Cruising Route 66
“Definition of Dysfunction”
The war between the house of Saul and the house of David lasted a long time. David grew stronger and stronger, while the house of Saul grew weaker and weaker.
II Samuel 3:1
In I Samuel we see the insecurities and fears of king Saul. Traits that brought a humble, unassuming man to a place demanding absolute control, and the ultimate loss of his kingdom. II Samuel picks up at Saul’s death and the reign of a new king, David. David’s exploits as a warrior, general, and king are legendary, as is his love for God and for his people. But although David is well known as “a man after God’s own heart”, his life was anything but perfect tranquility.
Throughout II Samuel we find David weeping over his family. Had the term “disfunction” existed at the time, I’m sure it would have applied to David’s family. His children brought him his greatest joy and his greatest pain. The Scripture says that David would not bring his children to anger. In other words, he wouldn’t do anything that would risk offending them. Consider what destructive behavior can be bred into a person when there is a lack of discipline because those in authority over them are fearful of offending them.
The fear of confrontation and avoiding any possibility of offending someone is the foundation of American society in the 21st century. As we look at II Samuel, and gaze into the life of Israel’s greatest king, take note of some characteristics of a poorly balanced life. One of the worst examples is among David’s children.
But he refused to listen to her, and since he was stronger than she, he raped her. Then Amnon hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her. Amnon said to her, “Get up and get out!” II Samuel 13:14-15
A classic trait of a life out of balance is “transference,” or “giving the gift of guilt.” Amnon, David’s eldest son, shows little regard for anyone else when his own desires need to be met. Amnon loved his sister, but that love went wrong, and Amnon knew it was wrong. Instead of taking responsibility for his actions, and begging forgiveness, he puts the blame on Tamar. The characteristic of “transference” is simply transferring the responsibility of one’s actions to someone else.
We see this today. It’s a recognized platform defending immoral and criminal behavior. When a vicious crime is reported, motive is sought. Why did the perpetrator commit the crime, what was his or her reason? It’s as if down deep we want to believe that people are inherently good, so there must have been some outside event, person, or stimulation that caused this type of response.
I do not dismiss the fact that we can be compelled by events or the actions of others to act inappropriately, but there is a problem with thinking that all negative conduct is caused by someone or something else. It eliminates personal responsibility.
Her brother Absalom said to her, “Has that Amnon, your brother, been with you? Be quiet now, my sister; he is your brother. Don’t take this thing to heart.” And Tamar lived in her brother Absalom’s house, a desolate woman. II Samuel 13:20
Did you catch that? “Lighten up, it’s no big deal, that’s your brother. There’s a bigger picture here.” Her big brother says, “don’t take it to heart.” But she did, and she lived the isolated, forsaken, depressing, miserable, wretched, mournful, inconsolable life of a heartbroken woman.
Such a response makes you wonder if maybe she had taken the blame for what happened. Maybe she thought it was her fault. It isn’t unreasonable to make that assumption when both her big brothers, men she looked up to, all but tell her it’s her fault.
David’s children seemed to lack two essential elements needed for character balance: Concern for their own actions and its effect on others, and concern for the needs of others and what responsibility they have in meeting those needs.
What about Dad? He’ll straighten this out, discipline his son, and reestablish his little girls’ worth.
When King David heard all this, he was furious. …. Two years later,.. II Samuel 13:21 & 23a
Yep. Dad was ticked! But that’s it. That’s all you hear about David’s concern for his daughter. Two years later the issue arises again, but not by David. Another characteristic of a poorly balanced life is “misplaced treasures.” Have you stopped to see where your treasure lies? Find it, and according to Jesus you’ll find your heart there too. (Luke 12:34)
Let me suggest a few things:
- Don’t give the gift of guilt. – Take responsibility for your life and your actions.
- Don’t find the fault-line. – Don’t help people find the faults in their lives or carry someone else’s liability. Their choices are not your problem.
- Don’t misplace your treasure. – Take time to count your blessings. Then ask yourself, how much attention am I giving them?
- Don’t bury the undead. – If there’s an issue that’s still alive and kicking, don’t bury it, deal with it, and if it’s dead, don’t dig it up.
See ya next time,