King David was “a man after God’s own heart”. 1 Samuel 13:14
In 2 Samuel 18 we see a glimpse into that heart.
David’s reign as king was clearly of God–God chose him out of obscurity, gave him his kingship, gave him success against his enemies and affirmed his leadership.
David loved his son Absalom. When Absalom led the rebellion against David to take his throne, David had a difficult conflict: God wanted him to reign, but he wanted no harm to come to Absalom.
David had to take action for the sake of the kingdom and to follow God’s will.
Yet despite Absalom’s treasonous plans against David, David loved his son and wanted good things for him. It would have been easy (and just) if he would have ordered Absalom to be killed–but instead he ordered his military officers to “deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom”. 2 Samuel 18:5
In this story, sadly David was not able to protect his son from the consequences of his sin: David’s officer killed Absalom against David’s direct orders. 2 Samuel 18:14
When David learned of Absalom’s death David was very sad, and said “Would I have died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!” 2 Samuel 18:33
So what is God’s heart like? God must reign, for the good of his creation. We his children sinned because he wanted to be like God (i.e. take God’s place on his throne). Genesis 3:5
Yet despite our treasonous plans against God, God loved His children and wanted good things for them. It would have been easy (and just) if He would have ordered them to be killed–but instead he acted in accord with His heart: He actually did die instead of His children.
Like David, God was able to quell the rebellion and remain in control for the good of his kingdom. Unlike David, God was able to do what David was unable to do: He saved His beloved children by sacrificing His own life.
Love in spite of treacherous rebellion, self-sacrifice to preserve relationship with wayward children, faithful leadership for the good of subjects despite adversity: this is the heart of God.
Written by David Rueter August 14, 2006