2 Samuel 18:1-33
Worldly attitudes cause animal suffering, which just happens to be the
major problem in the world today, and these worldly attitudes also cause our
warring madness and violence that cause humans and our environment to
suffer, and all of these things happen because of the lack of human empathy.
There are really only two major types of human attitudes: those that are based upon the heavenly will of God, and those that are based upon the corrupt and evil ways of this world, and worldly attitudes cause animal suffering.
Each and every one of us needs to learn to recognize the worldly attitudes in ourselves and others; and we need to clean them out of ourselves and avoid them in other people, and when possible take a peaceful stand against them.
The Bible is written to help humans to turn away from their worldly ways of thinking and acting, and encourage them to return to the heavenly will of God, which has no place for human caused pain, suffering, or death.
One of the many things we can learn from the Bible is to understand the way humans think and act, and hopefully turn away from their worldly ways, and follow those examples that lead us toward the heavenly will of God.
One of these examples can be found in 2 Samuel 18:1-33, where we are told about the results of the dysfunction within Davidís family, and while it doesnít tell us the fact that worldly attitudes cause animal suffering, it does tell us about how the worldly attitudes of people lead to the horrendous violence and suffering that plagues this world.
1. Then David numbered the people who were with him and set over them commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds.
The very fact that people plan for war on any side is because they lack heavenly love and empathy, and fail to seek peaceful means of resolving their problems.
2. And David sent the people out, one third under the command of Joab, one
third under the command of Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab's brother, and
one third under the command of Ittai the Gittite. And the king said to the
people, "I myself will surely go out with you also."
3. But the people said, "You should not go out; for if we indeed flee, they will not care about us, even if half of us die, they will not care about us. But you are worth ten thousand of us; therefore now it is better that you be ready to help us from the city."
We donít believe that any leader is worth ten thousand of other peopleís
They are fighting over a family dispute between David and his son, who is power hungry, but neither David nor his son are really concerned about the harm their dispute will cause to other human beings or to the animals they force into their battle or kill during their fighting.
4. Then the king said to them, "Whatever seems best to you I will do." So
the king stood beside the gate, and all the people went out by hundreds and
5. And the king charged Joab and Abishai and Ittai, saying, "Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom." And all the people heard when the king charged all the commanders concerning Absalom.
In other words, the people knew that David cared more about his son, whom
they were fighting against, than he did about them.
This is exactly like people who say that they love animals, but really only mean their own ďpetĒ, or the animal parts that are on their plates, because they still eat other animals; this isnít love, itís really greed and pride of ownership and a total lack of empathy.
We need to recognize these traits in people, because they say one thing, but mean something else, and this is why we say that worldly attitudes cause animal suffering, and also human suffering; we need to recognize these traits and avoid them, and if necessary, take a peaceful stand against them.
6. Then the people went out into the field against Israel, and the battle
took place in the forest of Ephraim.
7. And the people of Israel were defeated there before the servants of David, and the slaughter there that day was great, 20,000 men.
The writer of this passage even refers to the death of these 20,000 men to
have been a slaughter, which we find to be interesting, because that is
exactly the way we refer to the killing of animals for food.
And, there were obviously deaths on the other side as well, which shows how badly things can get when people lack true empathy.
8. For the battle there was spread over the whole countryside, and the
forest devoured more people that day than the sword devoured.
9. Now Absalom happened to meet the servants of David. For Absalom was riding on his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a great oak. And his head caught fast in the oak, so he was left hanging between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him kept going.
Absalomís pride coupled with his lack of heavenly love, compassion, and empathy, not only led to his own death, but also to the death of more than 20,000 other people, and we see no difference between what we are told about here and what is happening in factory farms and slaughterhouses all over the world.
10. When a certain man saw it, he told Joab and said, "Behold, I saw Absalom
hanging in an oak."
11. Then Joab said to the man who had told him, "Now behold, you saw him! Why then did you not strike him there to the ground? And I would have given you ten pieces of silver and a belt."
When people lack empathy, as did Joab, they think that killing and death is the only solution to problems and we, as a society, need to stop thinking this way, and become peacemaking children of God who bring His heavenly will to earth as it is in heaven.
12. And the man said to Joab, "Even if I should receive a thousand pieces of silver in my hand, I would not put out my hand against the king's son; for in our hearing the king charged you and Abishai and Ittai, saying, 'Protect for me the young man Absalom!'
See, the people knew exactly what David was saying; he cared more about his son than all the other people.
13. "Otherwise, if I had dealt treacherously against his life (and there is
nothing hidden from the king), then you yourself would have stood aloof."
14. Then Joab said, "I will not waste time here with you." So he took three spears in his hand and thrust them through the heart of Absalom while he was yet alive in the midst of the oak.
This clearly shows the lack of empathy and the hardness of heart of Joab.
And while we are not talking about animals here, we are talking about Joabís attitude and the fact that his attitude is the same as the people of whom we say, ďWorldly attitudes cause animal suffering.Ē
15. And ten young men who carried Joab's armor gathered around and struck Absalom and killed him.
Since Absalom was already helpless, this shows us how cowardly and hard of heart these men were also, and why this violence continues to this very day and causes millions of humans and billions of other animals to suffer and die every year.
16. Then Joab blew the trumpet, and the people returned from pursuing
Israel, for Joab restrained the people.
17. And they took Absalom and cast him into a deep pit in the forest and erected over him a very great heap of stones. And all Israel fled, each to his tent.
This is the kind of false godliness we see in the world today.
If they had regard for Absalom, they would have buried him and not just thrown him into a deep pit; however, they did erect over his grave a great heap of stones, as a kind of monument to him, or as a sign of respect.
By one of their actions, they are saying that Absalom was nothing but trash, and by their other action, they are saying he is someone of importance who should be remembered; their actions are oxymoronic.
18. Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and set up for himself a pillar which is in the King's Valley, for he said, "I have no son to preserve my name." So he named the pillar after his own name, and it is called Absalom's monument to this day.
Absalomís actions demonstrate one of the three great sins in his life: the boastful pride of life.
19. Then Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said, "Please let me run and bring the
king news that the LORD has freed him from the hand of his enemies."
20. But Joab said to him, "You are not the man to carry news this day, but you shall carry news another day; however, you shall carry no news today because the king's son is dead."
Joab had no respect for David or his wishes, because of the way he killed Absalom, but now he is trying to show respect to David; we hope we all see that his actions are also oxymoronic.
21. Then Joab said to the Cushite, "Go, tell the king what you have seen."
So the Cushite bowed to Joab and ran.
22. Now Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said once more to Joab, "But whatever happens, please let me also run after the Cushite." And Joab said, "Why would you run, my son, since you will have no reward for going?"
23. "But whatever happens," he said, "I will run." So he said to him, "Run." Then Ahimaaz ran by way of the plain and passed up the Cushite.
We are not told about the real reason that Ahimaaz wanted to run and tell
David, but we do know that he is serving two men who suffer from the
boastful pride of life: Joab and David, and when people are filled with the
boastful pride of life they also exhibit the fact that worldly attitudes
cause animal suffering.
We are not to admire people like this, we are to avoid them and their worldly ways.
24. Now David was sitting between the two gates; and the watchman went up to
the roof of the gate by the wall, and raised his eyes and looked, and
behold, a man running by himself.
25. And the watchman called and told the king. And the king said, "If he is by himself there is good news in his mouth." And he came nearer and nearer.
As we have already been told, the news is really a mixed bag for David; they have won the battle, but his son Absalom is dead.
26. Then the watchman saw another man running; and the watchman called to the gatekeeper and said, "Behold, another man running by himself." And the king said, "This one also is bringing good news."
People who are filled with the boastful pride of life are also seeking good news and praise.
27. And the watchman said, "I think the running of the first one is like the
running of Ahimaaz the son of Zadok." And the king said, "This is a good man
and comes with good news."
28. And Ahimaaz called and said to the king, "All is well." And he prostrated himself before the king with his face to the ground. And he said, "Blessed is the LORD your God, who has delivered up the men who lifted their hands against my lord the king."
29. And the king said, "Is it well with the young man Absalom?" And Ahimaaz answered, "When Joab sent the king's servant, and your servant, I saw a great tumult, but I did not know what it was."
30. Then the king said, "Turn aside and stand here." So he turned aside and stood still.
David has had some good news given to him, but he also seems concerned about the tumult that Ahimaaz mentioned.
31. And behold, the Cushite arrived, and the Cushite said, "Let my lord the king receive good news, for the LORD has freed you this day from the hand of all those who rose up against you."
Again the king is hearing the good news he seeks, but not the main thing he wants to hear, but he really wants to learn about his son.
32. Then the king said to the Cushite, "Is it well with the young man Absalom?" And the Cushite answered, "Let the enemies of my lord the king, and all who rise up against you for evil, be as that young man!"
This is another way of saying that Absalom is dead.
33. And the king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate
and wept. And thus he said as he walked, "O my son Absalom, my son, my son
Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!"
This shows the evil side of David, and it is evil because David sent his men
against Absalom and his men in a battle that would kill a lot of people, but
Davidís concern was not about the safety of the people who went to battle,
but only about his son.
In our opinion, if David really wished that he had died instead, he would have given his kingdom to his son, but instead he went to war against him.
To us, the worldly attitudes that this Biblical account is telling us about are the same kinds of attitudes that exist in most of the people in the world around us, which stems from their hardness of heart and lack of true empathy.
They may care about some things or some people or some animals, but they donít care about the others, and they are definitely not living in the heavenly will of God; they are living in the corrupt and evil ways of this world.
We hear people all the time tell us that they love animals, but at the same time they are eating, wearing, and using animal by-products.
This isnít really love; this is an example of their greed and gluttony.
This is no different than Davidís love for his son, and indifference to the suffering of other people.
Worldly attitudes cause animal suffering, because people desire to live in this corrupt world rather than live in the heavenly will of God.
We are not to be like them.
We are to be the peacemaking children of God who work to help free creation from its present corruption.
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