ABC Extra – Be Reconciled Today

April 26, 2010 at 4:45 am Leave a comment

This weekend in worship and ABC, we continued our series “Five Family Fiascos!  Is There Hope For Us?” with a look at the fiasco of familial estrangement.  Certainly the scene is familiar:  one family member betrays, embarrasses, or even inadvertently hurts another family member and retaliation ensues.  But this retaliation does not take the form of a fistfight or of cutting words or of a heated demand for an apology.  No, this retaliation takes the form of a cold shoulder – a refusal to speak to, or sometimes to even acknowledge, the other person.  And the longer this goes on, the further these two family members drift apart.  This is sad story of estrangement.

The story of King David and his son Absalom follows this all too proverbial pattern of estrangement.  As we learned this weekend, after Absalom’s brother Amnon rapes their sister Tamar, Absalom becomes furious at his father for not stepping in and meting out justice against Amnon in the face of such shocking wickedness.  Absalom subsequently becomes estranged from his father.  Indeed, we read, “Absalom lived two years in Jerusalem without seeing the king’s face” (2 Samuel 14:27).  Two men, two years, in the same town – and they never so much as catch a glimpse of each other.

Tragically, it’s not as if they didn’t want to see each other.  We read in 2 Samuel 13:39:  “The spirit of the king longed to go to Absalom.”  But David defies his spirit’s yearning.  He never goes to see his son.  Indeed, he even prevents his son from seeing him.  “He must not see my face,” David says just verses later (2 Samuel 14:24).

Eventually, the estrangement between father and son becomes too much for Absalom to bear.  He rebels by staging a coup against his father.  Battle lines are drawn, strategies are devised, and, in the end, David proves victorious – but only after Absalom is killed.  When David hears the news that his son has been killed and the threat to his throne has been removed, a wave of remorse and regret comes rushing over the king:  “O my son Absalom!  My son, my son Absalom!  If only I had died instead of you – O Absalom, my son, my son” (2 Samuel 18:33).  Interestingly, this is the first time that David calls Absalom, “my son.”  Before this, he referred to him only as, “the young man” (cf. 2 Samuel 14:21, 18:5, 12, 29, 32).  But now he longs for the relationship he could have had.  Now he dotingly calls Absalom, “my son.”  Now he wishes, “If only I had died instead of you.”  But now it’s too late.  Trading his own life for Absalom’s life would do David no good.  Absalom is already gone.

Certainly one of the weighty lessons of this story comes in the utter tragedy of leaving relationships estranged.  Indeed, this story ends on a terribly tragic note – with a wailing monarch riddled by regret.  And yet, through David’s tear-choked words, we hear a distant note of hope.  For though David cannot die in the stead of Absalom and restore their broken relationship, there is someone who can.  And there is someone who has.  For when our sins separated us from God, God traded His Son’s life for our lives so that we would no longer be estranged from Him, but reconciled to Him, even as Paul declares:  “We were reconciled to God through the death of His Son” (Romans 5:10).  God is in the business of reconciliation.  And His reconciliation is truly the most challenging and most glorious reconciliation of all – for He reconciles imperfect people to His perfect Person.  Will you, as an imperfect person, seek reconciliation with other imperfect people from whom you are estranged?   Remember, the remorse of estrangement will always be heavier than the challenge of reconciliation.  Be reconciled today.

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