April 25 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“…the king has not brought back his banished son…But that is not what God desires; rather, he devises ways so that a banished person does not remain banished from him.” ~2 Samuel 14:13-14

Once again, we witness the shortcomings of David, the ideal king. David’s son, Amnon, falls in love with his half-sister Tamar. (She is the sister of Absalom, eldest son and heir to the throne.) Sickened by lust, Amnon follows the advice of a crafty court official and does the unthinkable, deflowering young Tamar and sending her away in shame.

While this is very sad, and very wrong, the focus of the story is on David’s response to the situation and its aftermath. Our hero terribly mismanages the whole episode. It is a complex matter; two sons are involved (along with their mothers), and then there is Tamar. His first mistake is failing to react to the injustice done to her. Cleary, David was angry about it, but he does nothing (2 Sam. 13:21). Perhaps the whole situation is such a mess that he feels it’s easier to let it go. But David has a responsibility as a father and a king, and he fails on both fronts. His passivity sows seeds of revenge and rebellion in the heart of Tamar’s brother, Absalom.

Those seeds yield a bitter harvest. Absalom conspires against his brother Amnon and has him killed in cold blood at a royal party. Over the next several years, David fails again and again to extend grace and forgiveness to Absalom. He makes gestures, but they’re often half-hearted or too little too late. David’s inaction, followed by years of stops and starts in rebuilding his relationship with his son, has repercussions far into the future.

In fact, the most apparent of the many lessons in this sordid tale is that our actions (or inactions) have consequences that stretch beyond the moment. Obviously, we cannot prevent bad things from happening, nor should we be blamed for the misdeeds of others. But we do have a responsibility to respond justly, mercifully, and wisely when bad things happen under our watch. For example, parents who do not address the sins of their children with tough love are only asking for more trouble. Wrongs must be addressed justly. At the same time, parents who are too harsh in dealing with the sins of their children are also asking for more trouble.

There is no easy answer to difficulties like the one presented to David. What is clear is that his lack of response failed as a tactic for coping with the situation, and the consequences of his failure dogged him for the rest of his life. The next time something bad happens under your watch, be sure you take it seriously. You aren’t responsible for another person’s sins (even within your own family), but you are responsible for how you respond! May God help us act justly, mercifully, and wisely.

Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.