Normally my weekly blog deals with the Sunday or Monday reading passages. Since Saturday’s reading wasn’t dealt with this week, I’m going to reach back and look at that with you. We learn much in this passage about David’s son Absalom. He was quite a guy. The Scripture actually says, “In all of Israel there was not a man so highly praised for his handsome appearance as Absalom. From the top of his head to the sole of his foot there was no blemish in him.”
This fellow seemed to have it all. Not only did he look great, but in his own way he was outgoing, likable, and full of charisma. Even though underneath it all he was a self-centered, scheming narcissist, at least on the surface he was a guy that people liked to be around.
There was a cunning side to Absalom. He purposely would station himself near the city gate where he would be accessible to crowds of people who were coming and going from the city. I guess you might say he accessed the social media of his day. If facebook would have been around in those days, he would have been aggressive with it. Look again at these verses from our reading:
2 Samuel 15:1-4 (NIV)
In the course of time, Absalom provided himself with a chariot and horses and with fifty men to run ahead of him. 2 He would get up early and stand by the side of the road leading to the city gate. Whenever anyone came with a complaint to be placed before the king for a decision, Absalom would call out to him, “What town are you from?” He would answer, “Your servant is from one of the tribes of Israel.” 3 Then Absalom would say to him, “Look, your claims are valid and proper, but there is no representative of the king to hear you.” 4 And Absalom would add, “If only I were appointed judge in the land! Then everyone who has a complaint or case could come to me and I would see that they receive justice.”
Absalom listened to the complaints people were bringing to be placed before the king. Of course he was only hearing one side of the story and it doesn’t state in the text that he made any effort to investigate the legitimacy of their claims. Without showing support for his father the king, he offered himself as the solution to the people’s complaints. The outcome of Absalom’s use of the city gates (what was then their facebook) is seen in verse 13 of chapter 15:
2 Samuel 15:13 (NIV)
13 A messenger came and told David, “The hearts of the people of Israel are with Absalom.”
Absalom, for a time, was able to take the people’s hearts away from David their king. With the natural attributes he had that made him attractive to people, he could have been such a wonderful support to his father, David. Instead he chose to manipulate the people’s reactions, their affections, their complaints, in such a way to elevate himself in their eyes. He shamelessly did things behind David’s back and said things behind David’s back that allowed him to steal the hearts of the people. Without David even knowing what was going on, Absalom was successful in elevating himself while devaluing David. At the very least it was unabashed treachery.
What’s hard for me is that I see similar things happening in our day. We don’t have the dynamic of the “city gates” scenario. But what we do have is social networking. Facebook can be such a wonderful conveyer of information which helps build relationships, which helps people a long ways away keep in contact. But just like the social platform of Absalom’s day, the city gates, which could be used for so much good, also provided a way to destroy relationships, loyalty, and character.
I am blown away with what people are willing to put on facebook. For something which could do so much good, and could bring so much joy into peoples’ lives, I believe it gets used to slice and dice up people’s lives. For some reason when you don’t have to look someone in the eye, things that should never be verbalized are much easier to dish out. I know that people in person can be cruel and unkind. But I think the “safety” of social networking has unleashed what has to be described as treachery. I need to go further with this, but for now let me give you a godly guideline for your communication on facebook.
Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
I’ll see you Sunday.