2 Samuel 13:23-39 Truth and justice undergirds unity, tolerance erodes it
2 Samuel 13:23-39
23 Two years later, when Absalom’s sheep were being sheared at Baal- hazor near Ephraim, Absalom invited all the king’s sons to come to a feast. 24 He went to the king and said, “My sheep- shearers are now at work. Would the king and his servants please come to celebrate the occasion with me?” 25 The king replied, “No, my son. If we all came, we would be too much of a burden on you.” Absalom pressed him, but the king would not come, though he gave Absalom his blessing. 26 “Well, then,” Absalom said, “if you can’t come, how about sending my brother Amnon with us?” “Why Amnon?” the king asked. 27 But Absalom kept on pressing the king until he finally agreed to let all his sons attend, including Amnon. So Absalom prepared a feast fit for a king.
28 Absalom told his men, “Wait until Amnon gets drunk; then at my signal, kill him! Don’t be afraid. I’m the one who has given the command. Take courage and do it!” 29 So at Absalom’s signal they murdered Amnon. Then the other sons of the king jumped on their mules and fled. 30 As they were on the way back to Jerusalem, this report reached David: “Absalom has killed all the king’s sons; not one is left alive!” 31 The king got up, tore his robe, and threw himself on the ground. His advisers also tore their clothes in horror and sorrow. 32 But just then Jonadab, the son of David’s brother Shimea, arrived and said, “No, don’t believe that all the king’s sons have been killed! It was only Amnon! Absalom has been plotting this ever since Amnon raped his sister Tamar. 33 No, my lord the king, your sons aren’t all dead! It was only Amnon.” 34 Meanwhile Absalom escaped. Then the watchman on the Jerusalem wall saw a great crowd coming toward the city from the west. He ran to tell the king, “I see a crowd of people coming from the Horonaim road along the side of the hill.” 35 “Look!” Jonadab told the king. “There they are now! The king’s sons are coming, just as I said.” 36 They soon arrived, weeping and sobbing, and the king and all his servants wept bitterly with them. 37 And David mourned many days for his son Amnon.
Absalom fled to his grandfather, Talmai son of Ammihud, the king of Geshur. 38 He stayed there in Geshur for three years. 39 And King David, now reconciled to Amnon’s death, longed to be reunited with his son Absalom.
Absalom’s inactivity is the most ominous sign of the horror soon to come. Even David, his father fails to read the true intention of his invitation. For two years, with undiminished passion, he planned for Tamar’s revenge. David’s inaction and tolerance fails to rectify the bitterness and the burden of injustice and lurks within his house. Today’s passage teaches us the importance of maintaining law and order within our family and community. We must never use tolerance as an excuse for our failure to execute justice and make tough decisions.
If you can’t come, how about sending my brother Amnon with us? – Absalom waited two full years before settling his unfinished business with Amnon. It is time for sheep sheering, and it is customary to gather for celebration. Absalom must have known that David would decline the invitation and thus insisted on Amnon’s attendance although readers may detect an inkling of suspicion in David’s mind. Absalom deliberately spreads a feast fit for a king to put Amnon into a celebrative mood in hopes of getting him drunk. While Amnon is in a state of drunkenness, Absalom’s men arise and kill Amnon sending the sons of the king fleeing the scene. At the meantime, a garbled version of what happened reaches David that had him sprawling and mourning on the ground thinking that all his sons who went to Absalom’s estate were killed.
Absalom has been plotting this ever since Amnon raped his sister Tamar – The arrival of Jonadab with his aberrant shrewdness sums up the situation by assigning blame to the vengeful Absalom for murdering Amnon. While the sons of the king arrive each in disarray and severely traumatized, Absalom escapes to a little principality of Geshur, ruled by his maternal grandfather, Talmai. David mourns the loss of Amnon, the crown prince whom he loves.
And King David, now reconciled to Amnon’s death, longed to be reunited with his son Absalom – While three years has passed, David, having come to terms with Amnon’s death, now longs to normalize his relationship with Absalom, the next in line to the throne. The major factor that contributed to David’s desire for reconciliation is his love towards his son. This causes him to look pass even very serious crimes in order to exonerate Absalom for the sake of his return.
Truth and justice undergirds unity, tolerance erodes it. I have seen all too often, parents failing to reign in their children after a bout of bad behavior. If you spare the rod, you will certainly spoil the child. Many could not bring themselves to discipline their loved ones thinking that mercy and tolerance could move them to repentance. On the contrary, they grow to disrespect the law and despise the workings of grace. David did nothing to rectify the crime of Amnon in hopes that the domestic feud may dissolve by itself through the power of tolerance. It becomes obvious that David’s inaction proves his current administration as incapable of upholding law and order within his house. That spurs Absalom to despise his father’s administration and explore his own devices to settle scores with Amnon. In tolerance, David hopes against hope that unity and peace may return to his household without having to prosecute Amnon, his crown prince according to the law.
Tolerance is helpful in that it allows people space and time to grow out of their ignorance and immaturity. However, when a grave crime is committed, it is pertinent that the perpetrator be brought to justice without delay. In doing so, the administration shows itself credible as the enforcer of the law and the guardian of the innocent. On the other hand, if the perpetrator displays genuine remorse, tolerance may be applied in reducing the measure of punishment that was originally meted.
1. As a parent of your household, as a manager of your department, do you look pass unresolved issues hoping that through tolerance, the feuds may disappear? Perhaps, it is time to change your way of handling conflicts. Tolerance may work for minor issues, but repeated occurrences of injustice and breach of trust must be dealt with decisively. Right work processes based on the truth must be installed to prevent future abuses. The perpetrator must receive his due consequence and disciplined.
Dear Lord, I understand the necessity of maintaining order and justice in my family, workplace and community. Help me to first live out the truth in the presence of all and to be respectable in everything I do. And grant me the resolve to maintain justice and install the right order and processes therein. Give me the wisdom to know when to show mercy and tolerance, and when to mete out punishment and discipline. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.