The Bible teaches God devises ways for life for those who are estranged from Him. Despite our sinful nature which often pushes others away, God still pulls the banished toward His abundant and eternal life. Let’s examine a story from the Bible where people are pushing when God is pulling.
Amnon Devises a Way to Push
King David’s son, Amnon, fell in love with his half-sister, Tamar. Literally lovesick because it seemed impossible for him to be with her, Amnon was approached by his friend and cousin, Jonadab, who inquired about his gloomy appearance. The two devised a way for Amnon to be alone with Tamar. Amnon pretended to be ill, garnering the presence of his father the king to whom he requested none other than Tamar to come to his house and prepare food for him. An unsuspecting David obliged. What followed cut deeply into David’s family legacy, scarring it for generations.
A scheming Amnon gazed at Tamar with shameless intent while she kneaded the dough, formed it into bread, and then placed it in the brick oven. As the aroma of freshly baked bread filled Amnon’s house, lust filled his heart. When Tamar served him the warm bread, he refused to eat, ordering their servants to leave. Still devising a way to violate his sister without any witnesses, Amnon requested Tamar to feed him as he lay in his bed. When a vulnerable Tamar approached her deceitful brother, he grabbed her, whispered his dishonorable intentions, defied her warning, and stole her innocence.
Absalom Devises a Way to Push
When news hit the king, he was furious, but he ignored the law requiring Amnon’s banishment. Consequently, Tamar’s full brother Absalom calmed his sister while he secretly devised a way to seek revenge. Two years later, after receiving David’s permission allowing the king’s son to join him out of town with his sheepshearers, Absalom ordered his men to murder a wine-filled Amnon as repayment for his sin with Tamar. The princes raced to David’s palace where they mourned the untimely loss of their brother. Realizing that he faced banishment or even death for his heinous act, Absalom fled for asylum in Geshur, land of his mother, where his grandfather was king.
David Devises a Way to Push
All the while, David’s heart longed for his son Absalom. However, the king allowed his son to remain banished without contact for three years until David’s military leader Joab (meaning Jehovah-fathered), devised a way to persuade the king to reconcile with Absalom (2 Samuel 14:1).
God Devises a Way to Pull
Motivated by a desire to pull David toward reconciled relationships, to see the king’s heart mended by renewing his relationship with his son (2 Samuel 14:1), to honor God (2 Samuel 14:13, 16, 17), to maintain Israel’s military strength (2 Samuel 14:16), and to improve his own relationship with David (2 Samuel 14:22), Joab sent his messenger about ten miles south of Jerusalem to Tekoa where he solicited the help of a wise woman. Disguised as a grieving widow, the undercover agent traveled to Jerusalem and fell before the king as she presented him with her parable masterminded by Joab.
While in the fields, her sons argued. With no one to separate them, one son stole the breath of life from his brother. Now the entire clan was coming to kill her sole remaining heir who also represented her only means of survival. She begged for David’s protection from the avenger of blood. Empathizing with the woman’s plight, the king promptly ordered her son’s safety.
With the confirmation of the king’s ruling, the wise woman of Tekoa unveiled her true motive. David listened intently only to learn that he had been the antagonist in yet another parable. “The wise woman inquired, ‘Why then have you devised a thing like this against the people of God? When the king says this, does he not convict himself, for the king has not brought back his banished son'” (2 Samuel 14:13).
With David’s blood boiling, the woman seized the moment to craft one of the most insightful word pictures ever expressed to the shepherd turned king: “Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him” (2 Samuel 14:14). The wise woman of Tekoa had just painted a portrait of God on the inner canvas of the king. If God devises ways for life, would the man after God’s own heart do the same?
In order to be used by God to advance His kingdom, David would have to: (1) inhale the breath of life from God and (2) exhale the breathe of life to others. The same holds true for us today.
Are you inhaling and exhaling God’s breath of life and being used by His Spirit to pull the estranged to Christ?