Personal note – I will be out of town celebrating 20 years of marriage to my bride this week. I am a blessed man and looking forward to it just being my wife and I enjoy life together for a few days. I have blog posts set for today through Wednesday. I will not be responding this week at all – although with the busy schedule and trying to focus more on other ministry and family areas my responding to comments has been minimal. I will do what I can when I return but make no promises.
In the last few post we saw David and Absalom his son go to war against one another. In the battle between David’s forces and the army of Israel, there was some good news and some bad news for David. The good news for David was that his forces won the war and the bad news was that Absalom, his rebellious son, lost his life in the battle when he got caught by his hair in an oak tree and Joab killed him by running three spears through him.
As we left the story in the last post, David was beginning to mourn the death of his son. The problem that we will see today is that David is mourning so badly that everything else in his life has stopped completely. Have you ever been there? Felt like it is not worth it to go on? You cannot take another trial and another one comes? You begin to ask, why this? Why me? Why now? God are you there and do you really care? This is the point that David is at now. This chapter begins his restoration to the throne and the last phase of his life because he lives only ten more years after the death of Absalom.
Let us jump in 2nd Samuel 19:1 -7: Then it was told Joab, “Behold, the king is weeping and mourns for Absalom.” 2 The victory that day was turned to mourning for all the people, for the people heard it said that day, “The king is grieved for his son.” 3 So the people went by stealth into the city that day, as people who are humiliated steal away when they flee in battle. 4 The king covered his face and cried out with a loud voice, “O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!” 5 Then Joab came into the house to the king and said, “Today you have covered with shame the faces of all your servants, who today have saved your life and the lives of your sons and daughters, the lives of your wives, and the lives of your concubines, 6 by loving those who hate you, and by hating those who love you. For you have shown today that princes and servants are nothing to you; for I know this day that if Absalom were alive and all of us were dead today, then you would be pleased. 7 Now therefore arise, go out and speak kindly to your servants, for I swear by the Lord, if you do not go out, surely not a man will pass the night with you, and this will be worse for you than all the evil that has come upon you from your youth until now.”
What we see here and what we saw at the end of chapter 18 is deep grief on the part of David because of the death of his rebellious son Absalom. Remember when David’s son he had with Bathsheba died and his reaction? At that point he prayed for the baby while the baby was alive, but when the baby died, David got up, put on clean clothes, washed his face and went to worship. This time, David covered his face so that he could not see anyone else. This time he is crying so loudly so that he could not hear anyone else. This time he made a wall between himself and everyone else with his grief. This time is different because with the baby David made the statement that nothing he could do would bring the baby back, but he would go to be with the baby someday which meant they would see each other in heaven. So just maybe here, David knows Absalom’s spiritual state and that he may never see him again. I am sure Absalom’s evil actions broke David’s heart and helped push his mourning. Just maybe there is part of this grief that is David’s own guilt about how things turned out and how he lived and parented. Have you ever been there? Have you ever been so broken because of the choices you have made in life? David will not stay at this too point too long and neither should you but it takes a teachable spirit to move from this spot in life. Too many get stuck here and never move.
Again, think about the life David has lived in the last several years. David is a broken man because he has lost everything that he cherished. He has lost his throne, he was driven out of Jerusalem, and he has lost it all to a son who rebelled against him and if you go back a little bit more you see he lost a lot more than this in life. The truth is that all this can all be traced back as results of David’s sinful choices. David now has lost sight and been blinded by grief and I believe guilt. David is stuck and he can either be teachable and get better or be hardhearted and get bitter. The same choice is ours in life – be teachable and get better or be hardhearted and get bitter – which will it be for you?
We see here that Joab hears of the king’s weeping and mourning for Absalom. It should have been a day of great victory for the army and instead it has turned into a time of national mourning. David’s excessive sorrow made his loyal friends and supporter feel ashamed they won a great victory. Instead of coming in with the confident joy of victory, the men had to sneak into the city like they are ashamed of what had happened. David should have met his soldiers as they returned from the battle because they had been brave and loyal. David should have praised them even in his time of personal loss. But by David’s reaction, they felt guilty about Absalom and thought David did not care about them or the victory they brought him. What we are seeing is that David in his grief is destroying things. He is destroying the morale and the loyalty of his men. We need to make sure that we do not do the very same thing in life by our actions, attitudes, and words. These things will kill the morale of our family, the church and community when we do not acknowledge and celebrate victories and acknowledge other’s achievements! This attitude is devastating for people and it will be for David’s army if not confronted.
Joab is going to confront David on what he is doing with his grief so that he does not lose everything. Joab has to do some stern and courageous talking with the king at this point, and he levels this charge at David: “Today you have humiliated all your men. And these are the men who have saved: your life, the lives of your sons and daughters, and the lives of your wives and concubines.” Joab tells him straight way what he is doing is wrong by reacting like he is and he is being ungrateful for what he has been given. Think about what he says: “You know David, the way you’re acting; it sounds like you would be pretty happy if Absalom were here and the rest of us had gotten killed out there and become casualties in war.” Joab does not mince words here! He tells David the truth but in love because David was going to lose even more than Absalom if this poor attitude and grief continued.
It really took a lot of courage and holy boldness for Joab to do this. Sometimes it takes a courageous friend to tell us the truth. Remember Proverbs 27:6: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.” The reality is that here we see that Joab helped David through his grief and lack of gratitude and get back on target. Joab loved David enough to tell him the truth and confront his areas of weakness.
What we see is that Joab basically tells David to wash his face and dry his tears and get out there and unselfishly encourage his men. He then gives a very serious final warning: “I swear by the Lord that if you don’t go out, not a man will be left with you by nightfall.” In other words, everyone is getting ready to leave David. Then Joab’s last words for David most likely really stung: “This will be worse for you than all the calamities that have come upon you from your youth until now.” Joab has been around and seen nearly all the calamities of David – so this is serious and he lets David know it!
Have you ever had to lovingly confront a friend with the truth in love? How did it go? Have you ever had someone confront you with the truth in love? Did you make changes or not?