In Defense of Absalom
This may be one of the strangest titles that I have ever used for an article. I am going to take Absalom's side for a moment and I want you to bear with me as I do.
When I write articles like this my desire is to help. Unfortunately, many take these articles personally. Please do not do that. Just allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you. If He does fine and if He doesn't fine. If not just salt this truth away and someday it will help someone else.
Absalom has been judged as a rebel and one who wanted to destroy his father's life and take over his kingdom. That is all true, I cannot argue that. However, I want to go on the defense on behalf of this young man. You will understand why as you read further into this article.
HERE IS MY DEFENSE OF ABSALOM
He may have thought he was to doing the right thing. It is easy for us to look at Absalom and assume that he knew he was a rebel, but how do we know that? I contend that rebels seldom know they are rebels. Absalom’s rarely realize they are Absaloms. Let me explain.
Absalom may have been sincere in his reasons for his rebellion. Stop and consider this. David was very lenient in his handling of his eldest son Amnon. Absalom very well may have believe that what he was doing what his brother deserved. We could even admire his defense of his sister, Tamar. Who are we to say that his reasons were not correct? Absalom’s always can give you good reasons for what they do.
Absalom may have been sincere in his motives. You may ask, “Dr. Gray why in the world would you credit this young man with having good motives?” I am glad you asked. My answer is simple. You have no more right to judge Absalom's motives than you have to justify your wrong actions with your good motives.
How do we know the motives of this young man? Perhaps in the beginning all he wanted to do was defend the honor of his sister. I do not know what was in his heart. At the heart of most rebels there is some sincerity.
Absalom may have been sincere in the hurt he felt from his father. When Absalom killed Amnon he fled out of fear of his father. For three years he lived in self imposed exile. There is NO indication that David ever sought reconciliation with his son during that time.
Even when he returned, David kept him away from him for two more years. Do you not think that this deeply hurt this young man? It must have. He was David’s son. He had defended the honor of his sister and David shunned him. Most rebels feel a deep seeded hurt that they blame upon their father.
Absalom may have been sincere about his father’s humanity. Now here is a slippery slope. No doubt Absalom knew of David’s affair with Bathsheba and the subsequent set-up for the death of Uriah. This young man may have felt that his father was undeserving of the kingdom. He may have lost respect for his father when he saw the inconsistencies in his life. Absalom’s are almost always able to find fault in their parents.
Absalom may have been sincere about his methods. It is undeniable that this young man was able to steal the hearts of multitudes of the people. How? By treating them more kindly and not pushing them as David did.
The people liked this kinder more hands-on King. To them he was a more understanding leader than David had been. He did not push them into war. He let them relax and enjoy the fruits of their labor.
Are you getting this? Absalom was not necessarily wrong in some ways, But, Absalom was wrong in his rebellion.
You may sincerely believe that what you are doing is right and best, but if you violate Scripture to do it, then you are a rebel. You sincerely may not feel your dad deserves your honor, but if you dishonor him you have no excuse. You may sincerely feel that he is not deserving of his positions, but the moment you decide to dishonor him you are a rebel, like Absalon.
Absalom knew things about his father, just as most children know things about their parents. He may have sincerely felt that his father was unworthy of the kingdom. But that sincerity did not justify his actions. Neither does your sincerity justify yours.
Somehow Absalom was able to convince the people of his sincerity. No doubt some of them had a personal grudge against David and wanted to take him down, but most of them were probably decent and sincere people. They followed Absalom because they thought he was right. Their mistake was that they did not recognize the growing rebellion in Absalom’s heart.
That's the danger when followers assume sincerity and ignore his violation of Scripture. What a son stands up and slaps at his own father in the pulpit he may be sincere on every count, but he is sinning because he is dishonoring his father. When his son decides to do what he thinks is sincere, but violates scripture in doing it, he is wrong.
Now let me share a some interesting thoughts about this situation and most like it.
For a while it appeared God was not on David's side. Absalom almost succeeded in destroying David. The tide of public opinion turned against David and he had to flee for his life. David was an outcast. Yet, in the end, David was proven right. Why do people have to wait to the end to see what is right, when they should have seen the rebellion in Absalom without having to wait. Rebels do not act like rebels. They act like leaders.
Let's face it, followers often put their finger in the air to see which way the wind is blowing. They don't always follow principle. That is why it is so easy for an Absalom to accomplish his purposes. He has a good argument. He looks like he's in control. He says what the people want to hear. People often follow where they feel their “bread is buttered.”
David may have been wrong in some regards. He may have made the wrong decision regarding Amnon. He may not have handled everything properly. But, that does not justify what Absalom did. Absalom may have had a sincere motive. Absalom may have been a better suited leader than David. He may have had more wisdom and common sense than his own father. After all, we know that Solomon was a wise man. Even Saul was even superior to David in some ways.
The difference is simply one thing. David was anointed by God, NOT because of what people could see, but because of what God saw. It is very dangerous to judge a man because of the negatives said about him, when there has been plenty of evidence that the hand of God was upon him.
It scares me to think that after all the years of faithful service we turn on a man because we decide to judge some isolated situations told to us by an Absalon The son Absalom used that very thing to his advantage. They always do. They talk about what their father did, then criticize him for what he is now doing.
Absalom was probably more of a unifier than David was. He knew how to bring the people together. David had been a lifelong fighter. David was a warrior and Absalom was slick. David had fought for the people while Absalom never had to get his hands bloody. He merely was able to scrutinize his father and then with polish win the hearts of the people away from David, the man whom God had used to deliver them from their enemies time and time again.
Let’s face it, there comes a time when people get tired of fighting and are drawn to a man who is not so much of a fighter as his predecessor. Absalom was a peacemonger. David was a fighter. Yet, David, not Absalom was called a man after God’s own heart.
Look, if you want to be perfectly honest, Absalom had a lot going for him. He may have had sincere motives when he first began. He may have thought he was doing what was best. He even listened to advice from some of David’s “trusted” advisors.
At first he may not have been out to destroy his father, but, as soon as he began to lift his hand up against his father, his heart changed. He went from a man with a cause to a man with an evil heart. Evil causes hurt while sin causes death.
Be careful young men. I don't care how sincere your motive is. I don't care how right you think you are. I don't care how many people think that you are better than your father. Be careful. Because none of those things give you a right to denigrate the one who went before you.