Life's Capital Wasted

Joab said, “I will not waste time like this with you.” And he took three javelins in his hand and thrust them into the heart of Absalom while he was still alive in the oak. And ten young men, Joab’s armor-bearers, surrounded Absalom and struck him and killed him. Then Joab blew the trumpet, and the troops came back from pursuing Israel, for Joab restrained them. And they took Absalom and threw him into a great pit in the forest and raised over him a very great heap of stones. And all Israel fled every one to his own home. (2 Samuel 18:14–17, ESV)

Absalom had it all. He was handsome, smart, well-born, and well liked. As the son of King David, Absalom should have enjoyed those heady days of victory and national growth, not to mention his own prospects for a bright future. However, and as often happens among those who are well-favored in life, trouble came at his own hands. Yes, it was David's sin that brought a curse upon his own house… but it was Absalom's sin to participate in its fulfillment. Listen as the prophet Nathan speaks to King David.

“Now therefore the sword shall never de­part from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.” (2 Samuel 12:10, ESV)

Absalom came into life brimming with potential. He had life's "capital" if you will. But what did he do with it? Mostly, he used it in rebellion — and not just here and there — but in a concerted effort over decades, waiting for an opportunity to usurp his father's kingship. This is evil beyond measure, especially when considering David's extreme patience with him during those times, a patience driven by love as evidenced by David's profound grief over his death. Absalom was an early type of that clichéd character who flees his wealthy father’s influence to seek his own identity. But make no mistake, he was one smooth operator.

Absalom knew what people wanted to see and hear, and he knew how to put on a good show. In fact, he hired extras! That's right. Absalom hired fifty men to run before his chariot, lifting up his name before the people. In effect, Absalom added to what God had already given him, a natural standing among men which was similar to David's gift of the same type. But Absalom squandered those advantages on rebellion, and in so doing, he showed the greatest disrespect for his father and his king. This was a high crime since both fathers and kings represent God on this earth. For all these reasons, this is one of the saddest accounts in the Bible. But it is not without its comedy.

Absalom was no great warrior… but he was attractive. And of particular note was his flowing head of hair. While riding through a forest, Absalom was snatched off his mount as that beautiful hair became hopelessly entangled in some tree branches. He probably would have hung there forever, but a band of David's men happened upon him, but they would not kill him because he was the king's son. David's general Joab was nearby, and he had no such reservations. Joab personally struck the first blow, and the men slew Absalom there in the tree. This was a very dark moment... but can't you see the comedy? I can picture him kicking and screaming—swaying back and forth while suspended by his head. The comedy turns to irony, though, when we consider the appropriateness of the event. Absalom received a public drubbing for a public sin. The lesson here? It is better to walk in humility than to hang yourself out to dry.

You too have come into life with quite a bit of capital. You probably live in America. You have intelligence enough to read. Furthermore, if you're reading here, you probably have a heart toward or at least a curiosity about God. Do not waste your life's capital on vain or rebellious pursuits. The best way to thank God for all he has given you is to read your Bible, pray for his guidance in your life, but most of all, own the part. You are a child of the King! That's a good gig as it stands.

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