This is a unique little book in that it isn’t quite a Biblical lesson, it isn’t quite a story. It’s a retelling, of sorts, of the stories of Saul, David, and Absalom, particularly as relates to David’s connections with each.
Saul was the first king of Israel, chosen by God when the people demanded they have a king so that they might be like the other nations around them. While Saul seems to start out well, he quickly falls into sinful behaviour and ceases to follow God. While Saul is still alive, a young shepherd boy named David is anointed as the next king of Israel. Saul becomes increasingly insane and eventually David is on the run for his life, living out of caves and in constant fear. Yet, when he is presented with an opportunity to kill Saul, he doesn’t. Because David trusts in God’s plan and God’s timing.
Fast forward years later. David is king. Throughout the Bible, David is described as “a man after God’s own heart”. Not a perfect man (see: Bathsheba and Uriah) but a man who genuinely seeks and desires God. The book of Psalms is filled with David’s honest cries to God – his praises and his pleas. David is a good king, chosen by God. His son Absalom, however, is steadily fomenting revolution. So here we have a contrast to the story of Saul and David. Now we have David and Absalom, where David is the king and another seeks to overthrow him. The question that the characters raise here is this: “Is Absalom another David? Or is he another Saul?” And, most importantly, how will David choose to respond?
Edwards points out that Saul was anointed by God and reminds us that sometimes people are in positions of power because that is God’s plan and just because they are insane or sinful or seem to be making the wrong decisions, doesn’t make it any less a part of God’s plan. He also makes the excellent point that we don’t always know who is a Saul and who is a David. Often, in the midst of action, we don’t know what the end result will be. We don’t know how history will view our current events. We don’t know what “the right side of history” so to speak will be.