2 Samuel 19:5-8
5 Then Joab came into the house to the king and said, “You have today covered with shame the faces of all your servants, who have this day saved your life and the lives of your sons and your daughters and the lives of your wives and your concubines,
6 because you love those who hate you and hate those who love you. For you have made it clear today that commanders and servants are nothing to you, for today I know that if Absalom were alive and all of us were dead today, then you would be pleased.
7 Now therefore arise, go out and speak kindly to your servants, for I swear by the Lord, if you do not go, not a man will stay with you this night, and this will be worse for you than all the evil that has come upon you from your youth until now.”
8 Then the king arose and took his seat in the gate. And the people were all told, “Behold, the king is sitting in the gate.” And all the people came before the king. Now Israel had fled every man to his own home.
The attempt to overthrow the kingship of David has died with its leader. With Absalom no longer in Jerusalem the people are returning to their homes and are casting an uneasy eye in the direction of the throne. What will happen next? The foundations were shaken for a time and everyone stands on uneven ground. The commander of David’s army, Joab, now takes David by the lapels and shakes him around a bit. It is time to stop weeping over the death of his enemy and rise up into the role of king where he belongs. Joab’s words are harsh, but they motivate David to get back to work. David’s men have risked their lives to reclaim the throne for him and this mourning over Absalom is a slap in the face; their sacrifices seem insignificant. While David has a right to mourn for his son, they do not want to watch him to mourn over his enemy. He is on the horns of a dilemma. It is time to set personal issues aside and lead Israel. That is what he does.
There are instances in every life where personal needs must be set aside for the common good. We are a people who live in community and are thus responsible to care for others more than for ourselves. While yesterday I touted David’s emotional honesty, today I recognize that we all walk a fine line between responsibility to the self and responsibility to others. While it took some harsh words from Joab, (which he does pay for later on) David was moved to put his own pain aside to lead the people again. Sometimes, we put on the brave face and move forward, waiting to share our burdens at a more appropriate time and with more appropriate people. Once again, a little self-examination might be in order so that we stand on the right side of that line in tough times.