Delaying reconciliation makes its ultimate achievement difficult, perhaps impossible. No doubt that Absalom had insurrection in mind before he returned to Jerusalem. But David’s refusal to immediately reconcile with him did nothing to prevent it.
Like David, we sometimes wait too long to reconcile. My older sister and a sister-in-law had been feuding for some time when mom died after surgery. Her death reconciled them, but she didn’t experience it.
Bertram discovered that in Shakespeare’s All’s Well That End’s Well.” He finally admitted his love for Helena. But too late. The king reprimanded him:...”like a remorseful pardon slowly carried...turns a sour offense” is a love offered too late. We would say, Love that comes too late is like a pardon carried too slowly. Or like the messenger General Gates sent to congress in Philadelphia announcing his victory over General Burgoyne at Saratoga. Congress voted the messenger a pair of spurs, not a financial reward. He needed to have used them on his horse to hurry the good news.
If a kiss comes too late to reconcile; if love can be too-tardily expressed, forgiveness withheld too long can lose its potency when finally offered. Let us, believers in Christ’s forgiveness of our sins, quickly offer it to others for their mere offenses against us. Fini
Like David, we too often settle for physical restoration with adversaries instead of seeking mental and spiritual reconciliation. The early church faced that issue, not always successfully, the Corinthian and Roman churches conspicuous failures.
How often, to this day, members of the same church body worship with each other without being reconciled to each other. Like Henry Kissinger and the North Korean delegates meeting to end the Viet Nam War, Christians sit a few feet apart from each other spatially but eons apart mentally.
In Shakespeare’s words, hurts, like wounds, “heal by degrees.” In 1067 William the Conqueror so devastated rebellious northern and western England that they didn’t recover until the 19th century.
But wounds and land are physical and geographical entities. They can’t calculate the presence of God’s grace in life. And we can never use political dimensions or nature’s recovery from abuse to excuse our refusal to let the Holy Spirit heal our interpersonal hurts.
One of the truest tests of forgiveness is its effect on our relationship with people. We can claim restoration to God only by our reconciliation with God through Christ. And since that means the absence of ill-will between God and us, it can’t allow the presence of ill-will between reconciled Christians.
In personal relationships, then, people can more easily be restored than reconciled. And restoration may be all that can be achieved. Nevertheless, reconciliation surpasses restoration. And where restoration can precede reconciliation, only reconciliation perfects restoration. Let us not emphasize the former and dismiss the latter. For where restoration may not lead to reconciliation, the latter always leads to the former. End Part III
The differences between David and Absalom had become colossal in the five years previous. Father had grown more tractable; son more intransigent. Father willing to admit past mistakes and sins; son demanding blood for every hour spent in forced exile. Father feeling good about son’s restoration; ego-driven son denying any reconciliation.
The most damaging dimension of Absalom’s sudden desire to visit Hebron was the lethal danger he posed to David’s reign. The young rebel had both gained an immeasurable self-esteem and lost complete respect and fear of his king, a deadly combination. And now, free from oversight, the reckless adventurer sped afoot in the land, wreaking havoc wherever he pleased. And he pleased to be a political revolutionary. If David thought peace had come, he would soon be disabused.
A point to ponder. We can, like David, fail to discern people’s true nature through a misplaced affection for them. It blinds us to the harm they can cause others, if not to us. Here David failed as leader. Until he became the bulls-eye of Absalom’s wickedness, David didn’t calculate his danger to law and order in the land. Leadership must always have the welfare of the entire group, not a few individuals in it, in mind. Only that empowers success in isolating divisive, ego-driven people.
God faced the same problem with humanity’s rebellion against him. Should he respond by damning each sinner? Or should he, like David, wink at our spiritual violence?
That’s a question as relevant now as in the Garden of Eden. And there God revealed his immediate answer: an animal had to perish in order to forgive the First couple. Only later would God reveal his FINAL answer. Someone had to be accountable for sin, and God made Jesus, “who had no sin to be sin for us” II Corinthians 5:21. As he became sin for us in those hours on Calvary he freed us from sin’s penalty to delight in his forgiveness.
In one act God solved both the problem of our sin, his justice and his desire to SAVE by Grace, not CONDEMN by Law. End Part II
The mass executions of unacceptables during the French Reign of Terror left antagonisms felt generations later. To this day citizens of Lyon speak coldly of Paris and Parisians.
Grievances, then, both perceived or real, can damage relationships for years, making Restoration difficult and Reconciliation incomplete. David discovered that when confronting Absalom’s murder of Amnon. The king never successfully resolved his struggle between parental affection and the nation’s welfare.
He also failed to realize that healing broken fellowships between estranged people must emphasize reconciliation, not mere restoration. This is seen in two mistakes the king made.
First, he reluctantly invited Absalom back. In the two years since Amnon’s murder, David waffled between affection for Absalom and disgust with his reprehensible crime. For Joab finally took the initiative to bring the young wastrel home.
Then, after inviting him back, David refused to see him. Again, he offered Absalom restoration, but made no attempt to reconcile with him.
Second, he made no effort to personally meet with his corrupt son. That left Absalom to endure months of enforced inactivity. Denied participation in politics, he spent the time fawning over himself.
But, communing with himself did nothing to teach him his limitations. Effort alone could do that. It has a sovereign way of humbling us. With his skills and giftedness all theoretical, Absalom felt himself supreme as a Bengal tiger in a chicken coop.
Even to being arrogant enough to demand—not request—and audience with the king. Where his colossal egotism challenged the king to prove him wrong. “If” I am guilty of anything—he said...IF! He had thoroughly deceived himself that he had been the sinned against, not the sinner! End Part I