Day 145 – Committing Treason with Your Kids?

I was walking along the streets of Moscow back while it was still the capital city of the Soviet Union. I was in the city as a short-term missionary and was probably returning from the store when I heard these words coming from a tape my Walkman (the iPod’s grandfather):

O my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son!

1 Samuel 19: 5 NIV

I vaguely remember walking near the river as I listened to Chuck Swindoll imitating the mourning wail of King David as part of a sermon. I can hardly remember what I saw, but the sound of Swindoll loudly weeping those words is still crystal clear in my mind.

I remember nothing more about the sermon, just the wail of a father for his dead son.

Apparently many of his troops heard David, too. His grief turned their victory celebration into a day of sadness.

Even though Absalom had done all he could to humiliate his father David and take away his kingdom, David wailed in grief.

Finally the commander Joab warned the King that if he didn’t reign in the grief, his troops – who had risked their lives to save David from Absalom – would turn away in disgust and “This will be worse for you than all the calamities that have come on you from your youth till now.” (vs. 7b)

In a sense, David committed treason against his own troops by seeming to prefer his dead enemy son over them.

David made the mistake (the sin…) that we parents are prone to make: he turned his son into an idol. He put Absalom above his country, his troops, even his own life.

God warns Israel through the prophets that idols don’t serve us; we end up serving them. And they destroy us.

That’s almost what happened with Absalom. David idolized his son. He spoiled him. And his son almost destroyed him.

I don’t know if I’ve done this with my kids. I hope not. Maybe not in general.

But I’ve done it in little ways with them and with others – put my value in the hands of people instead of in God’s hands.

It’s a recipe for disaster.

And it’s treason to boot.

Today’s Readings: 2 Samuel 19:1-20:26,  Psalm 67:1-7, Proverbs 16:33-17:1, John 7:53-8:20. See About for what I’m up to with these daily posts. Your daily blogger, Holiday Longing (Reproduce with permission only).

6 thoughts on “Day 145 – Committing Treason with Your Kids?

  1. Spoiled? I may have to read that story again.

    I like to think that in a more enlightened society, people would have been able to respect David’s grief, and to know that this grief was not saying Absalom had been righteous in his cause, nor saying the work of the troops was in vain or worse, but simply that David lost his son, and all further opportunity to woo him to repentance.

      • Okay, that sounds fair. David failed — at least in this instance (the text doesn’t say whether the “never” applies to only this rebellion or to his whole life), at least with this son — to provide discipline.

        I still hate the phrase “spoiled brat.” And I still think that, even when the tragedy is due in part to poor parenting, even when the child does wrong, it is perfectly natural for a father to grieve when he loses his son — perhaps more natural when the death means no more possibility of reconciliation and repentance and restoration. Maybe if David had had better PR people, they could have spun their story of his grief this way, instead of making it seem like he just didn’t care about the battle, the victory, or the rebellion.

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