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Grieving Father, Victorious King

Key References: 2 Samuel 16:15-18:33; Patriarchs and Prophets, chap. 72, pp. 744, 745; The Bible Story (1994), vol. 4, pp. 109-111; Our Beliefs, nos. 23, 14, 11.

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“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:44, 45).

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We reflect God’s love when we are patient with and accepting of others.

Remember the last time you got lost? Did you stop and ask for directions? Most people do. But some people just don’t want to follow directions. They think they know a better way. A long time ago Joab, one of King David’s generals, thought he he knew a better way. Was he right? What do you think?

The king of Israel was in exile. His son Absalom had rebelled and was trying to kill him and rule in his place!

Abishai, Ittai, and Joab were ready to take their men into battle. David stood by the gate watching as hundreds of men filed out. These men loved David enough to fight for him. David said to Abishai, Ittai, and Joab, “Be gentle with the young man Absalom for my sake” (2 Samuel 18:5). As he spoke, all the soldiers heard. In spite of all that had happened, David wanted his son kept alive. He hoped that someday he and Absalom would be reunited.

The battle raged. The army of David fought with courage and strength. Many of the people fought in the forest, and it was there the soldiers found Absalom riding on his mule. In his haste to get away from them, Absalom rode under a large tree, and his head was caught in the low-hanging branches, but the mule kept going. Absalom hung there helplessly while the man who saw it ran to Joab.

“I just saw Absalom hanging in a tree,” the man cried.

“What! You saw him? Why didn’t you strike him to the ground right there?” asked Joab. “Then I would have had to give you ten shekels of silver and a warrior’s belt.”

But the man replied, “Even if a thousand shekels were weighed out into my hands, I would not lay a hand on the king’s son. In our hearing the king commanded you and Abishai and Ittai, ‘Protect the young man Absalom for my sake.’ And if I had put my life in jeopardy—and nothing is hidden from the king—you would have kept your distance from me.”

“I’m not going to wait like this for you,” Joab shouted impatiently (verses 10-14).

He walked to the tree where Absalom hung and killed him. Joab blew the trumpet, and the troops stopped fighting. The battle was over.

Then Ahimaaz [uh-HIM-ay-az], a loyal follower of King David, spoke up. “Let me run and take the news to the king.”

“You are not the one to take the news today,” Joab replied. “You may take the news another time, but you must not do so today, because the king’s son is dead.”

Joab turned to a Cushite and ordered him to carry the message.

But Ahimaaz insisted, “Come what may, I want to run.”

So Joab agreed. The eager man ran so fast that he passed the Cushite (see verses 19-23).

When he arrived in the king’s presence, he bowed down and announced, “Praise be to the Lord your God! He has delivered up those who lifted their hands against my lord the king.”

Then David inquired, “Is the young man Absalom safe?”

Ahimaaz replied, “I saw great confusion just as Joab was about to send the king’s servant and me, your servant, but I don’t know what it was.”

“Stand aside and wait here,” asked the king. Soon the Cushite arrived as well and said, “My lord the king, hear the good news! The Lord has vindicated you today by delivering you from the hand of all who rose up against you.” But David was not so concerned with his own victory as he was with the welfare of his son. He asked the Cushite, “Is the young man Absalom safe?”

“May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up to harm you be like that young man,” answered the Cushite.

David realized then that Absalom was dead. “O my son Absalom! “ he cried. “My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!” (see verses 19-33).

Soon after this, David was restored to the throne. Things seemed to be better, except the place in David’s heart that mourned for Absalom. That is the kind of love God has for all His children. And that’s the kind of love He wants to give us for one another.

God’s plan at Creation was that human beings would refl ect His love in their relationships with one another. It is in the family setting that we can most fully comprehend God’s love for us as we share with the other members of the family love, respect, and appreciation and receive theirs in return. Just as children respond to the love of their parents by being obedient and respectful, so we show our love for God when we obey His instructions. This is why God’s Word declares: “If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15). It is our privilege to show God how much we love Him as we follow His will for our lives.