fled to his maternal grandfather. A few months later, David allowed him to return to Jerusalem, but instead of confronting his son, David simply refused to see him. Though they lived in the same city, there was no contact, neither would forgive nor reconcile with the other.
Absalom is now fully grown. The Bible says in all of Israel there was no one as handsome or loved by the people as Absalom. He was ‘prince charming’ but his heart was black as coal with vanity, sin, resentment and bitterness.
With the help of one of the leaders of David’s army he hatched a plot to overthrown his father’s throne. He told the people who had complaints that he was on their side. He even lied and told them all he was a member of their tribe. He promised that once he was king, he would reduce taxes and remove corruption. He was the consummate liar and politician.
Soon people began to say, “If only Absalom were our king instead of David!” Still, David did nothing. He avoided his son which only increased Absalom’s anguish and rage against him.
Absalom, on the advice of his counselors, publically used his father’s harem, but David refused to confront him. Strange as it might be, David may have thought he was loving his son by refusing to discipline him and allowing him to do whatever he pleased.
In the end, Absalom set up a coup to overthrow his father and David fled for his life. The leaders of his army gather around David to counter-attack. But David instructed them not to hurt his son. In the battle, Absalom was killed and David mourned, “Absalom my son, my son.”
So why so little, so late? I don’t know! It makes me wonder what David’s home was like. As the youngest son in the family, Jesse his father even forgot about him when Samuel came to anoint the next king of Israel. His older brothers treated him like dirt when he brought supplies out to them on the battle field and when he defeated Goliath, they scoffed at him.
David developed a close relationship with the LORD as a teenage shepherd out by himself fighting lions and bears. Maybe David’s failures as a father were because he had no model of a healthy family or a loving father! I don’t know! In any case, David was a failure as a father and family man and Absalom suffered the consequences.
On the other hand, Absalom made his own choices. He couldn’t blame his problems on his absent father. The sinful choices we make are no one’s fault but our own. So what are we to learn from the tragic story of Absalom, this rebel prince charming with the absent father?
1. A happy home begins with a commitment to do things God’s way! Satan knows if he can destroy God’s plan for marriage, he can destroy our children. God’s plan for marriage hasn’t changed. It is one man, one woman in a life-long commitment of fidelity. Premarital sex is premarital adultery. The Bible is clear. “You shall not commit adultery”.
Premarital sex is a sin against God and against your future spouse and it will compromise your ability to bond as God intends. The good news is God can forgive our failures if we will go to him for help. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we will confess our sins, God will forgive our sins and purify us from all our unrighteousness.” John 1:9
2. Children suffer the sins of their parents and God will hold parents accountable. We must take our responsibility as parents seriously. The best thing fathers and mothers can do for their children is to be growing in our own faith. You can’t lead someone else where you refuse to go yourself.
3. Children can’t blame their parents for their problems. Each of us must make the most of what we’ve been given. We must walk the road God has given us and not blame others.
4. Parents, don’t bail on your responsibility to stay close to your kids. This is your job, not theirs. Parents are to initiate this relationship. Don’t avoid the job God has given you. It’s your job to train up your children in the way they should go. Be honest with your children about your failures. Get on your knees before the LORD with them and pray together.
Apologize to them when you make a mistake and fight like a tiger for them against the lies of the world. This is the job God has given you and no one but you can do it. Don’t bail.
Make it your aim to have your children say. “My mom and dad weren’t perfect, but they loved me enough to confront me, teach me, forgive me, set boundaries for me and be there for me. They refused to give up on me.” That’s what real love looks like. That’s what God’s love looks like.
The only love that can hold families and marriages together is God’s love shown in the cross of Jesus. It’s not a list of rules, and do’s and don’ts. It’s not about controlling others! It’s not about being nice. It’s about tough, steady, steadfast, courageous, honest, never give up love that puts Jesus first, others second, and ourselves third.
If you do this, the world will call you a religious weirdo, but God will bless your effort and ultimately your children and grandchildren will call you blessed.
Parenting isn’t easy. Let your Heavenly Father be your example. Rather than avoiding us when we fail, he draws close to his sinful children. He confronts our sin and deals with it. Rather than resenting or shaming us, he comes right through our rejection of him and pays the penalty himself through the death of his Son on the cross, all for the sake of restoration. He makes reconciliation possible not only between us and with himself, but with each other.