The Day the King Wept
The prophet Nathan’s words are being fulfilled: The sword has come to the house of David. Absalom, David’s son who murdered his half-brother, is plotting to steal the throne. Standing at the city gates of Jerusalem, Absalom weasels the people’s support by sympathizing with the wrongs they feel have been committed against them. He is building himself up while tearing David down. Soon much of the nation loves him.
Absalom deceives David into thinking he’s going to Hebron to worship God, but he’s really going to stage a coup. He underhandedly recruits some of David’s advisers, including Ahithophel. Soon the popular Absalom is leading an army to lay siege to Jerusalem. David and his family flee, leaving behind ten of his concubines and a few strategically placed moles who will act as if they support Absalom but report all they learn to David.
Following the advice of Ahithophel, David’s son publicly sleeps with his father’s concubines. It is a brazen statement. Then Absalom leads the army to fight against his father. His orders? “Kill my father, the king.”
But King David gives his men different orders: “Don’t kill the enemy, my son.” David’s men defeat Absalom’s army, but when Absalom is caught in a tree during the battle, David’s army commander Joab kills him. When the news gets back to David, he sobs. His son is dead.
The King’s Heart
David’s heart was a reflection of God’s. It was a broken reflection, but a reflection nonetheless. “My son is wrong, yes. He is guilty, yes. He deserves to die, yes. But do not kill him.”
Like Absalom, God’s sons and daughters are guilty. We have often spurned the love of our Father, seeking to overthrow his good rule in our lives. We have thought we could reign better. We have misinterpreted his loving actions as cruelty, and we have shaken our fists at him in anger. We have sought after cheap beauties, not trusting that he yearns to give us our deepest desires. We have disrespected the King.
David’s grief refrain for his son is a prophetic picture of our loving Father. “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you” (2 Samuel 18:33).
Hear God’s heart. “My children are wrong, yes. They are guilty, yes. They deserve to die, yes. But do not kill them. Kill me instead.”
As he left Jerusalem and ascends the Mount of Olives, David wept for the sins of his son (see 2 Samuel 15:30). Centuries later, as Jesus descended the Mount of Olives for his triumphal entry, he wept and grieved for the sins of his children too (see Luke 19:37-44).