Parenting will be, by its nature, a challenge.
We should be deeply optimistic about parenting and confident in God’s wise design for the family. However, that doesn’t mean we have to ignore reality. Sinful moms and dads raising rebellious boys and girls in a deeply broken world will be discouraging at times.
Many of you have experienced unique parenting challenges and profound pain because of your children that I will never know. But I hope that none of you will ever live through the family drama of David and Absalom, recorded for us in 2 Samuel 14-18.
Absalom was David’s son, and he was trying to take the throne from his father. This sedition and betrayal would be heart-breaking enough. But back then, Israel was not a democracy; there was no election. The only way power could pass to Absalom was for David to die. Not only was Absalom turning the people of Israel against his dad, but he was also on a quest to kill his father.
Could you imagine your kid doing this to you? Put yourself in this parent’s position and try to feel the depth of grief and heartache.
Unwilling to marshal up an army to quell the rebellion led by his boy, David goes into hiding and pens Psalms 3 and 4. His words are counterintuitive and stunning. They provide us with a guide for responding in times of crisis, trauma, and loss.
In these moments, we often let our hurt set the agenda, and when we do, we inevitably live to regret those decisions and the legacy they leave behind. Instead, there are six things that David does:
1. David doesn’t run away from God; he runs to him (vv. 1-2). David doesn’t question God’s sovereignty, abandon his Word, or begin to doubt his will.
2. David reminds himself of his identity as God’s child (v. 3). David reminds himself that since he has been set apart for God’s own possession, he can rest assured that his Father will always hear and answer.
3. David examines his own heart (v. 4). The decisions we make in moments of difficulty are never solely forced on us by the situations we are in but by what our hearts think and desire in the middle of them.
4. David worships (v. 5). Skipping personal devotions, missing church or small group, and neglecting opportunities for ministry only troubles our trouble.
5. David prays for the people around him (v. 6). David isn’t so absorbed in his own moment of pain that he becomes oblivious to the spiritual needs of others, in this case, those committed men who fled from Absalom with him.
6. David rests (vv. 7-8). Because God was his source of rest, and not situations, locations, or relationships, David could sleep as securely in the wilderness as he ever had in the palace.
I love Psalm 4 because of the wisdom it provides, but I also love Psalm 4 because of who the author is. David was not a superhero of spiritual maturity. Let me remind you with one name - Bathsheba. This is the same David who is quite capable of disastrously bad choices.
God is the hero of Psalm 4. The same God who was in the wilderness with David is with you in your darkest of difficulties. The same God who provided David with the grace to pen Psalm 4 gives you with the same grace to have wisdom of mind and courage of heart.
David’s God is our God, so what David did is possible for us as well.
Paul David Tripp
1. What relational betrayal or suffering have you experienced? In what ways might this be more painful than any physical affliction?
2. Have you recently betrayed or wounded a friend, spouse, child, etc., but have yet to repent of it? To whom do you owe a humble confession? What is causing the delay?
3. Consider the last time you were hurt in a relationship. What was your immediate reaction?
4. Could this response have been healthier? What would you have done differently if you ran to God, reminded yourself of your identity, examined your own heart, or worshipped?
5. During trials, do you typically abandon the spiritual disciplines of the Christian faith or lean into them?
6. Who can you be praying for and ministering to, despite your own travail? How will this help you through difficulty?