Absalom’s Monument

How will you be remembered? There have been several of my friends and family that have recently passed from this life to the next and there is a certain amount of introspection that follows this kind of sobering event. Questions about your focus in life, your contributions to humanity and, especially, your relationship with God become more intense and, in some ways, more meaningful, if not more manageable. The Bible is not remiss in dealing with this issue.

Take, for instance, Absalom. Evidently, Absalom was not void of this naturel concern for his legacy, leaving a memory. So, he went about to make sure that he was remembered, even though the normal course of events (having children) had not favored him (Psalm 127:4-5). However, his pitiful attempt at immortality compelled him to make a monument, a pillar of sorts, so when people looked at it, even long after his departure from this realm, he would be remembered. What he failed to consider was how he would be remembered.

Absalom was the perfect picture of a spoiled child who believed he was entitled. He was blessed with good looks (2 Samuel 14:25) but his goodness was only skin deep. He hated and then killed his brother, Ammon, conspiring to do the deed over the course of two years (2 Samuel 13:28); he was vindictive, inciting conflict on a whim (2 Samuel 14:31); staged a coup against his own father, politicking his way to the top (2 Samuel 15:1, 4-6); and when he took over David’s kingdom, with purely animalistic domination, he soiled David’s concubines in front of all the people (2 Samuel 16:21-22). He died a coward’s death, on the run and hanging from a terebinth tree from his much-loved, vainglorious hair (2 Samuel 18:14-15).

Absalom had set up a pillar, because he wished to be remembered; “And to this day,” the inspired author wrote, “it is called Absalom’s Monument” (2 Samuel 18:18). What do you think people remembered?

This statement was written after Absalom’s death indicating that what we actually do in life is how we will be remembered. There is no fool greater than one who fools himself (cf. Proverbs 26:12) and no amount of eulogizing will change how we have lived; and God does not need a pillar (Ecclesiastes 12:14). People will spin their own memories but what really matters is how you will be remembered by God.

Jeff Sweeten