Oh, Absalom!

David, the King, rose from his sleepless bed to stand on his balcony in the cool of predawn. He gazed across the empty plain, quiet beneath the canopy of stars, and contemplated the line of banked fires edging the far side. There, waiting for morning was his son, Absalom, hell bent on killing his father with his army of ten thousand men.

How did it come to this?

As a young boy, beautiful in his countenance, blazing red hair above intelligent eyes, David was content to shepherd his father’s flocks all day long and half the night. He loved the peace of it, leaning against strong rocks heaved up from the earth in early cataclysm in time out of mind. Warmed by the sun, his back against them, with only the bleating of the lambs to disturb the silence, he searched the skies for the hawk he knew would come. Whistling down the run of fluffy white clouds, there she came, her youngsters matching her in their flight. She spiraled above the flock, hoping for a quick snatch, a new young bird not yet fully aware of her talons.

Crook in hand, he stood and strode into the mass of woolies, to intimidate the threat to the sheep. His father trusted his diligence to protect all of the many animals he owned. David was a fine shepherd, never slacking, always aware, so that the flock was safe from predators. He’d seen a wolf earlier, eyeing the lambs, but wary of the shepherd who seemed to have eyes in the back of his head. Content in his future, he was unprepared to be plucked from the fields to lead a nation.

Now, here he was, a King threatened by his own son, full of jealousy, wanting the power David held in the tips of his fingers.  Absalom, the most beautiful boy in the kingdom, carried his looks into manhood, beguiling and hungry for all that his father had. He was David’s third son, one of his favorites, and loved by the people. Absalom made gestures of humility, ingratiating himself with them, and delivered justice with a fair hand. He kissed those supplicants who came before him, rather than holding himself regal. He loved their worship of him.

Absalom would die in battle with his hair caught in a tree, victim of three darts to his heart by someone under the command of Joab, getting even for Absalom’s burning of his fields. The king never knew this was a killing of vengeance, and mourned the loss of his son. “Oh Absalom! My Absalom!”

For even as David had known his son was coming for him, a father’s love still burned in his heart. He spoke to his God. “Thou, O Lord, are a shield for me, my glory and the lifter of my head.” He thought of God’s protection for him, asleep and awake, and always with him, sustaining him. How it must have hurt to know one of his children, a favorite, wanted him dead. To have his power.

Is there nothing new under the sun?

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