30 January 2013

A Father's Failure

“O my son Absalom—my son, my son Absalom—if only I had died in your place! O Absalom my son, my son!” (2 Samuel 18:33)  Here is an exceeding bitter cry. It is one of the saddest passages in the entire Bible. One would think that such was the cry of a mother who had lost the dearest thing on earth to her, a child. But no, it is the bitter cry of a man weeping for his son who had been killed. Absalom, the son of David had been slain while leading his forces against his father, the King of Israel. David had instructed Joab and his men to deal gently with his son (2 Samuel 18:5). But they slew the young man anyway (2 Samuel 18:14, 15). In the rearing of his son Absalom David was indeed a failure.

But wherein had David failed? We must be fair and note that in other ventures in life, David was not a failure. In fact in many things he was very successful. We observe that David rose rapidly in rank. We saw him first as a shepherd boy. He possessed a brilliant mind and fortitude. As a courageous lad he went out to meet and defeat the great giant Goliath in battle. David was a many sided man. He was not only a shepherd but a poet, a singer and later to become the King of Israel. A man like this will usually make good in any situation. While as king much wealth was accumulated in the treasury. The enemies had been defeated. The time was called the ‘Golden Age of Israel.’ David provided the proper foundation upon which his son Solomon eventually erected the temple. But in what did this successful man fail? 

He failed as a father. David paid a great price for his success. When David looked over his life he saw it too. It cost him many hours of sorrow. Our text in 2 Samuel 18:31-33 reveals only one time of his weeping. His son was killed while rebelling against him. Many fathers are like David today. They too will pay the price. Some men are successful at building fortunes but completely unsuccessful at building men.

One might ask, why did David take this failure so hard? Because of his tender love for his son he had lost. Fathers are not supposed to do much weeping it is often thought by misinformed individuals. We should understand however that often fathers are just as devoted to their children as mothers. David also takes his failure hard because his loss is without remedy. We may blunder in some things and correct them next time but there is no next time in the rearing of children. David could have said, “I would make Absalom a different boy if I could only have my time over with him.” No wonder he cried. David took failure hard because he knew he lost his son hopelessly. Absalom was gone for good. He could not be brought back again. Death always produces this feeling when we loose loved ones. David lost his son needlessly. If he had been the right kind of a father, perhaps he could have saved his son. Many a father carries this accusation in his bosom.

The story is told about a father who took his little child into the field one afternoon and it being a hot day he laid down in the shade of a beautiful tree. The little child ran about gathering wild flowers and little bits of grass and coming to his father and would cry, “Look how pretty!” At last the father fell asleep and while he was sleeping the child wandered away. When the father awoke his first thought was, “Where is my child?” He looked around but he could not see him. He shouted at the top of his voice but all he heard was an echo. Running to a little hill he looked around and shouted again. There was no response. Then going to a steep cliff at some distance he looked down and there, far below on the rocks and briars he saw the mangled form of his precious child. He rushed to the spot and took up the lifeless corpse and hugged it to his bosom and accused himself of being the murderer of his child. While he was sleeping and neglecting for a just a short time his child had wandered over the precipice.

Such depicts so many fathers and mothers today. While their children are wandering closer and closer to the edge of the cliff and to certain destruction, parents are asleep regarding the moral and spiritual welfare of their off-springs. Often parents contribute to the downfall of their children because of their own way of life. Some fathers drink, gamble and are unfaithful to their marriage vows; and then they wonder what went wrong in the rearing of their children. King David was crushed beneath the burden of thought that he had lost his son Absalom for all eternity. It should be noted that providing the daily necessities for one’s family is not enough. More important is the rearing of children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). Money may provide for the body but not for the soul. Money may buy groceries but not character.

Another question to ponder is why was David a failure as a father? When John was born, the question was raised, “What then shall this child be” (Luke 1:66)? It is required of parents to train children in the way of the Lord (Proverbs 22:6). David undoubtedly shifted his responsibilities to someone else. He had many obligations, cares, troubles and political problems but he should not have neglected his son. Perhaps Absalom never thought about going to David with his broken toy and he never thought about going to him with his broken heart. David gave him everything but himself. Many fathers are like that today. David in his sins concerning Bathsheba could have influenced his son, adversely so. David repented and returned from the far country of sin but Absalom never came back from that land of sorrow.

Fathers, you should consider your responsibilities toward your children before it is eternally too late. Lead your loved ones in the way of the Savior Jesus Christ. Make every effort to save your family from sin and an everlasting separation from the God of heaven. You cannot afford to lose your sons and daughters.

08 January 2013


It was over the Christmas holidays that our oldest son approached me about what arrangements his mother and I had made in case one of us needed ‘long term care’ due to a stroke or some other sickness that possibly could cripple us. Now that question caused some serious thinking on my part. It is something that you really don’t like to consider since we are still in relatively good health. But our age is showing. After all, my wife and I will be seventy-eight years old our next birthday anniversary. I think sometimes I am a twenty-five year old man locked in this seventy-seven year old body. I don’t feel this old but I am. Aging parents can really be a major problem for caring children. And ‘long term care’ is so expensive. People have lost their homes, property and savings when in need of ‘long time care’. I knew of this Christian couple who was in the same nursing home and a relative of theirs stated the cost was $12,000 per month!!! I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Oh, I know that Medicare will pay some but you still have to give up practically all your earthly possessions in the process of covering the expenses for ‘long term care’.

There are ‘long term care’ policies that can be purchased from various insurance companies for a price and if you can afford it, that can be a wise choice.  While my wife and I do not have one of those policies, we do have another ‘long term care’ policy that we have had for most of our lives. While in our youth we confessed our faith in Jesus Christ as being the son of God and were baptized. The cost for our salvation and ‘lone time care’ was paid by our Savior who shed His blood on Calvary. We could not afford the cost ourselves so He paid it for us. And we know for a fact that the Owner of this policy has cared for us over the years, including fifty-seven years of marriage. Oh, the road has not been an easy one to travel but it was during the times of trials, burdens and difficulties that His policy really ‘kicked in’.  I am speaking of the care of our Heavenly Father that has seen us through the valleys of this life. The apostle Peter wrote in I Peter 5:6, 7: “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you(Emphasis, mine, R.E.) The providential care of God is greatly emphasized by Jesus Christ in the Sermon on the Mount as recorded in Matthew chapter 6, verses 25-34. He provides for “the birds of the air” and He clothes “the lilies of the field”.  He then asked his disciples “Are you not of more value than they?” Regarding the material blessings of life the Lord said if we “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteous” He promised that “all these things shall be added to you.” God has also given His children this promise as found in Hebrews 13:5, 6: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear: What can man do to me?” I have often quoted Psalm 37:25 to express my trust in the providential care of our Heaven Father: “I have been young and now I am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor His descendants begging bread.”  In 1904, Walter S. Martin wrote the lyrics to this beautiful song that mentions the promise that “God Will Take Care of You.” “Be not dismayed whate’er betide, God will take care of you; Beneath His wings of love abide, God will take care of you. Thro’ days of toil when heart doth fail God will take of you; When dangers fierce your path assail, God will take care of you. No matter what may be the test, God will take care of you. God will take care of you, Thro’ every day, O’er all the way; He will take care of you, God will take care of you.”

But the care of God does not end when this life is over for His children. His ‘long term care’ policy is extended into eternity. Our bodies are daily growing older. The days of our lives are numbered “For the living know that they will die” (Psalm 90:10; Ecclesiastes 9:5). The fear of death does not overwhelm the faithful followers of Jesus Christ, knowing that they will be in the care of their Heavenly Father (Psalm 23:4). In fact, the apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 1:23 that to die and be with the Lord “is far better”.  John was instructed to write in Revelation 14:13 the following: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.” Isaiah, a prophet of God penned these words of encouragement: “Good people pass away; the godly often die before their time. But no one seems to care or wonder why. No one seems to understand that God is protecting them from the evil to come. For those who follow godly paths will rest in peace when they die” (Emphasis mine, R.E., Isaiah 57:1, 2; NIV). Eternity cannot be comprehended by our finite minds but we have the promise that God will take care of us. The sentiments expressed in the following song fills the believer’s heart with full assurance of that great truth. “Safe in the arms of Jesus, Safe on His gentle breast, There by His love o’er shaded, Sweetly my soul shall rest. Hark! Tis the voice of angels, Borne in a song to me, Over the fields of glory, Over the jasper sea. Safe in the arms of Jesus, Safe from corroding care, Safe from the world’s temptations, Sin cannot harm me there. Free from the blight of sorrow, Free from my doubts and fears; Only a few more trials, Only a few more tears. Jesus, my heart’s dear refuge, Jesus has died for me, Firm on the Rock of Ages, Ever my trust shall be. Here let me wait with patience, Wait til the night is o’er; Wait till I see the morning Break on the golden shore: Safe in the arms of Jesus, Safe on His gentle breast, There by His love o’er shaded, Sweetly my soul shall rest”. – William H. Doane, 1870