Absalom, Absalom

Lockerbie Central United Methodist uses the Revised Common Lectionary, the three year cycle of texts that takes us and countless other churches through the scriptures.  This summer we have spent quite a bit of time on the story of King David.  The story is perhaps the most important in the Hebrew bible (if there can be such a category). Though the story of King David is nearly 3,000 year old it still speaks powerfully to the human condition.

On Sunday, we spent most of our time on the story of Absalom, the second son of King David.  Of David’s children, Absalom is most like his father.  Absalom is passionate, has a strong sense of right and wrong (though David’s morality has become quite corrupted), a strong popular following and is politically ambitious. We showed the above clip from the 1985 Richard Gere movie King David.

Like all good father-son conflicts, the split and rivalry between Absalom and David has unintended consequences.   Absalom grows so powerful and popular that he actually forces his King-father out of Jerusalem but then  is ultimately outwitted and outmaneuvered on the battlefield by David’s shrewdest and most ruthless advisers, Joab.  Though David urges his advisors to take it easy on his wayward son, David’s army spares no mercy on Absalom and he is killed in battle.

Last night we talked much about the relationship between Absalom and King David.  Some important themes came out of the discussion.   The idea of children paying for the sins of their parents, the chaos of war (trying to win a war is like trying to win an earthquake), the political/military/theology leadership of David versus the nonviolent/turn the other cheek model of Jesus and Paul, what happens when ambition gets in the way of getting right with God, etc.

We concluded the night with a moment of silence and then listening to Brand New Shadows’ song Absalom

ABSALOM

Absalom, oh Absalom
Why do you hurt me so
Wayward son, the wars you’ve won
Leave me without a home
This is not the story I envisioned for my boy
My baby Absalom

Oh my child, my darling child
How did it come to this
With armies at the ready
And with fury in your fists
No, this is not the life I saw
The day I first laid eyes upon you
Absalom

I knew I’d get what I deserve
But never thought
That it would hurt you badly, son
Can’t you see, you’ve turned out just like me

Though you run, my Salem son
I wait for your return
The battle’s far from over
But the lesson I have learned
I would gladly give my blood
To right the wrongs I’ve done to you
My Absalom

I knew I’d get what I deserve
But never thought
That it would hurt you badly, son
Can’t you see, you’ve turned out just like me

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