“I’m in love with an elephant, and some of you are also, possibly”.
How nauseatingly alarming? Ugh! An elephant? Repulsive—and so I thought, until I began to seriously analyze how in the world I could have fallen in love with an elephant. Now, I’m not alluding to some giant mastodon parading in a luscious, green forest, plucking bamboo leaves and young tree trunks with wild abandon. My elephant is very precious and dear to me. It has grown on me, fed on by time and my own inactivity.
I only began to realize what was happening when I began to read 2 Samuel 11-19 in context. I became astounded at the damage possible by being in love with an elephant. We’ve got to be careful that we just don’t permit elephants to feed on our territory unhindered, or unstopped. That elephant can be personified as habit, vice, custom or even a quisling person that has gotten out of control and the community all know, talk about it, yet no one does anything. The elephant grows obnoxiously larger, year after year, from one blue-moon to another. Eventually, it can cost money, reputation and careers and failed lives. It is not the mere presence of the elephant that is most dangerous, but the failure to confront it and disturb the status quo. In case, there is now massive bewilderment and consternation, let’s unveil the elephant in all its pristine glory.
Absalom, David’s son, makes his entrance. Attractive from head to toe, his hair alone when shorn annually weiged 6 lbs. Spoilt by a besotted father (“and the king kissed Absalom” (2 Samuel 14:33), the elephant kills his own brother and stands at the gate of the temple giving counsel (“Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel” (2 Samuel 15:33). Unchecked, the elephant plots against his very father, conspiring with his father’s chief advisor, Ahithophel (“and the conspiracy was strong; for the people increased continually with Absalom”. (2 Sam 15:12). David then hires Hushai, whom he embeds in the Absalom camp, so as to learn what Absalom is planning and have it relayed back to the David via the temple priests. A period of intrigue follows. The elephant in the room musters the army of Israel, and the orders are given to smite David, his own flesh and blood, except it is Absalom who dies instead—poet justice.
The lessons of this sorry period should not be lost on us. As we make our spiritual and/or professional journeys, elephants will abound. We can pamper, placate, pacify or defer to them, but they’re still elephants. As was with Eli and his sons, so it was with Absalom and David. Let’s rid of ourselves of the marauding elephants and preserve the ark of truth.