It could be straight out of a movie script. Boy steals girl from her current beau. Her family isn’t happy with the new kid, and plots his downfall. Everybody gets hurt.
From Shakespeare? From last weekend’s movies?
Nope – from the Bible. The boy is David. The girl, Bathsheba. The beau, of course, is Uriah. The family is actually Bathsheba’s grandfather, Ahithophel.
The wild card in the mix is Absalom, David’s son from another wife. Absalom had murdered Ammon, his half-brother, after Ammon raped Absalom’s sister Tamar. (Yeah, we’re deep into soap opera territory here.) Absalom fled, but eventually returned to Jerusalem. And proceeded, over the next forty years, to insinuate himself in as acting king. He would sit at the gate and act as a judge to people who had problems. Absalom also had some seriously good looks and this seriously thick hair (2 Sam 14:25-26), so obviously he’d make a good king. Worked out well for Saul, didn’t it?
So anyway, Absalom tricked Daddy David into letting him travel out to where Absalom had a power base. There he tried to set up a rival kingdom, and it almost worked. One of his advisors was old Ahithophel. Absalom wanted to go to war against David. Ahithophel advocated chasing him down against the river Jordan where he couldn’t escape. Good advice, and may have worked, but God had other plans. Hushai, one of David’s good guys, had gotten into Absalom’s inner circle by saying he wanted to support the future king. Hushai argued against Ahithophel’s advice, and argued against going after David immediately. Absalom took his advice. That, and the secret message Hushai sent to David warning him to cross the river, saved David’s life.
Ahithophel could read the writing on the wall. His boss, hopeful-king Absalom, was listening to somebody else. So he loaded up his donkey and went home. There he put his papers in order and then killed himself. (Now we have moved past Macchiavelli’s The Prince and gotten into Kurt Cobain.)
He had good company. Judas killed himself after betraying Jesus.
And yet there was the example in Ahithophel’s time of David, who stole Bathsheba and murdered Uriah, yet repented and was a man after God’s own heart. We in this present time have the example of Paul and Peter, who killed Christians and denied Christ, yet are in Heaven today.
What’s the difference? I think that David, Paul, and Peter (along with millions of others, including me) have broken and contrite hearts, and have asked God and others for forgiveness, and meant it. I think that Ahithophel and Absalom (who ended up being stabbed to death while stuck hanging in an oak tree) were living for themselves, selfishly trying to get everything they could here on earth.
And you, anonymous reader, have the same choice. You can go for the gusto, grab everything you can, try to be satisfied with what you can get from the man – or you can realize that even if you die with the most toys, you still die. What lasts is eternal, that relationship with Jesus, the One who listens and loves. He’s not a wimp, even though He’s humble. He is a man’s Man, God’s only begotten Son, and He loves you. He is waiting for you to turn to him. It’s not too late.
As long as breath is going in and out, it’s not too late.