King David could win the award for the biggest party pooper of all time. When his army defeated the enemy and his men were coming into town ready to celebrate a big victory, he almost blew it completely. They had chased the usurper down and killed him, squelching his plot to take over David’s throne, and saved his kingdom. But instead of a party atmosphere, there was the pall of death. You see, the enemy who had tried to displace David was the king’s own son.
Absalom had plotted
against his father, God’s anointed king. For four years he had lied and finagled his way into the people’s hearts.
He then built a statue of himself, declared himself king in Hebron, and headed
for Dad’s palace to take over. David had to run for his life from his own son! The
final insult was when Absalom set up a tent on the palace roof to have sex with
his father’s concubines where everyone could see it.
David finally rallied
his troops and went to battle against Absalom and his men. David ordered him
kept alive, but in the end Absalom’s vanity did him in. His long, thick hair, which
he was so proud of, got caught in some tree branches during the chase. His mule
kept going, but Absalom hung by his hair until David’s soldiers surrounded him
and ended the conflict.
It was a great victory.
The troops saved Israel from the control of a murderous,conceited tyrant. David
could return to his palace to rule in peace. However, King David was not in the
mood to celebrate:
“As all the people heard of the king’s
deep grief for his son, the joy of that day’s victory was turned into deep
sadness. They crept back into the town that day as though they
were ashamed and had deserted in battle. The king covered his
face with his hands and kept on crying, ‘O my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son,
my son!’” (2 Sam. 19:2-4, NLT)
That put a definite
damper on the party. The only thing David could see was that
his son was dead. And he was probably riddled with guilt for not having
disciplined Absalom when the first signs of rebellion emerged. Things might
have completely fallen apart if it hadn’t been for David’s chief in command:
“Joab went to the king’s room and said
to him, ‘We saved your life today and the lives of your sons, your daughters,
and your wives and concubines. Yet you act like this, making us feel ashamed of
ourselves. You seem to love those who hate you and hate those
who love you. You have made it clear today that your commanders and troops mean
nothing to you. It seems that if Absalom had lived and all of us had died, you
would be pleased. Now go out there and congratulate your
troops, for I swear by the Lord that if you
don’t go out, not a single one of them will remain here tonight. Then you will
be worse off than ever before.’ So the king went out and took
his seat at the town gate” (2 Sam. 19:5-8, NLT).
That was the wakeup call he needed. It’s
not that King David’s grief was not valid.
He had just lost a son! No matter what our children do, we still love them. We
still hate to see them suffer tragic consequences for their actions. And we
certainly don’t want them to die a violent death. But David had lost sight of
the big picture. And sometimes, so do we.
Sometimes, in grieving over what is not happening in the lives of those I
love, I miss the victories God is winning all around me. I’m so thankful God
shakes me up a bit and points out the need to celebrate the victories, even while grieving the momentary losses on
other battlefields. The war’s not over yet! I don’t want to be a party pooper when
so many victories are being won for the sake of the King.
verse has reminded me lately, “This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the
joy of the Lord is
your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10, NIV). May God keep our eyes on Him, our voices lifted
in praise, and our hearts devoted to Him above all other loves.