By Sam Greer
Senior Pastor, Red Bank Baptist Church, Chattanooga
Focal Passage: 2 Samuel 15:10-16, 24-30
It was news to me. I had no idea that modern day refrigerators now come with a Sabbath mode. I didn’t even know we had such a mode available on our refrigerator until recently. According to my wife, on occasion, she accidently turns on the Sabbath mode on our fridge. We have no desire to ever purposefully turn on such a mode on our fridge. We refrain from using the Sabbath mode not only because we are not Jewish, but also because we are ambitious. Who has time to waste by waiting? Who has time to rust by resting? We have places to go, people to see, appointments to make, tasks to accomplish, kingdoms to build, and opportunities to seize.
Is ambition an ugly word? Can ambition be bad? Can ambition be good? In II Samuel 15:10-16 and 24-30, the good, the bad, and the ugly of ambition is on display. Three thoughts emerge from this text concerning ambition.
Absalom was ambitious for self (II Samuel 15:10-16). In verses 10-16, ambition is pictured as building one’s own kingdom rather than serving in God’s kingdom. Absalom was only interested in Absalom. Absalom wanted what Absalom wanted and he didn’t even care to think about what God wanted. Absalom was ambitious for self. Absalom, the son of King David, no longer wanted to wait to be king. He took it upon himself to orchestrate a following that would pronounce himself as king in Hebron (v. 10). Is there a more appropriate time to apply this text than the summer of 2018 in America? In our selfie-society, how many kingdoms are being built on social media?
Although Absalom had no right to the throne, a sense of entitlement took over as he sought to dethrone his dad (vv. 11-12). God anointed David as king, not Absalom. Even when David knew that God anointed him as king, he never forced Saul off the throne. Unlike David, who waited his turn and refused to take advantage of Saul in his later years as king, Absalom took full advantage of the conspiracy growing against King David (vv. 13-16). In what area of your life do you have a sense of entitlement?
King David was ambitious for God (II Samuel 15:24-29). If Absalom’s ambition could be described as bad, then David’s ambition should be described as good. King David was ambitious for God. David wanted what God wanted as evidenced by his command to take the ark back to Jerusalem (vv. 24-26). The king’s motivation was pure. He wanted what God wanted, no more, no less (vv. 26-27). David was willing to wait as long as it took to hear from God (vv. 28-29). How different were the hearts of Absalom and David? Is your heart more like David’s? How? Is your heart more like Absalom’s? How?
For whom or for what are you ambitious (II Samuel 15:30)? King David, wanting what God wanted, wept as he ascended the Mount of Olives (v. 30). The root and offspring of David, Jesus, wanting what His Father wanted, also wept in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. Have you assessed your ambition? Are you ambitious for self or for God? Are you wanting what God wants or what you want? Are you building your kingdom or serving in God’s kingdom? When you tweet, post, text, snapchat, or talk do you use first person pronouns (I, me, my)? Is the content of your social media focused on yourself and your accomplishments?