The Lesson of the House of David
David was a mighty warrior, exceptional musician, great poet, and a king after God’s own heart. Yet he seemed not to have been a successful father. It appeared that he was clueless when it came to the disciplining of his sons. Amnon abandoned his own sister after raping her. David was furious, but did not discipline or rebuke him. To avenge his sister, Absalom killed Amnon and then fled. David grieved for Absalom, but did not bring him back nor admonish him, and even refused to see him (2 Samuel ). Perhaps David perceived that the savagery at his house came from God. Perhaps he was afraid that his children would despise him because of his sins. Or perhaps he was too involved with affairs of state to have time for the mentoring of his children, so that he did not exercise his paternal authority nor fulfill his obligation as father to point out unerringly the sins of his sons, and administer punishment. After he had lost two sons, he discovered in his old age the importance of instructing his children (1 Chronicles 28:9).
Absalom was born into leisure, grew up in wealth, had an exceedingly handsome appearance, was wise beyond measure, and loved his sister. Although he was a descendant of the reverent, he did not have his father’s heart that feared and submitted to God. Absalom was a man who remembered wrongs, was deft at pretending, and employed craftiness in all his actions and interactions. He wanted to be king sooner, and so plotted for years to win the hearts of the people. “Also, whenever anyone approached him to bow down before him, Absalom would reach out his hand, take hold of him and kiss him.” (2 Samuel 15:5) But the kiss of Absalom was not the kiss of genuine concern for the citizens, or of loving regard for his brethren. Rather, it was a kiss with a separate agenda of betrayal against his father. To gain his father’s confidence, he pretended to be spiritual and used the subterfuge of worship to hide his rebellion (2 Samuel 15:8). His pronounced desire to be near God was sugarcoating and not in spirit or truth. To improve the odds of his palace coup, he tricked those who worshipped honestly into his service. Absalom’s bid to be king did not come from God’s selection or anointment by the Holy Spirit, and he finally lost his life because of his folly.
Those of us who are God’s children should reflect: what is your relationship with God? Are you the same within as without? Do you really fear God and follow His ways? Do you treat others with love and honesty? Are you mindful of your parents’ admonition and instruction? Do not despise your parents’ discipline and rebuke, for “he who scorns instruction will pay for it, but he who respects a command is rewarded.” (Proverbs ); “the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them.” (Proverbs 1:32)
The behavior of Absalom reminds Christian parents to be more cognizant of the inner being and spirituality of their children, and not be fooled by superficial reverence and artifice. The world today is a great forging machine. A few hours per week of contact with life in the church does not compare with over 10 hours a day of influence from the culture of television and the web. It is the responsibility of parents to instruct their children (Proverbs 22:6). The bible tells us to “discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death.” (Proverbs 19:18)
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ - which is the first commandment with a promise - ‘that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.’ Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:1-4) There are no perfect parents in the world and no perfect children, for we are all sinners. God requires that parents and children alike follow the instruction of the bible, each fulfill his or her duty, and steadfastly obey the word of God.