Day 07 Devotional & Discussion – March 12, 2014

2 Samuel 15:1-6

Absalom, King David’s son, has been kept outside his father’s political circle, and over the course of several years, he awaits an opportunity to stage a political coup.  Like any excellent politician, he establishes a rapport with the public primarily by lamenting the state of the current justice system and listening to their civil disputes.

How do you feel about the state of our current justice/correctional system?  How does your feeling affect the way you hear politicians and the way you vote?  Is simply wanting change a good motivation for selecting leaders?  Why or why not?

Often candidates–especially conservative candidates–appeal to Christians for support.  How do you evaluate whether a candidate should receive your support?  What issues most influence your vote?  In this election year, the issue of “law and order” and our justice system will likely be a part of the political discourse.  Before you support any candidate, find out their stands on issues like mandatory sentences, privatization of state prisons, deportation of immigrants and continuation of the “War on Drugs” to see if they align with God’s desire for justice, mercy and reconciliation.



  1. Absalom is easy to hate. And yet I suspect he wasn’t able to start a coup based solely on his good looks and charismatic personality. He was wise, but he was also scratching where people itched. It seems there was something missing in the justice system. If I am correct, I also have to question how his father David could have allowed that. David was a man after God’s own heart, but he definitely had women problems. I wonder if he got lazy. I know this is definitely in the realm of speculation, but I wonder how much David might be at fault for the lack of justice that Absalom exploited. It seems the people of Absalom’s day weren’t too happy with their justice system. If things were great, if David had a close eye on things, it would seem to me there would be little for Absalom to call into question. But maybe I’m wrong in my evaluation of this.

    It is hard for me to answer the questions posed above, as I have so little exposure to the justice system. Some of the concerns I have are: the death penalty as a practice, the cost of incarceration, prison environments that seem to inspire criminal behavior, the terrible rate of recidivism. I can’t say that I have given a whole lot of thought about politicians and reform of the justice system. I have a sense, though, that something is wrong. Maybe there is the correlation to the people of Absalom’s day. Something seems to be wrong, but the common person has little hope of working in a meaningful way towards a solution. It is easy to classify the problem as too big, too detached from real life, and thus “not my problem”.

    This compact, even at this early stage, has convicted me to think more about these issues, to want to learn more.

  2. Sounds a bit like Absalom was a flatterer; this brief Scriptural account doesn’t have him saying anything negative to his fellow Israelites. So, he was certainly scratching itchy ears, but it also seems like he was giving people a level of personal attention and affirmation they might not have been getting otherwise. I think this is an issue in today’s political system, in which it seems we are just waiting to hear what the candidates have to say about a select few issues. It’s actually amazing how a candidate’s stand on a very select few issues can either make or break them.

    I admit, most of my attention isn’t focused on the judicial end of things, perhaps because it feels like (even though it might not actually be the case) that we as citizens have so little say in that branch of government. I suppose we do have a hand in local elections. Anything much higher than that seems beyond us. Generally speaking, I distrust candidates that sound like they are the mouthpiece for certain groups or just a talking head trying to get a nomination. I try to listen for people who sound like they’ve invested their own time and thought into an issue and factor that in to my decision making.

    That being said, I don’t hear many candidates (none that I can readily recall, actually) who have talked recently about mercy and reconciliation. I supposed we’ve had some talk about justice, but “justice” often sounds like retaliation in public discourse.

    (Ditto what Joel said, by the way, as far as this Compact convicting me to look more deeply into this issue).

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