After being confronted by the wise woman of Tekoa about reconciling with his exiled son Absalom, David was faced with whether he would inhale the breath of life from God who devises ways so that the banished may not remain estranged from Him. First, David would have to remember his own sin and God’s justice, mercy, and grace.
We must remember that we were once banished, and God devised a way that we could turn and not remain estranged from Him. In order to restore our fellowship with Him, the Father did not condone our sin, nor condemn us beyond His reach; rather, He paid the price for our transgressions and devised a pathway home. Justice, mercy, and grace flow from the heart of the Father Who devises ways for life.
“Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die” (2 Samuel 14:14). Amnon was dead and could not be brought back to life. According to the law, Amnon should not have had sex, let alone forced, with his sister (Leviticus 18:9). The penalty was to be banished, or cut off, from the people (Leviticus 18:20; 20:17). David exchanged justice for license with Amnon, fostering an opportunity for Absalom to execute revenge.
We have one opportunity at life on this side where we fall short of God’s perfection, and then we die to face judgment (Hebrews 9:27). Christ is the justice of God. He paid the price for our sin (Hebrews 10:10).
“But God does not take away life” (2 Samuel 14:14). The Latin Vulgate states, “Nor does God will the destruction of the soul” (2 Samuel 14:14). God exhaled mercy. God provided Amnon, David, and Absalom mercy so that they would return to Him. In the Garden of Eden, God breathed life into the clay (Genesis 2:7). In the original Hebrew, that breath of life suggested a continual inhaling and exhaling. Consequently, God did not merely breathe into man one time and walk away. Rather, He continued to inhale and exhale through His creation.
In Christ, we find that breath of life only by His mercy (Romans 9:15-16). God does not give us what we deserve, eternal banishment from Him. Instead, He offers us mercy: less than we deserve.
“Instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him” (2 Samuel 14:14). Chashab is the Hebrew word for devise that is contrasted with David’s devising Absalom’s banishment referenced in the previous verse (2 Samuel 14:13). If God devises ways to forgive and reconcile, will David? Will we? Contrast this with the fact that God hates a heart that devises wicked schemes (Proverbs 6:18). Both Amnon and Absalom had devised wicked schemes. According to the law, two or more witnesses to a premeditated murder allowed for the death penalty (Number 35:30). This stipulation would have weighed heavily in Absalom’s decision to flee Jerusalem.
“Banished,” spoken by the wise woman of Tekoa, is a repeated Old Testament reference to God’s people who were the benefactors of the Divine Who devised ways so that they would not remain estranged from Him. This was true from the beginning. After the first sin in the Garden, justice was issued and death occurred. An animal was killed for its skin to cover Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21). Then mercy was unveiled as God instituted physical death for man so that he would not live in the dilapidated state of sin forever (Genesis 3:22). So, God banished Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:23). However, God did not banish them from His presence. He offered grace through the prophesied Christ (Genesis 3:15).
The story of God’s grace to reconcile banished people continued throughout the Old Testament. Just prior to the Israelites entering the Promised Land, God spoke to His people through Moses: “Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the LORD your God will gather you and bring you back” (Deuteronomy 30:4-5). Hundreds of years later, though King David’s successors had sinned, God still issued grace: “But the LORD was gracious to them and had compassion and showed concern for them because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. To this day he has been unwilling to destroy them or banish them from his presence” (2 Kings 13:23). God devised ways for life. Our sin against God requires death. Through His justice, mercy, and grace, God devised a way that we would not remain estranged from Him. Christ is the way (John 14:6).
Justice is getting what we deserve. Mercy is not getting what we deserve. Grace is getting what we do not deserve. Do you understand you deserve justice from God? Are you ready to ask for mercy? If so, God will give you grace, His undeserved love, His unmerited favor, discovered only in Christ. Take a deep breath. Hold it for five seconds. Exhale. Let that be a reminder of God inhaling and exhaling His breath of life through you.