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Lessons for Today from the Old Testament: A Fathers Love


We are loved by God as a father loves his children!

One of the things that strike a reader in the Old Testament is the relationship between fathers and their sons. There are several interesting pictures of mothers and daughters and fathers and daughters also. But it is the father/ son relationships that often catch the eye. Saul and Jonathan, Jacob and his sons, David and Solomon and David and Absalom that stand out for our consideration.

Absalom lead a rebellion against his father David. He was eventually killed by Joab after his long hair got caught in a tree and he hung there defenselessly. Joab “took three spears in his hand and thrust them through Absalom’s heart, while he was still alive in the midst of the terebinth tree” (2 Samuel 18:14 – NKJV used with permission).

Absalom grew up in a privileged situation being one of the many sons of David, but somehow greed and evil took over his heart and he led an uprising against his father David in order to usurp the kingship that was to be passed on to his brother Solomon. The writer of 2 Samuel records that Absalom gathered around himself chariots and horses and fifty men to run before him (2 Samuel 15:1). He then lingered at the city gates and intercepted any citizens coming to David for legal decisions and gave them his judgement. So he was taking over the responsibility of the king.

But then Absalom went further and led an uprising against David, forcing him to flee from Jerusalem (vs. 13). So here is a sad example of a son who used his privileged position to plot against his own father. The hostilities extended to warfare and eventually David has no choice but to respond with force. He however, warned his soldiers to be careful not to harm Absalom (2 Samuel 18:5). Here is a father’s love at work, something we see elsewhere in the Old Testament.

When the news of Absalom’s death eventually reached David, he was heartbroken and made this amazing statement: “O my son Absalom-my son, my son Absalom-if only I had died in your place! O Absalom my son, my son!” (2 Samuel 18:33).

When Joab heard that David was weeping and mourning for his son and that the day of victory had been turned into a day of mourning, he reprimanded the king: “today you have disgraced all your servants who have today saved your life, and the lives of your sons and daughters, the lives of your concubines. In that you love your enemies and hate your friends” (19:5).

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The same event as seen through different eyes: Joab was the pragmatist who saw the events from a very practical point of view. David was the emotional father whose heart was broken and whose view was clouded by the love of a father.

Joab continued: “Now therefore arise, go out and speak comfort to your servants. For I swear by the Lord, if you do not go out, not one will stay with you this night. And that will be worse for you than all the evil that has befallen you from your youth until now” (19:7). David took that advice when he saw the bigger picture. Sometimes emotions cloud our ability to act rationally.

Lessons for today:

  1. David was a father who loved his son, no matter what. There is a similar situation in the wonderful parable that Jesus taught about the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32 ).
  2. God has chosen to love us like sons and daughters. What a blessing that is! At the same time he expects us to behave in a responsible and rational way.
  3. At the end of his life David passes on the Kingship of Israel to Solomon with these words: “I go the way of all the earth; be strong, therefore, and prove yourself a man. And keep the charge of the Lord your God; to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments...” (1 Kings 2:1, 2). Something that Solomon unfortunately did not do (1 Kings 12:1-3). A father can only do so much and then it is over to his son. Ezekiel spells out the fact that every person is responsible for his or her own salvation (Ezekiel 18:19,20).
  4. We are given a position of sons and daughters of God, as Paul explains in Galatians 3:26, 27 “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ”. God loves us not as strangers but as sons. What a blessing!


NKJV Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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