One of the challenges we have with the Word of God in this generation is the tendency to limit what God wants to say to us today to the literal account of what He has said, which anybody without a New birth experience can make sense of. Granted, we must read and understand the history and literal issues arising, however, we must never forget that we are not reading a book for mere intellectual excitement that was inspired by men, but we are reading a book of books that was inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Hence, we must not remain at the “letters that killeth”, which in itself is a good literal understanding, but it has no capacity to give us LIFE. Instead, we must always allow the One who breathed on men as they wrote, to quicken what we are reading, so that the LIFE that He has within those letters can be released to our peculiar situations. (2 Corinthians 3:6, 2 Peter 1:21, 2 Timothy 3:16-17)
“For no prophetic message ever came just from the human will, (The prophets did not think these things up on their own) but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” 2 Peter 1:21 (GNB, CEV,KJV)
Now, the Scripture before us is the story of how there was contention in Israel because David was not on the throne, and Absalom who had cunningly dethroned him, was also dead in battle. You can read the entire story to understand the historical background here. Now, what is the LORD pointing to at this particular time to teach us (doctrine), to reproof us, to correct us and to instruct us in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16)? See the Scripture focus below:
“And all the people were at strife throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, The king saved us out of the hand of our enemies, and he delivered us out of the hand of the Philistines; and now he is fled out of the land for Absalom. And Absalom, whom we anointed over us, is dead in battle. Now therefore why speak ye not a word of bringing the king back?”
2 Samuel 19:9-10
Absalom and David today
Our LORD Jesus Christ is the One who has delivered us from all our enemies and the “philistines” who have dealt with us in the past. “…He made a public spectacle of them by leading them as captives in his victory procession.” through the instrumentality of the cross (Colossians 2:15 GNB). He is the rightful owner of the throne of your heart, therefore He is the David we are speaking about.
But there is a problem!
“…Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.” KJV
“…and so he won their loyalty.” GNB
“…Soon everyone in Israel liked Absalom better than they liked David” CEV
“…so Absalom, like a thief, took away the hearts of the men of Israel.” BBE
“…and Abessalom gained the hearts of the men of Israel.” Brenton
2 Samuel 15:6
Absalom without David
Whenever people came to King David, Absalom “waylaid” them by deceiving them into believing that he cared for them more than the King did. He continued to do this until the whole Israel was stolen from its rightful King. And please note, all of this only had to happen in their hearts. The people didn’t have to show this change in loyalty outwardly. If you asked them whom their king was, they will still say it was the Great David, yet they were already serving “another” in their hearts.
Bible Doctrine without Christ
How is it possible for a son to steal from his father? It is the same way we are wondering how it is possible for a bible doctrine to gain the hearts of God’s people, that they are no longer in love with Christ (in reality), but with their favourite bible teaching. Absalom was the reason for the strife that erupted in Israel. “And all the people were at strife throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, The king saved us out of the hand of our enemies, and he delivered us out of the hand of the Philistines; and now he is fled out of the land for Absalom.” (2 Samuel 19:9).
Today, Absalom is still the reason for the strife that exists among us God’s children. The absalom of holding on to a doctrine and dismissing other aspects of God’s Word. Each bible doctrine can be seen as an “offspring” of Christ, but none of them, all by itself, should take the place of Christ. We must submit to the whole counsel of God, and not only the favourite teachings of our denominations.
Every genuine doctrine is dead if Christ is not the focus
Absalom is a usurper! A thief! A deceiver! So is every teaching of the Word of God that divides God’s people. No single teaching or teacher has the right to win the affection of God’s people to the detriment of their devotion and affection for Christ. And the truth of the matter is this, once we enthrone a single doctrine over a denomination or christian movement, we have only enthroned Absalom and quietly dethroned David. And once David is not on the throne, the Absalom that you put on the throne cannot be a living Absalom; ‘it’ will be dead.
Brethren, every doctrine on their own is dead, if Jesus Christ is not central to all our bible teachings. As biblical and correct as a teaching can be, if we make it the emphasis in the place of Christ, it becomes an “absalom”, and no matter how reviving we may account our work to be, it will only create strife among God’s people. “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” (John 5:39) “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:27) cf: Luke 24:25, 44-45
NOTE: This is not to say that a genuine work of God does not experience contentions from others who are unwilling to submit to the full counsel of God. The flesh will always lust or strife against the spirit. That is, those who want to please men and themselves will always not be in good terms with those who are only concerned about the glory of God, and will not bend to conform to man’s adjustments/revision of God’s Word.
Although we may feel a providential sense of focusing on an aspect of God’s Word, especially if it has been greatly neglected by the rest of the body of Christ; yet, we must allow the LORD Jesus to remain the focus of our lives and messages, so that our emphasis in itself doesn’t become a snare to God’s people. What does it profit the church to specialize in “holiness” if it is dead, like Absalom, in their experience; and you know, when holiness is dead, the only available counterfeit is legalism.
The issue is when Christ is not central…not enthroned, a good bible teaching like holiness will only produce legalistic believers. What about faith? If Christ is still the focus, then it will only increase dependence on Him, and there will be more feeding from the “tree of LIFE” rather than the “tree of knowledge of good and evil”. But if Christ is not the focus, the message of faith on its own becomes a message of covetousness, that opens the door to the New Age forces of humanism, philosophy, metaphysics and post-modernism.
Bring back the King
“…Now therefore why speak ye not a word of bringing the king back?” 2 Samuel 19:10
“Gather my saints unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.” Psalm 50:5
Every work, service or ministry should do this one thing: “gather my saints together unto me…” Not to a particular teaching; but unto Jesus. When the people are gathered unto Him, there will be genuine transformation devoid of forced or fake experiences.
“…those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.” are those who have responded to the call to “…present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1).
This is a major shift that the New Covenant represents. We have not come to a physical mountain that can be touched (Hebrews 12:18-21); that is, we have not come to a singular experience or teaching that affects us temporarily, but falls short of bringing us “…unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:” (Ephesians 4:13). No!
But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,  To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,  And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant…” Hebrews 12:22-24
Christ is the fullness that we are called unto. “All Scripture (not a few) is given by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit…” to make us like Him (Jesus) inwardly and they are all necessary in making us complete, thoroughly furnished unto every good work outwardly. 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Romans 8:29
“For I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. I promised you as a pure bride to one husband—Christ. But I fear that somehow your pure and undivided devotion to Christ will be corrupted, just as Eve was deceived by the cunning ways of the serpent.”
2 Corinthians 11:2-3 NLT
NOTE: Unless otherwise stated, all Scripture quotations are from the King James Version.
Picture Credit: Cornerstone Bible Church