Thursday, June 26, 2008

Absalom - His Rise and Fall

“Oh that I were made a judge in Israel…” (2 Samuel 15:4)

Absalom, the third son of David, was a failed leader and possessed shallow character. His rebellion led to his ruin, spoiling his grand campaign-promises he made to those who followed him. He was an usurper and betrayer.

The church needs people of integrity to accept leadership roles, but too often what we get are people of ambition with hidden motives. We need discernment to spot the difference. This series will hopefully give you some of those tools.

Developing virtue and depth of character is not easy, but it must be done within yourself and those on your team. The work of God is too important to do otherwise.

Signs of an Absalom Spirit in the church:


The first sign of an Absalom-spirit is when a person begins to operate independently of their church. Such a person no longer wants to serve that local church and its mission – even though he signed up for it and agreed to its covenants - but rather his own agenda. He will try to sway the leadership to bend in his direction, with his beliefs, with his philosophy, and with his reasons. He will continue to hang on, enjoying the benefits of the church that he does not agree with, while operating independently and against the grain.

Is that integrity? No. It is dishonest, lacks integrity, and is grounds for disqualification and removal from church leadership.

Once it becomes apparent to him that he is not going to get his way, he feels disenfranchised and spiritual pride rises up and an offended spirit begins to reveal itself.


The spiritual pride that is deep within the heart of Absalom turns into an offence. Almost anything becomes the object of his criticism. Every decision, small or large, major or minor, is questioned by Absalom.

Now he feels like he can no longer receive input or guidance from leadership. He begins to distance himself. He begins to tell others that only he has the wisdom to carry the group further along spiritually and into deeper things. Only he can lead a church as it should be led.

He begins to throw innuendo and doubt into conversations with other unhappy people. All the while their conscience tries to alert them to the fact that something is not quite true – yet they ignore this alarm bell and continue to align themselves with Absalom.


Now Absalom begins to contact other individuals to spread his dissatisfaction; always (of course) making sure the hearer understands that this “isn’t gossip” but truth that needs airing. He goes to great effort to appear as if he is promoting God and the teachings of the Bible, to justify his real intent to do harm.

In the Bible Absalom was very cautious to convey the image that he was loyal to both God and his father David, but his actions proved otherwise. 2 Samuel 15:12 states "....and the CONSPIRACY was STRONG" (KJV).


Absalom was able to sway not only disgruntled types, but most tragically those who were naïve. 2 Sam. 15: 11 states, “….THEY WENT in their SIMPLICITY, and they KNEW NOT any thing.” This group of people followed Absalom because they didn’t know any better. They were simple, didn’t know Absalom’s true motives, and were misled. Sadly, they didn’t see the truth until much later.

When an Absalom-type draws away followers, he will offer teachings that will (seemingly) vindicate his actions. These followers, not really knowing any better, will find some level of comfort in his teachings, as it seems to validate their choice in following him. However, the instruction they receive from him will be un-balanced, because its source is often from other Absalom-types.

He has now set himself up as a wise one, subtly imposing upon his group the view that he can lead them into something more spiritual and deeper, unlike the previous leadership. But true spiritual discernment cannot possibly function in the breakaway group because of the bitterness and pride that has taken hold there.

Usually, and FORUNATELY, the LARGER GROUP of people are NOT SWAYED by the Absalom-spirit, and remain under the protective covering of their godly leaders whose integrity remains intact.


There is a Biblical principle that states: If the root is evil then the fruit shall also be evil. Jesus said, “the tree is known by its fruit” (Matthew 12:33), and “neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit” (Matthew 7:18).

To make an application - this simply means that any group birthed from the workings of an Absalom will suffer the same fate in due time. Disloyalty, gossip, and rebellion WILL FOLLOW THEM as sure as night follows day.

It should be noted that ABSALOM’S END came to him in a most REVEALING WAY. When he was running from the battle on the back of a mule, his HEAD got caught in a forked limb of an oak tree and he was left dangling there until he was executed.

In the Bible, the word “HEAD” stands for AUTHORITY and LEADERSHIP, (i.e., Jesus is the “head” church, the husband is the “head” of the wife, etc). Absalom rebelled against his father David (his lawful head) and set himself up as the head of Israel, and BY HIS HEAD HE WAS JUDGED! (2 Samuel 18:9-18).

If you want to be in leadership, wonderful. You desire a good work (I Timothy 3:1). Just don’t get there by rebelling against and attempting to harm other godly leadership. Eventually you will suffer the same fate. It’s just a matter of time.

May maturity & integrity be the hall-mark of the Church.