Reading through the Bible together
Remember the touching story of Jesus of the Prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32? This chapter is the Old Testament event has similar strands with some differences.
Absalom killed his brother with premeditated murder in 2 Samuel 13 but had to flee to Geshur and lived there for three years. David missed him very much (verse 1). Joab planned to change David’s attitude to Absalom by sending a wise woman to trick him. She pretended to mourn and to have had two sons who had got into a fight and one died. Now the relatives want to kill the other one also and leave her without a future. She pleaded to David for help on this issue. He promised her that nothing would happen to the remaining boy but she insisted one notch higher, she wanted David to promise this in the name of the Lord. David repeated his promise using the name of the Lord. The she asked him why he didn’t do the same thing for Absalom.
She revealed the wisdom that God “does not take away life, but plans ways so that the banished one may not be cast out from Him.” The Gospel in verity. The God she described and the God David knew were the same and so he could not pursue his previous course toward Absalom.
Then David sensed that someone has set her up to say all these things and he suspected it was Joab. She confirmed honestly that it was Joab. The God the woman was talking about changed David heart. So he called in Joab and ordered him to fetch Absalom and bring him back. Joab went and brought Absalom back but the king asked him not to come to the palace but stay at his own house. Absalom stayed at his house for two years. It was now five years since David saw his son the last time.
Absalom wished to see David and called for Joab to arrange the meeting. Joab did not come. He called a second time but Joab would not come. Absalom was very keen to see his father, but he did a strange thing, to catch Joab’s attention, he set the field of his neighbor Joab on fire. What we notice here is that the crime of premeditated murder has an offspring namely another commandment broken: to treat your neighbor’s property as if it were your own.
Of course Joab was now forced to do something to fully reconcile father and son. Verse 33 is the reaction of the father to the prodigal son. When Joab told David of Absalom’s request to see him, David “called for Absalom.” The prodigal son, after five years of separation “came and prostrated himself on his face to the ground before the king” in an attitude that he is not worthy to be called his son. And David’s reaction was similar to the father of the prodigal son: “and the king kissed Absalom”. Reconciliation is sweet.
We also stand in need of reconciliation, to be reconciled to You and to our fellow men and women. Grant that this day we will dedicate ourselves anew to You intending to let peace reign on every mountain and hill, in every hamlet and every village and above all, in our hearts. Amen.
Koot van Wyk
Kyungpook National University
Sangju, South Korea