2 Samuel 18:9
“Then Absalom met the servants of David. Absalom rode on a mule. The mule went under the thick boughs of a great terebinth tree, and his head caught in the terebinth; so he was left hanging between heaven and earth. And the mule which was under him went on.”
2 Samuel 18:14
“Then Joab said, ‘I cannot linger with you.’ And he took three spears in his hand and thrust them through Absalom’s heart, while he was still alive in the midst of the terebinth tree.”
When I was younger, we used a wide variety of slang terms to describe a proud person. We considered them to be smug, snooty, puffed up, or stuck up. But the term that I remember most, when referring to pride, is “big headed.” We would say “that guy has such a big head.”
That is a phrase which aptly describes Absalom. He was an extremely talented and good looking son of the king. As a prince, he set his sights upon his father’s throne and strove to take it, even if by force. He used a twisted and evil form of false humility to work his way into the hearts of the people, only to use their affections to turn the kingdom against itself, for his personal gain. After years of careful planning, Absalom finally struck. He developed a large army and marched against Israel. His evil plan soon unraveled and his forces were defeated. In a last attempt to save himself, Absalom turned and fled. It was during his retreat that he met a tragic and fitting end. A man whose life was marked by pride, failed to pay attention where he was going, and got his head stuck in a tree. Solomon, Absalom’s brother, later wrote regarding the danger of pride.
“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
The danger of pride is it causes us to become self focussed, rather than God focussed. We begin to look in, instead of up. We look for ways to strengthen ourselves, instead of relying on the strength of God, and we exalt our own desires above the Lord’s. Had Absalom humbled himself, he would have had a glorious and effective life serving alongside his father, and later his brother Solomon. Instead, he followed his own ambition, left a wake of destruction behind him, and died a tragic death.