It was late in the golden age of David’s kingdom. The sins of his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah were behind him. David took, at least, seven wives and many concubines. Though he probably sired more, nineteen sons and one daughter are named in I Chronicles, the third chapter. Speculation as to an heir was whispered within the palace, but King David spoke nothing of who might inherit his throne.
David’s son, Absalom, lived in exile. Absalom murdered his half-brother Amnon, David’s eldest and presumed heir, because Amnon forced himself on Absalom’s sister. Though he was third-born, Absalom thought highly of himself and for all intents and purposes, announced himself as a contender to inherit the kingdom.
The Politics of Absalom
Absalom was exceptionally charming and handsome. In II Samuel 15, he acquired a chariot and hired fifty men to run in front of him. Absalom stood near the gate, where people with grievances came to seek judgment. As an individual stepped forward to voice an injustice, Absalom would say,
“See, your claims are good and right, but no man listens to you on the part of the king.” (II Samuel 15:3 NASB).
Imagine for a moment, the wealthy and powerful son of King David commiserating with ordinary people. In the background are fifty paid supporters looking suitably attentive. When he would hear a complaint, Absalom would say,
“Oh that one would appoint me judge in the land, then every man who has any suit or cause could come to me and I would give him justice.” (II Samuel 15:4 NASB).
The Scripture says that “so Absalom stole away the hearts of the men of Israel,” (verse 6). In other words, Absalom garnered loyalty by promising things he would not likely deliver. He practiced deception in order to gain the support of the people.
Washington for Jesus
Late Monday afternoon, April 28, 1980, eight men from my local church piled in a white work van and drove overnight to Washington, DC. The next day, the 29th, several hundred thousand believers filled the Washington mall to fast and pray. The event was called, “Washington for Jesus” and the theme was,
“If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (II Chronicles 7:14 NASB).
We were mindful of politics, but the day wasn’t about issues. It was a day of repentance and a collective plea that God hear us, forgive us and heal the land. In my thinking, this was the beginning of what has become known as the Christian Right. Unfortunately, it was also the moment at which conservative Christians were recognized as a coveted political force. Since that time, some candidates on the order of Absalom have attempted to leverage us to their advantage.
The Election Year
This will be an especially dramatic election season. As a personal conviction, I don’t endorse candidates or political parties. In the past, I allowed my political wrangling to interfere with evangelism. I learned that God loves Democrats and Republicans, alike. The Apostle Paul stated it this way.
“I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.” (I Corinthians 9: 23 NASB).
Our country is in a difficult place. In this coming year, let’s pray that we will not be deceived by those who seek to understand our convictions only enough to fine tune their rhetoric. Let’s intercede that God will raise up an individual that fears Him and will lead on the basis of right, rather than public opinion polls. In choosing a leader, our nature drives what we want; wisdom teaches what we need and God’s mercy saves us from what we deserve. This fall, the U.S. may get the leader it wants. Pray we get the one we need and not the one we deserve.
The election season is upon us. God gives discernment to those who ask. Would we vote for Absalom?