Romeo United Methodist Church
Friday, April 27, 2018

How King David Blew It As A Dad (Part 1)

By Dr. Gary R. Glanville
July 21, 2013

           Sam Levenson, known for his humorous wit, shared this bit of advice regarding his family:  “We have learned to space our children.  And we found that ten feet apart is just about right.”  Or another time Sam commented - “Doctors will tell you that if you eat slowly you will eat less.  Well, anyone raised in a large family will tell you the same thing.”

            Raising a family today can have plenty of challenges can it not?  Families today are busier than ever with multiple activities and events, from sports, to music, to dance, while eating meals on the run and finding ways to squeeze in time for homework.  And sometimes we as the adults leading these families and coordinating their never-ending schedules, we wonder if all of the sacrifices and lugging around and transporting from here to there will really make any difference?  Will it pay off in the end?  Is the investment worth the extra effort?  And I would like to believe the answer is “yes.”  At least that is my hope with my own family who have moved on and every teen I have ever worked with.  I am hoping all of us can say one day looking back, it was worth it to hang in there and enjoy the journey we traveled.          

            But I need to point something out that I truly believe is critical or you’ll exhaust yourself from doing too much and burn out as a parent.  Along our sometimes frenzied journey, you and I will have to learn how to pick priorities and figure out we can’t do it all and that it’s okay to say “no” once in a while.  As a matter of fact, you might even learn that family time is really important to you and how exciting it is to keep things simple and even restful.  A few quick examples - making sand castles on the beach with smaller children doesn’t take too much energy, or brain power, nor is it very stressful.  Yet, playing in wet sand with your child might be so enjoyable you get lost in your sand castle world and forget about the other cares of the world.  Or I can remember taking our family of six to a water park at Disney called Blizzard Beach when they were older.  Sometimes Lisa and I would join them on the various tube rides, slides, and wave pool action, but there were also times when our four went in one direction and mom and dad floated around the lazy river until it was time for everyone to check in.  We also made up some crazy games on trips when visiting with all of the cousins.  One game was called sock wars.  It was done at night in the dark in our rented house or condo.  It was all the kids against the dads as they tried to pelt us with rolled up socks.  (You didn’t realize your minister was …)

            My point with all of these stories is this – life doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive or a crazy race everyday unless of course you thrive on that.

            Having four adult children now, who live in four different locations and are working means we are not the main influence anymore.  However, I believe what we attempted to instill within them, including spiritual values and morals of what is right and wrong, becomes a foundation they can tap into.  And we as parents continue to pray for them, and listen to them, and offer encouragement.  We don’t get together as often as we would like, but when we do connect, we have a lot of fun making memories.

            If you are a parent or grandparent, or a significant adult in a young person’s life, you are well aware your job is not finished yet.  For some of you, your families moved out and started families or their own, but that created a whole new dynamic and may involve once again your assistance.  Or today, one of the challenges for our young adults graduating from high school and college is finding a good paying job.  Sometimes the empty nest gets refilled because we need to help our young people for a season of time achieve a level of success, and the best way to do that is to give them a roof over their heads.  And then in the later stages of life, sometimes the son or daughter becomes a parent to their parents and there are delicate issues that need handling, and helping our parents live as independently as possible with dignity or addressing some physical needs or situations like Alzheimer’s. 

            Whatever stage your family might be at right now, God places us and uses us for a season of time to work with our families, to honor and guide them the best that we can.  You may be blessed with a really close family that does everything together, or your family may be separated by many miles.  You may have great family relationships or not so great.  You may be in a season of jubilation and celebration with your family or going through a period of great stress and times of tears.  But no matter what, I believe family is important.

            When I was in the School of Business at both Michigan Tech and Michigan State, we learned something in our marketing courses called the 4 Ps – (product, price, place, and promotion).  These four items were considered the basic necessary ingredients to maximize sales in the business market.

            Well, our topic today, deals with the parental mistakes of King David, how David blew it as a dad, what I’m going to refer to as the 3 Ps.  We might be surprised to hear that David did not have it all together, but I don’t believe he did.  He made some serious blunders that all of us do and even some worse mistakes.  What’s surprising to us is the fact here is a man used by God who wrote many of the Psalms we have, he was a great warrior and brought peace to Israel’s borders as its second king, and at times David was called a man after God’s own heart.  But we also discover from Biblical history that David was far from perfect.  David blew it periodically as a leader, and in my opinion, David made a few serious errors as a father.  And I want to show you at least three areas (over two messages) where I believe David messed up and consequences followed that damaged his family.  But I also want to share what I believe could have been three remedies, three cures, three antidotes that David could have done that would have helped in each of his situations.  And these three antidotes, these three strategies, are things we can apply to our own families in 2013.  Why do I believe that?  Because people are still people no matter when they lived.  And though we are well aware of cultural differences, and we’re not living in a time 3,000 years ago like King David, I always believe there is practical wisdom we can gain from history.  The three areas where I believe David blew it I call the 3 Ps – passivity, impurity, and preoccupation.  And this morning we’re going to tackle the first P – passivity.

            When I read 2 Samuel and what happened in David’s family, I am saddened, because two of David’s sons repeat his mistakes and it costs them their lives.  You may remember the story of David and Bathsheba, where David takes another man’s wife because of his lust, and he gets a married woman pregnant.  To cover up his handy work, David attempts to deceive and trick the husband Uriah to make him think the child is his own.  But his plan fails, so David has the man killed in battle so he will never find out. 

            Talk about a moral low point in a leader’s life.  In some ways it reminds me of current news events where politicians have extra marital affairs or sexual exploits on the Internet or with sexually explicit texting, resign from office, and then come back to make a run for re-election.

            Well, David’s first son, Amnon, lusts after his half-sister named Tamar and rapes her.  David’s third son, Absalom, takes matters into his own hands and cunningly has his brother killed for raping his sister.  What would you do if this was happening in your family because those are pretty serious matters?  Let’s see what David does that causes some major problems for his family. 

            As we begin, let me share a little historical background to the set the stage so when we explore the Scripture for today it hopefully will connect a little better. 

            David as you recall, had seven wives before he became king over Israel and lived in Jerusalem.  Now the number seven may Biblically be considered the perfect number or the number of perfection, but having seven wives is about six too many for any one man.  We need to keep in mind the culture of the day allowed multiple wives and many of these marriages were political for alliances with other tribes and kingdoms.  [I also want you to keep in mind, just because you read about something in the Bible that happened in the  past does not mean God condoned it.  God’s ideal for marriage is a sacred covenant between one man and one woman to bind themselves together for life.]  Now six of David’s wives bore him sons, and only Michal, who was King Saul’s daughter and given to another man for about 10 years to spite David, was childless.

            When the Bible refers to various people being brothers and sisters, we need to notice whether they were natural brothers and sisters (that is, having the same mother and father), or were they half brothers and sisters. 

            Well, two of David’s ten sons were Absalom and Amnon.  I know some of these names sound strange to us, but so does Kanye West and Kim Kardashian calling their baby North West.  And I don’t know about you, but those two people are not my role models.

            Amnon was David’s first son who would traditionally inherit his father’s throne.  Absalom was David’s third son.  Both boys had David as their father, but they had different mothers.  David also had a daughter named Tamar, who appears to be the natural sister to Absalom.

            Now the Biblical account says in chapter 13 of 2 Samuel, that Tamar was a virgin and was very beautiful, and Amnon her half brother, was frustrated because of her.  He wasn’t frustrated because she was annoying, he was frustrated because he lusted after her and wanted her in a physical way and made himself sick thinking about her.  Amnon was so depressed morning after morning, that a friend of his finally asked him, what’s the problem, can I help you in some way?  So Amnon told his friend about his desire for his half sister, even though my guess is, he knew it was wrong, according to the law, to touch her in any way.  As a matter of fact, according to Leviticus 20:17, just seeing your sister’s nakedness was considered disgraceful and anyone who did was cut off from his people. 

            Let’s read the first part of the story.  2 Samuel 13:1-6.

            Now it was after this that Absalom the son of David had a beautiful sister whose name was Tamar, and Amnon the son of David loved her.  And Amnon was so frustrated because of his sister Tamar that he made himself ill, for she was a virgin, and it seemed hard to Amnon to do anything to her.  But Amnon had a friend (cousin) whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah, David's brother; and Jonadab was a very shrewd man.  And he said to him, "O son of the king, why are you so depressed morning after morning? Will you not tell me?" Then Amnon said to him, "I am in love with Tamar, the sister of my brother Absalom."  Jonadab then said to him, "Lie down on your bed and pretend to be ill; when your father comes to see you, say to him, 'Please let my sister Tamar come and give me some food to eat, and let her prepare the food in my sight, that I may see it and eat from her hand.'"  So Amnon lay down and pretended to be ill; when the king came to see him, Amnon said to the king, "Please let my sister Tamar come and make me a couple of cakes in my sight, that I may eat from her hand."

            So what was the strategy Jonadab suggested?  You’re depressed about that?  No problem.  This is what you do. Pretend to be sick.  Basically lie and deceive.  And when your father hears about it and checks on you, tell your father to have Tamar wait on you and care for you and make you some food so you can regain your strength and vitality.

            So the light bulb went on in Amnon’s head, just like the commercial “I could have had a V-8,” and he says “yes,” this will work.  So one day king David checks on his firstborn son whom he thought was sick and David agrees to send Tamar to assist Amnon.  While Tamar is in the bedroom with food for her half brother, he grabs her and says, - “Come, lie with me, my sister.” 

            Let’s read how the story unfolds starting at verse 10:  2 Samuel 13:10-17

            Then Amnon said to Tamar, "Bring the food into the bedroom, that I may eat from your hand." So Tamar took the cakes which she had made and brought them into the bedroom to her brother Amnon.  When she brought them to him to eat, he took hold of her and said to her, "Come, lie with me, my sister."  But she answered him, "No, my brother, do not violate me, for such a thing is not done in Israel; do not do this disgraceful thing!  "As for me, where could I get rid of my reproach? And as for you, you will be like one of the fools in Israel. Now therefore, please speak to the king, for he will not withhold me from you."  [Marriage between a brother and sister was allowed at this time but later forbidden in Israel.] 

            However, he would not listen to her; since he was stronger than she, he violated her and lay with her.  Then Amnon hated her with a very great hatred; for the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. And Amnon said to her, "Get up, go away!"  But she said to him, "No, because this wrong in sending me away is greater than the other that you have done to me!" Yet he would not listen to her.  Then he called his young man who attended him and said, "Now throw this woman out of my presence, and lock the door behind her."

            Tamar was saying, let’s get married.  It has been done before between relatives, but please don’t rape me.  But Amnon’s lust has become covetous, he can’t see anything else, so he rapes her.  Then shockingly, once his lust was temporarily satisfied, he doesn’t want anything to do with her anymore.  [Isn’t that true to life?  Sometimes we think we want something so badly, we’ve got to have this particular thing no matter what the cost or sacrifice, and then once we get it, once the goal is achieved, it’s no big deal anymore, and we go after something else.]

            When King David hears about what Amnon did, we read in verse 21, that David became very angry, and rightly so.  But it stops right there.  He does nothing more.  He doesn’t try to correct the situation.  He ignores his daughter’s rape.  Tamar is confused.  Absalom her brother is thinking this is not right.  And we are not given any explanation why David does not correct the situation.  We could guess that David sees himself.  Just like he took advantage of Bathsheba, Amnon took advantage of Tamar.  The firstborn son is recreating the father’s sins. 

            In my opinion, David was too passive and should have disciplined his son in some way.  Technically, David as the king, was the civil leader, and he should have listened to charges brought against his son.  But it seems David tries to keep this in the family.  He tries ignoring this, hoping it will go away.  But I’m not real sure how you can keep something like this under wraps.  I believe David’s first problem is passivity

            And the antidote for passivity is loving discipline, loving correction.  Love that does not correct or discipline is not love.  That’s called indifference.  One of the roles of parents is to pass along spiritual and moral leadership.  We are to correct the wrongs and teach our children what is right, what is proper behavior, and what is not acceptable.  There should be consequences for our actions that communicate fairness and equity is applied to all.

            Here was a family crisis, yet, David as both king and father does nothing at all.  How is that fair to his daughter?

            Now Absalom, Tamar’s natural brother, observes this passive indifference of his father, and decides he will have to do something about this.  If dad won’t correct things, if he won’t be the king or the parent in this family crisis, then Absalom will correct the situation.

            Here’s a comment to the side.  Younger children should not have to assume the role of parents.  It’s the parent’s job to be the parent not the child.  Sometimes I think we expect too much of our firstborn children, especially as it relates to their siblings.  I remember watching a mom scold her oldest child at a store and making him cry for not keeping his two youngest siblings from running around while she shopped.  Is that really the job of a nine year old? 

            At the same time, we cannot expect our children to behave like adults, or act exactly like us.  Why?  Because they are still children growing up.  Our role is to teach them and guide them and correct their behavioral mistakes before they are launched into the world.  We call these teaching moments, consequences, the school of hard knocks, and gaining wisdom and knowledge while making adjustments along one’s learning curve.

            Two years later, Absalom takes revenge against Amnon for what he did to his sister.  Absalom has Amnon killed.  And although Absalom murders his brother, which was not right, he felt justified to commit this act of revenge on behalf of his sister.  His approach was cunning and deceitful just like David with Uriah.  Like father – like son.

            Now what does David do when he finds out his firstborn son had been murdered by Absalom?  Does he confront his son?  Does he have a trial?   Does he make Absalom pay back some type of restitution to the mother of Amnon for the loss of her son?  David again acts passively, and does absolutely nothing.  Maybe again, David sees himself from years before and what he did to Uriah.

            If you want your family to understand that you don’t care about them, then don’t do anything.  Be passive and indifferent.  But if you want your kids to learn right from  wrong and consequences to their actions and that if they do something really dumb, like shoot a BB gun in the house, something is going to get broken, then you need to be the leader, lay down the rules, and immediately follow up with action when they are broken.          

            I’ve had some parents tell me they are afraid to dole out consequences because they don’t want their child to hate them.  They want to be their child’s friend.  Now you don’t have to agree with my philosophy on parenting, but I believe  your first responsibility is to be a parent, not a buddy.  Does that mean you can’t have a friendship and a loving relationship with your family?  No, just the opposite.  Without a relationship you’ll come across as a tyrant. 

            I like how Josh McDowell put it all together.  He said, “Rules without relationship, leads to rebellion.”   The relationship holding together the family is the key.  If your son or daughter knows that loving correction (not abuse), it’s all about modifying behavior because you love them and care what they do, you’ll get through it together.

            I always feel for the firstborn because they are really the experimental model as we are figuring out this parenting stuff.  [Sometimes we try something, works great.  Other times, oops, that didn’t work so well.]  So if we want to get really good at this parenting thing, I’m guessing by about the 10th kid you’ll have it down.  Isn’t it good to know we’re not alone in all of this?  Isn’t it good to know we can continually learn and even when we blow it, there is grace and forgiveness?  

           Pray for families.