“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” (James 1:19–20, NIV)
Absalom was a handsome and well-liked young man. He had a beautiful sister that he loved. Her name was Tamar. Their mother was the daughter of a king and their dad was a mighty warrior who would be king. It seemed that Absalom had a pretty good life, except he had a dysfunctional family.
Absalom was the third born son of David the king of Israel. “Sons were born to David in Hebron: His firstborn was Amnon the son of Ahinoam of Jezreel; his second, Kileab the son of Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel; the third, Absalom the son of Maakah daughter of Talmai king of Geshur; the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital; and the sixth, Ithream the son of David’s wife Eglah. These were born to David in Hebron” (2 Samuel 3:2–5). And this was only the beginning of the women and children in David’s household.
I f only the dysfunction stopped with multiple wives and half siblings. It didn’t. Absalom’s older brother Amnon hatched a plan to get Tamar, Absalom’s beautiful sister, alone and then he raped her. It seems that Amnon, like his father, had a problem controlling his desire for pretty women.
And the story goes on. Absalom was very angry at what Amnon had done, understandably. And to Absalom’s credit his first response wasn’t spurred by anger but was to act out of love. He loved his sister. He took her into his home even though she was a disgraced woman now. He even named his daughter after this tainted sister. This love was admirable, but the anger still seethed. Absalom never got control of his anger, and eventually become unloving even to those he previously loved.
When no official punishment came upon Amnon by the government, which meant his father King David blew it off, Absalom grew angrier. I think his resentment grew with each passing day as he waited for justice and nothing happened. So Absalom started thinking about revenge.
The idea worked through Absalom’s mind for two years and then he acted on it. He threw a party for his siblings and invited his father also. Absalom’s dad didn’t show up. I wonder if David had attended if the outcome of the story would have been different. Anyway, at the party Absalom ordered his servants to kill Amnon. He sought revenge for the crime against his sister.
Some would say the murder was justified because Amnon deserved it. I am not sure I would disagree. What I did learn from reading about Absalom was that his anger overtook him and it destroyed his life. It didn’t end with the murder of Amnon.
Absalom’s resentment for his father grew. He tried to usurp his father’s authority. Absalom started a coup in an attempt to dethrone is father and establish his place as king in his stead. Absalom did some despicable things during this time, including raping his father’s concubines. He violated the sister’s of other men, and I am sure that in his anger, he believed his sin was justified.
The story ends with Absalom’s untimely death. He got stuck in a tree and Joab, the general in charge of David’s army, ran him through with javelins. Absalom died in rebellion against his father, but also in rebellion against God. His anger and his inability to let go of his past hurt and pain, lead to his ultimate destruction.
I wrote this summary of Absalom’s life after realizing how easily anger can overtake a life. It can easily start out as justified. If left unchecked, it will turn into a vengeful spirit and will eventually lead to despicable acts. The choices that Absalom made out of an angry spirit caused more harm to more people than the sin of Amnon. Absalom never stopped to think about the harm he was bringing to Tamar his sister, nor to Tamar his daughter. He didn’t stop long enough to see the destruction he was leaving in his wake.
Anger is a serious issue and must be dealt with. Letting go of anger is healthy and will save us from future harm. It will also save us from harming others. I learned from Absalom’s story that anger left unchecked is a destructive force that leaves a path of horror and pain in the lives of those around us. Anger does not produce the righteousness of God, it produces sin, sadness, and death.
Dear Lord, help me to let go of all anger today. Let me trust you to deal with evil doers. Help me to remember the wisdom of James, be “slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires”.