‘And all I am saying to you gentlemen is, with the 8,9,10-hour days that you keep, if you don’t influence your children, your neighbors will, if you don’t influence your children, television will, if you don’t influence your children, the humanistic secularistic media will, if you don’t influence your children – the system of education of this world will control them till they no longer know what they believe in anymore’.
King David is one of the heroes of the faith and yet he committed some of the gravest mistakes a man can make. So why is he held in such high regard? One reason is because of the way he handled those blunders. Hello and welcome to ‘Let My People Think’ with Christian author and apologist Ravi Zacharias. This week we are listening to a classic message from Ravi, in which he’s been discussing the important role of both husband and father. He’s been looking at the story of David and Abigail for his text. What we left of last week, we saw how David was captivated by Abigail’s love, but once they were together, he did not let her wisdom impact him. He believed he had conquered her and he lost out on a loving relationship. What was the impact of his sin and how did he address it? Let’s rejoin Ravi now for the second half of his message ‘Divided Heart, Divided Home’.
Sin has a ripple effect. You never ever sin alone. Because when you sin, you are changed, and when you are changed, you will affect somebody else. And when we talk about victimless crimes in our society, they may be legal, sociological, psychological terms, they are not Biblical concepts. There is no such thing as a victimless crime. If I victimize myself someway in sin, I am victimizing my children, you can be sure.
Society is solid, it is connected. And the whole principle of Adam and Eve is a solidarity of man, as through one man sin came into the world. Social righteousness ultimately to the person of Christ, but man is not dismembered from society, he is not an island, he is connected. And please notice how David’s ripple effect is going to go through his home. And nobody sitting here will feel untouched by the heartbreaking nature of the story. As a matter of fact, when the Jews read the Scriptures and their lectionaries, this incident is always read.
It’s a story of his children and he had 21 of them, 20 of them were boys, one of them was a girl. The oldest was Amnon, the second was Tamar and the third was Absalom. And these three are going to crush the heart of David. Some willingly, some unwillingly. Amnon proved the point of G.K. Chesterton when he said this. He said, ‘There are many many angles at which you can fall, but only one angle at which you can stand straight’. And what Chesterton really said was, if you start falling into iniquity, there is no limit to the devious ways you can find, men will find more and more hellish ways to fall, and there is only one way, in which to stand straight. Amnon decided to test the angles. Like a glutton after sensuality, nothing was ever going to satisfy him. He was insatiable in his desires. Till finally the last boundary was going to fall the boundary partially of incest as he espied his own sister Tamar, he wondered how he could block her off into a situation, where he could satisfy himself. Look at the angle at which he is going to fall now. He goes to his cousin and says ‘How can I get Tamar alone?’ And the cousin says, ‘What you do is go back home, pretend to be sick, your father will come. He will offer you the servants. Say to you dad, ‘I do not want the servants, send me Tamar, she will take care of me’ They have been studying David very carefully and knew exactly how he’d respond. Unfortunately, I guess David was so busy with his kingdom, he did not study his children that carefully. Amnon came back, pretended to be sick. David came in and said ‘I’ll send you the servants’. He said ‘dad, I really don’t want the servants, send me Tamar’. He says ‘All right’. Tamar comes, David is gone, the door is shut instantly, promiscuity is to take over. And as Amnon looks into the eyes of Tamar, she looks at him with terror in her eyes and uses the Hebrew concept of rape when she says ‘Please, do not violate me. Please, do not do this to me. Ask my father, he will give me to you’. I think according to the law he could have married her as her half-brother, because they both had a common father. She said, ‘Ask our father, he will give me to you’. He looks at her and says ‘That is not the way I want you’.
Young people, always beware of anyone who wants you without any commitment to you. Always beware of anyone who wants you without any commitment to you. He says, ‘It’s not the way I want you’. He consummates his desires and finally, after he has consummated his desires, he tells her to get up and get out. Here is the other principle – you get into the illicit relationship, it will instantly turn desire into disrespect if not hatred. He tells her to get up and get out. She is disheveled. She is completely broken. She doesn’t know what to do. The ultimate indignity has been thrust upon her by her own brother. She walks out of the room, she doesn’t know where to go and goes straight into the arms of her actual brother Absalom, who loved her dearly, so dearly that when he had his first daughter, he called her Tamar. And with his arms wrapped around his own sister, he hears this hellish news of what has happened to her. He is angry and Tamar says, ‘look, just forget it, leave it or there will be bloodshed in this home’. David finds out. Absalom finds out. With one difference – David is not going to do anything, so Absalom is.
See gentlemen, you and I live with this belief, that if you ignore a problem at home, it will go away. It doesn’t go away. I can tell you, that when you just brushed aside something and think it’ll go away, it doesn’t. It keeps cropping up and each time like it seems to gather more momentum. And I have met fathers who’ve said to me If I had to do it all over again, I would dealt with it right from the beginning, when it was the easiest.
David is not going to do anything, so Absalom lures his brother Amnon into a secluded setting and kills him. David now is so beside himself in confusion. He sends for Absalom. Absalom becomes afraid and runs away. He runs away I believe to the home of his grandparents as he goes to live there for I think it’s 2 to 3 years. And finally the general brings the father and son back together. They embrace one another, little else is said. Absalom goes away for another two years. In 5 years, father and son have met once. And what has started off as a single brick separating them, now became a thick wall and the son began to scheme against the father and he says, ‘You know, I need to overthrow my dad. If my father is no longer king, I can become king and do away with him’. How does a son get to despise a father that much? He was gonna do it. He tried in every way to see who would leave David. And this is where I find this utterly fascinating. To some of you this may be news. The first one to leave David and betray him, was the secretary of State - Ahitophel. Do you know who he was? He was a grandfather of Bathsheba. Check out the two passages of Scripture. In 2 Samuel 11 and 2 Samuel 23 you will see the connection. Eliam was the father of Bathsheba, Ahitophel was the father of Eliam and I don’t think it is accidental that Ahitophel leaves him, leaves David and goes in order to serve in Absalom’s army. If that is not convincing enough, listen to this. Absalom goes to Ahitophel and says to him, ‘Can you give me one suggestion on how can I get my father to draw first blood and become the aggressor so that I can become the defender?’. And he says, ‘All right, I can give new the perfect plan, If you want your father to become the aggressor and you to become the defender’, he said, ’Do this: go to your father’s palace and lie with your father’s concubines and do so on the roof of his palace’. Where was David when he first set eyes upon Bathsheba?
You see the web that sin has spun and sin has bounced back. Sin has what the Australians would call a boomerang effect – you sin against somebody, they sin against you; you lie against somebody, they lie against you; you cheat somebody, they cheat you. And ultimately, sin had completely boomeranged and had come right back. David deceived a man, now he was deceived by his close confidant. David had broken a home, now another man was breaking his home, separating father from son.
Finally, the army of David has to pursue the army of Absalom. Absalom’s rebellion has been quelled, in the process Absalom has been killed. And probably to my mind, one of the saddest verses in Holy Scripture, because any father here would have his heart broken at having to pray a prayer like this and weep a song of this nature. As David kneeled down and cradled his son, and said ‘O Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would to God I had died for thee!’
And my humble suggestion to you is this, if Absalom could have talked, he may have stopped and said, ‘Dad, I really didn’t want you to die for me, but I sure wish you’d lived a little bit for me’. Everyone has temptations in his life. We tend to find our identity at our place of work. May I try and challenge you to try and test your identity at your home before you do it at your place of work. I am sure it would be more impressive to God if we as Christian men were Godly husbands and wives before we were Chief Executives of some great technological company. I am not painting an either or, but some of us have made it an either or. I don’t think one has to be successful at home and be low down on the rung at work, that is not what I am saying. But the hours, and hours, and hours we put into work and study. And this is the subtlest of all snares in the ministry – you can spend hours and hours studying sermons and counselling other people’s children and forgetting your own.
I actually had a pastor say to me recently in a meeting. He said, ‘I was reading a newspaper and my son kept calling me – daddy, daddy, daddy – he said, it went into one ear and through the other till finally my little boy stopped and said ‘Pastor Kim, can I speak to you?’’
What I’m saying is, can your children take you in their arms and know that when they are talking to you, you are listening to them, when they need you, you are available to them?
One of my very dear friends who is a missionary, said to me that the ultimate moment came into his own life as a missionary, when one day his wife phoned him and he was in a little basement apartment. He is a missionary within our own society. He was in a basement apartment, speaking to six or seven people and he was on the road for two months. And his wife got on the phone one day and as she wept she said, ‘Honey, our boy really needs you. HE is really really struggling. He needs you’. And he said, I had to leave this meeting and go and say to her that I was on the road for two months, I could not get back, this was my commitment, and then as he hung up, he said his heart pounded as hard as it has ever pounded, recognizing what he was doing to his children. Today he would said to me he would never make that mistake again. I won’t name him, but some of you have read his book. On a night when his daughter desperately needed him and he was taking care of somebody else’s children miles away and finding homes for them, a very noble thing that he was doing, his daughter desperately wanted to speak to him. But the father did not have time. He should have. She committed suicide the next day. It blew his mind and sent him into emotional imbalance till the man in his latter days was a pathetic specimen of what he was once upon a time.
And all I’m saying to you gentlemen is, with the 8,9,10-hour days that you keep, if you don’t influence your children, your neighbors will, if you don’t influence your children, television will, if you don’t influence your children, the humanistic secularistic media will, if you don’t influence your children – the system of education in this world will control them till they no longer even know what they believe anymore and we are graduating students out of university who are able to argue one thing - why you cannot believe anything! And we send them to university to graduate them as sceptics! While we supposedly paid for them to get informed.
Take that fragile little child, right from the time they are little and take that impressionable character, because please hear me: Children and personalities are not like quantities. Half a baby and half a baby do not make one baby! Half a slice of bread and half a slice of bread may make one slice of bread, but half a baby and half a baby make the mockery of the baby. It is no life at all. They are fragile personalities with a breath of God upon them. Let us raise them with a fatherliness that God intended for us to give to them.
I make that plea in North America today. Because it is so easy for us to get so quickly into the fast lane and forget that there are sometimes we need to slow down, because our children don’t need to get onto that lane. Are you with me?
He lost out in the pursuit of his romance, he lost out in the sense of controlling and giving the full love and affection to his children. But what I really like about David, which I think challenges every other man, he was a king, he brought in the golden age of Israel, there are few names as revered by the Israeli mind today as by king David. One of their best hotels is named after him. Many streets are named after him, so much of their history is dated from him. And David was that great name recognized really by the entire Middle Eastern world as one of those great names and great kings. With all of his pompousness, when Nathan came to him one day, and told him what had happened, and he pronounced a judgment himself. And Nathen wagged his bony finger in his face and said, ‘David, you are that man’. David could have been like some kings and had Nathan executed. He could have been like some kings and abolish the 7th Commandment. He could have been like some kings and said its Bathsheba’s fault. The grandest strength I find in this man is that when the Word of God finally pierced the armor of his soul, with all of his sensitivity, the sweet singer of Israel, this man who wanted so much to love God but found it hard to be a cauldron or a battleground, he buckled down his knee and he cried out, ‘Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness: according to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions, for my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou might be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. Cleanse me, wash me, make me clean. Then shall I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.’
Gentlemen, the first step to correcting any error is always the step of repentance. And unless we are willing to say, ‘I was wrong’, we will never know, how to follow His right. Just so you don’t get me wrong, please hear me. I do not believe that just because you raise up a son who becomes a derelict, therefore that means that you were a derelict. That’s not what I’m saying. Sometimes I find it unexplainable that some children raised in good homes go so wrong, I don’t know. I have a feeling that verse that says ‘Bring up a child in the way that he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.’, the Hebrew actually lends itself to reverse, which actually says, ‘Bring up a child in the way that he should go, And when he is old it will not depart from him.’ And I think it is just as easy to say that your upbringing will haunt him all his life. He will not be able to shake it off. Whatever. I don’t want us to live in somebody else’s guilt, but I want us to face up to our own. And tonight I am going to particularly invite fathers and mothers to make a commitment before almighty God that we will be the kinds of dads and moms that God wanted us to be for in our homes we cradle ones who could change history.
Let me give you two quick illustrations. John Wesley was one of nineteen children. Did you hear that? One of nineteen children. Susanna his mother was 27th of her parents. That was a busy home. I’m not sure I’d wanna do the dishes for that home every night. When you read the biography of Susanna Wesley, you will see an awesome power of God working in her life. Let me give you just a simple illustration. One day he says to her, ‘Mother, can you give me a definition of sin?’ When you’re studied up with God and close to God, it overflows within you, listen to her definition to her son. She said, ‘John, whatever weakens your reasoning, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God or takes away a relish for spiritual things, in short, if anything increases the authority and the power of the flesh over the Spirit, that to you becomes sin, however good it is in itself’. How do you like that? I don’t think a theologian would do better. Now, you wanna see what John Wesley did in his lifetime? He preached 40.000 sermons. You know, that’s an awful lot of sermons. Pick up a book called ‘England Before and After Wesley’, you will not believe it. But you know who had that impact on his life? Susanna. Parents, we have in our homes those who can change nations. Let us pour our lives out into them.
One thing could keep you from that decision and this is a bit of a light story but it’s true. Greek mythology. Story of a man who’d won a wrestling championship in his day and was receiving all the cheers and accolades. Everybody is grand, thanks to this muscle-bound individual, everyone is impressed accept for this one elderly gentleman, who is squatting near the gate as the man with his trophies walking away. The elderly gentleman calls him and says, ‘Come here! I want to ask you something. Do you see that statue way out there in the distance?’ And he says, ‘Yes, sir’. ‘Do you know who that statue represents?’ And he says, ‘Yes, that man used to be the wresting champion years ago’. He said, ‘That is correct, son’. He said, ‘Son, I watched you fight. You are a great fighter, you are really good. But I want you to know one thing – I saw that man when he was alive in his heyday and I have seen you. I really believe if he were alive and you were in the same ring, he’d take you on his knee and break you like a twig, snap you in two’. The fellow says, ‘Ah, you are just saying that, the man isn’t even alive, you can’t prove it’. He says, ‘I don’t need to prove it, I just want you to know that I think I’ve seen one wrestler better than you’. The young man goes home and he can’t sleep, not because the thousands thought he was the best but because one man thought he was second best. He gets up in the middle of the night, goes back to the arena, everybody is long gone. He goes up to the statue and begins a monologue: ‘If you were alive, I’d take you on my knee and snap you like a twig. You are not even alive anymore, there is no breath in you. I AM the champion, I AM the best. Everybody who’s met me is now a ‘has been’ and if you were here, I’d do the same to you’. And he is carrying on this monologue, obviously not getting any response from the statue. Till he grabs the hold of the ankles of the statue (enter now here Greek mythology in all of its splendor). He shakes the statue, which breaks, falls on his head and kills him. Nobody believes that story, do they? You wouldn’t go home and say, ‘Somebody told us a statue killed a man’. No, that’s not what I’m telling you. I’ll tell you what killed him, and even the mythologists knew it – pride! And it’ll kill some of you.
It was a man who’d lost out in his home, but I see that grand strength in him that was able to repent and make the best of his life. Dr. Graham said this, If he had to do it all over again, he’d read more, preach less and spend more time with his family. Why don’t some of us make that commitment tonight, to be the husband and the father that God wants us to be, so that as parents we can model a home for our children.
LISTEN TO PART 2 OF THE MESSAGE HERE