Friday, November 30, 2018

EmmDev 2018-11-30 [Encouragement] Encouragement is other-focussed

(Apologies for the missed devs on Wed-Thu!)

Encouragement is other-focussed

When David's son Absalom rebelled against his father and tried to steal the throne, it split the kingdom and turned into a devastating civil war with terrible losses on both sides. Ultimately Absalom was killed.

David grieved deeply for his son. This grief eclipsed all else, and, as the restored and vindicated king, David did not recognise the price that his people had paid. Had it not been for the loyalty and love of his faithful supporters, he would not have come through this devastating setback.

Not only had Israel been through a devastating civil war, but the violence and damage was caused, not by an external party, but by David's son Absalom. David's failed parenting had cost the nation severely and it is almost as though his grief has become a self-indulgent out-pouring of regret and failure.

The effect is described in v.3 of our reading: "The men stole into the city that day as men steal in who are ashamed when they flee from battle."

But David is the king - and Joab, his commander-in-chief, confronts him.
He urges David to be other-focussed.
Sometimes leadership comes at great cost.
In those moments we have to shelve personal pain and place the needs of those who have served and stood with us above our own struggles.
There will come a time when we do our own grieving and picking up of pieces, but we can never allow ourselves to become self-indulgent.

When we've been through a storm it is often tempting for us to draw to one side and "lick our wounds". It is vitally important for us to recognise that there have been people who have stood with us. It is our task, not only to thank and appreciate them, but to encourage them.

Joab was told, "The king is weeping and mourning for Absalom." 2 And for the whole army the victory that day was turned into mourning, because on that day the troops heard it said, "The king is grieving for his son." 3 The men stole into the city that day as men steal in who are ashamed when they flee from battle. 4 The king covered his face and cried aloud, "O my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son!"

Then Joab went into the house to the king and said, "Today you have humiliated all your men, who have just saved your life and the lives of your sons and daughters and the lives of your wives and concubines. 6 You love those who hate you and hate those who love you. You have made it clear today that the commanders and their men mean nothing to you. I see that you would be pleased if Absalom were alive today and all of us were dead. 7 Now go out and encourage your men. I swear by the LORD that if you don't go out, not a man will be left with you by nightfall. This will be worse for you than all the calamities that have come upon you from your youth till now."      (2Samuel19:1-7)

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