There is no putting the “fun” back in dysfunctional. When the flesh is allowed to reign, the consequences can be huge and can last for years. If any family conveys that reality, it’s the family of David. I’m reading in 2Samuel this morning and at the center of the storm brewing in the midst of David’s court is the man Absalom. Absalom, third son of David, . . . . Absalom, killer of first-born son, Ammon . . . Absalom, soon to be the leader of a revolt against his father. Everything surrounding Absalom is dark.
He rises to prominence in Scripture as the protector of his sister who had been shamefully violated by her step-brother Ammon (2Samuel 13). And while he nurtured Tamar in his home, he hated Ammon in his heart. And though King David was angry at what Ammon had done, David did nothing. And so, after two years of the bitterness building, Absalom takes matters into his own hands and conspires to murder Ammon. Mission complete, Absalom flees the courts of David with his men.
And so father and son are estranged. Though David could never be reunited with Ammon, he longed to be in relationship with his son Absalom. But he didn’t know how to do it. Just as he had been ineffectual in dealing with Ammon’s transgression, David didn’t know how to deal with what Absalom had done. And so the king sits on his throne in Jerusalem and, for the three years, the son is thrust away and lives in exile in Geshur.
A dark time in the family. Sin committed. Sin undealt with. Sin leading to more sin. Sin resulting in a son being estranged from his father.
Perhaps David was so paralyzed in dealing with his son’s sin because of his memories of his own past transgression. Don’t know, really. But in the midst of this train wreck, Joab, commander of David’s army, takes the initiative to try and restore the relationship between David and Absalom (2Samuel 14:1-12). And though it will eventually result in things going from bad to worse, in the midst of this darkness a pin prick of light is revealed . . . a tiny beam of glory shines out of the darkness . . . revealing the heart of the heavenly Father and foreshadowing the true path to reconciliation.
And the woman [sent by Joab] said [to King David], “Why then have you planned such a thing against the people of God? For in giving this decision the king convicts himself, inasmuch as the king does not bring his banished one home again. We must all die; we are like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God will not take away life, and He devises means so that the banished one will not remain an outcast.” (2Samuel 14:13-14 ESV)
God will not take away life . . . He devises means so that the banished one will not remain an outcast.
It just bursts forth from the night of this family feud. Our God’s desire is that none should perish (2Peter 3:9). Those who are in exile due to their sin . . . those who are removed from the throne of blessing because of their transgression . . . those who are banished in self-exile due to pride and rebellion . . . for those, my God makes a way to bring back those who have been separated from Him. Not a means that ignores sins, but that deals with it once for all.
Just a glimmer of light . . . revealing the heart of the Father . . . and foreshadowing the cross. It is the means by which the banished one need not remain an outcast.
And at what cost did the Father devise such a means? The body of His Son shamed . . . the blood of His Son shed . . . the just payment for our sin laid upon Him. All that the banished one might be provided a way back. That the prodigal might be welcomed home. That the rebel might be reconciled.
How I need such a way back. Not just for my sin past when I was by nature a son of wrath in unbelief (Eph. 2:3). But for my sin present. For those times when I concede to the flesh. For those times when I’m tripped up by an enemy who is crafty and relentless. For those times when I simply fall short of walking in a manner worthy of my calling.
How, in those times, I need to remember that there is a way back. A means devised for those who feel the separation of sin from the Father because of their shame, or their sense of failure, or the voice of the accuser. How then I need to be reminded that He is not a taker away of life, but is the Giver of life . . . of abundant life . . . of life to the full . . . of life everlasting. And to know afresh there is always a way back because of the gospel.
A way back. Through the over-flowing grace of God. All for the ever giving of glory to God.