A 100% catastrophe.
David was a man after God’s own heart – but he had a little too much mercy on his own family. He never ruled with the “rod of discipline” as it says to do in Proverbs 13:24. “He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently.”
David didn’t know how to use tough love. It just wasn’t in his character.
David’s firstborn son was named Amnon. He was born to David’s second wife Ahinoam of Jezreel. We don’t know much about Ahinoam. Actually, we know nothing about her other than the fact that she married David when he was on the run from Saul. David already had a wife, you see. David had married one of Saul’s daughters for 100 Philistine foreskins (what a great wedding present . . . ). Although Saul’s daughter had helped David escape her father, she didn’t go with him and eventually marries someone else – but that is a story for another day. Back to David second wife. David marries Abinoam and she bares him his firstborn son – Amnon. Then David meets someone else. This time, we know more about this girl. Her name is Abigail. She is beautiful, intelligent, and has a lot of integrity. She is married to Nabal. Nabal’s Hebrew name is very telling – it means fool. And Abigail’s husband was a fool. David’s band of men guarded Nabal’s men when they were in the field sheering the sheep. David asks Nabal for some food for his men, and Nabal refuses him. David goes ballistic at the insult and is about to march to destroy everyone in Nabal’s household, but Nabal’s intelligent, beautiful wife hears of what her fool-of-a-husband has done and rushes to meet David. She humbles herself before him, brings him food, and begs him to spare her household. David is impressed and blesses Abigail for her quick actions and fine character. Ten days later, Nabal is dead by the hand of God. David recognizes awesomeness when he sees it – and asks for Abigail’s hand in marriage. Of course, Abigail says yes.
Abigail becomes David’s third wife.
David marries more women – seven for sure. The only other wife we know anything about is Bathsheba – but we really know nothing about her character – only her lineage. Abigail stands out in my mind as the beautiful – and intelligent – worthy wife of David.
And here is where it gets interesting.
David’s firstborn Amnon rapes David’s daughter Tamar. Amnon and Tamar had different mothers, so they were half-siblings, but this was still an absolute abomination. Tamar’s full blood-brother Absalom – David’s third son – is outraged. But David? David does nothing.
Absalom (David’s third son) simmers in his fury for a few years and then ultimately kills Amnon (David’s first son). David’s firstborn son – the one that probably should have assumed the throne – is dead.
Absalom runs away. David does nothing.
Eventually Absalom returns to Jerusalem and sees his father, but his fury is still deep. He forms a rebellion. He tries to take over the kingdom. He tries to kill his own father. David wants to spare his third’s son’s life, but the commander of the army knows better than to let this rebellious youth live. Absalom is killed in battle.
David’s first son and his third son are now dead.
David grows old. His fourth son, Adonijah, gets the idea that he is worthy of the throne. He declares himself king, but David has already promised Bathsheba that her son Solomon would be king. David actually rights this wrong, makes Solomon king, and Adonijah is eventually killed for his rebellion.
David’s first son, his third son, and his fourth son are dead.
But what about the second son? Where is he? Solomon was way down the list. He wasn’t even in the first six. So where oh where is David’s second son?
We know his name was Chileah (2 Samuel 3:3). In 1 Chronicles 3:1 he is also called Daniel. Do you know who’s son he was?
Chileab wasn’t in the fray for the throne, or the scandal with Tamar. Perhaps Chileab died young. Perhaps that is why he is not mentioned. Or perhaps Chileab learned from his wise mother to not get mixed up in the mess.
Perhaps Chileab dared to be different from the mix. Perhaps he saw the way of Amnon, Absolam, and Adonijah and said – “No thanks.”
I would like to think so. You see, I know his mother. And is mother was pretty great.
Most of us are raising children. We want the best for our kids. But let’s not focus on the fame, or the position, or the recognition. Let’s focus on the character, the intelligence, and the integrity.