I’ve found that every so often, I need a break from studying David. It’s not because my brain is overloaded with details, or because I am lost in a maze of information, it’s simply because the human side of David’s story can stress me out.
You wouldn’t think that it is possible, three thousand years after the fact, but the reality of people’s pain can still cut with a keen edge. So what part of David’s life gets to me?
It’s the story of Amnon and Absalom. It’s the agony any parent must go through when one beloved child, murders another in cold blood. It’s about the impact of someone fretting, believing for a time that all their sons are dead… then when getting the awful truth, being separated by yet another son and then going through many years of savage healing. [2 Samuel 13-19]
To understand David, I have researched the impact of losing a child to murder and it’s horrific. It is a grief like no other. Some main points the research has bought out are:
- Absalom was a sociopath, which must have placed his family through dreadful problems since he was a child. So there is a long history of parents feeling like they have failed and damage to those around Absalom.
- Whilst Amnon had a conscience, which was shown in his projection of hatred onto Tamar, Absalom had none and that is almost incomprehensible to me.
- A quarter of the brothers at the celebration would have experienced some form of post-traumatic stress disorder from watching Amnon being killed in front of them. They probably would have all thought they were about to be killed too, as having a brother who is a sociopath and wants the top position in the family, of course you’d expect your neck to be on the line so you weren’t a threat.
- It would have been psychologically impossible for David to mourn Amnon’s murder and come to terms with Absalom’s treachery at the same time. The human mind is not capable. The formal modern research shows this and David’s story clearly displays this. It would take at least three years before David could start to cope with Absalom, and that is what did actually happen.
- There would have been many untold consequences of Amnon’s murder behind the scenes. It could have led to a marital breakdown between David and his wife, Ahinoam (Amnon’s mother); there would have been a great deal of controversy over whether or not Absalom should have been dragged back from Geshur and put to death… basically, the decisions that David had to make were nearly impossible for any parent.
- All of this would have been massively complicated by David’s grief and regret over his affair with BathSheba and the murder of her husband, Uriah. That is a lot for anyone to cope with, no matter how you want to argue over whether it was deserved or not. The price he paid was exceedingly steep.
When I think about David as a real father, with the same emotions any modern father has towards his kids, it rips my heart out. Thank God, that at the end of David’s life he was able to say,
“As for me, I will always have hope;
I will praise you more and more.” Psalm 71:14
What an amazing sign of the faithfulness of the Lord!
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