“The Grabbing Tree”

2 Samuel 18

         I cannot skip this story of a tree in King David’s life.  Saul, the first king of Israel, and his three sons died in battle.  A struggle for leadership ensued as the head of Saul’s army chose another of Saul’s son to be king but two of the twelve tribes of Israel turned to David to be their king.  The two sides struggled and eventually David was declared king of all twelve tribes.  David, though, had rivalry among his sons for who would succeed David.  Absalom, one of his sons attempted a coup against his father and the two sides engaged in battle.  David commanded his generals to go gently with Absalom in the hearing of the troops.  But it was not the battle but a tree that foiled the coup. 
         “The forest swallowed up more men that day than the sword. (v.8)” As Absalom rode his donkey under “the thick branches of a large oak, Absalom’s hair got caught in the tree.  He was left hanging in mid-air, while the mule he was riding kept on going (v 9).”  Images of the talking trees in Lord of the Rings come to mind as I read those verses. How easy it is for the best laid plans of men to go astray by something we take for granted like a tree.  As we pursue a goal, we become entangled in an issue that T-bones us because we had not anticipated that complication.  You might recognize the scenario.  Savings for retirement disappear in the stock market due to whatever.  A cancer diagnosis cuts travel short.  A slip on ice complicates life.  A letter arrives with unwanted news.  Life happens.

         The course of history was changed by that tree that grabbed Absalom.  We do not know what kind of king Absalom would have made and if the two parts of the twelve tribes would have split.  But the story says to me that God has answers to dilemmas we get ourselves into that we cannot anticipate.  We despair that God is listening to our prayers. We cannot anticipate that God has an oak tree ready to deal with our Absalom.

         This Sunday our text is going to talk about ten lepers who cry to Jesus, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.”  They did not cry out for a specific solution to their problem but cried for mercy.  Mercy is compassion and forgiveness.  Let’s spend some time today praying about some of the problems facing us that seem insurmountable.  Perhaps the best prayer we can utter is, “Jesus, have mercy!”  He’s listening.  Look for his response.  Who knows what oak trees are there that will impact the direction of our lives!

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