THE PATH OF REBELLION
2 Sam. 15:1-12
Perhaps one of the saddest stories in the Bible is the story of Absalom. This young man literally “had it all.” He was handsome, wealthy, and powerful, and in line to become the next king. He could not wait on God, however, and tried to get what he thought God wanted his way. He rebelled against God and his father David. What does a young person in rebellion look like? Here are seven indicators of the path of rebellion in the life of a person.
A Rebellious Person will spend others’ wealth to promote himself (15:1). Absalom spent his father’s money to hire men to run before his chariot (something David never did). He had an attitude of entitlement that shouted, “I deserve it.” He also had an attitude of superiority that asserted, “I’m better than others.” These attitudes reinforced his rebellious heart and pushed him to spend money to “win friends and influence people”—money that was not his. Many today (in government and elsewhere) use other people’s money to win people, but that attitude only masks a heart of rebellion.
A Rebellious Person will criticize authorities to others to make his cause appear right (15:3-5). Absalom was happy to put himself in between his father and the people as a way to criticize his father and steal their affection. He listened to the grievances of others (15:2), and instead of honoring his father, he legitimized their gripes and presented himself as their champion. The Bible records that Absalom “stole the hearts” of the men of Israel; they weren’t his to take, but in his rebellion he won the hearts of others by a criticizing his dad behind his back while loving him to his face (2 Sam. 14:33).
A Rebellious Person will use a trusted position to win others to his side (15:6). Absalom’s role as one of David’s “chief ministers” (2 Sam. 8:18) gave him insight into kingdom workings and an entrance into the lives of others. While they may have come “to the king” for resolution, Absalom’s trusted position allowed him to insert himself between them and the king to win their loyalty and sow seeds of distrust toward his dad.
A Rebellious Person will lie about spiritual things to give his parents false assurance (15:7-8). Absalom lied about two spiritual things to gain his father’s trust: he lied about false vows that he had made, and he lied about coming back to “serve the LORD.” When I was in rebellion against my parents, I often used “church” things to deceive them and indulge evil habits and plans.
A Rebellious Person will sneak around to fulfill his desires (15:9-10). Absalom’s spies sent throughout the tribes reveal a heart of deception and rebellion; honest people don’t have to “sneak” around and use “spies.” Absalom’s rebellious heart caused him to engage in deceit on a grand scale.
A Rebellious Person will use others who are not involved to further his agenda (15:11). Absalom took 200 men from Jerusalem who went along “innocently” and didn’t know what was happening, but they made his rebellion look even more serious than it was. Rebels seek to involve others to justify their sin and promote their cause.
A Rebellious Person will cloak his sin in religious terms to justify his actions (15:12). “God told me to do it” is the motto of the rebellious; Absalom employs his father’s trusted counselor in his scheme, and Ahithophel, with an axe to grind because his granddaughter’s marriage was destroyed by David, gladly joins him. One truth played out again and again in Scripture is that evil men will always find counselors to approve of sin. There will always be someone—even a “religious leader”—who will help rebels justify their rebellion and cloak it religious terms.
A Rebellious Person will eventually pay the price for rebellion (2 Sam. 18:15). The price of rebellion is incredibly high. Absalom lost his kingdom, his wealth, his respect, and eventually his life. Rebellion ate away everything valuable. His example reminds every person of rebellion’s consequences (1 Sam. 15:22-23). God deals harshly with rebellion, but loves the repentant heart. Absalom would have had the kingdom had he only waited; rebellion cost it all.