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Absolom, Absolom (2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33)

David Sprawls

This message, I do not consider it a sermon, is not cohesive and, after you hear it, you may think it’s not even cogent.  I will, however, try to keep it mercifully brief.

Absalom’s rebellion against King David has traditionally been viewed as a metaphor for man’s rebellion against God.  I knew that before I consulted a professional, but consult a professional I did.  And I got the following exegesis of the passage from a friend, Father Nick Rice, which is brief and better than I could do.  Nick didn’t know I chose the passage rather than having it chosen for me.

> Hi, David!, Why didn't they pick a difficult passage to preach on! this whole section is about rebellion and is a forerunner of Christ's crucifixion. As you know, the Bible records many rebellions. Many were against God's .chosen leaders, but they were doomed to failure.Others were begun by wicked men against wicked men. While these were sometimes successful, the rebel's life usually came to a violent end. Still other rebellions were made by good people against the wicked or unjust actions of others. This kind of rebellion is sometimes good in freeing the common people from oppression and giving them the freedom to turn back to God.  So we read about all these movements in history to compare them to the movements going on in our time and are invited again to decide where we stand. All of this is reflected in our individual lives and in the choices we make,     So the purposes of this book in the Bible is 1) to record the history of King David's reign, 2) to demonstrate effective leadership under God, 3) to reveal that one person can make a difference, 4) to show the personal qualities that please God, 5) to depict David as an ideal leader of an imperfect kingdom, and to foreshadow Christ, who will be the ideal leader of a new and perfect kingdom.   Our challenge is to believe that God still moves in human history thru imperfect leaders - and imperfect people like each of us. This belief will inevitably move history more than any form  of wickedness, whether corporate/ national/ or individual.  Best wishes this Sunday!   Nick

Thank you, Fr. Nick.

And now, for something completely different, here’s my non professional exegesis.

I was a history major.  I mainly studied ancient history.  I was fascinated by the detective work of taking the things which were known and inferring and extrapolating the things we could conclude about people, events and developments so long ago.  But even more than that, ancient history tells us the riveting story of the long, painfully slow and uncertain progress of civilization.  It has been a struggle for humanity to climb from the sewer, to the gutter to, occasionally, standing on the sidewalk.   Absalom’s story is a good example of the intrigues seen in ancient history.  Does anyone know the backstory that lead to the falling out between King David and his son he wanted dealt with “gently” even as he rebelled?  It involves incest, rape and murder.  Absalom was the murderer, not the rapist.  And the person he murdered, another son of David, was the rapist, whom he murdered to revenge the rape.  Where was King David all this time?

Uneasy rests the head that wears the crown, and that certainly applies to King David.  But he wasn’t alone.  Alexander the Great ascended to his throne at the age of 17 when his father, Philip of Macedon, died unexpectedly and under questionable circumstances.  Alexander and his mother have long been suspected of murdering him.  Then there was the story of the Queen who would not eat anything her mother in law did not eat for fear of being poisoned by her.  The Queen mother got rid of her daughter in law by poisoning one side of the knife she used to cut their food with.

What drives all this ambition, fear and intrigue?  Why is it that people are so scheming?  Why are we so afraid and what are we afraid of?  I suggest we consider this in the context of humanity rebelling against God.  It’s about the way we view the world.

We should see it as characterized by the abundance with which God has blessed us.

But we function as if it is characterized by pervasive scarcity.

The “reality” by which we live and which governs our lives is the belief in scarcity.  It is the cornerstone of all economic systems.  It is the specter which haunts our psyches and the nightmare which crowds our dreams.     The opposite of scarcity is abundance.  Even while cowering under our fear of scarcity, we recognize the abundance all around us in creation.  God has created a world in which everything truly needed, including plenty of work to do, is present and available in abundance.

The true, essential nature of God’s creation, including us, is abundance.  Theologically, we are all about abundance.  But functionally, we are all about scarcity.

In the context of God’s creation, scarcity is an illusion.  Where does the illusion of scarcity originate?  Scarcity was created and is created every time we say “mine.”  Every time we assert the right to claim what God has made as our own and exclude others from its enjoyment, we perpetuate the illusion of scarcity.  

We live in the Garden of Eden.  God has not exiled us from it, we have exiled ourselves.

Rejecting God’s grace, including the abundance with which God has blessed us, and embracing illusions is rebellion.