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A Half-Hearted Forgiveness

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew
The Truth Network Radio
July 4, 2021 7:00 pm

A Half-Hearted Forgiveness

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew

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July 4, 2021 7:00 pm

Listen as Pastor Doug Agnew preaches a message called -A Half-Hearted Forgiveness- from 2 Samuel 14-1-33. For more information about Grace Church, please visit

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I have your Bibles with you today. Turn with me, if you would, to 2 Samuel chapter 14, and we're going to start out verses 1 through 4.

When the woman of Tekoa came to the king, she fell on her face to the ground and paid homage and said, Save me, O king. Bow with me as we go to our Lord in prayer. Heavenly Father, we are dealing with one of the most difficult passages of Scripture in the Bible. One of the attributes that we love most about you is the attribute of mercy. You're a God who forgives.

If that were not true, we'd all be headed for hell. You've also commanded us to forgive. Lord Jesus, you told Peter not to forgive just seven times, but seventy times seven. In the Lord's Prayer, you commanded us to forgive as you forgive. We have a passage before us today. We see that there can be a too hasty forgiveness. A forgiveness that leads to more sin and more heartache instead of real restoration.

Father, we need help. We need to know when to seek for a person's repentance before expressing to that person unconditional forgiveness. We know better than to play God. We realize that we ourselves are sinners. So please use this Scripture today to make us wise as serpents and harmless as doves. For it is in the holy and precious name of Jesus that we pray.

Amen. You may be seated. Several years ago, I was preaching in a Bible conference in Canada. And a couple came up to me after one of the services and asked me if I would counsel with them. I agreed to do that.

The pastor let us go into his office. We sat down. And they told me that they were having some very severe marital problems. And so I looked over at the lady and I said, well, what's going on?

What are the problems? And she said that I'm angry and I am heartbroken and I just don't know what to do. And she burst into tears. And so I turned to her husband and I said to him, well, can you explain to me what's going on? And he said, yes, I know exactly what's going on.

She hates me and I deserve it. And I don't know what to do either. And I said, well, explain to me what you're saying here. And he said six months before this, he was getting ready to go to the grocery store. He walked through the living room.

His little girl, two years old, was playing with her toys. He wanted to take her to the grocery store so he put her coat on, picked her up, took her out of the car, placed her into the passenger seat but did not put the seat belt on. And he said they took off down the road and the roads were icy that day. And he said as they took off down that road, a car pulled out in front of him. He slammed on brakes.

The car skidded off into a tree. The little girl was thrown right through the windshield and she died in his arms. He said she died because of my negligence and because of my carelessness.

He said my wife got the telephone call from the police station and she came up, got the next door neighbor to drive her up to the scene of the accident. Said she looked and she saw what happened. And when she saw what happened, she went crazy. He said she started cursing and screaming. He said she beat me in the face.

She called me every name in the book. And he said I deserve it. And he said I've been in a horrible depression. Said I couldn't sleep, I couldn't eat, I couldn't go to work. And he said I wish that I were dead. Then he said finally after six weeks, his wife said to him, I know that it was an accident.

I know you did not mean for this to happen. And she said I love you and I'm sorry for the way that I've treated you and I want you to know that I've forgiven you. He said he felt like the entire world, the weight of the world had just dropped off his shoulders. He said it was absolutely a relief like he had never experienced before. And he knew that his wife understood and he knew that his wife loved him.

And he said it was such a great relief. But then two days later, he said he walked into the house and she was sitting on the bed and he said she had her head down in her hands and she was crying. He said honey, what's wrong? And she said I'll tell you what's wrong, you killed Amy. Said you killed Amy and now I don't have a little girl to hold in my arms and to love and to care for.

And it all happened because of your negligence and because of your carelessness. He said I thought you had forgiven me. And she said I did forgive you but I can't forget.

He said pastor, every time we have an argument, she brings this up and I have to live through the hell of that experience over and over again. He said is that forgiveness? I felt so sorry for that young man. What he did was an accident, it was a horrible mistake. It came from his carelessness, it came from his negligence and he was absolutely broken over it. He wished that it hadn't happened. If he had could have gone back in time and put that seatbelt on, he would have done that in a heartbeat no matter what it would have cost him. He loved his daughter and he loved his wife, he never wanted that to happen.

He wanted his wife's forgiveness so badly that it was absolutely killing him. And so I said let me do this. And I opened the Bible up and I opened it up to Matthew chapter 27. And I said let's take a look and see what Jesus would do. And we opened the Bible up there and I read the story to them of the cross. And we looked at the people that were standing under the cross as Jesus was hanging on that cross, shedding his blood and bleeding and dying for our sins. And the people under the cross were cursing him and spitting on him and mocking him and laughing at him. And Jesus looked up into heaven and said, Father forgive them for they know not what they do. He forgave the people who put him to death.

And they did it purposely, intentionally and they did it wickedly. I said to the lady, your husband is probably hurting even worse than you are. He knows that it was his responsibility and he knows that it was his negligence and it was his carelessness that sent your daughter to the grave.

And I said, but I want you to look at him. He's repentant, he's sorrowful, he has confessed his sin and he's terribly sad. I said, can you forgive him as Jesus forgave you? And she burst into tears again. She walked over to her husband, she hugged his neck and she said, I do forgive you.

And they came up to me the next three nights in a row before I had to go back and each night they would share with me about how it was going and it was just getting better and better. They sent letters to me for several months after that telling me that their forgiveness was real. Today we are looking at another type of forgiveness. Absalom wants forgiveness from his daddy. Absalom wants to come back home. He has been in exile in a place called Gesher for three years and he wants to come back home again.

Well, why is he there? He's there because he conspired to have Amnon, his brother murdered because Amnon had raped his sister Tamar and now his two years had gone by during all that time and he was mad at David because David during that two years did absolutely nothing about it. David didn't do anything to Amnon, there was no discipline, nothing and finally Absalom said, if dad's not going to do something, I'll do something, I'll take justice into my hands.

David was heartbroken. Absalom had violated God's law. He had overstepped his bounds and now with no repentance, with no confession, with no apology, he wants David's forgiveness and he wants full acceptance.

Here's my question. I told the lady in Canada that the Lord was calling her to forgive and she did. Is what's going on with David the same thing? Was the Lord calling David to forgive Absalom in that same way?

Absalom was unrepentant, he was unbroken, he was angry. He wasn't saying, dad, here's my confession. I pray, dad, that you can find it in your heart to forgive me.

That's not going on at all. Absalom was saying, dad, don't tell me that I'm wrong. Don't tell me that I need forgiveness. I want you to agree with me that I was right and I did exactly what needed to be done.

My homecoming should be a party. I want no consequences. I want your full acceptance and restoration. David's in a dilemma here. Absalom's murder was a capital offense. He should have been killed for that murder.

That should have happened. And even at the least, he should have had to stay in exile in Gesher. David would have been wrong to have gotten bitter against his son Absalom and have a heart that was filled with hatred. That would have been absolutely wrong. But he would also have been wrong to completely forgive Absalom and remove all the consequences for his sin. Absalom was not sorry. He was not repentant. And brothers and sisters, justice matters. I've got four points I want to share with you today.

Number one, there was an attention-getting trick. Look at verses one through three. Now Joab, the son of Zeruiah, knew that the king's heart went out to Absalom. And Joab sent to Tekoa and brought from there a wise woman and said to her, pretend to be a mourner and put on mourning garments. Don't anoint yourself with oil, but behave like a woman who's been mourning many days for the dead.

Go to the king and speak thus to me. So Joab put the words in her mouth. Joab was one of David's ministers of war. He was one of David's political advisors. And the people came to Joab and they said, Joab, we don't like what's going on between David and Absalom.

We want you to get this thing cleared up. We don't like the fact that Absalom has been banished from our land. We want him to come back. We want that relationship between David and Absalom to be fixed. Besides, Amnon got what he deserved. Amnon was killed by Absalom.

But he should have been killed a long time before that because rape is a capital offense. All Absalom was doing was defending the honor of his sister and we're in agreement with that. So Joab, you go to David and you tell David to straighten this thing out and to reestablish the relationship between him and his son. So Joab thinks about this situation. He decides to try the subtle approach.

So he goes back home to Tekoa. He finds a woman that is very wise in the ways of the world. He knows her very well. He gets her off to the side and he says, I need your help here and I know that you will know exactly how to handle this. So they sit down together.

They come up with this plan. They work this thing out so she can tell David a story. She goes to David and she puts on this big act.

She acts like she is terribly burdened and terribly broken and terribly sorrowful. And she's just crying out to David. And she said, David, my king, I need your help.

I need your counsel. David said, okay, you tell me what's wrong and I will give you my counsel. And she launched into this long, long story. A story about her husband who had died. And then she had two sons and the two sons got in a huge fight and she wasn't strong enough to separate them and so one of the sons ended up killing the other son. And she said he didn't mean to do it. He didn't mean to kill him.

That was one of those things that just happened. He was a really good boy. She said, but now my family wants me to turn him over to the authorities so that the authorities will take his life. And she said, King David, I can't stand it. If my son were to be killed, it would kill me. I can't stand it.

What am I going to do? And David feels compassion for this lady. He doesn't like to see helpless people hurt him. So he says, Ma'am, don't worry about a thing. I'll take care of this.

Not one hair on your son's head will be harmed. That takes us to point two and point two is déjà vu. You know what déjà vu is?

It's a French phrase and it means I've been here before. I think most of us have probably experienced that. All of a sudden we're in a place that we've been in before or we're with some people that we've been with before or we're going through a situation that is very similar to what we've been through before and we're thinking, wow, I've done this before. It's like watching a videotape, a rerun. And you see, this is something that I have lived through.

That's déjà vu. And that's what David is feeling right here. Look at verses 12 through 13. Then the woman said, Please let your servant speak a word to my Lord the King.

He said, Speak. And the woman said, Why then have you planned such a thing against the people of God? For in giving this decision the king convicts himself, inasmuch as the king does not bring his banished one home again. Now why do I call this déjà vu? Because this lady did the same thing that Nathan the prophet had done to David. They both came up with these gut-wrenching stories and they shared the gut-wrenching stories with David and then when David got caught up in the emotion of the moment and the emotion of the story, then they lowered the boom on David.

You remember what Nathan did? He told David the story of the rich man that went to the next-door neighbor's house, a very poor man. About all he had was a little pet lamb that he loved with all of his heart. And the rich man stole the poor man's lamb and he took it back home and he slaughtered it and he killed it and he and his friend ate the lamb. When that happened David was absolutely livid.

I mean the steam's coming off his head. And he says to Nathan, Nathan you get that man, he deserves to die. He deserves no mercy.

You bring him to me and I'll show him what justice is all about. And at that point in time Nathan lifts his finger up and he points it in David's face and he said, David, thou art the man. You're the man, David. You're the one who stole somebody's wife and then had her husband killed in order to cover over your sin. David, you deserve no mercy. You are the man.

And now this lady from Tekoa is doing the same thing. Same thing to David that Nathan did. She told him this gut-wrenching story about her son who is being unfairly treated and who very well may lose his life because of that unfair treatment. And she says, David, you're the man. You're the man, David.

This is what you've done. What is happening that's unfair to my son, you are doing to Absalom and it's not right before God. Now remember what David did when Nathan came before David and told him that story? David broke down and he wept. He cried and he grieved. And there was genuine, thorough repentance.

It was a beautiful thing. It's not what David's feeling here. David's not feeling repentant.

He's not feeling broken. He's feeling confused. So what should David do? Well, that takes us to point three and that is David's confusion. Look with me at verses 19-21. The king said, Is the hand of Joab with you in all this? The woman answered and said, As surely as you live, my lord the king, one cannot turn to the right hand or to the left from anything that my lord the king has said. It was your servant Joab who commanded me. It was he who put all these words in the mouth of your servant. In order to change the course of things, your servant Joab did this. But my lord has wisdom like the wisdom of the angel of God to know all things that are on the earth.

Roger Ellsworth explained this better than anybody else I read, so listen carefully here. The story of the woman was completely unlike David's own situation. Her son was guilty of manslaughter while Absalom had committed premeditated murder. Her son was persecuted by members of her family, but this was not the case with Absalom. Her son was the only remaining heir, but Absalom was not. Comparing her supposed situation to David's was then like comparing apples and oranges.

David accepted the faulty logic and treated the two as equal. After the woman dropped her story and spoke openly to the king about his son, there were more holes in her argument. She suggested the nation would be served by bringing Absalom back, but she did not provide any details to back up her suggestion. Just how would Absalom's return advance the nation? The mind gropes in vain an answer for that, but David let it pass.

We shall soon see what Absalom's return really meant for the nation. But the weakest point in her argument was likening the forgiveness of Absalom to God's forgiveness of sinners. She was right in saying God devises means to forgive, but she was wrong to suggest that God forgives in the same way she was asking David to forgive Absalom, namely by subjugating the demands of justice to the demands of love.

She was completely wrong. When God forgives, it is not at the expense of His justice, and it is never apart from our own repentance. And by the way, there is in Scripture not so much as a single shred of evidence that Absalom ever repented of anything. All right, dads and moms, let me put you on the spot. Let's say that your 13-year-old son has been over at Walmart, and he got caught for shoplifting. And what happened was he was in Walmart. He saw a pocket knife, a very expensive one, and he picked it up, he put it in his pocket, and it was taped on the videotape, and a security guard saw him steal it. And so he starts to walk out with it. He gets outside.

The security guard comes up to him. He said, Son, stop. You are shoplifting, and you could be arrested for this. And the boy said, No, I wasn't shoplifting. And he says, Empty your pockets. He empties his pockets, and there's the pocket knife. And the boy says, I don't know how that got in there.

Somebody must have put it in my pocket. And the guy says, Wait a minute now. We've got a videotape. Come here.

I want you to see it. And he took him in, showed him the videotape, and there's the boy putting the pocket knife right into his pocket. And you see that, and the boy started to take off running. And so he stops him, and then they call you. You, as the parent, come to Walmart, and you sit down with the security team, and they tell you what has happened. And then you pay for the knife, and you thank them that they have not sent your son to jail, and you tell them how much you appreciate the fact that they called you so that you could work it out. You and the boy get back in your car, and you're headed off, and he's in the back seat.

You're in the front. You start questioning him about what he did, and he says, I just don't want to talk about it. I just don't want to talk about it. So you quote to your son the eighth commandment, Thou shalt not steal. You share with your son the importance of having a good name and a good reputation before the world and before God. And your son says to you, You're just making a big deal out of nothing.

This is no big deal. And so you begin to tell your son what this is going to cost him. He said, You're going to have to stay at home.

No more video games, no more computer, no more television, no more friends over for a long time. This is your punishment for this. And the son looks at you, and he says to you, You're a sorry parent. You're a sorry parent for making a big deal out of nothing, and I don't appreciate it whatsoever.

Hmm. What would that do to your heart? Should you just capitulate and give in to your son and let it go? That's what David is dealing with here. Absalom has murdered his own brother, and there was no repentance. There's not even regret. There's not even any remorse for what he has done. And Joab said to David, Bring Absalom home. Forget about the punishment. Forget about the discipline on him.

Just bring him home. And David capitulated, and he let Absalom come back home. That takes us to the fourth point, a half-hearted forgiveness, verses 23 through 24. Then the king said to Joab, Behold now, I grant this.

Go bring the young man Absalom. And Joab fell on his face to the ground and paid homage and blessed the king. And Joab said, Today your servant knows that I have found favor in your sight, my lord the king, in that the king has granted the request of his servant. So Joab arose and went to Gesher and brought Absalom to Jerusalem. And the king said, Let him dwell apart in his own house.

He is not to come into my presence. So Absalom lived apart in his own house and did not come into the king's presence. Because what this is on David's part is nothing but a half-hearted forgiveness. David knew that Absalom was not broken over his sin, that he was not repentant. Absalom did not want to confess his sin. He did not want to acknowledge that what he did was wrong.

He wanted the blessing of David without any discipline. David knew in his heart that this was going to be nothing but trouble. So what should Absalom have done?

I believe that long before this time, Absalom should have sent a message to David. And he should have said to David, his daddy, he should have said, Daddy, I sinned against heaven and I sinned against you. What I've done was horribly wrong. I murdered my own brother. I broke the law of God.

I am so sorry. He said, Daddy, I realize that I don't deserve your forgiveness. I don't deserve your love. He said, what I deserve is an eternity in hell. But I've been begging God and I am now begging you to forgive me. Dad, would you forgive me?

Would you have mercy on my soul? If he had done that, what do you think David would have done? I think David would have run to his son. I believe he would have just thrown his arms around him and loved on him. And it would not have been some half-hearted forgiveness. It would have been complete forgiveness. David knew what whole-hearted forgiveness from God was like. He also knew that whole-hearted forgiveness did not come from God until there was brokenness and repentance on his part. Remember what David did immediately after his adultery of Bathsheba and his murder of Uriah the Hittite? He ran from God.

This went on for several months. He didn't want to talk about it. He didn't want to think about it. He wanted to push God away.

He didn't want to have to deal with it whatsoever. And for those several months, David was absolutely miserable. There was no experience of any fellowship with God at all during this time. It was a horrible situation that David was in. And then God sent Nathan. And Nathan the prophet told the story. And David was broken before God.

We read the prayer that David prayed in Psalm 51. And David said this, Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your steadfast love. According to Your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquities. Cast me not away from Your presence and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit. Deliver me from blood guiltiness, O God. Let me ask you something. Does that sound like David was expecting some kind of half-hearted forgiveness and some kind of half-hearted pardon?

No. David wanted full forgiveness. He wanted a full pardon. He wanted nothing breaking his fellowship with God. He wanted that sin washed away completely so that he and God would never break fellowship ever again.

That's what he wanted. God answered David's prayer. God granted him full pardon and granted him a full forgiveness. And folks, David didn't just know it in his mind. He felt it in his heart. He once again experienced that sweet presence of God and that mighty, powerful fellowship with God that he had missed so much.

Let me tell you something. It did not come until there was brokenness and repentance in David's heart. Well, friends, that's what Absalom wants from his daddy. He wants full forgiveness. He wants a full pardon and unhindered access to his dad.

He wants that. But he wants all that with no repentance, with no confession, with no contrition, with no sorrow over his sin. He wants fellowship with his dad again because he wants to be the successor to the throne.

He wants to be the next king of Israel. Folks, here was David's mistake. He gave Absalom an apathetic, half-hearted forgiveness because he knew that Absalom was not right with God and he was not right with him. Felt like he couldn't give him a full forgiveness.

Shouldn't have given him a half-hearted forgiveness. So David brings him back to Jerusalem. But we'll see that David is not going to talk to him.

He's not going to have fellowship with him. And it leaves Absalom in an absolute state of confusion. David knows that justice has not been served, that Absalom is not repentant.

Let me read you very quickly what Richard Phillips said. As the chapter concludes, we can see just how the restoration of Absalom fell short of the biblical requirements. First, this was a restoration without justification. Nothing had changed with respect to the legal status of David's son, just as God must be disgraced if he accepted guilty sinners into his presence. David's justice could not allow Absalom the privilege of the royal palace.

For this reason, Absalom lived two full years in Jerusalem without coming into the king's presence. Though Absalom was permitted to return to Jerusalem, his humiliation for his great sin continued and his enmity toward David only increased. Likewise, when men know themselves under the curse of guilt for their sin, their mind is hostile to God and they do not submit to God's rule. Absalom needed the forgiveness that David had sought in his own prayer of repentance in Psalm 51. David was repentant, Absalom was not. When God forgives, it is not at the expense of his justice and it is never apart from our own repentance. And by the way, there is in Scripture not so much as a single shred of evidence that Absalom ever repented of anything.

Having said all that, then what are we supposed to do? In situations when we've been really done wrong, we are told by Jesus to love our enemies. We are told by Jesus to forgive those who have hurt us. We are told by the Lord that we are not to seek vengeance ourselves. We are not to strike back. We are called to turn the other cheek and go the second mile. Folks, those are the words of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. We can't take that lightly.

But here's the key. Forgiveness does not mean condoning sin. And forgiveness does not mean forgetting justice. David's era was a half-hearted forgiveness. He just lowered his standards. He failed to bring justice and he left his son Absalom in complete confusion.

He should have said to Joab, Absalom does not come home until there's genuine repentance. That's true for kings. It's true for parents. It's true for husbands.

It's true for wives. And let me tell you this, folks. We don't see this principle lived out anywhere better than at the cross of Jesus Christ. Jesus paid it all. All to Him I owe. Sin has left a crimson stain.

He washed it white as snow. Amen? Let's pray. Heavenly Father, what a tough passage of Scripture. In reading 2 Samuel 14, I have become more aware that nothing in this world makes sense without the cross. If it were not for the cross, we would all be Absaloms. Lord, use the cross to make us more loving, more merciful and more understanding, but help us to realize that the cross never hides the need for justice to be accomplished.

It magnifies it. Give us wisdom. Help us to think with our head and our heart, but not one without the other. And as we partake now the Lord's Supper, may we be wowed by the gospel. Praise You, Jesus, for taking our sin and imputing to us Your perfect righteousness. We are undeserving. For it's in Jesus' holy and precious name that we pray. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-24 21:24:46 / 2023-09-24 21:37:34 / 13

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