Bonus Devotional Text, July 2016.
King David’s story began with so much hope. Finally here was a king who was listening to God, defending justice, and doing what was right. But how quickly it all fell apart. David becomes an adulterer and a murderer, and the sin in his life quickly spreads to his family and the whole nation.
In chapters 13 to 20 we watch the tragic breakdown of David’s family. We see David’s dangerous weakness as a father. He is unable to guide his children, unable to discipline them, and therefore unable to uphold justice.
It’s like an unhappy soap opera. David’s firstborn son Amnon rapes his half-sister Tamar. And what does David do about it? Nothing. Isn’t David Amnon’s father? Isn’t he also the country’s highest judge? He must do something! But how can David condemn his son for a sexual crime when he himself committed adultery with Bathsheba and murdered her husband? David has no moral right to point fingers at others. So given no reaction from King David, Tamar’s brother Absalom takes justice into his own hands, killing Amnon. And again, does any consistent discipline come from his father the king? No.
So with everything falling apart, in chapter 15 Absalom launches a popular rebellion against his weak father. And how does Absalom win the people? – by pointing out David’s inability to be the strong judge that they so desperately need. But at least David seems aware of his terrible failings. So when Absalom’s rebellion comes, David doesn’t fight it. He simply packs up his things, acknowledges Absalom as the new king, and leaves Jerusalem.
On the one hand, this whole story is a frightening reminder to us parents of our responsibility to properly discipline our children. After all, an undisciplined child isn’t just a problem for the family, they will become a problem for our whole society! On the other hand, this story also reminds us that we can’t guide our children if we ourselves are bad moral examples. The first step to being a good parent is to try hard to be a person that children can look up to and admire. Of course none of us are perfect. But when we ourselves set a good example, we can be such a positive influence in our children’s lives, and make them a blessing for our whole society.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis