Gospel Antibiotic for the Poison of Bitterness (Dave Coats)

by Paul Tautges | February 28, 2014 9:16 am

As we continue to walk through the story of David and Absalom, in my preaching at our church, we are learning that it is by focusing on David that we see Christ through him and the godly response to betrayal (read my previous post). By focusing on Absalom, on the other hand, we get a pretty good picture of what bitterness will do to a person who does not deal with hurt biblically.

Let me encourage you to read 2 Samuel 13-18 sometime this weekend to see the whole picture of the situation and how Absalom handles the evil done in his family. We recognize the problem with David’s passivity as a leader here, but we should not blame David for Absalom’s anger, hatred, and desire for revenge. For two years, Absalom plotted and planned how he would kill Amnon (2 Sam 13:28-32). For the next three years, Absalom lived with his maternal grandfather. David was not proactive in trying to reconcile with Absalom. When Absalom returned, David communicated no desire to work out the relationship with his son. Two more years went by, and finally Absalom asked, by way of Joab, “What is the point? Why am I even returned?” So David allowed Absalom to come to meet him at the palace. Absalom bowed, and David kissed him. From the rest of the story it is apparent that biblical reconciliation did not take place. Forgiveness, repentance, and restoration result in a new and better relationship, not one marred by the past.

For the next four years, Absalom worked at gaining the loyalty of the people in the kingdom around David (2 Sam15). When David realized the betrayal and destruction that was coming, he gathered his loyal friends and soldiers and headed into retreat. It is one of those literary and historical ironies that the man who had been David’s counselor was now Absalom’s counselor. His name was Ahithophel. He was the father of Eliam, Bathsheba’s dad.

If you were in Absalom’s place, what would keep you from being poisoned by bitterness? That, I think, is a critical question. All of us will go through some hurt. We will face pain and anguish over things that take place. We may even struggle to resolve a broken relationship with someone who was once close to us, yet we don’t see the relationship changing in a positive direction. We will probably have a family member or church friend who says things that are not true or are very hurtful. How do we then respond? Bitterness starts out as anger that is unresolved. We tend to turn to God and blame Him. However, in these times we have to resolve these emotions and deal with them. I recommend two simple steps to avoid bitterness.

Step #1: Recognize the Impact of Bitterness

Step #2: Resist the Infection of Bitterness

Compare Absalom and Joseph. What a difference in how they responded to the pain and hurt that came into their lives through their family! Genesis 50:20 is an Old Testament version of Romans 8:28-29. God expects us to put away the record of wrongs that we have held against someone who has hurt us (1 Cor. 13:5). When they seek forgiveness and reconciliation I am called to open my heart, forgive, and pursue love. Applying this biblical counsel will protect our hearts from the poison of bitterness.

[Today’s post, and the previous Valley of Betrayal, is written by Dave Coats, a biblical counselor and pastor in northern Wisconsin.]

Source URL: https://counselingoneanother.com/2014/02/28/gospel-antibiotic-for-the-poison-of-bitterness/