Lessons from Absalom

‘In all Israel there was not a man so highly praised for his handsome appearance as Absalom. From the top of his head to the sole of his foot there was no blemish in him.’ (2 Sam 14:25)

Quiet time this morning was in 2 Samuel 14, and though it is an odd chapter in some ways, it heeds some vital warnings in the person of Absalom (a murderer in Ch 13)… here’s an extract Dale Ralph Davis’ fantastic commentary;

‘Matthew Henry’s observations on this Absalom note are both concise and comprehensive:

All that is here said of Absalom is,

  1. That he was a very handsome man…
  2. That he had a very fine head of hair…
  3. That his family began to be built up…

Henry aptly remarks, ‘Nothing is said of his wisdom and piety.’ Is this leadership?

Our times insist on style over substance, cosmetics over content, manner over matter. It hardly surprises us that a president who cultivated a public image of warm, devoted family life would also, with his secret service agents, plod the tunnels under New York’s streets, flashlights in hand, on the way to a waiting sexual liaison in another hotel or apartment; nor are we surprised to learn that this was a pattern from his first day in office.

Such image-reality gaps have been the case among political leaders for centuries, but, as Jesus says to his church, ‘It is not to be like that among you’ (Mark 10:43). Yet it seems it is. Douglas Webster describes the ‘Fortune 500 pastors’ desired for contemporary American congregations as being

winsome, charismatic, executive like pastors who exude warmth and success. Known more for their humor than for their spirituality, today’s market-sensitive pastors are relationally savvy… Instead of eliciting deep feelings of guilt as the old revivalists did, these pastors lift the spirit, promote optimism and make people feel good about themselves.

By contrast, when listing some of the standards for elders in the church, the apostle stresses character over charisma and personal godliness over public giftedness (1 Tim 3:1-17). Woe to the church that falls into the Absalom trap.

Once Absalom is back (v.24) he dominates the narrative. We read of his appearance (vv25-27), his antics (vv28-32a), his daring (v32b). Absalom takes over the narrative just as he will take over the kingdom.’


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: