A Brokenhearted Father

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

And the king said unto Cushi, Is the young man Absalom safe? And Cushi answered, The enemies of my lord the king, and all that rise against thee to do thee hurt, be as that young man is. And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son! (2 Samuel 18:32,33 KJV).

What parenting lesson can we learn here?

It is an understatement to say that King David was emotionally shattered. His son Absalom had been killed—murdered by some of David’s impulsive military officials (verses 9-17). Upon hearing of Absalom’s slaying, he probably reflected on his parental shortcomings that had led up to this most disastrous outcome. Indeed, he had not been a good father to any of his children.

Amnon, David’s firstborn, raped his sister Tamar (David’s daughter), but David neither consoled Tamar nor punished Amnon (2 Samuel 13:1-21). When Absalom murdered his brother for assaulting his sister, Absalom fled to a foreign land for three years (verses 23-39). Only after being pressurized did David finally send for Absalom from exile (2 Samuel 14:1-24). Nevertheless, when Absalom returned to Jerusalem, David did not see him in-person for two years (2 Samuel 14:28). After meeting his father, Absalom eventually incited a coup and David had to flee his throne (2 Samuel chapters 15–17).

In the chapter of today’s Scripture, David commanded his servants to bring Absalom alive (verses 5,12). Instead, they killed the young man! It was such a terrible, heart-wrenching life that David could have caused his son to avoid. Absalom’s many transgressions could have been minimized had his father taken the opportunity to follow Deuteronomy 6:7 and Deuteronomy 11:19. We find similar wording in Ephesians 6:4: “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture [care] and admonition [instruction] of the Lord.” Alas, it was too late for poor Absalom to hear God’s words from his father’s lips—he was dead!

Friends, what we can learn here is to train our children in the Scriptures, before their lives are ruined or tragically cut short.

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What advice can be given to Christians coping with the death of another saint?