Read – 2 Samuel 15
Focus on verse 4-6
In today’s political context I suspect it would be somewhat of an anomaly to find a truly honorable politician, though I believe such creatures do exist. The reason it is nearly impossible to find a person in politics who has not been smeared by swamp mud, is not so much because no honorable politicians exist, but rather that there is so much mud slinging going on by both sides of every issue, it is unlikely that one can emerge from the fray without being spattered.
In today’s reading Absalom begins to lay the foundation for attempt to take over the throne from his father David by force. He was apparently a good schmoozer when it came to winning people over to support his cause.
And Absalom would add, “If only I were appointed judge in the land! Then everyone who has a complaint or case could come to me and I would see that he gets justice.” Also, whenever anyone approached him to bow down before him, Absalom would reach out his hand, take hold of him and kiss him. Absalom behaved in this way toward all the Israelites who came to the king asking for justice, and so he stole the hearts of the men of Israel. (v. 4-6)
It would seem that Absalom inherited some of his father’s ability to use smooth political talk to win people over. What Absalom did not inherit was David’s sense of honor. The ability to use the power of persuasion to win the favor of people is not intrinsically evil. What determines whether it is either dishonorable or honorable is always the motives of the person who wields it. A few chapters prior to this David makes use of the power of political persuasion to unify the tribes. He does so by winning over those who had been supportive of Saul and Abner but were at the moment lacking leadership. It would seem that by so doing he averted what may have turned into an extension of the already bloody civil war that General Joab seemed all to eager to wage.
What Absalom is doing here in this reading is using his charismatic personality and smooth talk to turn people against his father. He does what too many modern politicians do nearly every time and election occurs…they dishonor their opponents to make themselves look better. Quite possibly the most disturbing thing about this is what it says about the people who choose to follow such an individual. Ultimately, however, it would seem that as was the case with Absalom and David, honor has a way of being vindicated in the final analysis…if not in this life…certainly in the next.