The Error of Absalom
Robert Wurtz II
After this it happened that Absalom provided himself with chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him. Now Absalom would rise early and stand beside the way to the gate. So it was, whenever anyone who had a lawsuit came to the king for a decision, that Absalom would call to him and say, “What city are you from?” And he would say, “Your servant is from such and such a tribe of Israel.” Then Absalom would say to him, “Look, your case is good and right; but there is no deputy of the king to hear you.” Moreover Absalom would say, “Oh, that I were made judge in the land, and everyone who has any suit or cause would come to me; then I would give him justice.” And so it was, whenever anyone came near to bow down to him, that he would put out his hand and take him and kiss him. In this manner Absalom acted toward all Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel. (2 Samuel 15:1–6 NKJV)
There are few things quite so evil as to seek political office under the guise of correcting a manufactured injustice. It’s the oldest political trick in the book: point out all the problems with leaders while kissing the hands of the people to gain their support. This was the error of Absalom, and many have fallen into its deadly trap. Couple that with what one writer called, “His charming manners, personal beauty, and insinuating ways, together with his love of pomp and royal pretensions” and Absalom captivated the hearts of the people. No matter how evil he was he could do no wrong in their eyes.
In modern times, we could think of him as living in style and driving a hot-rod chariot with fifty men running before him. He fancied the royalty of kings and recklessly took every measure he could to achieve it. His charm produced many of what are sometimes called “ride or die” followers. This means they would follow him no matter what… even to their own destruction.
Absalom loved to charm the people. He told them whatever they wanted to hear. He puffed them up with flattery and pretended to be their friend. All the while, his mind was fixed on his father’s position. Notice what he said to the people, “Oh, that I were made judge in the land, and everyone who has any suit or cause would come to me; then I would give him justice.” What was he saying? The current administration is not doing their job! He was pointing out his father’s failures. This is absolute proof that he hated his father. For had he loved him — he would have tried to protect his father and not expose him. He would have tried to help him rather than jockey for his job.
Some Absalom’s of the world will offer help, but only on their own terms and only if you do what they want done. This is all part of the scam. Everything Absalom was doing was designed to get him one step closer to the throne. I can almost hear him saying, “I tried to help him… but he wouldn’t accept my help!” Of course not. Although the common folks may be deceived, men in positions of authority are not so stupid as to be duped by the Absalom’s of the world. They know these ambitionists are gunning for their job. Moreover, Absalom feigned love for the people, so he could gain their support. He had nearly everyone fooled.
“Then someone told David, saying, “Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.” And David said, “O LORD, I pray, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness!” (2 Samuel 15:31 NKJV)
We need to ask, why did Absalom not try to help his father?” Why did he stand outside the office and fill the ears of the people who were going to see his father with all kinds of poison? He told them, in effect, “Change is coming! Change is coming! When I become king… change will take place!” These were not prophetic words, they were political words. The kind that flow from the mouth during a stump speech.
Absalom did everything in his power to make things difficult for his father, and all under the pretense that his father “was not doing his job.” He was often the cause of the very thing he blamed his father for. He even got many elders in Israel to go along with him. Men like the great Ahithophel, David’s counselor fell for Absalom. Sadly, the Ahithophel’s of the world don’t realize that they are being used too. As soon as someone else comes along that can help them achieve their political ambitions… the Ahithophel’s, charmed into believing they were best friends with Absalom, are put to the curb.
In fact, when Absalom refused to hear Ahithophel’s counsel and took a new friend Hushai (actually a friend of David’s who came as a spy), he set his house in order and went and hanged himself. For this reason, his betrayal of David and subsequent suicide are sometimes seen as a type of Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus. Just as Judas was overcome with grief realizing he was a pawn of the Religious Leaders — Ahithophel knew the game was over and rather than face the disgrace of following a userper he committed suicide. The moral of the story? Don’t be a Ahithophel. Don’t allow an Absalom to use your wisdom and influence to achieve his ambitions. You will be discarded like a disposable lighter.
“And the conspiracy grew strong, for the people with Absalom continually increased in number.” (2 Samuel 15:12 NKJV)
Absalom used what he perceived to be an injustice with his sister Tamar as a pretext for mounting a vicious campaign against his own father King David. David did not handle the situation the way Absalom thought he should, so he went into rebellion. This is often how political ambitions are pushed forward. “You didn’t handle ___ right” so I have justification for my obstructive and destructive ways. Only a reprobate would believe killing your father was justified because he did not kill his own son (Amnon). Absalom took it in his own hands and killed Amnon. Was that not enough? Of course not. Because it was never about revenge or “You didn’t handle ___ right.” If was about Absalom’s ruthess ambition. Amnon was not the problem… he killed him! Can’t blame him anymore. Was that not an eye for an eye? Sure it was. But politicians are not about revenge… that is merely the carnage they leave along the roadside on their primrose path to greatness.
In fact, Absalom resorted to savage and unconscionable acts in his quest for the throne. He even set Joab’s field on fire to get his attention. The Absalom’s of the world “start fires” to opportunistically draw attention to themselves. In his shameless-wretchedness, Absalom set up a tent in the sight of all of Israel and went into his father’s concubines — an act that could be labeled as incest. He was more evil than his half-brother Amnon that he killed. He was more shameless and even committed the acts with a high hand. What was he saying? Amnon had better watch himself, but I’ll commit even greater evil and make everyone like it. This is not just fleshly… it is diabolical.
Absalom wanted his own father killed and sent several thousand men to do the job. The man would kill his own dad if that’s what it took to get the position he coveted. That is ultra sobering. Many other things can be said. Nevertheless, this is the ruthless character of a person who is bent on exalting themselves in leadership when God has not ordered it. I can almost hear those dreadful words from the heart of Satan “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” (Isaiah 14:13–14 KJV) As with Satan, so with Absalom, “Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.” (Isaiah 14:15 KJV)
On a practical level, we must understand that it is impossible to build a spiritual kingdom by the arm of the flesh. You can’t politic your way into God’s will. However, this has not stopped many men from attempting it. Rather than allowing God to “exalt them in due time” they take matters into their own hands and end up completely destroying any hope of becoming what might have been. Pride has led many to frustrate the purposes of God. Before it was over, Absalom had divided the people against David to the point that the whole nation was nearly in a civil war. Why? Because of the political ambitions of a man who pretended to be offended by the ways things had been going in the kingdom. He was the self-appointed savior. In his own words, “Oh, that I were made judge in the land, and everyone who has any suit or cause would come to me; then I would give him justice.”
Heaven protect us from ambitious men.