Does God Hate Anyone?



There are people who have turned their backs on God. God doesn’t hate them. There are people who mock God and rejoice at insulting and offending and even persecuting those who follow Him. God doesn’t hate them. People may set themselves up as enemies of God, but God does not see it that way. He does see the reality – that some people hate him and have rebelled against him, even as Absalom did to David. But he also looks at each one of them and sees a unique human being whom he loves deeply.


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2 Samuel #18 . 2 Samuel Chapter 18

Second Samuel chapter eighteen records the end of Absalom’s rebellion, and of Absalom himself. If you remember, David fled for his life across the Jordan river and to the city of Mahanaim. This was about ten miles east of the Jordan river, up in the mountains, about halfway between the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee. It was within the nation Israel at the time (now it is part of Jordan) but a fair distance over rough country from Jerusalem, if you were traveling on foot.



There, David gathered an army of those who were still loyal to him. Six-hundred to one-thousand soldiers had fled with David. The bible doesn’t tell us how many more he found, but the Jewish historian Josephus says that he had four thousand men when he went to fight the army of his son Absalom (I don’t know where Josephus got his information). The bible doesn’t tell us how many men Absalom had either. David ordered his men, devised a battle plan, and prepared to go out. But his men convinced him to stay in the city while they fought on his behalf. This made sense. Absalom had to kill only one man – David – in order to win. David had the humility and wisdom to recognize this, and so he listened to his men and stayed behind. But he gave his three chief commanders clear orders to “deal gently, for my sake, with the young man, Absalom” (2 Samuel 18:5).



Many of those who fought for David were probably veterans of his earlier campaigns. They remain today some of the most famous warriors in history. Certainly David had most of the best military commanders of the nation on his side, even though he was at a disadvantage in numbers. Their strategy had been devised with the help of David himself. It is quite likely that David chose to go to the city of Mahanaim precisely because it was in the Forest of Ephraim. The area is not forested today, but it remains rugged and mountainous, as it was in those times also. In the rough terrain and the forest, the advantage of greater numbers that Absalom had might have been largely neutralized. David’s smaller, more experienced force had a better chance there than in a pitched battle in an open area.

Absalom’s army was out-maneuvered, out-led and out-fought. They were defeated. The scripture records that many men perished in the rough terrain. The text records that 20,000 men perished, more killed by forest than by the battle. In previous teachings I have explained the difficulties of numbers in Hebrew. If you think it would be more realistic if the number was 2,000 men, by all means, go with that. The Hebrew could read either way.

This rough terrain was forested in David’s time

In the defeat, Absalom fled on his mule. He went under the twisted, low-hanging branches of an oak tree, and his head was caught in the branches. The mule kept going, and left him hanging there, unable to touch the ground, and apparently unable to extricate himself from the tree. The text simply says that Absalom was caught by his head. It is the Jewish historian Josephus who claims it was, in particular, Absalom’s beautiful thick hair, about which he was so conceited, that trapped him.

Remember, David wanted his men to deal gently with Absalom. In a pitched battle, that could have been very difficult. If he was well and wielding weapons, and defended by others, it might have been impossible to take him prisoner without severely wounding him or even killing him. But here was the perfect opportunity to bring him back to David whole and unharmed. He was helpless and disarmed, a threat to no one. The first Israelite to discover this, found Joab, David’s chief general, and told him. But Joab, instead of seeing this a stroke of extreme good fortune to capture Absalom without anyone getting hurt, took advantage of his helplessness and attacked him as he hung there. No doubt not wanting to be the only guilty party, he recruited ten young soldiers to assist him, so that the blame was shared. Absalom was struck dead. Now I want to point out that there was probably some bad blood between Absalom and Joab. Joab had apparently had a soft spot for him. He helped Absalom get permission to return to Israel after he had murdered his brother. Joab helped David and Absalom reunite. But Absalom had been arrogant and high-handed with Joab, and it was doubtful he had ever thanked him. So I think it is quite likely that Joab bore special grudge against him, and that he killed him as much for his own sake as for David’s.

David first heard the news that the battle was won, and he was glad. But shortly after that, he heard that his son had been killed. He was overcome by grief and he lamented loudly. As a result, the victorious army marched into the city without the celebration and joy that were normal when the battle was won.

Joab, never deterred, rebuked David. He pointed out, probably correctly, that it was almost an insult to his men. Then Joab expresses what is really on his heart:

6 You love your enemies and hate those who love you! Today you have made it clear that the commanders and soldiers mean nothing to you. In fact, today I know that if Absalom were alive and all of us were dead, it would be fine with you!

Joab never understood David’s kindness and love toward those who tried to destroy him: Saul, Abner and Ish-bosheth, to name a few. The world was black and white to Joab – those with us, and those against us. But David was God’s chosen instrument because he had a heart that God could use to show the world what the coming savior was really like. David, expressing God’s heart, saw very few people that he truly hated or called enemies. Even so, David was not a blind idealist. He did what had to be done. So he fought when it was necessary. But he always wished for reconciliation, and the death of those who called themselves his enemies grieved him. In this case, although he still grieved for his son, he was humble enough to recognize that Joab was right, and he was shaming the men who had risked their lives for him. So he went out to them and congratulated them.

I really want us to hear the heart of God through this part of David’s life. There are people who have turned their backs on God. God doesn’t hate them. There are people who mock God and rejoice at insulting and offending and even persecuting those who follow Him. God doesn’t hate them. There are people who have twisted the truth about God into manipulative and evil false religions that oppress millions of people. God doesn’t hate them. People may set themselves up as enemies of God, but God does not see it that way. He does see the reality – that some people hate him and have rebelled against him, even as Absalom did to David. But he also looks at each one of them and sees a unique human being whom he loves deeply.

10 For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life! (Rom 5:10, HCSB)

The bible is clear that some human beings can and do choose their own destruction rather than admit their need for God. God allows them to do that, or else love for God could never be real. But like David, he grieves deeply when people choose their own destruction. It happens, but he is never happy about it.

11 Tell them: As I live” — the declaration of the Lord GOD — “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked person should turn from his way and live. Repent, repent of your evil ways! Why will you die, house of Israel? (Ezek 33:11, HCSB)

Sometimes when we’ve been wandering away from God, we stay away because we think that God feels about us the way we deserve. Sometimes we think he feels about us the way we have felt against him. The prodigal son went home with a prepared speech, hoping he might be given a place among his father’s servants. But his father saw him from a distance and ran toward him, arms thrown open to welcome him back and to restore him to the family. That is how he is with us.

But while the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him. (Luke 15:20, HCSB)

While Jesus was being tortured to death, he prayed for the people who were killing him, saying, “Father, forgive them!” (Luke 24:34).

Peter betrayed Jesus in his darkest hour. Jesus forgave him and restored him. He welcomed him back into a relationship of trust, even after what Peter did. Paul persecuted those who trusted Jesus. He had them arrested and even executed. But Jesus welcomed him and forgave him when Paul repented. Jesus himself said:

7 I tell you, in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous people who don’t need repentance. (Luke 15:7, HCSB)

The plan, of course, is that the 99 righteous people, already living in God’s grace, rejoice along with Jesus and the angels of heaven.

David knew that he had been forgiven much. He had sinned horribly and yet, repented and received forgiveness. He hoped for the same thing for Absalom. This is a reflection of Jesus’ hope for us. Jesus sees us as we are, but he loves us anyway. He doesn’t hate you, and he never will. He wants the best for you, and he knows that comes only when you trust him. If you have already returned to him, why don’t you share the good news with others who also may not know


David, fleeing from Jerusalem, is cursed by Shimei.  William Hole, Old Testament History (Eyre and Spottiswoode, c 1925 )

Leaders and governments come and go. So do countries and nations. Israel’s hope was not in David’s leadership, but in God’s faithfulness and sovereignty. Our hope is the same. If we are shaken by an election, for good or for bad, then to that extent, our faith is not truly grounded in an eternal God who promises us an eternal hope. This isn’t just about elections. This is about anything in life that threatens to shake us.

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2 Samuel #17 . 2 Samuel Chapter 17

This is not a political sermon, so just bear with me through the first few paragraphs, and you’ll see that there is some rich spiritual application.

I think it is safe to say that the election in the United States this past week reveals that we often deeply divided as a nation. Although the electoral college victory for Barak Obama was clear and decisive, the margin int he popular vote was less than 3%. These division may cause us dismay. Sometimes it may seem that the atmosphere is far to bitter and partisan. Many people are dismayed by politicians themselves — so many of them seem willing to push the envelope of ethical behavior extremely far.

The scripture that we are looking at today is especially relevant in these times. David was good king; in fact, he was God’s choice for king. But Absalom sounded good, looked good and deceived enough good people, and recruited enough schemers, to take power and send his dad David running for his life. Politically, things looked bad for Israel. How could the country be so ignorant as to let this smooth-talking, charming megalomaniac come to power? Obviously, there were still many who supported David, and who felt that Absalom was a very bad choice for king. But they were defeated and silenced. God’s choice no longer mattered. Righteousness and right didn’t matter. Instead, power went to the one who was most ruthless and clever. Those who were wise and aware in Israel, who trusted the Lord, must have been deeply dismayed.

At the end of 2 Samuel chapter 15, we learn that when David fled from his son Absalom, he left behind a kind of spy network. Two priests who were loyal to David stayed in the city – Zadok and Abiathar. Their two sons – Ahimaaz and Jonathan stayed outside the city, ready to relay messages to David. David also had a friend and advisor named Hushai. Hushai stayed behind and pretended to betray David, and so became an false advisor to Absalom, a kind of double agent.

David had another close friend who was an advisor. This man was named Ahithophel. 2 Samuel 16:23 says this:

Now the advice Ahithophel gave in those days was like someone asking about a word from God — such was the regard that both David and Absalom had for Ahithophel’s advice. (2Sam 16:23, HCSB)

This man truly did betray David. He supported Absalom and threw his lot in entirely with him. It is quite likely that when David wrote psalm 55, it was primarily Ahithophel whom he had in mind. He said these things:

Now it is not an enemy who insults me — otherwise I could bear it; it is not a foe who rises up against me — otherwise I could hide from him. But it is you, a man who is my peer, my companion and good friend! We used to have close fellowship; we walked with the crowd into the house of God. (Ps 55:12-14, HCSB)

…My friend acts violently against those at peace with him; he violates his covenant. His buttery words are smooth, but war is in his heart. His words are softer than oil, but they are drawn swords. (Psalm 55:20-21)

When David first heard that Ahithophel had betrayed him, he prayed for the Lord to confound his advice and to defeat him. He says similar things in Psalm 55. There is something here that intrigues me. If you read the Psalms especially, David is never shy about praying for destruction to come upon evil and evil-doers. Whenever I read such things, I cringe a little bit. I think most modern Christians do. It sounds so simplistic to our sophisticated ears. These types of prayers seem to assume that we are good, not bad, and we have the ability to discern who the bad ones are. I don’t think I’ve ever heard modern Christians pray that way. Now, Jesus did say to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. So I think we ought to do that. But have we ever considered that part of our prayers could be asking God to frustrate and confound the schemes of unrighteous and wicked people? Here’s another sample from David:

Let those who seek to take my life be disgraced and confounded. Let those who wish me harm be driven back and humiliated. Let those who say to me, “Aha, aha! ” be horrified because of their shame. (Ps 40:14-15, HCSB)

If we pray in faith, trusting that God knows who truly needs to be confounded frustrated, and who doesn’t I think it is appropriate at times to pray against the success of those who appear to be against God. I’m not saying that we get to judge who those people are – I’m just saying that we can appeal to God to restrain and defeat wickedness, trusting him to judge who is wicked and who is not.

Ahithophel certainly appeared to become a wicked person. His first advice to Absalom was that he publicly violate the women of David’s harem, who had been left behind when David fled. This was a symbolic cultural gesture, expressing contempt for David, and showing the people that he had completely cowed and defeated him. The possession of the King’s wives was a way of solidifying his own claim to be the new king.

Absalom took that advice, fulfilling Nathan’s prophecy that David’s wives would be treated publicly as David treated Uriah’s wife privately. The Hebrew leaves a little bit of room for interpretation. Absalom’s men pitched tents in public view – on the roof of the palace. The text says that Absalom “went in” to the women. It could mean that he raped them. But in the customs of those days, when a married woman was alone with a man who was not her husband, it was a disgrace. Whether or not anything happened, it was assumed that something had. So, whatever happened, from that time forth, those women were treated as if they had been raped. In those days, the custom (not biblical, just cultural) was that no other man would ever again be with them. They would have no place with their previous husband, nor any chance of a new one. However, after the rebellion was all over, David made sure that they were well cared for for the rest of their lives.

Ahithophel’s next advice was cunning and probably would have been effective. He told Absalom to pursue David quickly, to strike and kill him while he was still on the run, and end any doubt about who was king. But Absalom chose to also ask Hushai, David’s secret agent in the palace. Hushai gave advice that sounded excellent. He reminded Absalom that David was a cunning, fearsome old warrior, and that some of the Thirty were also with him. It would be no small thing to take such heroes on without enough preparation or force. David and Abishai (who was with him) had once killed six hundred men in a single battle, just between the two of them. Hushai suggested that Absalom could not risk bad news like a battle gone wrong, so early in his bid for power. The Lord heard David’s prayer, and Ahithophel’s scheme was frustrated.

Ahithophel’s reaction seems completely out of proportion. He goes and hangs himself. The text doesn’t really tell us why. I have a few theories, but they are only guesses. One thought is that Ahithophel reacted a little bit like Judas did one thousand years later, when he betrayed Jesus. Ahithophel may have realized that what he had done was wrong, and failed to believe that he could be forgiven and restored. So rather than repent and trust the mercy of God, he listened to lies of the devil that there was no forgiveness or hope, and destroyed himself.

The text does give us one clue. It says that Ahithophel did killed himself after he realized that his advice had not been followed. It could be that in his wisdom, he realized even at that early stage that if they didn’t kill David quickly, then they would inevitably lose. He may have seen right then that Absalom’s rebellion was doomed to failure. Rather than wait through all the turmoil and then be executed by David, he decided to put his affairs in order and deprive David the satisfaction of doing justice upon his body.

In any case, David’s prayer against evil was answered quite clearly.

Chapter 17 verses 17-29 read like an adventure novel. Hushai didn’t know at this point if Absalom would follow his advice or Ahithophel’s, and so he activated the spy network, warning David to flee across the Jordan river that very night. A servant girl went out from the palace bearing a message to the sons of the two priests. But the activity was noticed, and the two young men were pursued as they carried the message to the fleeing king. They took refuge in the courtyard of a friend, hiding in the well. The woman of the house spread canvas out over the well, and covered it with grain, so that no one even knew it was there. The soldiers of Absalom searched, but failed to discover the hidden well. Afterward, the young men continued on and successfully delivered their message, with the result that David and his household fled further on to safety.

So what do we do with all this? Let me be clear as I offer the first application. I am not saying that president Barak Obama is evil or unrighteous or that he is not God’s choice for president. I am not saying either that he is God’s first choice to be our president. But I know that whether or not he is God’s choice for president, many informed faithful Christians are very concerned that he has been reelected.

I want to point out that people have been following the Lord for thousands of years, and really only in the last three hundred years have human beings had consistent opportunities to choose their own government. Christian faith thrives in freedom. Christian faith thrives in oppression. God is not hindered by unrighteous rulers – if he were, Christianity would never have survived. So if you are thrilled that president Obama has been reelected, good. Just remember your hope should be in the Lord, not in a ruler. If you are dismayed, remember the same thing.

Leaders and governments come and go. So do countries and nations. Israel’s hope was not in David’s leadership, but in God’s faithfulness and sovereignty. Our hope is the same. If we are shaken by an election, for good or for bad, then to that extent, our faith is not truly grounded in an eternal God who promises us an eternal hope. David, as he fled from his murderous son, wrote this:

Cast your burden on the LORD, and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken. (Psalm 55:22)

This isn’t just about elections. This is about anything in life that threatens to shake us. What does it mean, “he will never allow the righteous to be shaken?” When David wrote that, he had lost all that he had worked so hard for decades to attain. He was in danger of losing his life. His own son was trying to kill him. But he says, “the Lord will never allow the righteous to be shaken.” Obviously, he did not mean that things would never be hard. Obviously, he did not meant that the future on earth would never look bleak. What he meant is that our faith in the Lord looks beyond the here and now. You may wonder, “am I one of ‘the righteous’?” You are, if you trust Jesus. The promise of scripture is that Jesus imparts his own righteousness to us. This is not based upon what we have done, but rather on our faith in what he has done for us.

I think it is helpful to see David’s heart of faith in his extremely difficult and discouraging circumstance. Paul writes to the Philippians. He mentions people who are focused mainly on what is happening here and now:

They are focused on earthly things,but our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 3:20)

We are citizens of heaven. We have the same eternal king today that we had two weeks ago, the same leader that our predecessors in faith had two thousand years ago. Our best future is ahead of us, and nothing can take it away. It is difficult when life is unpleasant, or hard, or full of sorrow. But circumstances did not fundamentally shake David. They don’t have to shake your either. Set your hope fully in your eternal future with Jesus.



If God is so loving, why can’t He just forgive us, no matter what? Why do we have to repent? Why does he require us to believe and to trust him? Absalom shows us the answer to that question.

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The next five chapters of 2 Samuel all relate to David’s son, Absalom. In some ways, even the last chapter (13) was the beginning of his story. If you remember, Absalom’s half-brother, Amnon raped Tamar, who was Absalom’s full sister. Absalom waited, and plotted, and then had Amnon killed – thus taking revenge, and at the same time, becoming the next heir to the throne. However, when it was done, Absalom fled in fear to Geshur, the kingdom of his grandfather Talmai (his mother’s father).

After three years, David finally came to terms with the death of his firstborn son, Amnon. Then he began to realize that he had also lost his next son, Absalom, because of his crime. The scripture says that his heart went out to his son Absalom. Chapter fourteen tells the story of how Absalom was restored to David. But it also shows us that the restoration was not complete on Absalom’s part.

The commander of David’s army’s was Joab. He was also David’s nephew, and companion through most of David’s life. The text says that he observed how David’s heart went out to Absalom. Joab resolved to do something about this. Joab is a complex character, and it is hard to say what his true motivation might have been. He might have been trying get back into David’s good graces. If you remember, since Joab murdered Saul’s old general, Abner, David had distanced himself from him. On the other hand, maybe Joab thought, “David is getting old, and it would be a good idea if the next king felt indebted to me.” Finally, Joab probably had known Absalom since he was a baby, and perhaps the old warrior had a soft spot for the charismatic young prince. Joab had a history of deceptive, manipulative behavior, and perhaps he was even proud of Absalom for murdering his brother Amnon like he did. Finally, it is possible that somehow Absalom contacted Joab in secret and asked for his assistance. In any case, Joab decided to help Absalom.

Notice right away that Joab did not approach David directly. This suggests that the relationship between he and David was indeed under strain. So Joab found a woman who was clever and a good actress, and they set up a scenario. Their approach is actually very similar to that of Nathan the prophet. The woman told David a story about how one of her sons killed the other. Now, everyone wanted to put the living son to death, which would leave her twice bereaved. David, unsuspecting, pronounced judgment, declaring that the surviving son should be protected. The woman even got him to swear by the Lord that he would stand by his judgment. Immediately afterwards, prompted by Joab, she asks David why then, he has not dealt with his own son in the same way. Here, she says something very perceptive.

We will certainly die and be like water poured out on the ground, which can’t be recovered. But God would not take away a life; He would devise plans so that the one banished from Him does not remain banished. (2Sam 14:14, HCSB)

This is actually a kind of prophecy. The woman is right about the heart of God. God did indeed devise a plan to bring back the ones banished from him. As I said last time, this all helps us to understand why Jesus came and died. So, once more, this text is showing us Jesus. I won’t preach the same sermon again, but it is strongly represented again here in this text. Our own sin has cut us off from God. We are banished from his presence. Yet he deeply loves us. So he devised a way to be reconciled to us again. That Way, is Jesus Christ.

Unfortunately for him, the account of Absalom is all about what happens when someone ultimately rejects that reconciliation. David brought him back to Jerusalem. But David is not God. His heart goes out to his son, but he doesn’t know what to do with the sin in his son. So Absalom is allowed to live in Jerusalem, but he is not allowed into the royal presence.

Now, we start to see a little bit of the character of Absalom. There is no record of him ever repenting of his sin of murder. There is no record of him even acknowledging that it was wrong or even a mistake. He certainly did not plead his case with David, or anyone else. Instead the text reveals him as a man who was determined to get what he wanted out of life, and to achieve his own ambitions.

Being allowed to return home was not enough for Absalom. He wanted to be back in David’s favor. Clearly, as we read on in the text, we see that his goal is not to be reconciled to his father, but rather to become the next heir to the throne. He wants to have David’s official approval, so that he can be king after him.

Absalom sends for Joab, to have him intercede on his behalf once more. But Joab stays away. There are several possibilities for Joab’s reaction. Absalom, being who he was, had probably never even thanked Joab for bringing him back from exile. Joab may be upset with him for that. Also, since David had distanced himself from Absalom, perhaps Joab thought it best if he stayed away too, considering the tension that already existed between himself and the king.

The prince (Absalom) had a few alternatives when Joab did not respond to his summons. He could have sent thanks and apologies to him. He could have sent him gifts. He could have at least humbly acknowledged his indebtedness and his ongoing need of Joab. Instead, he set fire to one of Joab’s fields. That tells you something about the character of Absalom. He is too proud to humble himself. He doesn’t care very much about the struggle and suffering of others. He is quick to action, perhaps even arrogant. He never even apologizes to Joab – in fact, he blames him, implying that is was Joab’s own failure to respond that got his barely field burned.

All he cares about is getting what he wants. He wanted Joab’s attention, so he got it – at Joab’s expense. Joab accedes to Absalom’s request, and gets him an audience with the king. David officially forgives his son and restores him to his princely position.

The text tells us something else about Absalom. We know from chapter 13 that his sister was exceptionally beautiful. Now we learn that he names his daughter after her, and she is also very beautiful. And Absalom himself is a flawless physical specimen. In other words, he is just like me. (For those of you who don’t know me well, that was a hilarious joke). Absalom is a beautiful person, from a family of beautiful people. He is rich and famous. The closest I could come with a modern-day analogy would be a member of the Kennedy family.

But like Saul before him, Absalom’s appearance is not a reflection of his inner character. As the subsequent chapters show, Absalom was all about Absalom. Being a “beautiful person” on the outside only hid the ugliness on the inside. For just a small insight into what he was really like, think about this. The text says he shaved his head every year. A year’s growth of his hair weighed five pounds, based on the royal standard (v.26). How did the writer know what it weighed? Because Absalom weighed it himself (same verse). This guy was full of himself.

Now, Absalom’s life was not over at this point. But, just as with Saul, there are some warning signs that he going the wrong direction. Think about it this way. He was not interested in a close relationship with his father. Instead, his main interest was what his father would do for him, and how he could use his father to get the life he wanted.

Sadly, this is how many people relate to God. We want him to forgive our sins so we can go to heaven, not hell. We want him to do certain things for us so that our lives go the way we want them to. We want to use him as a tool, an assistant to help us accomplish our goals. The goal of being close to God is way down the list, if it is even on the list. And we often assume that the best way for us to feel close to him, is for him to bless us.

Absalom could have made the case that what he wanted was good and right. After all, surely his brother Amnon – a rapist – should not have been allowed to become king. And regardless, now that Amnon is dead, it is Absalom’s right and privilege to become David’s heir, and the next king. But he did not trust his father to do what is right – he decided he knew better than the king. He chose to take care of things himself, to put himself in a position to be the crown-prince again, not to humbly wait and receive it as a gift. He was arranging his own life the way he wanted. In this, he was completely the opposite of David, who always waited patiently for God to use him however God wanted.

Sometimes we can be like Absalom. Maybe we feel that what we want for ourselves is good and righteous. Maybe, it even is! Even so, do we try to arrange for it ourselves, or do we put our trust the Lord to do in and through us what he wants to accomplish? Certainly, there is a time for action. But I think if we look inside ourselves, we can tell the difference between when we are responding to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, and when we are stressing and scheming and arranging things so that we get what we want.

There is something else here that is important for us to notice. Absalom’s father, the true king, forgave him for his horrible sin. He restored him to a place of honor. But pay attention – Absalom never did repent. When David was confronted with his sin, he confessed that what he did was wrong. He took responsibility for it. His heart was deeply moved with sorrow for what he had done. He humbly threw himself on the mercy of God and sought forgiveness. Absalom did none of these things.

I’ve often heard people ask something like this: “If God is so loving, why can’t He just forgive us, no matter what? Why do we have to repent? Why does he require us to believe and to trust him?” Absalom shows us the answer to that question. David forgave him, without requiring him to turn away from his sin. He forgave him without making Absalom return to a positive relationship with himself. Ultimately, it did Absalom no good, and in fact, it allowed him to hurt many others until he finally destroyed himself.

Absalom is a living illustration of the fact that when a person receives forgiveness without repenting and trusting, that forgiveness ultimately cannot help him. David’s forgiveness did not require Absalom to change. Certainly, David must have hoped that he would change, but he didn’t require it. As we will see when we read on, because Absalom did not repent and did not change, his relationship with his father remained broken. The forgiveness that David offered him could not save him from the brutal death that he deserved, and in fact, received.

It is the same with the Lord. As the wise woman prophesied, God has made a way to bring back his banished ones. In the person of Jesus, by his torturous death on the cross, God has reconciled both justice and love. Now, through Jesus, he offers that forgiveness to every human being. However, the forgiveness does not help those who refuse to repent. It won’t save those who refuse to admit their real need for forgiveness, who are unwilling to let God restore the broken relationship between them. When we insist upon our own way, as Absalom did, the father sadly allows us to have it, but it brings only destruction upon ourselves and those around us.

Let the Holy Spirit speak to you today.