The Word for today:
2 Samuel 18:1-19:8
mark this: 2 Samuel 18:2b, 3–
And the king said to the people, “I also will surely go out with you myself.” But the people answered, “You shall not go out! For if we flee away, they will not care about us; nor if half of us die, will they care about us. But you are worth ten thousand of us now. For you are now more help to us in the city.”
mark this: 2 Samuel 18:33–
Then the king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept. And as he went, he said thus: “O my son Absalom–my son, my son Absalom–if only I had died in your place! O Absalom my son, my son!”
David’s lamentation over the death of Absalom is the most touching expression of grief in the Bible or in any other literature.
I study the Bible and I write Bible courses. Then I teach the courses I’ve written. I am teaching the 18th chapter of 2 Samuel right now. But sometimes I am simply stopped. I can’t go on anymore as if this were some kind of classroom, concerned with ideas and words on paper.
For we are on holy ground here, where the noble heart of God cracks and we can see inside. We can see inside, right to the core of God’s heart. We can see through the crack into the genesis of love.
The Trinity is revealed through the Son. We see Jesus on the cross and we see what love means. We begin to sense what love cost.
What did love cost? I believe we glimpse it in the lament of a Father who–due to cosmic necessities beyond my ability to grasp–could not Himself go to the cross (1), but would gladly have gone rather than watch his Son die there (2).
I don’t think a Roman soldier’s flail, nor his lash; nor his fists, nor his hammer–nor the spikes driven through the flesh and into the wood–killed Jesus.
I think Jesus died of a broken heart. Listen to the last verse of chapter 18. Listen very closely and you’ll enter into the sublime realm, into the depths of the oneness of the Trinity: Jesus died of his Father’s broken heart.
Echoing backwards and forwards through time from the cross, we hear:
Then the king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept. And as he went, he said thus: “O my son–my son, my son–if only I had died in your place! O my son, my son!”
(1) application of 2 Samuel 18: 2b, 3 (printed above); (2) application of 2 Samuel 18:33 (printed above)