10(2Sam 18,31ff) Isolated by Grief
2 Samuel 18:31-9:8
One day the noise of battle, the next day victory; or so the king hoped. So much was at stake. – His own future as king – the nation’s stability – His own child whom he had loved and cherished, had spit in his face.
The son he had nurtured in his arms now took up arms against him.
“Whatever you do, deal gently with the young man Absalom.” He is only a boy. He doesn’t understand what he is doing. I love him.
The kind of things any father would say about any son, no matter how rebellious.
Now picture the king standing on the city walls between two gates. Watching and waiting for news. A watchman cries out, “a runner”. Then “another runner”.
News of first runner: “victory.” What about Absalom. “I don’t know”.
News of the second runner: “may all your enemies end up as that man.” David knows.
He knew the worst had befallen his son. Despite his orders, they had killed him. Despite David’s love, the young man’s rebellion had taken him too far a field.
Despite the promise of his early years, that he might aspire to higher things, he falls under the crush of his own bad choices.
I. And David Grieved.
Is there anyone here today so hard of heart that you cannot feel it as the devasted father cries out, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would that I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!”?
Do you know what it is like to be unable to stop someone who is bent toward wrong?
Do you have a feel for David’s frustration. Frightening, anxious, awesome.
There is no grief like the grief of frustration.
Whether we are parents trying to understand our children, or spouses trying to bring our partners back home, or pastors trying to hang on to defiant church members.
We know a little about David’s grief.
II. What Does David Do? (18:33)
What is his response? He withdraws. He goes into isolation.
He turns inward and sees nothing else but his own misery.
He forgets about all the people who are depending on him.
He surrounds himself on all sides with grief.
Over and over, the same plaintive cry, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would that I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!”
III. The Effect of Isolated Grief. (19:1-4)
The way you and I express our feelings has an effect on others around us.
Without our even knowing it, others take on whatever we feel.
A child does poorly at school, not because he is stupid or lazy, but tensions at home.
A marriage breaks up following the loss of their child. Instead of grieving together, one chooses isolation, and this affects the other. Eventually the damage is too great.
IV. Joab Makes An Appeal To David (19:5-8)
David, your grief for your son makes it feel as though you do not care for your people.
Your soldiers fought for you; do you not care enough to come out and be with them?
You family members, they lose someone too; do you not care enough to come out and sit with them?
As you hide in your grief, you are shutting out all those who love you.
You are devaluing all those who have served you. You are putting everyone down.
David, be the king. Go and show yourself to the people.
Go out now, or else lose them altogether.