The Bible tells a story about King David and his beautiful son Absolom.
Some odd things happen in this story and it ends with Absolom escaping
David’s generals, his hair getting tangled in a tree where he died by accident.
I think there is possibly more to this story. Maybe…
Surely David saw himself Appointed by God to lead his people,
as a shepherd might lead, giving attention to the details of his people’s lives,
and speaking with each of them, guiding them toward God’s wisdom.
As each lamb is important to the shepherd, so too were all the people to King David.
David insisted that each person was equal and that each would be heard in turn,
no one could maneuver to the front of the line based upon wealth or status.
But wisdom takes time, and as more people came seeking justice the line grew.
The wait to be heard by the great King became untenable.
It didn’t take long for the evil in men to flourish in this pause for judgment,
and crimes would go unpunished for long periods of time.
One such villain, a general of David’s army, took advantage.
He seized the King’s own daughter, Tamar. He raped her and bragged about it openly.
Tamara reported the rape, but was told her accusation would be heard in time,
while her attacker remained free, and reminded her about it, often,
that he could take her again, should he ever wish to have something already used.
Tamar sought out her beautiful brother Absolom, to help her seek justice against her rapist.
Of all David’s children, Absolom was favored by the King for his many traits;
strong, fair, his hair, the color of acorn, draped about his shoulders like silk.
Tamara pleaded for Absolom to use his father’s adoration to request
an expedited hearing for her. Absolom loved for his sister, and agreed.
Absolom sought out the King and found him at his table, saying,
“Father, I seek your wisdom over a matter of upmost importance.”
The King said, “Dearest son. I will hear your concerns at a scheduled time.”
“That is just the problem, your greatness. This matter cannot wait.”
“Each man will feel his own trials are greater than any other’s.
Only the troubles of God should be the focus of our attention,
for in the eyes of God we are all beneath His concerns, as he carries the world.
Add your name to the list and wait.”
“Father, you taught me that when a heard grows too large, some sheep will be lost.
Even your great wisdom would appear over-burdened by too large a flock.
I can help you, father. I could take on some clear cases of crime,
so that you can assist those who would benefit most from your wisdom.”
King David bristled at the comment. He pointedly lifted his chin and said,
“You are not chosen by God. I am. You could not serve in my place, but by His bidding.
The very lives of the people of this Kingdom rest on me. I am responsible,
God has appointed me to lead His people, and I would not sever that responsibility.”
“Surely I must have something of your greatness inside of me, father.
May God put off your death, but one day you too will pass.
It will be up to me to help our people. Surely you could teach me now,
on some less important cases, so that you might address serious matters.”
“Every case is equally important. It is not our transgressions that matter, as we are all sinners. What matters is how we redeem ourselves to God. His needs are weight-some.
Do not ask for His burdens to be placed upon your shoulders too soon, my son.
When, and if, He is ready to bestow them upon you we will both know of it.”
“Father, your own daughter has been raped,
her rapist is free to torment her,
perhaps he commits this same crime in other beds.
He must be dealt with.”
“I will deal with him when he is brought before me.”
“It is taking too long.”
“Do not insult me again,” David said,
and the conversation was at and end.
Absolom, returned to Tamar with his head bowed in defeat
He shared with her what had transpired.
“The King says your case will be heard in time,
as all of our concerns are equal under God.”
Tamar said, “Father is right.
We are all equal under God.
Like the plants we gather to fill our plates,
each will be consumed equally and will give us strength.
“However. We do not eat olives before they are ripe,
we eat them when it is time to eat them.
Nor do we let the grapes sit on the vine past ripening.
If we wait too long they fall and rot, or are robbed by thieving crows.
“We harvest when it is time. This is the same with justice.
Justice must be gathered when it is time to gather.
Harvest too soon and there is no point, wait too long and,
like the crops, justice will turn foul and become in-consumable.
“Absolom, it is time to gather my justice.
The people are watching, wondering if there is any strength behind the throne.
Who really leads the kingdom, our father or the bragging generals?
If we wait any longer the kingdom risks overthrow and turning to chaos.”
Absolom prayed on the wisdom his sister had showed him.
Absolom found her rapist and conducted a swift trial,
found him guilty, sentenced him, and had him put him to death on the spot.
Still, he felt no satisfaction, for the good King had taught him,
Even the wandering sheep can provide wool for market.
King David viewed Absolom’s betrayal revenge, not as justice,
as a public insult to the King, and a refutation of God’s will.
The King’s generals were irate, and suggested Absolom was mounting an insurrection,
and encouraged David to order Absolom arrested to stand trial.
When Absolom heard this plan he fled with his supporters
and drew around him a small kingdom, located elsewhere.
He applied new methods for governing, with new ideals and customs.
Justice did not wait, and the needs of the people were heard swiftly.
Still, Absolom’s love for his father wore at him.
David’s wisdom, patience and love for God had been continual inspiration.
Absolom lamented his father’s disappointment,
he longed to earn his father’s forgiveness and respect.
Absolom decided to present himself before his father, for judgment.
He led a small force back home to seek a truce between the kingdoms.
As he grew closer his excitement and expectation grew.
He was so happy at the thought of seeing his father again.
The King’s generals were suspicious, and they spread a rumor
that Absolom was bringing a force to kill the King.
This alarmed David and a diversion was created for David to escape.
The generals gathered a mighty force that rode out to meet Absolom.
Absolom encountered David’s generals
and was stunned by their number and readiness for battle.
Absolom, in good faith and with an open heart, rode forward to great them.
However, the war hardened army attacked without warning.
King David’s generals ordered their armies forward
to descend upon the ceremonial troops led by Ablomom,
and murdered them all.
There are no other truthful ways to state what happened that day.
Absolom, having been raised in a palace, had never seen real war.
He was struck motionless by the viciousness of his father’s army,
at how efficiently, and brutally, they butchered people still loyal to David,
at how his own flock was slaughtered all around him, and he wept.
He was quickly captured and brought before the generals,
who were not interested in Absoloms placations or status.
They tied his long palace hair to the branches of a tall tree and left him to hang there,
to die without a trial.
The generals returned to King David and told a tale,
that the favorite son had betrayed both God and King, by bringing forth an army.
They told how God turned the battle against the son, who died while attempting to flee,
what more proof was needed, for righteousness does not flee, and God does not err.
And the great composer of prayer wept.