2 Samuel 18:33
Then the king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept. And as he went, he said thus: “O my son Absalom – my son, my son Absalom – if only I had died in your place! O Absalom my son, my son!”
Yesterday, I was discussing Psalm 3 with some friends, and it was noted that the psalm began with this: “A Psalm of David when he fled from Absalom his son.” (Psalm 3:1a) Absalom had set himself up as king in David’s place, so David took his household and fled Jerusalem, weeping along the way. (2 Samuel 15:30)
It was a sad day for David when his son rebelled against him. Absalom had no reason to expect anything but love and trust from his father. Indeed, Absalom had twice before lied to his father, and David had trusted him. Even when Absalom had killed his brother Amnon for raping his sister, David had wept for Amnon and forgiven Absalom. (2 Samuel 13) When Absalom fled to Geshur, David had eventually asked Absalom to come home to Jerusalem. After a while in Jerusalem, David even kissed his son Absalom to show his love and forgiveness. Right after that, Absalom started his rebellion.
Imagine that: David forgave his son Absalom only to have him turn against him. In the end, Absalom was easily swayed by spies and false counsel and was finally slain in a bloody battle in the woods of Gilead. Absalom never consulted with the priests who attended the Ark in Jerusalem. Absalom simply followed his lust for power, and he paid for it with his life.
As we see in today’s verse, upon hearing the news of Absalom’s death, the king wept. Wasn’t Absalom the king’s enemy? Wasn’t Absalom a rebel and an apostate? Yes, but Absalom was also David’s son, and it broke his heart when Absalom rebelled, and it broke his heart again when Absalom died in his rebellion.
41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it,
42 saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.
43 “For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side,
44 “and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
Jesus wept for Jerusalem even though some people there sought to destroy Him. Jesus wept for Israel who had so many times rejected her prophets. Jesus wept because Jerusalem didn’t realize the enormous price that would be paid “to make for your peace.” (v.42) Jesus wept for the people whose lives would be spared because of the sacrifice He would make.
David wept over the deaths of his sons. Amnon had sinned and had paid with his life. Absalom had rebelled against God’s chosen king of Israel, and had paid with his life. Generations have followed in rebelling against the God, and many have gone down to death without ever knowing Christ. Jesus wept for us, but He was able to do something David could not: He paid the price for our sins with HIS life.
Remember Absalom’s rebellion and treachery, but join his father David in weeping for him. Weep for Absalom as you see the rebellion of your friends and family who refuse God and His Son. Weep for Jerusalem as you see the world being flooded with sin and dissension and hatred. Weep for Christ, who was sinless and yet died for OUR sins. Then, take off your sackcloth and ashes, anoint your head with oil, and worship the Lord God, whose love and grace abound. The time for weeping is done, because Christ has died so that we might live. Now is the time to rejoice at the eternal life Jesus has bought with His wounds and His resurrection.
Merciful God, we repent and believe in Your Son. We believe in the good news that Jesus came into to the world to save us from paying the price for our rebellion and sin. We weep for our past but rejoice in our future, O Lord. All praise, glory, and honor to God the Father who refused to let us go down to death, God the Spirit who guides and comforts us, and God the Son who wept for us even as He saved us. Amen.