"A Study of Absalom"; 2nd Samuel
February 1, 2005

C. R. Oliver

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February 1, 2005

"A Study of Absalom"
2nd Samuel

The cause of death for Absalom began at his birth. He was the son of a concubine and felt alienated from his father all his days. Naturally, he would never be heir to the throne; naturally, he bore the image of the kings DNA; naturally, he was just one among many of the "king's sons." Unnaturally, he never experienced the day to day interaction with David, which would have acted as a bonding force between father and son. Maacah, his mother (II Samuel 3:3), was one of David's concubines and had no queen's authority. Her son and daughter were inferior to the likes of Solomon. They were not ranked as "privileged" in the social order. They existed apart from the mainstream and lived their lives away from the "inner" circle.

David was the perfect modern father-model in Absalom's life: never home, never close, yet financially responsible. He awakened to Absalom's needs too late and dismissed the power of his son's influence as "something he will mature out of." David, however, could not bridge the generation gap because the crevice of separation was too vast.

A Thirty-Five Year Seasoning:

Thirty-five years ago, while preaching in the largest church in one of Texas' oldest cities, I entitled the message, "Too busy being King to care." I might also say that after much inquiry of the Lord, He instructed me to go to those ancient notes and re-acquaint myself with its content. His assurance was that someone in the email audience needed this message. The emphasis of the past is not the emphasis of this brief study.

David's Prophetic Curse

David was cursed by God through the words of Nathan, the prophet, and Absalom was the prophetic fulfillment.

II Samuel 12:10-12
Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.' 11 "Thus says the LORD: 'Behold, I will raise up an adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. 12 For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun.' "

Absalom's actions were the product of judgment on the house of David, not just the death of an illegitimate child.

Anomie's education:

Living in the land of the marginal (anomie) exacted a high price on Absalom and it is a price being paid by youth even today.

The events leading up to his death provide an interesting trail of study.

  1. He was deeply moral and when His sister Tamar was violated by his half brother, he harbored her in his home, and sought for justice. Tamar would never become a proper bride; her life was ruined by the folly of Amnon. David's inaction (he did nothing in two years) caused Absalom to recognize the "peripheralness" of his existence. II Samuel 13:21, 23.

  2. Absalom asserted himself as a man of justice. Amnon must pay the Biblical price for his lust. Absalom executed Amnon, thus avenging his sister. Absalom's righteous cause prompted him to flee the king's wrath. David's "informatives" simultaneously wrongly relayed that all the kings' sons were killed by Absalom.

  3. Absalom fled to Geshur "and David mourned for Amnon every day."

    After three years, "David longed to go to Absalom. For he had been comforted concerning Amnon, because he was dead. II Samuel 13:39."

    No attempt was made to bring Absalom home. He was banished at the hand of "good intentions." Not until Joab (David's General) concocted a legal intrusion did Absalom return. The widow of Tekoa presented a case before David using a feigned matter of injustice. It gave her opportunity to speak in Absalom's behalf. It is her words which bear heavy scrutiny at the end of this study.

  4. Absalom is fetched from Geshur and returned to Jerusalem under no reconciling hand.

    II Samuel 14:24
    And the king said, "Let him return to his own house, but do not let him see my face. So Absalom returned to his own house, but did not see the king's face."

    A huge question looms over this passage. Was David being more king than father? Would the immediate reception of Absalom have shown favor in the face of Solomon? These things are not known, but a high price was exacted of David and Absalom for this failure. "Letting Absalom stew in his own juices," revealed the paternal failure in playing "hide and seek" instead of "humble and seek."

  5. Absalom was a man of tenderness, which was born out by naming his daughter "Tamar," thus restoring a virgin daughter to Israel. His tenderness turned to rebellion as the relationship with father further deteriorated.

    II Samuel 14:28 said, "Absalom dwelt two full years in Jerusalem, but did not see the king's face."

    How much rejection can one son bear?

    He lived in the same town, read the same newspapers, went to the same place of worship and never had a reception. He sought out the man of influence who had caused his return and twice Joab ignored him. He finally did get Joab's attention (II Samuel 14:39).

    What did he receive for this great desire to have terms with the king? He got an audience with the king. He bowed like any servant and the king kissed him. No prodigal's reward for Absalom-- just more distance underscored in the inner chamber.

    His was the route of modern sons; he learned all his father's tricks, but never knew his devotion. He observed the sin of his father but was not privy to the repentance. He envied his father's position but never understood his father's responsibilities and obligations. Thus began a generational gap which would never be bridged. At the beginning, he never really wanted his father's throne, just his father's home.

  6. Absalom lived under "intimate banishment" for forty years.

    "And after forty years ...Absalom said to the king, "Please let me go to Hebron and pay the vow which I vowed to the Lord."

Recoiled Rejection:

His vow was evidently never again to live under tyranny of insensitive authority. His methods telegraphed his frustration with David. He fell into the purpose of God and the prophesy of Nathan through poor advice, erroneous counsel and maleficent choice.

  • He attacked his father.
  • He formed an army of the nation's dissidents
  • He raped his father's concubines, violating them so they could never be with the King again, an act of tyranny, in line with the prophetic curse on David.
  • He died in battle as the result of Joab's command and the poor counsel of one who could have saved him.

David's remorse was too little too late. Upon learning of his death, the king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber of the gate and wept. And as he went, he said thus: "O My son Absalom--my son, my son Absalom---if only I had died instead of thee, O Absalom, my son." (II Samuel 18:33).

The victory over his enemies was turned to mourning!


Thirty-five years ago the sermon intoned this closure:

"Sometimes it takes your child to hack away the dark images in the grove trees of your minds, images that block the view that heaven has. One Gideon in his father's grove of idols is worth more than the sermons of a thousand pulpits. One son in a detention court demonstrates the social ills of the family more than a life time of preaching. All the incohesive factors in a family's failure cannot be undone by a million counselors or ten million child protective workers. One daughter languishing under the mental and moral load of an illegitimacy or living under the penalty of a hasty promise (Jephathah) does more to bring reality to a family than Sunday School and Youth Rallies and Women's Aglow. One casketed child mirrors more truth than a hundred Nathan's.

"The dead bodies of rebellious youth lay sharp the mortal wound in Eli's heart. It is a price too great to pay! Stop the carnage! America's greedy money-lust, over ridden with her pathological goddesses of sex and drugs, has paid a price too large to sustain. The streets are filled with the issue of our union, and encompassed with the penalty of our blood. The price of our indulgence, our greed for success, and our wanton guarantees of aged ease in Zion has stolen our most prized possession: our children. It steals the baby from the mother's breast; it jerks the child fiber by fiber from the family; it murders our youth in our streets and leaves carnage far too great to be numbered.

"Where will it end? It will end when every family's head (the father) becomes vocal with endearing forgiveness, lifting smashed hearts with warm and caring hands instead of crying at funerals, "my son, my son , would to God I had died instead of Thee."

The Results of the 1970's Message:

The net results of this message are accounted as follows:

  1. Since it was broadcast live over a local radio station and because it covered one and half hours, the station eclipsed the noon news and continued to 2 pm Sunday carrying the entire sermon and all that happened after.

  2. A church melted before the Spirit of God and young men in long hair and baggy attire were seen being embraced by weeping fathers and mothers. Girls were showered with kisses and hearts were rendered in such an array of emotion that aisles were filled with tears and bodies as hundreds made their way to the altar to pray and seek God.

  3. The phones were lit in the church office and staff was busied counseling those who had heard the broadcast and sought the church's help. It ended somewhere around 5:15 p.m.

  4. I was contacted about midweek by the pastor who told me, "You will never speak in this church again; you have totally disrupted my congregation. You will never speak in this association, and I will personally see to it." He later resigned to become the head man of that Baptist association.

    Today, instead of several thousand on Sunday, barely thirty persons attend. Instead of a hundred voice choir and a mighty witness, the legacy of Gail Borden lays in ruins. The message on the exterior of the building which read, "Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name among men whereby we must be saved," has been painted over.
God knows, and all of you know, that such outpouring because of a Spirit directed message is not likely to happen again because in thirty-five years things have changed.

The root of today's problem in all churches did not begin in the last five years, not even in the last thirty-five years. When authority becomes insensitive to the voice of the Spirit, the righteous are banished.

Something to Consider:

Two facets must be addressed:

  1. II Samuel 17: 14

    "For the Lord had purposed to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, to the intent that the Lord might bring disaster on Absalom."

    All the injustice of David did not excuse Absalom. With the sin comes the judgment. The word "purposed" is an interesting seal.[1] Grown men ARE responsible for the counsel they listen to and the choice of their paths.

  2. II Samuel 14:14

    "God does not take away a life; but He devises means, so that His banished ones are not expelled from Him."

    (Banished also is an interesting study. [2] If one will do an Englishman's study and check every reference in the Bible that uses this word, many truths will come to light.)
A mighty Promise:

Nehemiah 1:9 "But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though some of you were cast out (banished) to the fartherest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there".

Here is an application I feel is worthy of expression.

Thousands of you have been banished because authorities in church bodies did not understand or would not tolerate your objections. Many times this banishment was because of your stand in righteousness over undealt with issues.

Many others have turned to self-banishment because you were misunderstood and have suffered at the hand of those who no longer wish to see your face. You despair for the church and its leadership and have given up trying to be heard above the morass. Your ideas have been rejected, your solicitations have been repelled and you have decided to leave the church hoping someday reform will come.

You have longed for the hug of a true saint and a "welcome home" from friendly faces…look up, your Redeemer has devised a way, This is Your Day! I dare to say that disenfranchised saints in 2005 are about to receive a blessing from the Lord which will make up for the many years of being outside looking in!

[1] OT:6680 tsavah (tsaw-vaw'); a primitive root; (intensively) to constitute, enjoin: KJV - appoint, (for-) bid, (give a) charge, (give a, give in, send with) command (-er, -ment), send a messenger, put, (set) in order.

Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.

[2] OT:5080 nadach (naw-dakh'); a primitive root; to push off; used in a great variety of applications, literally and figuratively (to expel, mislead, strike, inflict, etc.): KJV - banish, bring, cast down (out), chase, compel, draw away, drive (away, out, quite), fetch a stroke, force, go away, outcast, thrust away (out), withdraw.

(Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

Until Next month,

Dr. Cosby R. Oliver, PhD.


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