August 9, 2009
Drugs almost killed the young father of the 10-year-old girl, but he escaped from that lifestyle; and by the time his daughter was in high school, he was completely free-or so he thought. He recognized the signs and tried to stop her; but when his daughter was a sophomore, filled with beautiful potential, an overdose took her life. He felt the tortuous grief of losing a child, the helpless frustration of watching the habit that led to her death and heavy pain of regret for the example he set for her. He had been freed from drugs, but she had been enslaved. Why didn’t he die instead of her? Why was he forgiven and given life when hers was taken?
Grief is always complicated; so is sin. When you add sin to grief, the sorrows are multiplied. We can’t begin to explain them; at best we struggle to describe them. The colliding of grief and sin is the essence of our story. Chapter 18 has the harshest elements of the story, which begins in chapter 15 and is brought to conclusion in 19. A literary device used to tie this twisting plot together is the city gate, which was often the place where judgments or rulings were issued in ancient Israel. It was a place and symbol of justice. The image of the king sitting “in the gate” gave a sense of security that the king was fulfilling his role and the nation was being led.
I. Beside the Gate
Absalom started his treasonous rebellion against his father by usurping the king’s role of judge. The story begins with Absalom “standing beside the way to the gate” (
The events leading up to Absalom’s death and those that follow are a twisted series of events and numerous characters. Eventually David, who is both the king and the traitor’s father, hears of the death of his son. There is a collision of grief, frustration and regret.
II. Over the Gate
God makes sure we know the place where David goes to mourn. As this collision of emotions overtakes him, he retreats to a room “over the gate”(
In a broader view of biblical truth, sin always demands the justice of death. It doesn’t take much for us to hear the gospel message that Jesus did, in fact, die instead of us. Though David doesn’t stay in the room over the gate, he does stay in that paralyzed place of grief, regret and frustration.
III. In the Gate
Joab, once again takes action as he confronts David with the responsibility of leading the nation at such a vulnerable time. If David doesn’t act to unify the nation, things will become even worse for him and for the nation. The text says, “So the king arose and sat in the gate” (
This could speak to us of David’s great strength and leadership, but David is not the real hero. Is it Joab? He certainly plays a major role, but it is David who is king. Who then? It is the One who put David in power and promised to keep him there.
Even when life brings catastrophic events that paralyze our emotions, God will still keep His promises, and God will still rule. Our God will always be “in the gate” so we can somehow move on with life.