The Tenderness of the King
‘And the king commanded, saying, Deal gently for my sake with the young man, even with Absalom.’—2 Sam. xviii. 5
EVEN with Absalom! Even with the heartless, deliberate traitor and rebel.5 We must recollect clearly what he was, to appreciate the exquisite tenderness of David in such a command to his rough war captains in such untender times. For the sake of .his people and his kingdom, he must send them forth against him, but the deep love gushes out in the bidding, ‘Deal gently for my sake.’ It was no new impulse. When Amnon was murdered,
1 Acts ii. 28. 2 Ps. iv. 6. 3 John x. 10.
4 John viii. 12. 6 2 Sam. xv. 2-11.
the king ‘wept very sore,’ and ‘mourned for his son every day,” and yet, when the fratricide had fled, ‘the soul of King David longed to go forth unto him,’2 and ‘the king’s heart was toward Absalom.’3 And when God’s own vengeance fell upon the wicked son, David’s lamentation over him is perhaps unparalleled in its intensity of pathos among the records of human tenderness.4
Turn to the Antitype, and see the divine tenderness of our King. Again and again it gleams out, whether He himself wept, or whether He said, ‘Weep not,’5—whether in the tender look, the tender word, or the tender touch of gentlest mercy. The Gospels are full of His tenderness. There is not room here even for the bare mention of the instances of it; but will you not give a little time to searching quietly for them, so that, reading them under the teaching of the Holy Spirit,6 you may get a concentrated viewof the wonderful tenderness of Jesus, and yield your heart to be moved by it, and your spirit to be so penetrated by it, that you may share it and reflect it? Remember that in such a search we learn not only what He did and said, nor only what He was, but what He is; and in all His recorded tenderness we are looking into the present heart of Jesus, and seeing what we shall find for ourselves as we have need. For He is ‘ this same Jesus” to-day.
1 2 Sam. xiii. 36, 37. 2 2 Sam. xiii. 39. 3 2 Sam. xiv. i.
4 2 Sam. xviii. 33. 5 Luke xix. 41; ib. vii. 13; ib. xxii. 61.
6 John xiv. 26. ‘ Acts i. 11.
Then let us glance at the volume of our own experience. Who that has had any dealings with Christ at all, but must bear witness that He has indeed dealt gently with us. Has not even suffering been sweet when it showed us more of this?1What if He had ever ‘dealt with us after our sins’!2 But He never did, and never will.* He hath dealt gently and will deal gently with us, for His own sake, and according to His own heart, from the first drawings of His loving-kindness, on throughout the measureless developments of hiseverlasting love.4 Not till we are in heaven shall we know the full meaning of ‘Thygentleness hath made me great.’5 May we not recognize a command in this, as well as a responsibility to follow the example of the ‘gentleness of Christ’ P8 Perhaps next time we are tempted to be a little harsh or hasty with an erring or offending one, the whisper will come, ‘Deal gently, for My sake!’
O erring, yet beloved I
I wait to bind thy bleeding feet, for keen
And rankling are the thorns where thou hast been;
I wait to give thee pardon, love, and rest.
(Is not my joy to see thee safe and blest ?)
Return! I wait to hear once more thy voice,
To welcome thee anew, and bid thy heart rejoice I
O chosen of my love!
Fear not to meet thy beckoning Saviour’s view;
Long ere I called thee by thy name, I knew
That very treacherously thou wouldst deal;
Now I have seen thy ways,—yet I will heal.
Return! Wilt thou yet linger far from Me?
My wrath is turned away, I have redeemed thee 1
1 Lam. iii. 32. 2 Ps. ciii. 10. 3 Job xi. 6.
4 Jer. xxxi. 3. 5 Ps. xviii. 35. ^ 2 Cor. x. i.