Absalom, the son of David, and Joseph, the son of Isaac, were born in two very different times.
One was the third son of the most famous and most powerful kings of Israel.
The other one was a son of a large family of twelve who ended up a slave in Egypt.
Both ended up in the royalty, but only one stayed.
Let’s see what happened…
Both Absalom and Joseph were known for being handsome. The Bible says of Absalom (2 Samuel 14:25),
But in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty: from the sole of his foot even to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him.
And of Joseph (Genesis 39:6, NIV)
Now Joseph was well-built and handsome
Both men were also highly favored by their fathers. In the Old Testament story, Joseph is given a “long coat of many colors” to show his favored status as his Jacob’s favorite son and was delegated the task of watching over his brothers.
Joseph also gained favor in whatever situation he was in, whether that that was prison or slavery.
Now, Absalom….had gained the heart of a whole country (2 Samuel 15:6)
And on this manner did Absalom to all Israel that came to the king for judgment: so Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.
So both men had no problem when it came to getting along with people.
But only one survived to old age.
In looking at the stories of these two men, you see that both experienced hardship and separation from their families. Joseph was sold into slavery after his family tried a prank that went horribly wrong. Absalom’s half brother assaulted Absalom’s sister, which led to Absalom’s murder of that half brother and escape to his grandfather.
Both were put in unfortunate circumstances….
Joseph, however, remained humble about the situation. The Bible doesn’t indicate Joseph’s feelings, but we see there is no indication of anger or revenge.
He remained patient, working diligently where he was.
Absalom, however, came back with a welcome party(2 Samuel 15:1):
And it came to pass after this, that Absalom prepared him chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him.
This is the difference between Joseph and Absalom. Joseph had learned to be humble, Absalom had learned to hide behind it.
But Joseph wasn’t always this way (Genesis 37:5–8)….
And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more.
And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed:
For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf.
And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words.
Here, as a youth, Joseph was giving the vision, but he didn’t know how to work with it.
It’s like being given a superpower before you learn how to use it.
Joseph will do this again, to the point that his father questions what’s going on. (Genesis 37:10)
And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?
Yet, it is the same power (dream interpretation) that Joseph uses when he’s get older…only he’s in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.
This time, however, he is more discrete. He doesn’t blurt it out. Instead, he is more humble (Genesis 40:8)
…And Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Please tell them to me.”
Here, Joseph is showing that the interpretations do not belong to him. They work through him on behalf of God. Joseph is also using the interpretation to help others, unlike the first time when his intepretation session got people angry.
Absalom, however, has gifts too. For him to be able to get the hearts and minds of the people, he had to be a skilled communicator.
Yet, he chose to not use this power to help others. He used it to elevate himself. (2 Samuel 15:10–12)
Meanwhile, Absalom had secretly sent some messengers to the northern tribes of Israel. The messengers told everyone, “When you hear the sound of the trumpets, you must shout, ‘Absalom now rules as king in Hebron!’”
With that, he sealed his fate.
David gets his spirit back by getting the Ark of the Covenant and sends a spy. Being naive, Absalom first questions the spy, then lets him into his secret council. Absalom turns to one of David’s counselors-turned-traitor, Ahithophel, for advice.
He then disregards that advice..and Ahithophel knew it was the end of the road for Absalom (2 Samuel 17:23).
When Ahithophel saw that Absalom and the leaders of Israel were not going to follow his advice, he saddled his donkey and rode back to his home in Gilo. He told his family and servants what to do. Then he hanged himself, and they buried him in his family’s burial place.
David’s side won.
But Absalom….wasn’t even in the battle. Because of his pride in his long hair, he chose not to cut it…even thought he would be going into battle. His hair was caught in the branches.
Joab, an officer of David, stabbed him with a spear three times. Joab’s servants finished off.
It seemed impatience got the best of Absalom.
His humility and leadership (which he demonstrated with his father) were in full display…two years after he helped two people with dream interpretation.
One of them remembered Joseph and recommened him to the king of Egypt.
He was brought in.
Not only did Joseph (using his God-given power) interpret the dream. He also offered a plan to save the king’s country from the nightmare portion of the dream.
He was immediately promoted (Genesis 41: 37–40)
This proposal pleased Pharaoh and all his servants. And Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?” Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command. Only as regards the throne will I be greater than you.”
And those brothers of Joseph who put him in that cruel situation….Joseph got to see them bow to him…just like he dreamed.
So what’s my point in this story?
Very simple. Be aware of your gifts. Be patient in when you use them. Be of service when you do.
Without that, you’ll lose the blessing of that gift…and watch it turn into a curse.