Switching Sides

 This is Sophie and Ellie Walker. The Walker family are dear friends and missionaries to those in need of Jesus on the streets of Houston.

2 Samuel 19

Absalom, David’s son is dead. Killed in battle because of his rebellion against David, God’s anointed. David wept and mourned deeply for his son. Eventually David returned to Jerusalem after all the tribes of Israel joined together to reinstate him as king. This chapter provides a narrative about the men who turned their devotion to Absalom. They are men who stayed in Jerusalem and did not depart with David. By staying, they had sided with Absalom in the coup. Most kings in that era would have the rebels killed for their disloyalty. The first one, Shimei, son of Gera, rushed down to the Jordan and said to David, “Let not my lord consider me guilty, nor remember what your servant did wrong on the day my lord the king came out of Jerusalem, so that the king would not take it to heart. For your servant knows that I have sinned,” verses 19,20. This request is counter-intuitive and would never be made to any other king of that era. It is completely moronic to admit your sin of complete rebellion against him and then ask the king to not only forgive but to forget (do not take it to heart).

You shall not die

One of David’s military generals told David, this man should be killed. David rebuked his general and then turned to Shimei and said, “you shall not die” and he blessed him. David rebukes the general who remained at his side and forgives the rebel. That seems a little upside down. However, David is revealing that he has the heart of God. Just as David had been forgiven for horrendous sins and rebellion, David in return forgives. It’s completely counter-intuitive. It doesn’t make sense. His faithful general is rebuked and the traitor is forgiven and blessed. Kind of reminds me of the prodigal son. The father exhibits a massive measure of grace and forgiveness, running toward the prodigal son, embracing him, weeping and kissing him and celebrating with him. All the while, the faithful son feels neglected even though he has always been faithful. The problem is the faithful son considers himself to be “self righteous” (like a Pharisee) and the prodigal falls on his face seeking forgiveness. The father forgives and blesses just like David in this situation. He forgives and blesses.

Forgive and forget

The treatment of the general (as well as the other son in the prodigal son story) doesn’t always make complete sense to us but the lesson of these stories is the amazing, unbelievable, far reaching forgiveness for all of us who are rebels against our God. Those who are forgiven are the ones who say, “I have sinned against you, but nevertheless, please forgive and forget.” God accepts us who admit our sin and seek redemption. Doesn’t seem to make sense to some but to those of us who are saved through our confession of sin, it is the message of life. If you stop and think about it, it truly is the heart of God to forgive to utterly and completely forgive those who admit their rebellion and then ask forgiveness. I have heard it said that we are never more like God than when we forgive. Lord you have forgiven us much. Thank you a million thanks. May we also forgive others and exhibit your heart of gracious forgiveness. Amen!