We often want to hold grudges and take revenge. And even when we desire reconciliation, often we do not activate forgiveness and restoration. Today we read of King David stuck in this predicament with his son Absalom and how he sees the light of God’s forgiveness…
21 When King David heard all this, he was furious. 22 And Absalom never said a word to Amnon, either good or bad; he hated Amnon because he had disgraced his sister Tamar…
28 Absalom ordered his men, “Listen! When Amnon is in high spirits from drinking wine and I say to you, ‘Strike Amnon down,’ then kill him. Don’t be afraid. Haven’t I given you this order? Be strong and brave.” 29 So Absalom’s men did to Amnon what Absalom had ordered. Then all the king’s sons got up, mounted their mules and fled…
37 Absalom fled and went to Talmai son of Ammihud, the king of Geshur. But King David mourned many days for his son. 38 After Absalom fled and went to Geshur, he stayed there three years…
13 The woman [from Tekoa] said, “Why then have you devised a thing like this against the people of God? When the king says this, does he not convict himself, for the king has not brought back his banished son? 14 Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But that is not what God desires; rather, he devises ways so that a banished person does not remain banished from him.
2Samuel 13:21-22, 28-29, 37-38, 14:13-14
The back story to the words of the wise woman from Tekoa is that King David’s son Absalom avenged Amnon’s sin against Tamar. Amnon was David’s heir to his throne, and Amnon committed the terrible sin of rape against his own sister, Tamar. As you can imagine, this ripped their family apart. Lines were drawn and alliances formed. Absalom and Amnon were no longer on speaking terms and David is said to have hated his own son, Amnon, for his sin.
Absalom waited two years to plan the avenging of his sister, Tamar. He had Amnon killed when he wasn’t expecting it. Absalom took justice into his own hands because King David let it go. Perhaps David was concerned about his throne and his heir. Perhaps he was stuck in the family dynamics and couldn’t make a move because punishing Amnon would cause further damage in his family. And so David did nothing. In the wake of his vengeance, Absalom fled to Geshur to his grandfather’s home and stayed there for three years, fearing for his own life.
Absalom was willing to do what he thought was the right thing, yet he knew his life would never be the same. The consequence was that Absalom was estranged from David for three years.
On the other side of the equation, over time David was consoled regarding the death of Amnon. In fact, he thought of his son, Absalom, every day – he long to go to Absalom – yet he didn’t go. David left the relationship with his son broken and unreconciled, yet he longed for reconciliation.
Do you have a relationship that is estranged? Which you long to see reconciled? Are you longing to go to someone, yet you are stuck? What will they say? How will they respond? Incidentally, if you keep reading the story, David’s inaction and inability to get to reconciliation did more harm than good. Absalom’s bitterness kept growing and came back to haunt David and Absalom in a later chapter of their lives.
The longer we leave things festering and unresolved, the more bitterness will take root and overtake our relationships.
Joab, one of David’s closest men, could see this from the outside, and decided to take action to help David. Sometimes we need the influence of people around us to see what we cannot see. We must, however, be open to those wise words of intervention. Sometimes our backs are so high that we are blinded and deafened by our pride and anger. Enter the words of the wise woman from Tekoa, who teaches us that God is not like David, and God is not like us. Joab set up this wise woman from Tekoa to help David understand his predicament better. The woman told David a story which had close parallels to the situation with Absalom to help David understand what forgiveness and reconciliation could look like.
We want to hold grudges and take revenge. And we are justified in our own eyes because terrible crimes and action deserve terrible consequences. We want to be vigilantes.
And even when we desire reconciliation, often we do not activate forgiveness and restoration. That’s how it works. Our hearts are conflicted: full of anger and yet also full of love. Just like King David.
The words of the wise woman of Tekoa are that God does not leave us banished and estranged from himself. Can you imagine God withholding forgiveness from you? Where would that leave us? We cannot have relationship with God without receiving the forgiveness that he freely gives us. The woman from Tekoa teaches David that, “God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him,” (2Samuel 14:14).
What does this say for our own relationships which are in conflict and estranged? Are we so stuck in our anger and emotion that we will withhold forgiveness and love when our hearts are telling us to reconcile? God doesn’t work that way, and as his children, we should likewise be people of reconciliation. God’s way of reconciliation came ultimately through his son, Jesus. We are no longer estranged from him because of our sin. Jesus was the way of forgiveness and reconciliation for us.
In God’s will and way, could you consider reconciliation with that person from whom you are estranged?