King David’s son, Absalom, rebelled against him, not in the usual teenage way, but with soldiers and armies. He wanted power and was determined to take it. David fought back. How hard it must have been for him to war against his beloved son, and what was the young man thinking! Yet, near the end of the battles, King David sends out a message to deal gently with Absalom. The mercy of a father! David’s reign over Israel was believed to be the finest; many parts of the Hebrew Scriptures lament the passing of that era and look for it to return in the form of the Messiah.
How merciful is the father! Absalom was trying to kill his father, and, yet, his father wished him no harm, forgave him in the midst of the rebellion. David loved his son.
How merciful is our God! We are forgiven even as we sin. We are loved in spite of our rebellion. Perhaps, like David who must have seen his younger self in his son, God sees the divine image within each of us. We are loved even when we are bent on destruction. We are forgiven in the midst of hateful deeds.
Absalom’s destruction at the hands of David’s servants crushed his father. He grieved. David could not control the actions of fear and hatred within his troops for they, like we, had free will. They could choose to obey the king or not. We can choose to obey God by following Jesus, or not. So can everyone else. And, others can thwart the desires of God by their choices. Even though God may be willing to show us mercy, forgive us and save us, others may not agree. Our destruction may come at the hands of those who purport to serve the king but do not obey him.
Our dowfall and, ultimately, our death may come because we continue to choose the path away from God, because we continue to rebel and are bent on self-destruction. God has given us the ability to choose – life or death. If we turn from our rebellion, God is merciful. God can lead us and give us the choices, but we must be like Aaron who challenges the people of Israel to choose life or death, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”