The perils of dealing gently

2 Samuel 18:5 Now the king had commanded Joab, Abishai, and Ittai, saying, “Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom.” And all the people heard when the king gave all the captains orders concerning Absalom.

By this time Absalom has:

1- killed David’s son Ammon

2- schemed to undermine David’s handling of kingdom affairs and sought to gain the favor of the people to himself

3-had himself declared king in Hebron and caused David and his household to flee into the wilderness

4-slept with David’s concubines

5- plotted to chase David and kill him

Most of our accounts of David show him as a man of mercy. And when dealing with our children our desire to be merciful is multiplied. But mercy to Absalom could have cost David his life. Had Absalom been spared, he would have eventually returned to his intrigues. That was what was in him. The kingdom would have been always vulnerable to another upending. Absalom, by his actions, had made himself an enemy to David and this situation had to be dealt with severely.

I am very aware how closely this mirrors my own situation from the last year. Compassions can be so strong that they override wisdom and good judgment and when we coddle and protect that which is at enmity to the life of the King is us, we leave ourselves vulnerable to spiritual overthrow.

Joab, the commander of the army, realized the foolishness of leaving Absalom alive (and actually David surely did also), and Joab did the hard thing that David wasn’t able to do-he removed the threat of Absalom. The Holy Spirit often acts as our heavenly Joab, rising up and taking action on our behalf to rescue our future. Sometimes we are just too weak to do the hard thing. But our Helper helps us. There may be some tears and sorrow, but that will pass and we will see the wisdom of God in what He has done.


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