We can learn a lot from this text, but I’ll mention but two lessons.
One, giftedness must be united with character to have a positive influence. Both Absalom and Ahithophel seemed to offer much, but as political opportunists gave only trouble. Let the lives of these infamous, clever men warn us. Clever can be dangerous.
Second, the kind of men who defended David’s crown modeled the kind of believer in Christ many senior citizens ARE—though overlooked and undervalued by the church’s youth culture. In every church with senior citizens God has in place the kind of people the youth culture can never be, IF ONLY because they haven’t had the time and experience with God to mature in discipleship.
Hurrah! for mature Christians of every age group. They may be long-dry from the baptistery, but remain flexible in discipleship, seeking new challenges and embracing them when they find. They can “leave it all” by remaining certain they retain “all that matters.” They admit to sometimes losing a spiritual battle but never to being defeated. They try, and fail, but never fail to try again, repeatedly.
They pray confidently for answers to prayer, but never make an appointment with disappointment when they don’t come. They consider unanswered prayer God’s expression of trust in them: they don’t need it to feel secure in faith. Indeed, as C.S. Lewis wrote, the Christian faith is never more secure in a Christian’s life than when it seems God doesn’t care, but the disciple still lives as if he does—because GOD SAYS he does. While exceptions occur, usually only people with convictions, commitments and assurances bolstered by years of experience have such robust faith—something younger Christians are too inexperienced to master.
Skeptic and critic Will Durant sat in his Chicago hotel room when he heard a church’s carillon ringing an old Christian hymn. The old infidel found himself bursting out with, “Oh, God, how beautiful.” He later wrote, it would be easy to believe in God when the music played. Then the bells stopped tolling, and back into his skepticism Durant sank.
The mature disciple of Christ will go through troubles, sorrows and losses WITH faith: when the music plays; and WITH faith when it stops. But their life experiences will never let them recede into doubt and despair when it stops! Mature Christians make one more decision that younger Christians often can’t. Like Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress falling into the Slough of Despond—both believers and unbelievers get discouraged, the mature believer will always PRAY, “Lord, when I experience what I must, not what I please. PLEASE...when it’s past, let me be closer to you than before, not farther from you; let me love Jesus more than ever, not less.” Fini