2 Samuel 14 | A Half-hearted Forgiveness

by | Jan 24, 2021

READ 2 Samuel 14

“He may return to his house, but he may not see my face.” So Absalom returned to his house, but he did not see the king. (2 Samuel 14:24)

Just like the prophet Nathan did with King David (only two chapters earlier), this wise woman from Tekoa is brought before the king and tells a (false) story, but one that is reflective of the truth about what is going on in his life. It reveals David’s blind spot to himself. Feeling convicted King David then tells his chief army commander Joab to bring back his son Absalom from his self-imposed exile, with one important condition — “he may not see my face.” Absalom returns home but is not able to see his father. He is exonerated but not truly forgiven. Although he loves his son and missed him terribly, perhaps David is upset with Absalom because he killed his brother, or perhaps he feels like he needs to execute some manner of punishment on him for the crime he committed. Whatever the case may be, one thing is clear from this chapter — Absalom is back, but not truly restored to full fellowship with his father and the king, and this breeds resentment and bitterness.

Comparisons and contrasts to the parable of the prodigal son is apropos here. In Luke 15 Jesus tells a story about a wayward son who squanders his inheritance and comes back humbled and repentant. Unlike David however, the father receives his son back with open and outstretched arms. Not only does this son get to see his father, but this father runs to him and smothers him with forgiveness, love, and celebration. Absalom’s reception was incomplete and not truly restorative. Half-hearted forgiveness is no forgiveness at all. This kind of unresolved issue and fractured relationship over the long term can yield harmful results as we will see in the next chapter.

Where would we be if God only forgave half our sins, or if He said, “I forgive you, but you cannot come before me and pray to me any longer,” thus cutting off all communication, all communion, essentially suffocating the relationship?  But God is a god of great mercy. His faithful love reaches to the heavens! As the theologian Tim Keller puts it, “He loves you more than you ever dare hope.” His great love more than covers our sins because of the great love the Son showed by sacrificing himself on the cross on our behalf. Because His love completely covers the multitude of our sins, we in kind should be willing to offer complete and full forgiveness to anyone who has wronged us, and His Spirit who lives within us is able to help us do just that. Let us remember that great grace freely given to us and let us do the same for one another.

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