An incomplete forgiveness: 2 Samuel 14.1–24 (17 September 2020)

Bible Society's Daily Reflections follow the M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, designed for those who want to read the whole Bible in one year. Each reflection focuses on one of its four daily chapters. Darllenwch rhain yn Gymraeg.



Lord, open my ears to hear what you have to say to me; open my heart to love your word, and open my mind to understand your truth.


Daily reflection: 2 Samuel 14

Absalom is in exile after killing Amnon; David won't bring him back, but was 'filled with longing' for him. The woman who tells David the sad story of her two sons is aiming for the same result as the prophet Nathan (chapter 12), hoping David will see himself in the story. Nathan, though, was speaking in God's name; she was a mouthpiece for Joab. The consequences will be tragic.

The story raises important questions about justice. Absalom killed his brother because his father failed to act. David's indecisiveness is shown again when he allows Absalom to return but refuses to see him (verse 24). Absalom is neither punished nor forgiven; his exclusion becomes unbearable (verse 32).

We might want to think about people in Absalom's situation. They've done wrong, but they aren't restored to usefulness or to a real family relationship. They are permanently excluded, on the outside of everything they value or that gives their life meaning. People in this situation – perhaps because of an actual crime, like Absalom, or because of a moral failure in a church context or the breakdown of trust in a relationship – can be very badly damaged. It can be hard for those who have been hurt or let down to move towards them; it needs a lot of grace. In the New Testament, Jesus models full and free forgiveness when he tells Peter to 'feed my lambs' and 'feed my sheep' when he meets him after his resurrection (John 21.15–17). David offers Absalom nothing.



God, thank you that you offer a way back for sinners. Help me not to exclude those whom you call and welcome, but to forgive as I have been forgiven.

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