It was told Joab, “Behold, the king is weeping and mourning for Absalom.” So the victory that day was turned into mourning for all the people, for the people heard that day, “The king is grieving for his son.” And the people stole into the city that day as people steal in who are ashamed when they flee in battle. The king covered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice, “O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!” Then Joab came into the house to the king and said, “You have today covered with shame the faces of all your servants, who have this day saved your life and the lives of your sons and your daughters and the lives of your wives and your concubines, because you love those who hate you and hate those who love you. For you have made it clear today that commanders and servants are nothing to you, for today I know that if Absalom were alive and all of us were dead today, then you would be pleased. Now therefore arise, go out and speak kindly to your servants, for I swear by the Lord, if you do not go, not a man will stay with you this night, and this will be worse for you than all the evil that has come upon you from your youth until now.” Then the king arose and took his seat in the gate. And the people were all told, “Behold, the king is sitting in the gate.” And all the people came before the king. II Samuel 19:1-8 ESV
We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. Romans 15:1-7 ESV
I still remember something that happened to me when I was a little girl. I had been invited to a birthday party for my friend Chris on a summer day. There were a lot of kids, and a lot of noise, and games, and food all in the backyard. I found the whole thing kind of scary, and I started crying. Chris’s mother went inside and called my mom to ask her to come and get me. My mom asked to talk to me on the phone. She scolded me and told me, “You’re not there for your sake. You’re there for Chris’s sake! It’s his party, and you should try to make him happy.” I didn’t like to hear that, but I stopped crying and went back outside with the other kids. I learned a very important lesson that day. I learned that I had to consider other people’s needs and feelings besides my own.
David had to learn the same lesson. He was very upset, and crying, because his son Absalom was dead. All the men who had risked their lives and won the battle for him, and also the men who had died in battle, didn’t seem to matter to him. His army felt very bad because their king wasn’t happy. They felt as if he didn’t appreciate their efforts. Joab went and scolded David for his selfish attitude. He warned David that his men would turn against him if he didn’t go and show his appreciation to his army for their work. So David did that.
Jesus always put the needs of the people he loved ahead of his own. This unselfish love brought him to earth as a human person, and sent him all the way to the cross. Jesus died a painful death on the cross to pay for our sins. Because of this, we are God’s people now and always. For Jesus’ sake God forgives our selfish behavior and attitudes. God sends us his Holy Spirit to help us be unselfish and caring to other people.
Dear Jesus, thank you for being unselfish and dying for us. Help us to show your love, and forgive us our selfishness. Amen.