Books: A Gateway
I was thinking about books on my way in this morning. I have a book shelf, not huge, filled with books I never read. Why is that? I believe books add life, texture, warmth, and color to a room, but really, what good are they if you never take one in your hands and open it?
Books have a way of taking you away.
The books on my shelves include many of my childhood Bible story books.
There are lots of really old books given to me by my mother.
There is one particular book I was given as an adult that is very difficult for me to complete, so I always jump to the end of the book and read that last few chapters. (I like the way it ends)
I have one book, my favorite book, that is filled with many different genres, including crime. And if you love a good murder mystery, this book has them, many of them!
Murder between brothers; kings murdered by their own servants, a woman murdered her own children and grandchildren in order to be queen! There are beheadings, and stabbings, and hangings, and whippings…no shortage of murder stories.
Dysfunctional family stories? Yep, those too.
Back in the ‘70’s we watched a tv program called All in the Family. It was all about the Bunker’s and from what I understand, it was a groundbreaking TV sitcom for its time. It showed a lot of family dysfunction.
Then in the 80’s along came the Bundy’s and Married with Children. It made All in the Family look normal by comparison.
But this next family, this family but the ‘d’ in dysfunctional and it’s one of the stories in my favorite book.
The movie trailer would look something like this:
Narrator: “Opening scene…the death of a son…after seething resentment regarding the rape of his sister. Open rebellion against his father is coming for having never punished the rapist.”
You would then see clips of how the son was defeated in battle.
Narrator: “In all the noise and confusion that certainly is war, the son will get caught in the low hanging branches of that tree. He will be stuck by the very thing that once caused him much vanity: his hair.”
You would then see clips of a very handsome man swinging by his long, wavy, jet-black hair from the branches of the tree.
The scene then jumps to the father’s field commander who has heard what happened. You see him quickly ride to the spot and plunge his spear into the son’s heart.
The scene fades as the narrator concludes: “Come for the cinematography, stay for the action, leave feeling better about your own family dysfunction.”
Absalom was David's third son. At an early age, he moved, along with the transfer of the capital, to Jerusalem, where he spent most of his life. He was a great favorite of his father and of the people. His charming manners, personal beauty, insinuating ways, love of pomp, and royal pretensions captivated the hearts of the people from the beginning. He lived in great style, drove in a magnificent chariot, and had fifty men run before him. (Source: wikipedia
The story of Absalom can be found in 2 Samuel, chapters 13 through 19. But the thing I want to focus on today is how fragile relationships are. How very fragile family can be.
“The first recorded event defining Absalom’s life also involved his sister Tamar and half-brother Amnon. Tamar was beautiful, and Amnon lusted after her. When Tamar rebuffed Amnon’s advances, he arranged, through subterfuge, to have her come to his house, where he raped her. After the rape, Amnon put Tamar out of his house in disgrace. When Absalom heard what happened, he took his sister in to live with him.
For the next two years, Absalom nursed a hatred of his half-brother. Then, using some subterfuge of his own, Absalom invited Amnon to his house for a party. During the festivities, in the presence of David’s other sons, Absalom had his servants kill Amnon in cold blood.
“Out of fear of his father, Absalom ran away to Geshur, where he stayed for three years. During that time, Scripture says that David “longed to go out to Absalom,” but we’re never told that he actually did anything to reconcile the relationship.”
Isn’t that sad?! It’s one thing to try to reconcile and be rebuked, but to never try. To think about his son, and long to be with him, but to never try, it’s heartbreaking. I wonder how much differently this story would have ended, if one of them had reached out in love.
“David’s general, Joab, was ultimately responsible for bringing Absalom back to Jerusalem. However, even then, Absalom was not permitted to enter David’s presence, but had to live in a house of his own. He lived this way, presumably never contacting or being contacted by his father, for two years. Finally, once again by way of Joab’s intercession, the two men get back together, and there is a small measure of reconciliation.
Unfortunately, this peace did not last. Possibly resenting his father’s hesitancy to bring him home, Absalom began to stealthily undermine David’s rule. He set himself up as judge in Jerusalem and gave out promises of what he would do if he were king. After four years of this, he asked to go to Hebron, where he had secretly arranged to have himself proclaimed king.
“The conspiracy strengthened, and the number of Absalom’s followers grew steadily, such that David began to fear for his own life. David gathered his servants and fled Jerusalem. However, David left behind some of his concubines and a few informers as well, including Zadok and Abiathar the priests and his adviser Hushai.
“Upon entering Jerusalem as king, Absalom sought to solidify his position, first by taking over David’s house and sleeping with his concubines, considered an unforgivable act. Then he laid plans to immediately pursue and attack David’s forces, but the idea was abandoned owing to the advice of Hushai. This delay allowed David to muster what troops he had at Mahanaim and mount a counterattack to retake the kingdom.” (source: gotquestions.org)
I guess my point is this. Keep your eyes on Jesus. When we look at Him, it’s hard to lust and hate and scheme.
Secondly, forgive and forgive often. Don’t let hurt fester in your heart. The problem with allowing hurt to fester is, it turns to hate. It’s like a beautiful red apple. If you don’t use that apple, it will begin to turn. Soon, over time, it will begin to rot. And anything it touches, will also start to rot.
Thirdly, ask for forgiveness. If you have wronged someone, apologize. Tell them you are sorry. Tell them how much they mean to you. Ask them to forgive you. They may not accept your apology, they may not forgive, but you must try.
Lastly, the bible tells us to put on love. In fact, it tells us to put on more than that.
“…put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.” Colossians 3:12-15 NKJV
Like a pair of pants, put on tender mercies.
Like a blouse, put on kindness.
Like your socks, put on humility.
Like your shoes, put on meekness.
Like your coat, put on longsuffering.
Bear with one another.
Forgive one another.
Let the peace of God rule your heart.
But above all this, like Jesus Christ, put on love.
by Jeanette Stark – Tuesday, March 14, 2023