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Love without Justice

November 20, 2018

Joab… knew that the king’s heart went out to Absalom. 2 Samuel 14:1

Absalom remained a fugitive for three years until we see an attempt at reconciliation by Joab, the army commander. Joab finds a woman from the town of Tekoa, and sets her up to spin a story to the king. What she did looks very much like what Nathan did when God sent him to convict the king of his sin with Bathsheba. But the wise woman was not sent by God; she was sent by Joab who had his own agenda.

David’s heart was moved by the woman’s story, and he pronounced a pardon for the crime she described in her story. Then the woman turned on the king: “In giving this decision the king convicts himself, inasmuch as the king does not bring his banished one home again” (14:13).

The point is clear: Forget about justice! Act in love and bring your son home! Bringing Absalom back, she argues, is in the best interests of the people (14:13). But she was wrong. Bringing Absalom back would lead the people to the brink of civil war.

Then she says, “God will not take away life, and he devises means so that the banished one will not remain an outcast” (14:14). She was saying, “God forgives, so why don’t you? Bring Absalom back.”

But David discerned the hand of his commander, Joab, behind all this. So he goes to Joab and says, “Go, bring back the young man Absalom” (14:21).

As a father, David loves his son. As the king, he must uphold justice. David could not resolve this dilemma and so, in the end, he abandons justice. But giving up justice brought devastation to his kingdom, and ultimately, destruction to his son.

Where have you seen the fallout of abandoning justice in favor of showing love?

The Author
Colin Smith

Colin Smith is the senior pastor of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. He has authored a number of books, including Heaven, How I Got Here and Heaven, So Near - So Far. Colin is the president and teacher for Unlocking the Bible. Follow him on Twitter.

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