Daily Devotion 30 September 2020
2 Samuel 18:32-19:4 ‘A Parent’s Grief’
32 King David said to the Cushite, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?” The Cushite answered, “May the enemies of my lord the king, and all who rise up to do you harm, be like that young man.” 33 The king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept; and as he went, he said, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would that I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!”
1 It was told Joab, “The king is weeping and mourning for Absalom.” 2 So the victory that day was turned into mourning for all the troops; for the troops heard that day, ‘The king is grieving for his son.’ 3 The troops stole into the city that day as soldiers steal in who are ashamed when they flee in battle. 4 The king covered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice, “O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!”
This must surely be one of the most poignant passages in the Old Testament. The preceding chapters describe Absalom’s rebellion against his father, up to his violent death at the hands of Joab. King David perhaps realises that the young man was paying the price of his father’s sin as well as his own. Of course, only those who have lost a son or a daughter can fully grasp the extent of King David’s grief. My parents grieved for my sister Mary and my brother Rodney, born in 1938 and 1940 (both of whom died before I was born), but did so privately, and I could never really understand the deep sadness they must have felt.
However, these situations, apparently so tragic, can teach us something about God’s relationship with us. Perhaps the most well-known illustration Jesus used was his parable of the Prodigal Son, and the way in which the father, though hurt beyond measure by his sons, has nothing but love and compassion for them. More than that, of course – for Jesus, the Son of God himself, was to die a shameful death upon the cross.
And so, if Charles Wesley could write (StF 208): ‘Our God contracted to a span incomprehensibly made man’, then we must surely wonder in amazement at the lengths to which God has gone to redeem us. We have to humbly accept the mystery of love, as expressed in Marjorie Dobson’s beautiful hymn (StF 733):
God, hold us, enfold us, till weeping has passed;
when flickering hope parts the shadows at last.
One step at a time you will help us to move
to face new horizons, held safe in your love.
Loving God, your Son died for all, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness and anticipate eternal life here and now. As your love has been poured into our hearts, so may our lives reflect your glory, that we may become the daughters and sons you long for us to be. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.
Reflection & Prayer © 2020 Barrie Tabraham.
Hymn words: © Marjorie Dobson.
Images freely available online.
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