The king said, “Let him dwell apart in his own house; he is not to come into my presence.” So Absalom lived apart in his own house and did not come into the king’s presence. 2 Samuel 14:24
David loves his son Absalom. But when Absalom returns, he lives in a house down the street and David does not even see him.
The question at the heart of this story is: What will David do when his rebel son returns? Will he punish or will he pardon? The answer is that he does neither.
David shows mercy to Absalom. He does not enforce the penalty of the law that condemned his son. But Absalom is not pardoned. There is no reconciliation. Why?
Perhaps David knew his son was not repentant, and as long as that was the case, he refused to pretend that all was well. Matthew Henry says that David had reason to think Absalom “was not truly penitent; he therefore put him under this mark of his displeasure, that he might be awakened to a sight of his sin and to sorrow for it, and might make his peace with God.”
Romans 3:25 speaks about what God did for his people until the coming of Jesus Christ into the world: “in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.” God left the matter of justice for another time. That is what God had done with regard to David’s sin, and that is what David did with regard to Absalom; he “passed over former sins.”
But there is this big difference: David cast himself on the mercy of God, and looked to the provision God would one day make through his Son. He humbled himself before God in repentance. Absalom showed no sign of repentance whatsoever.
Are there sins you’ve overlooked in yourself without turning to God in repentance?