Absalom [Ăb’salŏm]—father of peace. The third son of David by his wife Maacah, daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur. He was born of a polygamous marriage (2 Sam. 3:2, 13, 14).
What a singular fascination there is in the story of Absalom who, lacking capacity, certainly made up for it in charm! As to the story of his rebellion against David his father, such a heartless deed carries with it one of the most solemn lessons in the whole of the Bible. Let us briefly touch on some aspects of Absalom’s character and conduct.
I. He was of royal descent on both sides, for his mother was a king’s daughter. Undoubtedly he was heir to the throne, and the favorite, the idol of his father.
II. He was gifted with remarkable physical beauty—“no blemish in him” (2 Sam. 14:25). A commanding presence, natural dignity, extraordinary graces of person made him a conspicuous figure.
III. He also possessed a charm of eloquence and persuasiveness which won him the hearts of all Israel, who felt that in him they had a God-sent champion.
V. He came to an untimely end (2 Sam. 18:9). Having everything in his favor—a throne ready made for him, and fortune bowing at his feet to load him with favors, his life ended in tragedy. Brilliant in its beginnings, he was buried like a dog in a pit in a lonely wood, leaving a name that was execrated. What brought Absalom to his Paradise Lost?
A. His all-absorbing egotism. Self-aggrandizement was Absalom’s sin. He had no thought, no feeling, no pity for anyone else but himself. Those around him were only of use to him as they helped him to secure his own desires and build up his own grandeur. Filial affection and generous sentiment were sacrificed on the altar of his inordinate ambition. But in trying to save his life, he lost it.
B. His was a practical godlessness. Those around Absalom recognized God, and had a religious faith giving some restraint and principle to their conduct. But the handsome, selfish, scheming Absalom had none of this feeling. He was his own master. His own will was his only law. He was destitute of principle and destitute of faith. Love, tenderness, pity, were not his traits because he had no reverence for God.
C. His glory brought about his final tragedy. Adding to the beauty of Absalom was his flowing hair forming a crown to his person which made him the delight of Israel’s daughters. Being proud of his chief ornament he must have carefully attended to it. But as Absalom was pursued by Joab’s men his beautiful hair was caught fast in the thick and tangled boughs of an oak tree and he could not free himself. Thus his graceful personal endowment left him a target for those who hated him and sought his death.
May such a lesson not be lost upon us! Our chief glory can become the cause of our greatest shame. Our choicest endowments and most cherished gifts can become our greatest temptations. Our gifts, like ourselves, need to be rewashed every day in the fountain of God’s truth, and guarded and sanctified by prayer, if they are to be fit for the highest service.