Dealing Gently with Absalom
by Jacob Hudgins
“And the king ordered Joab and Abishai and Ittai, ‘Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom’”(2 Sam 18:5).
Absalom is a problem child. He had been banished for murdering his brother. Upon his return, he has rallied support and stolen the throne from his father. Now he has sent an army to kill David (“my own son seeks my life”, 2 Sam 16:11). The survival of David, his men, and the kingdom God gave him rests on the defeat of Absalom—yet David says “deal gently”?
David allows his love for Absalom to affect his judgment negatively. While David had slain thousands of enemies, from Goliath to Amalekites to Ammonites, he lacks the strength to fight against his son. Whatever indignation he might have felt is blunted into “deal gently”.
Sin should bring indignation to us. When we discover sin in our lives, we must realize that we are at that moment fighting for our soul. We have been invaded by the enemy. We need a take-no-prisoners aggression. We need the ruthlessness of Joab. We need the brutality of Samuel who “hacked Agag to pieces before the LORD in Gilgal”(1 Sam 15:33). Jesus issues the battle cry: “And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire”(Mark 9:43). There can be no “dealing gently” with sin!
Yet often, like David, our zeal is tempered by the fact that we love our sin. We worry about the awkwardness it would cause us if we had to apologize to someone. Or what would people think if I really made this change? That would be inconvenient! Isn’t that a little drastic? I don’t have to go that far, do I? Suddenly we find ourselves apologizing for our sin and working to keep it in our lives.
Don’t deal gently with Absalom! No relationship, no pleasure, no convenience is worth your soul!