The king was shaken. He went up to the upper chamber of the gateway and wept, moaning these words as he went, ‘My son Absalom! O my son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you! O Absalom, my son, my son!’
II Samuel 19:1
Absalom thought his father was an enemy, obviously his father did not agree. Absalom wanted the kingdom, thought it was time for his father to retire, David did not agree. So Absalom went to war against David to claim the throne. David asked his men to spare his son, in the end a terrible accident (his hair got tangled on the limbs of a terebinth tree: see 18:9-18) placed him in a vulnerable position and he was killed.
Although David had the kingdom, he did not have his son. His grief was public and it expressed the desires of any parent in his situation.
At times of sorrow it is natural to look back, what could we have done differently? Could it have been avoided? Are only some of the questions that run through our minds. When it comes to our children we wonder about our parenting. We could have spent more time, cautioned more, not allowed, protected.
In the end the tragedy is the same, nothing can be changed, all that is left is grieving and attempt to carry on.
The king was not grieving like a king should. A few verses after this “news” Joab, his commander & the man who killed Absalom, tells him to stop weeping, for in the end Absalom was his enemy. How many times in our weeping have people told us to stop, to move on, for it makes them uncomfortable?
I can’t imagine the agony and pain. Walking with many who have experienced intense grief I know that shaking and weeping are common expressions. The realization of a life gone, a love lost, and a future unfulfilled are reasons to weep, moan, and wish for something different.
I am thankful for the biblical narrative that continually mirrors our experience with life, with each other, and with God. No matter how difficult they might be!