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THANKLESS, REBELLIOUS ABSALOM
--JULY 4.--2 SAMUEL 18:1-15.--
THE STORY OF ABSALOM -- HOW DIFFERENT FROM HIS FATHER -- HIS WASTED OPPORTUNITIES -- HIS CONTEMPTIBLE END AS A TRAITOR AND DISOBEDIENT SON WHO SOUGHT HIS FATHER'S LIFE -- THE BOY THE FATHER OF THE MAN -- THE RESPONSIBILITY OF PARENTS -- THE CHILD WHAT THE PARENTS MAKE HIM -- EUGENICS NOT SUFFICIENT.
"Children, obey your parents in the Lord; for this is right."--Ephesians 6:1.
"How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is To have a thankless child!"
OUR Study of today discusses the death of
Absalom. It is sufficiently explicit without
comment. It will be of value to us, however,
to look backward along the life of this
young prince and to note some of his failures.
In the first place, he was not well-born.
His mother, King David's wife, was
the daughter of a heathen king nearby. His
mother may have been beautiful, probably
was; for the Scriptures indicate that Absalom
was a beautiful boy, a beautiful young man, having
a fine, courteous manner and being a popular idol. He
had the disadvantage of being a member of the royal
family and not being required to labor with sweat of face.
Absalom is first brought prominently to our attention
by his murder of his half-brother Amnon, to avenge his
sister's honor. For this he fled to the protection of his
grandfather. He was thus still further removed from
any good influences associated with his father and with
the true religion. After several years' absence, his father,
who had never ceased to love him and mourn him, was
induced to invite Absalom back to Jerusalem--where for
two years more, he declined to receive his son into his
presence. All of these influences were unfavorable to the
young man, but none of them can excuse his treachery
to his father, Israel's king.
There were judges throughout the Land of Israel for
the deciding of the ordinary causes of discontent; but
when their decisions were unsatisfactory, appeal was
made to the king as to a superior court. King David was
busily engaged in preparing the materials for the Temple,
which was not to be built until after his death. This may
to some extent have hindered him from his work for the
people as a superior judge, so that some of their cases, as
in every superior court, were delayed of a hearing--
tediously, it seemed to those impatient for desired results.
We are not sure, however, that there was anything
lacking on King David's part as respects the administration
of justice. We merely know that his crafty son,
Absalom, made himself very popular. He was very
gracious to the people, very familiar with them, always
ready to hear their complaints; and he answered them
very cunningly, expressing sorrow for their delay, and
saying, Would that I were king! It would be different!
Thus by deception, by intrigue, by falsehood, we read, he
"stole the hearts of the people" from his father. The
people really began to think that if they had such a man
for a king, they would be immensely better off. They
seemed to have overlooked entirely the fact that God was
the King of Israel; and that, as the Bible says, King David
merely sat upon the Throne of the Lord.--1 Chron. 29:23.
Absalom was spectacular, a beautiful prince, with long,
wavy hair. He rode in his chariot; and before him were
fifty swift runners, his heralds. The thoughtless people
admired this; and, apparently, at least one wise man was
drawn away by the infectious infatuation of this glitter.
Absalom knew of his father's religious sentiments,
which apparently he did not at all share. He realized
that he would not probably be his father's choice for a
successor; and that the time for a new king was not so
very far off, as King David was becoming aged. Following
Satan's course of ambition and disloyalty to God,
Absalom became disloyal to his father. He recruited an
army, proclaimed himself king, and did the matter so
quickly and so thoroughly, with the sympathy of so many
people whose hearts he had stolen, that King David and
his regular army and the loyal ones of his court were
obliged to flee for their lives. Our lesson recounts the
battle which was fought between the superior forces of
Absalom and the smaller forces of King David, who,
however, were better trained soldiers. The victory came
to King David. Absalom was slain, notwithstanding
David's urgent request of his soldiers that they should
not kill the young man, his son.
What a contrast we have here between the man after
God's own heart and the man whom the people admired--
the flashy, the showy, the ambitious, the deceitful, the
intriguing, the rebellious, who sought his father's life!
The man of God, notwithstanding his weaknesses, which
were acknowledged and repented of, had a heart of loyalty
to God, true as the needle to the pole; and he had a sympathetic
love for his son which found expression in that
notable dirge, "O Absalom, my son, my son, would God
I had died for thee!"
A VERY IMPORTANT PRINCIPLE
The human will is wonderful, so that we might almost
say that each boy is responsible for his own career. Our
expression, a self-made man, is therefore not far wrong.
This, however, does not excuse the parent whose duty
it is to see that a proper child is born into the world,
reasonably gifted--not merely outwardly beautiful, but
conscientious, just, loyal to God and to the principles of
righteousness. Nor does it excuse the parent from giving
the child proper conceptions of life, proper instruction;
for the Scriptures say, "Train up a child in the way he
[R5700 : page 170] should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from
It seems pitiful indeed that, with all the preaching and
teaching of centuries, so few parents realize their obligations
toward the children they bring into the world. So
few fathers realize that they are the protectors and caretakers
of their wives and of their off-spring; and that
not only is it their duty and privilege to select a noble,
conscientious wife to be the mother of the family, but it
is also their duty to place her under favorable conditions
during the period of gestation, and generally to assist her
to keep her mind and her heart pure, loving, noble, loyal
to God and to righteous principles, to the intent that their
child may be well birthmarked, of noble character--less
seriously marked and blemished with sin than would
otherwise be the case. Well do the Scriptures declare that
the people perish for lack of knowledge.--Hosea 4:6.
True, we have eugenics thrust upon our attention
everywhere; but to what purpose? Important as this
teaching is in respect to health and proper choice of a
life-companion, it sinks into insignificance in comparison
to the principle we are noting; namely, that the mind of
the mother during the period of gestation is stamping and
impressing, favorably or unfavorably, the character of her
child. It of course would not be possible for a mother to
produce a perfect child; but with her own ideals high and
true and unwavering, fixed upon things pure, noble and
good, we know beyond question that her child would thus
be greatly benefited both physically and intellectually,
and also morally. On the other hand, as we have pointed
out in the PHOTO-DRAMA OF CREATION, the perfect
mother, Eve, could and did mark her son Cain with
a jealous, unhappy disposition, which eventuated in his
murdering his brother.