I want us to look at a man who was described ‘as a man after God’s own heart’. He served God, loved God and honoured God, and God loved him. Yet the picture we will see, was not of a man celebrating or rejoicing, but one of sadness and loneliness. Because here was a man who had got it wrong as a father. His name was King David.
As David was going up the Mount of Olives, he was weeping as he went; his head was covered and his feet were bare. All the people who were with him also had their heads covered and were weeping as they went up.2 Samuel 15:30
Reading 2 Samuel 15:30, David looks older than his sixty plus years; his shoulders slumped and his head hangs, he struggles to place one foot in front of the other. Look carefully and you will find the cause of David’s tears. He wears no crown, his son Absalom has taken it by force. David has no home, and he flees Jerusalem, the city he captured.
Who wouldn’t weep at a time like this? No throne, no home, Jerusalem behind him and the wilderness ahead of him. What has happened to David’s life? How does a king end up old and lonely on a path leading away from Jerusalem? All we have to do is ask a simple question to David, “David. How are things with your children?”.
Fourteen years have passed since David seduced Bathsheba and thirteen years since Nathan the prophet told David “The sword shall never depart from your house” (2 Samuel 12:10). Nathan’s prophecy had proved painfully true; Amnon, one of David’s sons, fell in lust with his half-sister Tamar and raped her. We read in 2 Samuel 13:20 “She remained desolate in her brother Absalom’s house”. The next verse tells us of David’s response; “When King David heard of all these things, he was angry”.
That’s it? That’s all? You would have expected David to confront Amnon, or to punish him for raping his sister, but David did nothing. No lecture, no penalty, no dressing down. He did nothing. And even worse, he did nothing for Tamar.
The dictionary definition of a father is: “a person regarded as a male parent, protector”. Tamar needed his protection, his affirmation. She needed a father, but what she got was silence.
So, Absalom, her brother filled the gap. He sheltered his sister and plotted against Amnon; got him drunk and had him killed. Incest – deceit – one daughter raped – one son dead – another with blood on his hands. Welcome to happy families – and you thought you were having it tough!
David did not express good leadership with his son, he should have had the courage to confront him, but he didn’t intervene, instead he wept and he wept alone.
As we go further into this story, Absalom interpreted the silence as anger and fled Jerusalem to hide in his grandfather’s house. David made no attempt to see his son. For three years they lived in two separate cities and when Absalom returned to Jerusalem, David still refused to see him (2 Samuel 14:28).
David neglected his son; in fact, he neglected all his children. David is no example of fatherhood, he failed time and time again, abdicating his authority and responsibility, allowing his son Absalom to protect his sister. Having no relationship with Absalom he allowed the seeds of bitterness to destroy lives.
Today we are living in a fatherless generation, where many homes do not have a father figure and even if they do, some fathers do not know what the responsibility of fatherhood means.
If left to themselves children will rebel, so it is necessary for parents to train their children up in the way of the Lord. Over and over the Bible records the sad results of when parents neglect their children, either by being a bad example to them, or failing to discipline them properly.
Be careful what you sow into the lives of your children, because you will reap what you sow. Ephesians 6:4 tells us “Do not provoke your children to anger”. As parents we are told not to misuse our authority by making unreasonable demands upon our children. Instead develop your child’s personality by affirmation, by encouragement and by understanding “…bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord”.
Feed them not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually. You cannot neglect your responsibility as a father, nor can you delegate it to someone else. Failure to sow into their lives now will cause many problems in years to come. Just as we asked David, I now ask you the same question “how are things with your children?”.
God on this Father’s Day, make us good fathers!
If you enjoyed these thoughts, Billy highly recommend the book ‘Facing Your Giants’ by Max Lucado where some of these notes have been taken from.