Reading: 2 Samuel 13 & 14
David forgot to draw lines from the Gospel to his own family, and his family suffered greatly for it. We must learn this lesson from his error, for our own families. David's son Amnon lusted after his half-sister Tamar, “the beautiful sister of Absalom, son of David.” Amnon, on advice from his friend and cousin Jonadab, arranges a fake illness in order to lure Tamar into his house to make him bread, and proceeds to rape Tamar. “Then Amnon hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her.” (2 Samuel 13:1-15) In response to this event, Absalom arranges to kill Amnon, and then flees to another town where he lives for three years away from the king. (2 Samuel 13:22-29)
After 3 years, Joab, David's general, coordinates a scene in which a woman tells David a long story about how one of her two sons killed the other and now everyone wants to kill her son which will leave her without an heir. David promises to intervene to save her son at which time the woman reveals her real purpose:
The woman said, "Why then have you devised a thing like this against the people of God? When the king says this, does he not convict himself, for the king has not brought back his banished son? 14Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him. (2 Samuel 14:13-14)
Verse 14 reveals that David forgot to draw lines from the Gospel as he knew it, to his own life and relationship with his son.1 You see, in 2 Samuel 11–12, we have the story of David and Bathsheba. In that story David commits adultery and then kills Uriah the Hittite in order to cover it up.
How does God treat this lying, murdering adulterer? He sends Nathan the prophet to rebuke him in order to bring him to repentance so that his relationship with God will be restored. David though initially blind to his wickedness, is brought to repentance by God's grace and before the chapter ends we see that he is both worshiping God and experiencing great victories in battle again (2 Samuel 12:20, 29-30).
God did not take David's life (2 Samuel 12:13), but God devised a way to bring David who was banished from relationship with God through his treacherous sins back into relationship with Himself. God reconciled David to Himself, but David had not gone after Absalom in the same way God had gone after David.
So God orchestrated one more reconciliation between Himself and David reminding David how God had acted toward him. “God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him.” (2 Samuel 14:14) In effect he is saying, “David, go live this: draw a line between how God has acted toward you, and you go live that same way toward your estranged son Absalom.”
As we have been talking about in our Sunday preaching series in 1 John, David is being told to love the Story and live the Story. The Story is defined as the story of God's love toward us in the Gospel. Unfortunately David never really quite connected the lines between the Story of God's reconciling love to him and the life he lived toward Absalom. And the consequences were grave. No doubt this is a warning for us. It is not optional for us to love the Story, while we fail live the Story toward others.
Maybe you are estranged to God right now. Maybe you are living with sins, known or secret, which have kept you in a banished relationship toward God. God may be using this very reminder that He is not counting your sins against you, and has reconciled you to Himself through Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:18-21) Now, having been reconciled to God, all of us need to make certain we are living out this reconciling grace toward others.
What relationships in your life remain estranged? What relationships do you need to apply the reconciling Story of God's redeeming grace to? Make haste, do not delay: Live the Story.
Love the Gospel, Live the Gospel, Advance the Gospel,
1This references an illustration I have used many times on Sunday mornings at Gulf Coast Community Church. Just like the tests in school in which we had terms on the left and definitions on the right, and we had to draw a line and match the terms, so, there ought to be a connection between the Gospel and our lives. If the Gospel is on the left (the terms), and our lives are on the right (the definitions), can we draw a line and match? If not, the grace of God toward us has not been extended through us toward others. We must make adjustments.