A Broken-Hearted Father
So I’m an “80s kid” — I graduated from high school in 1991.
I’m also a nerd — not that that is a big surprise to anyone reading this blog!
I also process many of the stories and ideas that I encounter via other stories that I know and love. Those three things came together in a scary way last night.
You see, we were talking about King David of Israel, the infamous “man after God’s own heart,” and how such a flawed person could receive such a noble description. We considered his unstinting loyalty to his God — how no matter the terrible situation (even the illness and death of he and Bathsheba’s first child), he never seeks aid or comfort from “the gods of the nations.” He talked about his depth, and how his contributions to the Psalter amaze us with his passion and his contemplation of the wonders of his God.
And then we turned to 2 Samuel 18 and talked about David’s love, and I got overwhelmed and started CRYING! It all came at once, because of how I often process stories through other meaningful-to-me stories.
Being an 80s nerd who lives on stories, especially movies, you might imagine that Dead Poets Society is one of my heart’s favorite stories, and you would be correct. A scene from DPS and a scene from the life of David came crashing together. I can’t find a Youtube clip of the actual scene, but it doesn’t matter, because what blew me away was my memory of a voice (captured in the link below).
The voice of a heart-broken father discovering that he has lost his beloved son.
That perfectly-rendered agony from the deepest part of the soul was what I heard in my head and my heart as I read:
The Cushite arrived and said, “My lord the king, hear the good news! The Lord has vindicated you today by delivering you from the hand of all who rose up against you.”
The king asked the Cushite, “Is the young man Absalom safe?”
The Cushite replied, “May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up to harm you be like that young man.”
The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!”
More profound, though, is the recognition that what makes David a man after God’s own heart is his undying, unchanging love. All the awful things Absalom did to his father did not change the fact that David would have, in a heartbeat, died in his son’s place.
This is the love of the one true God, the God who suffered death to take the place of his children whose sin had wrought death for themselves. When we suffer because of sin, He suffers alongside us. He cries out, “Oh [your name here]! Oh my child! Oh no no!”
This is the heart of David, and it is the heart of the God who pursues you relentlessly (but not irresistibly), to bless you and rescue you and grant you life, life, and more life!