Charles and Norma Ellis
2 Samuel 18:1-33
1And David numbered the people that were with him, and set captains of thousands, and captains of hundreds over them.
2And David sent forth a third part of the people under the hand of Joab, and a third part under the hand of Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab's brother, and a third part under the hand of Ittai the Gittite. And the king said unto the people, I will surely go forth with you myself also.
3But the people answered, Thou shalt not go forth: for if we flee away, they will not care for us; neither if half of us die, will they care for us: but now thou art worth ten thousand of us: therefore now it is better that thou succour us out of the city.
4And the king said unto them, What seemeth you best I will do. And the king stood by the gate side, and all the people came out by hundreds and by thousands.
5And the king commanded Joab and Abishai and Ittai, saying, Deal gently for my sake with the young man, even with Absalom. And all the people heard when the king gave all the captains charge concerning Absalom.
6So the people went out into the field against Israel: and the battle was in the wood of Ephraim;
7Where the people of Israel were slain before the servants of David, and there was there a great slaughter that day of twenty thousand men.
8For the battle was there scattered over the face of all the country: and the wood devoured more people that day than the sword devoured.
9And Absalom met the servants of David. And Absalom rode upon a mule, and the mule went under the thick boughs of a great oak, and his head caught hold of the oak, and he was taken up between the heaven and the earth; and the mule that was under him went away.
10And a certain man saw it, and told Joab, and said, Behold, I saw Absalom hanged in an oak.
11And Joab said unto the man that told him, And, behold, thou sawest him, and why didst thou not smite him there to the ground? and I would have given thee ten shekels of silver, and a girdle.
12And the man said unto Joab, Though I should receive a thousand shekels of silver in mine hand, yet would I not put forth mine hand against the king's son: for in our hearing the king charged thee and Abishai and Ittai, saying, Beware that none touch the young man Absalom.
13Otherwise I should have wrought falsehood against mine own life: for there is no matter hid from the king, and thou thyself wouldest have set thyself against me.
14Then said Joab, I may not tarry thus with thee. And he took three darts in his hand, and thrust them through the heart of Absalom, while he was yet alive in the midst of the oak.
15And ten young men that bare Joab's armour compassed about and smote Absalom, and slew him.
16And Joab blew the trumpet, and the people returned from pursuing after Israel: for Joab held back the people.
17And they took Absalom, and cast him into a great pit in the wood, and laid a very great heap of stones upon him: and all Israel fled every one to his tent.
18Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and reared up for himself a pillar, which is in the king's dale: for he said, I have no son to keep my name in remembrance: and he called the pillar after his own name: and it is called unto this day, Absalom's place.
19Then said Ahimaaz the son of Zadok, Let me now run, and bear the king tidings, how that the LORD hath avenged him of his enemies.
20And Joab said unto him, Thou shalt not bear tidings this day, but thou shalt bear tidings another day: but this day thou shalt bear no tidings, because the king's son is dead.
21Then said Joab to Cushi, Go tell the king what thou hast seen. And Cushi bowed himself unto Joab, and ran.
22Then said Ahimaaz the son of Zadok yet again to Joab, But howsoever, let me, I pray thee, also run after Cushi. And Joab said, Wherefore wilt thou run, my son, seeing that thou hast no tidings ready?
23But howsoever, said he, let me run. And he said unto him, Run. Then Ahimaaz ran by the way of the plain, and overran Cushi.
24And David sat between the two gates: and the watchman went up to the roof over the gate unto the wall, and lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold a man running alone.
25And the watchman cried, and told the king. And the king said, If he be alone, there is tidings in his mouth. And he came apace, and drew near.
26And the watchman saw another man running: and the watchman called unto the porter, and said, Behold another man running alone. And the king said, He also bringeth tidings.
27And the watchman said, Me thinketh the running of the foremost is like the running of Ahimaaz the son of Zadok. And the king said, He is a good man, and cometh with good tidings.
28And Ahimaaz called, and said unto the king, All is well. And he fell down to the earth upon his face before the king, and said, Blessed be the LORD thy God, which hath delivered up the men that lifted up their hand against my lord the king.
29And the king said, Is the young man Absalom safe? And Ahimaaz answered, When Joab sent the king's servant, and me thy servant, I saw a great tumult, but I knew not what it was.
30And the king said unto him, Turn aside, and stand here. And he turned aside, and stood still.
31And, behold, Cushi came; and Cushi said, Tidings, my lord the king: for the LORD hath avenged thee this day of all them that rose up against thee.
32And the king said unto Cushi, Is the young man Absalom safe? And Cushi answered, The enemies of my lord the king, and all that rise against thee to do thee hurt, be as that young man is.
33And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!
What a sorrow it is for a parent to see his son, even an unruly son, come to grief! Certainly the honest father can feel with King David as he mourns over Absalom, even though this son was proud, ambitious, and rebellious.
David loved Absalom. The Bible states that forthrightly. The actions of David attest to it. But there was something faulty in David's love. It was not farseeing. It was not balanced by discipline. It was selfish. It was not in perspective. His love was an emotional, blinding sentiment. Someone has said: 'Love without discipline is sentiment. Discipline without love is tyranny.' David's love was not the agape love of Scripture.
Should a father turn in to the police his son who is found in possession of drugs? Should a parent pamper one child in the family who is having a bad influence over the others? Should a mother give in to a child to prevent a temper tantrum? Many other questions might be asked in the context of today. This story is very contemporary.
What a difficult thing to speak to a father in the words of verse 6 of the next chapter: 'You have loved your enemies and hated your friends. For if Absalom had lived and all of your friends had died you would be well pleased'! But this was a just rebuke. And fathers and mothers, blinded by sentiment and lacking in godly courage, sometimes need to be admonished in such a way by their true Christian friends.
O God, make us tough to do Your will. Help us to keep our love in perspective.
We are happy to have obtained permission to post as our current daily devotional Heirs Together of Life: Daily Bible Reading for Husbands and Wives, published by The Banner of Truth Trust. Don't be misled by the subtitle. As the book's "Preface" indicates (see below), although Heirs Together of Life is "especially prepared for couples,"the authors declare, "Since the basis for this guide is God's Word, we believe it would have value for any reader."
Charles and Norma Ellis are husband and wife and the authors not only of Heirs Together of Life (which was first published in 1980 and continues in print today), but also of Wells of Salvation (first published in 1985, and likewise still in print today). The latter contains a series of short studies covering the entire book of Isaiah, while the former contains a series of almost 200 short studies covering the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. Both books by the Ellises can be ordered from the publisher, The Banner of Truth Trust. We trust that these daily Bible readings, posted daily on our site, will be helpful to you in your Christian walk before God. Whether married or not, all of us are members of families and members of the family of God.
Charles Ellis was educated at Wheaton College and Westminster Theological Seminary. Upon graduation from Westminster (where he earned not only a Th.B. but also a Th.M.), he was ordained to the ministry in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and pastored a number of OPC churches, including Immanuel OPC in West Collingswood, New Jersey; First OPC in Cincinnati, Ohio; Covenant OPC in East Orange, New Jersey; Knox OPC in Silver Spring, Maryland; and Lakeview OPC in Rockport, Maine. Less biographical information is available about his wife, but it is known that they served as parents of seven children. After retiring from the ministry, Charles Ellis went to be with the Lord in 2003, but he and his wife left us with a beautiful legacy in the two books they have given to the world, and we are proud to share the daily Bible readings from Heirs Together of Life here with you.
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