The first time my son Tyler met Frank Limehouse (our former Dean) was at “Sunrise Sinners,” a morning breakfast/Bible study. As I introduced Tyler to Frank, Frank looked at Tyler and said, “Tyler, you a sinner?” Tyler was tongue-tied for a quick-witted response or stunned by the question. Frank quickly continued, “If you’re related to him,” pointing in my direction, “you’re a sinner.” Truer words could not have been spoken.
The account of David’s family in these chapters is not the stuff of Christmas card family newsletters…
James J. Tissot, ‘David Mourns His Son Amnon’ (1896-1902)
Amnon was dead, murdered by his brother Absalom for the rape of their sister Tamar. Now Absalom has fled, and David, having been consoled over the death of Amnon, longs for his son Absalom.
Absalom deserved death for the murder of Amnon, but then I guess David did, too, for the murder of Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband (Chapter 11). When he is confronted by Nathan about Uriah, David acknowledges that he has sinned against the Lord, and he is shown mercy as Nathan replies, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die.” Now it is David’s turn to show mercy.
The wise woman of Tekoa is sent to David by Joab to speak with him in order “to change the present situation” (NIV), this estrangement from Absalom. The words spoken in this obscure conversation are the powerful truth of the gospel and an example of the gems we mine when we read through the entire Bible.
“Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him.” (2 Sam. 14:14, NIV)
This verse speaks the same truth of the gospel that Paul writes about in Romans:
“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.” (Rom. 5:12, NIV)
As Adam was banished from the garden, so we, too, are banished and estranged from God. What is the way God has devised so that we who are banished may no longer be estranged from Him?
“But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many.” (Rom. 5:15, NIV)
“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ . . . God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ . . . God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5:18-21, NIV)
How are we to use this truth in our relationships with others?
“[God] gave us the ministry of reconciliation . . . And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” (2 Cor. 5: 18-20, NIV
God’s property is always to have mercy. As his image bearers in this world, let us go and do likewise, for it may very well be that the mercy we extend could be the means by which God chooses to reconcile someone to himself.
No longer banished – no longer estranged from him!