This is my son: absalom
Advent Midweek 3 In This Precious Baby Boy, LSB 341
Text – 2 Samuel 18:33
And the king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And as he went, he said, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!”
This Is My Son: Absalom
Parents make many sacrifices for their children. When a baby comes along, the needs & desires of mom & dad take a back seat. Parents will sacrifice time, money & sleep in order to provide the very best for their children. Sacrifices come in all sizes.
A dad may sacrifice the last bite of his favorite dessert to give it to his child who loves it just as much. A mom might give up a career because that is what’s best for her children. Many parents are willing to sacrifice their own life to save the life of their child. Parent often wish they could take the place of their child if one of their children is suffering.
But, parents don’t always get that chance. David, the father of Absalom, wished that he could have died in his son’s place. Yet, the story of this father & son ultimately points us to the love of our heavenly Father & the ultimate sacrifice He made so that you & I can be saved from the curse of death.
The events of chapters 13–18, in 2 Samuel, reveal the wickedness & depravity of mankind – even those chosen by God to be His special people, a light to the nations. They reveal God’s people committing acts of incest, rape, injustice, murder, scheming, rebellion & war! Here’s a quick recap.
King David had 19 sons from several different wives. Amnon was the first-born son of David & was in line to be king, but he lusted after his half-sister, Tamar. He faked being sick so that he could be cared for by her. When they were alone, he forced himself upon her & violated her. Then, he placed the blame on her & sent her away to hide in shame. When King David heard of this, he was angry, but did nothing to punish Amnon. Absalom, the full brother of Tamar, was infuriated with Amnon & angry at David for not pursuing justice for Tamar. For two years, Absalom hated & plotted against Amnon until eventually, Absalom had Amnon murdered. Then Absalom fled & exiled himself. It was a mess!
Jump ahead three years. Joab, captain of king David’s army, convinces the king to bring back Absalom because he can tell that David misses him. But when Absalom returns to Jerusalem, he goes back to his plotting ways. He had not yet forgiven his father.
Using his natural good looks & charisma (the Bible describes him as very handsome with his long hair) Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel by speaking badly of David in the city gates while promoting himself. Absalom did this for four years until one day he left Jerusalem & sent secret messengers, who announced, “Absalom is made king at Hebron!”
Thousands of Israelites rallied to him & joined the rebellion because of all the patient, hard work he had done to build up his reputation. Meanwhile, David fled from Jerusalem to spare the citizens there a battle when Absalom moved in to take the throne.
David summoned those loyal to himself & amassed a great army. As the battle drew near, David stayed behind instructing his army to deal gently with Absalom for David’s sake. He still loved his son & wanted to show him mercy.
On the day of battle, David’s army soundly defeated Absalom’s. As Absalom attempted to flee through the forest, his mule went under the thick branches of a tree. Absalom’s hair was caught in a branch & he was left hanging there. When Joab found him, he ignored the words of David & thrust three javelins into the heart of Absalom as he hung from the tree.
The reporting of this news & David’s response is what we heard in the OT reading. When he heard of Absalom’s death, David wept & said, “O Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!” This ends a tragic father-son story – a story not unlike the one we share with our heavenly Father. And sadly, that identifies us in the person of Absalom, the rebellious son.
But surely you aren’t that bad! You’ve never murdered anyone or incited rebellion. You may think the only thing you have in common with Absalom is your good looks. But while we look at appearances, what does God look at? Is it not the heart? And in your heart, you are just as rotten, sinful & rebellious as Absalom & every other character portrayed in 2 Samuel.
Jesus said, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person.” (Matthew 15:19–20) Like Absalom, you rebel against your heavenly Father each & every day as you put yourself on the throne of your heart & attempt to run your own life.
Unlike David, God is a perfect Father who has told you what is good & right. In selfish pride, you have chosen not to listen & have declared war on God’s will. A son of the king with privilege & power, Absalom decided that was not enough. He also wanted to be king.
You & I desire the same thing. Whenever we break any of the Ten Commandments, we also break the 1st one by placing our own desires above the will & the wisdom of God. Yahweh identified Absalom as someone who was cursed for his sin by allowing him to hang from that tree. God’s Law declares in Deuteronomy 21: “A hanged man is cursed by God.” (21:23 ESV)
You deserve the same punishment for your rebellion. Because of your sin, you are cursed & should expect the wrath of God. Yet out of His great love, God sent Jesus, the true Son of David, to become a curse for you by hanging from a tree. In Baptism, you die along with Jesus & then God makes you an heir of His heavenly kingdom.
Like David, God is a merciful king who does not want you to die, despite your rebellion
against Him. For you, God cries out like David, “O My children, My children! Would I had died instead of you, O My children!” But in God’s case, He did carry out the substitution that David could only hope for. In order to save you from the curse of death, God willingly gave up His true & perfect Son.
The Son of Man & Son of God was the true Son of David, in whom no sin or rebellion could be found. Jesus Christ fulfilled God’s promise that David’s kingdom would be established forever. And as the Son of David, Jesus also hung from the tree of the cross – as a spear was thrust into Him.
Paul refers back to Deuteronomy 21 & connects it to the cross in Galatians 3:13, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse. For it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs from a tree.’” Jesus became cursed for you. He died the death you deserved. He who knew no sin became sin for you so that you might receive His righteousness.
That is the sacrifice your heavenly Father was willing to make for you, His rebellious child. No matter how far you stray, no matter how violently you rebel, no matter how often you attempt to remove Him from the throne of your heart, God will always love you & is ready to forgive you for the sake of the One who hung on the tree in your place.
Through Jesus, the true Son of David & King of the universe, you are a forgiven & eternally loved child of God. You have a place in His kingdom forever. Amen.
God’s own children, we have strayed, constantly have disobeyed in the garden, in the sand, through the river, in the Land. But the Child who takes our place bears the cross to earn us grace. Through this baby in the hay, God has given us the Way to inherit life above, rescued by His perfect love. In this Child, we all may be children of eternity. Amen.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet