When David’s life and reign drew to a close, his sons competed for his throne. David appointed Solomon as the heir. But one observation that we all need to know from 2 Samuel to 1 Kings: David served well as a king, but he often failed as a parent. We can be successful in our public life and a failure in private. Our family should be our first ministry priority.
Max Lucado, from his book Facing Your Giants (2006), writes: “Incest. Deceit. One daughter raped. One son dead. Another with blood on his hands. A palace of turmoil. Again it was time for David to step up. Display his Goliath-killing courage, Saul-pardoning mercy, Brook-Besor leadership. David’s family needed to see the best of David. But they saw none of David. He didn’t intervene or respond. He wept. But wept in solitude.
Absalom interpreted the silence as anger and fled Jerusalem to hide in his grandfather’s house. David made no attempt to see his son. For three years they lived in two separate cities. Absalom returned to Jerusalem, but David still refused to see him. Absalom married and had four children. ‘Absalom dwelt two full years in Jerusalem, but did not see the king’s face’ (2 Samuel 14:28).
Such shunning could not have been easy. Jerusalem was a small town. Avoiding Absalom demanded daily plotting and spying. But David succeeded in neglecting his son. More accurately, he neglected all his children. A passage from later in his life exposes his parenting philosophy. One of his sons, Adonijah, staged a coup. He assembled chariots and horsemen and personal bodyguards to take the throne. Did David object? Are you kidding? ‘His father had not rebuked him at any time by saying, ‘Why have you done do?’ (1 Kings 1:6)... When it came to his family, David blew it.”
If you are a parent, take time with each child today: listen, talk, and care. “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). As a son or daughter, plan to spend time with your parents. Be concerned for their needs. Be eager to pray for family needs.
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.