No one had a dysfunctional family like King David had. One son raped a half-sister. Another son murdered the rapist. Two of the remaining sons led a rebellion against David to strip him of his throne. Absalom failed first, then Adonijah attempted the coup when David was bedridden. 1 Kings 1:7-8 begins the story of the rebellion and puts the various player on the respective sides of the rebellion. It says, He (Adonijah) conferred with Joab, the son of Zeruiah, and with Abiathar, the priest. And they followed Adonijah and helped him. But Zadok the priest and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada and Nathan the prophet and Shimei and Rei and David’s mighty men were not with Adonijah.” Rebellion against authority is a constant theme in world history. There is always someone who thinks they can do a better job or doesn’t think they are getting their due respect or recognition.

I don’t think it matters what organization you might lead. It could be a city, state, or national government. It could be some corporate institution. It might be a church. Whenever there is a power struggle, you have those who might support you and those who will be against you. In the church splits I’ve experienced, I’ve been fortunate to have my own “Nathans” and others who would support me. Even as the president of the Seminary class back in the early 80s, I had those who didn’t like me and challenged my role. The coup failed, and I was reelected, but then I decided that politics wasn’t for me and gave up the role in my third year. In the church splits that followed, I found the most painful experiences in ministry involved behind-the-scenes rebellions. It wasn’t the work of preaching every Sunday. It wasn’t the work of administration or visitation or anything else. What drove me to retirement was the realization that I was a terrible politician. I hate the power struggles and the maneuvering to take charge of every situation. I say all this just to point out how heart-breaking it is when you have someone who is supposed to love and trust you betray you. Can you imagine David’s feelings? His very own sons betrayed him and raised armies to push him out of power. He gave life to them. He supported them. He put them in positions that enabled them to raise dissent. I always think of David’s lament, “Absolom, Absolom, my son, my son!” David’s general could not understand why David was sad at his rebellious son’s death. But his grief was inconsolable for some time.

I’ve never considered myself a good leader. I had and still have many faults. I sometimes will beat myself up for being a poor judge of character. A fault that led to several betrayals in my life.  In many ways, I deserved the betrayals. A close look at the life of David as a father would lead us to believe he deserved his treatment, also. But think of Jesus’ own betrayal. Whereas I deserved it at times. Jesus did not. Just consider what happened to him. Moller writes, “He was scandalously betrayed with a kiss by one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot. He was arrested, manacled, and brought to trial in a manner befitting a great criminal. He had to suffer the intense disappointment of a disciple very close to Him (Peter) denying Him. While He Himself was obedient to God to the utmost, He was accused of blasphemy. While He came to earth to reconcile a godless and rebellious humankind with God, He Himself was falsely accused and found guilty of revolting against God and the emperor. He was considered so insignificant and despicable that He did not even get a just trial. A variety of false witnesses were allowed to be brought against Him. His judge, Pontius Pilate, found Him guilty against his own conviction and sentenced Him to death just to gain favor with high priests and their elders. This humiliation was intensified further when the crowd preferred a notorious criminal (Barabbas) to Him. He, who brought deliverance and healing to the Jews, was hated by them and rejected with derision. He, who is, in fact, the Lord of life and King of kings, was humiliated and derided by soldiers who also spat in his face.”[1] Jesus experienced all this for you and me. He took the sins of the whole world upon Himself and underwent the judgment resulting from it. He subjected Himself to this humiliation, loneliness, rejection, derision, anguish, pain, disappointment, and injustice for the specific purpose of delivering us from the consequences of our own sin. He, who knew no sin, became sin for us, to deliver us from the utmost destitution and misery.

[1] Möller, F. P. 1998. The Wonderful Christ and the Meaning of Humanness (Christology and Anthropology). Vol. 2. Words of Light and Life. Pretoria: Van Schaik Religious Books.