Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Shakespeare once said, How like a serpent's tooth is a thankless child. When your kids turn against you, the pain can be unbearable.
King David's moral authority over his sons eroded in his later years, and he knew this pain well. Today we take a look at a son in conflict. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. We're in a 10-part series on growing through conflict.
Let's turn in our Bibles to 2 Samuel chapter 13. Pastor Lutzer, I'm sure many listeners have conflicts with their children. Dave, as you indicated, this is one of the most painful experiences parents can have. A son or a daughter who not only runs away from them and from God but turns against them, and actually he or she desires to destroy their parents. Absalom wanted to kill his father. It's a story that is very sad.
It's also part of David's sin because, as you mentioned, he lost his moral authority after the experience that he had with Bathsheba and all of the fallout. But in the midst of this, even here we have to see God's grace. And to all the parents out there, you have a prodigal son.
Just know this, oftentimes they come home, most of the time they come home, sometimes they don't. But even there, you still must cleave to God, even as David did. We're so thankful for the many who support the ministry of running to win. And I believe that you are blessed as a result of the exposition of God's Word. Would you consider becoming an endurance partner? That's someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts.
Of course, you need more info. You go to RTWOffer.com. That's RTWOffer.com.
And when you're there, you click on the endurance partner button, or you call us at 1-888-218-9337. Just as God promised, the name David is famous. When we think of David, we think of him as a warrior. Everyone knows the story of David and Goliath. We think of David as a great poet for 3,000 years. People have been blessed by reading the Psalms that he wrote. We also think of David as a great king. Even today, Jerusalem is known as the city of David. But one of the things that we do not associate with David, one of the things that does not come to mind, is that he was a good husband and a good father. Because as we read the Bible, it seems very clear that even though David was a wonderful administrator and king and warrior and poet, he was not a good dad and a good husband.
He was able to rule his kingdom, but he was not able to rule his family. My message today has contained within it words of warning. But if you stay till the end, as I hope you will, there will also be some words of great hope. For we can never preach words of warning without words of hope. What we shall see in the first part of this message is how David's sin of murder and adultery so paralyzed him morally that he lost his ability to rule his family.
And as a result of that, everything begins to disintegrate. If you have your Bibles open to Second Samuel, Second Samuel chapter 11, you recall, that's where David committed adultery and murder. Chapter 12 is where he was confronted by Nathan the prophet. And after being confronted, he admitted his sin and was forgiven. Beginning in chapter 13, what you find is if you could graph this book, up until now, David is having one victory after another.
Everything is going his way. He's 47 years old, kingdoms are being conquered, territory seems to be falling into his hands. But beginning in chapter 13, everything begins to come unraveled. You remember Nathan the prophet said, David, because of what you did, the sword shall never depart from your house. And today we're going to be talking about three swords that pierced David's heart. Nathan the prophet said, you committed this sin secretly. Indeed, someone whom you know shall commit the same sin publicly and openly. And that's the sordid story that is before us today. Sin, though it is forgiven, has its consequences.
These are referred to sometimes by theologians as governmental consequences, the natural consequences built in to disobedience. And one of them is that David was unable to take charge in his family. Chapter 13, what we see is this.
David became angry without action, angry without action. It's a sordid story, chapter 13 is. It's a story of Absalom and his sister Tamar, both of whom were very beautiful, striking in their appearance. And Absalom and Tamar were of one of David's wives, Abba.
And they, of course, got along well together. But there was another son that David had from another one of his wives, and that was Amnon, and Amnon lusted after Tamar. So you know what happens in this story, and by the way, sometimes the Bible has some of these very unseemly stories, but never to entice us. This is not Hollywood on screen by any means. This is given to warn us and to show us the consequences of people's disobedience. But what happened is Amnon wanted to have a relationship, a sexual relationship with Tamar, and so he pretends that he is sick, and when she comes in to bring him some food, he rapes her.
Now just think of what's happening. It is not only rape, terrible though that is, it is also incest. And notice what the text says when it's over, verse 15, Amnon hated her with a very great hatred, for the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her.
Isn't that a sad commentary on illicit sexual experiences? I thought that he loved her. The chapter opens by saying, now he loved Tamar. Oh yeah, he did.
He rapes her, and now he hates her, and he throws her out of the room, and she is left alone to deal with her own shame and her own guilt and her own sense of humiliation as best she can. Terrible story. David hears about this, and you'll notice it says in verse 21, now when King David heard all these matters, he was very angry. Well good for you, David. Do something.
Discipline this kid. But he doesn't. Maybe because if he said, Amnon, you know what you did was wrong, he'd say, ha ha ha, who are you to talk?
Remember what you did. David doesn't do anything, so the story gets worse. Absalom is angry that his sister has been so cruelly, mercilessly, shamelessly violated. So what he does is he gets Amnon drunk and invites him to a sheep shearing party and has him killed.
How do you like that? Going on under your nose within your family. And what does David do in verse 31?
It says the king arose, tore his clothes, lay on the ground, and all of his servants were standing by with clothes torn. This is terrible. Well, of course it's terrible. Do something, David. David does nothing.
David does nothing. By the way, you see, it was because David did nothing to Amnon that Absalom thought that he had to act, and so he multiplies the difficulty by committing murder. And Absalom flees.
He knows that he isn't welcomed anymore, and his dad doesn't quite know what to do with him. It says in verse 34, Absalom fled. Verse 37, Absalom fled. Verse 38, Absalom fled.
And he goes to Geshur, and he stays there for three long years. I want to say, David, I mean, you're not just a king, you're not just a poet, but be a father. Step in.
Do something. But he was passive. Some of you grew up with passive fathers, didn't you? You know, sometimes when we do counseling, we say to someone, would you please describe your father in a phrase or in a word? Very important.
Why? Because the father has awesome power over his family. There are people who are listening to this message today who are still responding to the actions of a father, either because of abuse or because of neglect or because of his passivity. He wouldn't be involved, and your whole life has been affected by it.
It has to be. If he abandoned you, you're going to be acting out all kinds of insecurities, all because of the impact that your dad had. But on the other hand, many of you had good fathers, and you are emotionally whole today, and you have good relationships, all because of your dad.
All has to do with the dad here. David is angry, but he doesn't act. Because, you see, he had lost his moral authority. He had lost his moral authority. The sin was forgiven, but the consequences were there.
Well, let's continue on, and what do we discover here? We notice that in the next chapter, David had reconciliation without forgiveness, reconciliation without forgiveness. You know, he loved Absalom, another one of David's faults, by the way, favoritism. He loved Absalom. He wanted to have him back in Jerusalem, but he knew that he didn't think it was politically good to do, because news of what happened had spread.
Everybody knew what Absalom had done. So Joab, one of David's men, in fact, the head of his military contingent, gives him an idea as to how Absalom can be brought back, and actually tells a woman to tell David a story. I will not tell you that. We are covering today seven or eight chapters in the Bible, and therefore we're going very, very quickly. I'm giving you the highlights in your own reading.
Pick up all of the details. So anyway, David is convinced that he can bring Absalom back, but he's still not sure. He's still not sure, so what he does is he has Absalom brought back, but he won't see him.
He keeps him in house arrest. It says in chapter 14, verse 24, however, the king said, let him turn to his own house and let him not see my face. So Absalom turned to his own house and did not see the king's face.
He didn't get a chance to see his dad. Absalom's naughty. Absalom's naughty. So he figures, you know, I can't get attention. You know, he calls to Joab and says, Joab, I want to speak to you. And Joab says, ah, I've heard about you before.
I'm not coming there. So you know what he does? He gets some of his servants to commit a crime of arson. They set some of the things on fire that belong to Joab.
They take some of his crops and they burn it. That got Joab's attention. Suddenly Joab said, I'm here.
I'm here. And he says, Absalom says, I want to go back to my dad. So what does David do?
He relents and says, okay, if the boy wants to come back, let him come back already. Verse 33, so Joab came to the king and told him and he called for Absalom. Thus he came to the king and prostrated himself on his face to the ground before the king and the king kissed Absalom, in effect saying, you're in my good graces again. And we want to shout at David.
We'd like to shake the guy and say, how in the world can you do this? You can't welcome a rebellious child back like this and pretend that nothing happened. The guy murdered one of your other sons, David. David, until Absalom is willing to deal with his sin, until he's willing to confess it and forsake it and admit something, you just can't embrace him and welcome him back into the family because forgiveness always precedes genuine reconciliation.
It's not the kind of thing that you can just paper over. There may be a man who commits adultery. He's found out. He goes back to his wife.
She may have found out. And he thinks that everything can just continue in their relationship as it has been, as if nothing happened. Well, what are you making such a big deal about this, he thinks. There can be no reconciliation without forgiveness, without taking care of the sin. Oh, he says, but I'm sorry. Well, yeah, thank you.
Thank you for that much. But beneath all that, there's a whole lifestyle that needs to be dealt with in the presence of God. You just can't take these matters and not deal with the issue that caused them. Let's consider some of the lesser matters of reconciliation within homes. Whenever I lost my temper and disciplined my children unfairly, and I've done that, now that they're a little older, I can confess to that.
And if you have any doubts, you could corner them and they probably would keep you there for quite a while. It wasn't enough for me to simply pretend that everything was okay after my anger cooled. I had to go to them, humble myself, specifically say, I sinned, I did wrong.
And even that wasn't enough. I had to say, will you forgive me? And after it's dealt with, then we can really be reconciled.
You see, if all these people who think that there can be reconciliation, if you just pretend or you hope that they will forget, so you have fathers who have abused their children who years later will not deal with the issue, they will not ask forgiveness, and they think, well, you know, it was so many years ago that the child probably doesn't remember. There's a word that came to mind that I was going to use, and you should be thankful that I quickly screened it. Nonsense.
It wasn't that word, it was another. Nonsense is going to have to do, though, for the purposes of the pulpit. Of course they haven't forgotten.
And of course you can't pretend that everything is okay when it's not okay. And that was David's problem. Now, you know what's going to happen to Absalom? He never asked for forgiveness, never received it, the sin was not dealt with. He is going to use this sin of murder, and he got by with murder, and he's going to use that as a launching pad for something a lot worse. If only David had confronted him the way Nathan had confronted David and said, Absalom, you have greatly sinned, and until you take care of this and we somehow deal with the issue, then we can be reconciled as father and son. But again, David here is, he's unable to act. He's unable to act, because I can imagine Absalom saying, well, you know, murder, yeah, it's serious, but dad, you did that with Uriah.
Sexual sin, yeah, that's serious, but remember what happened with Bathsheba, and the father has nothing to say. Let's show how this works out again. Anger without action, reconciliation without forgiveness, sentimentality, sentimentality without strength. And now I'm going to summarize several chapters.
Here's what happens. Absalom's back in Jerusalem, he's in the good graces of his father, so he stands beside the gate, which is where all the judges stood, and he begins to have people come to him to deal with some of the judicial aspects of the kingdom, and he begins to say to them, oh, you know, if only I were king, you wouldn't have these problems. And he begins to talk about the promises that he makes to them about the fact that, you know, my dad's kingdom is coming unraveled and he's too busy with other things, and he hasn't really been the king that he used to be, and so it says in chapter 15, verse 6, 2 Samuel, and in this manner Absalom dealt with all Israel, whoever came to the king for judgment, so Absalom stole away the hearts of the men of Israel, and he built up opposition to his father, David. He stole the hearts of the people through deceit. He was incredibly good looking. The Bible says that he was handsome. I read a verse in chapter 14 that says now in all Israel there was no one as handsome as Absalom, so highly praised from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.
There was no defect in him. He oozed charisma, and so people began to say, you know, wouldn't it be wonderful if Absalom were our leader? One day after he thought that his power was solidified, he blew the trumpet and he said, I'm having civil war now, and I'm chasing my dad out of Jerusalem, and I'm going to grasp the kingdom, and I'm going to be king. What follows is one of the most humiliating experiences for David, but also in a sense his finest hour, and he goes through the Kidron Valley, and he begins to go up the ascent of the Mount of Olives. His friends want to bring the Ark of God with him.
In an earlier message we talked about that Ark of God, and notice what he says in verse 25, and the king said to Zadok, return the Ark of God to the city. If I find favor in the sight of the Lord, then he will bring me back again, and show me both it and his habitation. But if he should say thus, I have no delight in you.
Behold, here I am. Let him do to me as seems good to him, that is to God. Let God do as he wills. If he brings me back to Jerusalem, that's fine.
But if he doesn't bring me back whatever God wants, if I'm to die at the hands of my own son, let God's will be done. A high point in David's life and experience. Do you see here a crushed man, a crushed man? A man who finally had given himself wholly and totally to God. My friend, this is Pastor Lutzer.
I want to have a personal word with you. I know that listening today are many parents, and you have wayward children, children who have turned their back on you, children who have turned their back on God, and you wonder where you are at. God sees your despair. David was so filled with despair, he said, God, if you want to take my life at the hand of my son, do whatever you will.
Of course, David's life was spared, and eventually he came back. But I want you to be encouraged to know that oftentimes God brings those prodigal sons back home. Can we just pray together for a moment and ask God to put his hand on those sons and daughters? Father, I thank you for the many people listening today, and I ask, O Lord, that you will birth faith in their hearts, and they will not allow Satan to have their children. May they stand in in faith and prayer that their children shall be brought home.
In Jesus' name, amen. I hold in my hands a letter from a Christian counselor who actually says this, I learn every day from Pastor Lutzer. And she goes on to say, if Satan can destroy the family, he has a foothold on the rest of our community. And that's, of course, exactly what happened in the life of David. And then she says, I work with narcissism daily, and Pastor Lutzer preaches on it like no one else. Well, it's because I have preached on narcissism, which of course is increasing in our world today. She goes on to say, it's the truth that will set us free, and indeed it is. It is the truth about Jesus Christ, it is the truth about repentance, and Running to Win exists to preach those truths around the world.
We're so thankful that Running to Win is in Arabic, all throughout the Middle East, it's in other languages as well. Would you consider becoming an endurance partner, someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts? Here's what you do, go to RTWOffer.com. When you're there, click on the endurance partner button, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. I want you to know that your prayers, your gifts are making a difference through this ministry. Go to RTWOffer.com, and of course, as you know, RTW offers all one word.
When you're there, click on the endurance partner button, or you can pick up the phone right now and call 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois, 614. Erwin Lutzer, with part one of A Son in Conflict, the ninth message in his series Growing Through Conflict, a study in the life of King David. Next time, more about David's loss of moral authority. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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