Even a beloved king, the epitome of #blessed, can be overwhelmed with sadness and hopelessness. King David was God’s chosen king, with more than we could want or even think. The depth of his pain made him willing to sacrifice it all. He had a unique encouragement to step toward pulling out of his sorrow. In today’s account, it came from two sources: a toxic relationship and the death of a son. King David wanted a close relationship with his son, Absolom. He thought he had one, but Absolom hated his father and took measures to kill him and replace him as king. Ultimately, Absolom was killed, and David suffered the bitterest grief, wishing that he had died over Absolom. David had to face the death of a son, the death of the dream, and the death of a relationship that would never happen. God used Joab to help David take steps towards healing.
**This blog is for study and encouragement purposes. I’m not a therapist; this is a Bible Study blog about suffering, and this isn’t meant as a substitute for the advice of a physician, psychotherapist, or other medical professionals.
3 Absalom would say to him, “See, your claims are good and right, but there is no man designated by the king to hear you.” 4 Then Absalom would say, “Oh that I were judge in the land! Then every man with a dispute or cause might come to me, and I would give him justice.”2 Samuel 15:3
5 And whenever a man came near to pay homage to him, he would put out his hand and take hold of him and kiss him. 6 Thus Absalom did to all of Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.2 Samuel 15:5-6
Absalom Stole the Hearts
Ecclesiastes 1:9 says there is nothing new under the sun.* King David’s son, Absolom, used familiar political schemes to overthrow his father. As the king’s son, Absolom used his authority and access given to him by his father to overthrow him. In 2 Samuel 15:3, Absolom sowed suspicion, discontent, and judgment, implying that King David didn’t care about his people. Then, Absolom acted as if he cared and would change things if only he were in charge. The second part of Absolom’s scheme was like the modern-day photo ops of political leaders interacting with the poor and oppressed, relaying their stories as if they were on that same level and cared. This was no accident or crime of passion; Absolom worked on this for four years. The Bible says that this is how he won the people’s hearts.
10 But Absalom sent secret messengers throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, “As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then say, ‘Absalom is king at Hebron!’” 11 With Absalom went two hundred men from Jerusalem who were invited guests, and they went in their innocence and knew nothing. 12 And while Absalom was offering the sacrifices, he sent for[a] Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counselor, from his city Giloh. And the conspiracy grew strong, and the people with Absalom kept increasing.2 Samuel 15:10-12
Absolom’s Plan: Humiliate, Overthrow, & Kill
Below is a short rundown, not the complete list, but a few ways Absolom battled hard to overthrow his father and take the kingdom from 985 BC to 984 BC. Absolom was out for blood to humiliate, overthrow, and kill his father. King David didn’t want to see or believe it; he kept believing Absolom loved him and they could restore the relationship. I am convinced that part of King David’s sorrow was in this realization, too.
- 2 Samuel 15:7-12 In Absalom asked David permission to go to Hebron “for the Lord,” but when he got there, he declared himself king and set about trying to depose his father.
- 2 Sam 16:15-23 Absalom declares he is the king and marches on and takes Jerusalem.
- He publicly humiliates the king by sleeping with King David’s concubines in public.
- 2 Sam 17:1-14 Absalom pursues David and tries to kill him.
- 2 Sam 18:1-33 Absalom and his army pursue David and his army.
David’s Grief and Loss of Hope
The pain of loss is significant. Sometimes, it’s the unfathomable pain of losing a child, a parent, a loved one, a deep well of grief that has no end. Sometimes, it’s the loss of an idea and the idea of a relationship we thought was ideal. From 985 to 984 BC, David had the epitome of a toxic relationship with Absolom. Even though Absolom was literally trying to kill King David, the King was devastated by his death. There is always grief when it comes to that kind of loss. It’s a loss of what we thought it was or hoped it could be, that our dream is unrealistic in our circumstances. These are painful and soul-rendering situations. David was dealing with both and then a moment of extreme weakness. David wished that he had died in Absolom’s place.
33 [k]The king was deeply moved and went to the upper room over the gate and wept [in sorrow]. And this is what he said as he walked: “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! [l]How I wish that I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!”2 Samuel 18:33
Look for Joab
The rich, influential, handsome, much-loved King David was so grief-stricken that he was willing to forfeit everything he had because of this pain. There were no quick fixes; David’s armies were getting offended, and Joab had the courage to tell King David that he needed to take steps towards healing or lose his army and kingdom. King David did what he should to save his kingdom and armies, but I know his heart was grieved and sorrowful for many years. Not all of us have a general Joab who can snap us out of our grief long enough to take steps toward healing. If we feel so low, the last thing we may want to do is reach out, but we must. Allow this message to be your Joab. These emotions indicate that we must reach out to a professional, a doctor, a clergyman, a counselor, and even the suicide hotline. Know that God understands that grief, and he is with us. The scripture below was written about Jesus. He knows, understands, and will help if we ask Him.
He was despised and rejected by men,Isaiah 53:3
A Man of sorrows and pain and acquainted with grief;
And like One from whom men hide their faces
He was despised, and we did not appreciate His worth or esteem Him.
I Am Not
I’m not a counselor or a therapist. This is a Bible study into the precepts of the Bible and those who suffer. If you are plagued with thoughts of suicide or death or want to give up, you feel better off dead, reach out to a professional counselor, a doctor, or a therapist. Don’t do it once; keep on reaching out. Call the suicide hotline, which is there for you. See the number below. Don’t give up; God loves you and has a plan for your life.