Tale of Two Monuments
2 Samuel 18:14-18
Verse 17 They took Absalom, threw him into a big pit in the forest and piled up a large heap of rocks over him. Meanwhile, all the Israelites fled to their homes.
The obedient soldier from our reading yesterday may not have been willing to take action against the prince hanging by his hair but Joab is ready to make a name for himself. Sadly he is going about making the wrong kind of name for himself, but he doesn’t really seem to care. He wanted the prince dead and he wasn’t going to let some regular soldier make him miss the opportunity to make it happen.
David’s once trusted commander decides to go against the king’s direct order and kill the prince. Without modern weaponry Joab does the ancient form of overkill. Taking 3 javelins he plunges each of them into the chest of his cousin, the prince. Three javelins into the heart of the king’s rebellious but loved son. And he did it all while Absalom hung helpless by his beautiful hair.
The javelins didn’t kill him meaning Absalom was alive through the stabbing and was then surrounded by 10 of Joab’s armor bearers who willingly finished off the job of killing the hanging prince. With the feat done Joab sounded the trumpet to stop the fighting. There is no way of knowing what the soldiers thought ended the battle but we know the soldiers of the Israelite army fled, and as they fled Joab and his armor bearers took care of the dead prince.
They found a big pit and threw him in. David had told his commanders they needed to be gentle with Absalom for his sake, instead Joab and those with him were anything but gentle with him. They had stabbed him not once but three times in the heart. They had ganged up on him, beating him until he died and part of this had been done as he hung by his hair in the tree. And as if it wasn’t enough they threw him into a deep pit and filled it up with a large heap of rocks.
In his life Absalom had erected a monument to himself. He named it after himself as a legacy since he didn’t have an heir. It wasn’t that he hadn’t had children, he had 3 sons which he had outlived (2 Samuel 14:27). His chosen monument was a pillar standing in the Valley of the Kings just as King Saul had done. But in his death a monument was made to mark the end of his rebellion. A life marked by hate, rebellion and pride, ended by the same.
Making It Personal
What are some ways you have set up monuments for yourself? What do you want to be remembered for? Are you living in a way which is building that legacy?
Making It Personal Kids
What is a monument? Does someone need a monument for you to remember them? What kind of things do you hope others remember when they think about you?
Father, You give each of us the opportunity to live a life which points to You. Help us not be so concerned about building a name for ourselves as we are about making You known. In Jesus’ name, amen.