AND HE WAS LEFT HANGING
with Rev. Rachel
9 AND HE WAS LEFT HANGING 2 Samuel 18
Absalom is one of those names that you hear and sense it to be of weight; even as you wonder if it is mythological, biblical, a character from a Faulkner novel? It’s the kind of name you could say in the forest and the trees would stop their swaying as if to hold their breath.
Absalom is hanging from the tangled branches of an oak tree. He is dangling.
The mule continues its gallop, for even he cannot bear to survey the scene. The voices of commanders and the occasional clanging of swords billow in from a distance. And in a tragic twist of this already tragically twisted tale, there is yet another blow (v.15).
Here hangs the son that David is about to mourn. Here dangles the traitor that David’s most loyal servants are most pleased to have nabbed. Who Absalom is depends on whom you ask. Joab, Abishai and Ittai, would remind us he had it coming. If we could sit alongside of David in that chamber over the gate (v.33) we’d hear only the sounds of sorrow.
I am wondering if there is such a thing as a modern day David and Absalom. Where are the hearts that break no less just because people say that the one lost was in the wrong? [I’m thinking of the grandmother wailing on Cary Street this Wednesday, children pulled to her side, apparently kin to the dead suspect.]
Where are there parents who are reckoning with the reality that their children are far-off? Where are persons entangled? Where fall tears for the entangled?
All around us and come Sunday, we’ll approach Absalom for that reason. Maybe we are only as hospitable to others in our midst as we are to the characters in sacred story. If I cannot stomach 2 Samuel 18, there may be others I am too small- spirited to hold with the courageous compassion of Christ. Can we be imitators of God (Eph. 5:1)—God who is present to this and much worse—if we buck and gallop away as did that mule? No. We cannot.
Friends, be grown in your approachability. As vessels of grace, be increased in your capacity. Come to know the likes of Absalom such that others may come to feel known by you.