“O my son Absalom—my son, my son Absalom—if only I had died in your place! O Absalom my son, my son!”
—2 Samuel 18:33
One way that David was a man after God’s own heart was in his love for his sinful erring son, Absalom. Absalom was a murderer (he killed his brother Amnon in chapter 13). Discontent for his father to rule, he usurped the role of king, setting up his own kingdom in place of David’s. Adding insult to injury, he defiled some of his father’s concubines in broad daylight.
When David’s men were about to retake the kingdom, David gave strict instructions to “deal gently” with Asalom. After all, though he was an outlaw, he was still David’s son. David’s military man, Joab, ever zealous for David’s honor—and as ruthless as he was loyal—killed Absalom.
When David was made aware, he lamented, “O my son Absalom—my son, my son Absalom—if only I had died in your place!” He loved his son, who sinned grievously against him, wishing he could have died in his place. But alas, David could not.
God loves His erring children; we who are murders at heart, usurpers who refuse His rule and insist on reigning in our make-believe kingdoms. As Absalom deserved exactly what he got, so we deserve death for our crimes against the Almighty. But He loves us. And He was willing to die in our place. The difference is, while David could not, God not only could but did. Jesus is God. When He died on the cross, He willingly died in our place.
Listen again to the love of David for His guilty son Absalom and hear the echo of the love of God for His guilty sons.