I have a bit of a problem with the movie-star mentality that the church often has with popular preachers and teachers. Driving around in a big city, seeing their faces splashed up on bulletin boards advertising this or that upcoming event just somehow makes me feel…I dunno…like closing my eyes and letting out a big sigh.
Not that I don’t have my faves, people from whom I get some of the benefit of their personal relationship with our common Father and Savior. But the operative word there is “common”, meaning I have the same access with the same responsibility to hear from God myself, as opposed to settling for allowing all my understanding to derive from their hard work. That’s just mental and spiritual laziness.
It’s also dangerous.
King David’s son, Absalom, experienced that first hand. Things had progressed so far in his family that a civil war was brewing. Absalom was now in complete defiance to his father, and even one of David’s former counselors had defected to the opposing side.
“Absalom followed Ahithophel’s advice, just as David had done. For every word Ahithophel spoke seemed as wise as though it had come directly from the mouth of God.”
This traitorous advisor had told the usurping son to have sex with some of his dad’s harem—in pubic. Now, regardless of the whole multiple wives thing, and plenty can be said on that score, the main thing here is an advisor not only condoning, but encouraging something devotedly against the Hebrew Law—adultery. And Absalom thought this was from God?
Absalom clearly did not have a working practical knowledge of the Law for himself, nor did he pay attention to his history lessons. His decision-making apparatus was clouded by the culture of the day, nurtured by his own pride and rebellion, causing his trust to be grossly misplaced. Seeking God for himself? Nah.
Eventually, this spiritual distain caught up with him in defeat when David’s men won the ensuing battle and found Absalom himself just “hanging around”.
During the battle, Absalom happened to come upon some of David’s men. He tried to escape on his mule, but as he rode beneath the thick branches of a great tree, his hair got caught in the tree. His mule kept going and left him dangling in the air. One of David’s men saw what had happened and told Joab, “I saw Absalom dangling from a great tree.”
Joab, David’s #2 man, then has a terse conversation as to why they didn’t kill the man while they had the chance, to which the soldier replies that he had more sense than to off the king’s son, traitor or not.
“Enough of this nonsense,” Joab said. Then he took three daggers and plunged them into Absalom’s heart as he dangled, still alive, in the great tree.
Take home lesson: Having the blessing of many counselors/teachers does not absolve me from learning to hear from God myself, studying His source document that He spent lots of time (and much blood) to provide, and spending time on my knees. Recognizing truth and the character of God is not only the privilege of the King’s child, (something that probably would have been available to Absalom if he had taken the time), but a responsibility.
Without that, pride and rebellion will always leave us tangled up and dangling in the wind.
2 Samuel 16:23; 2 Samuel 18:9-10,14 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.