The famous king had many children, but one son was especially handsome with long wavy hair. The problem was the prince was rebellious. He plotted the murder of his brother for raping their sister. Banished for this crime, the prince used his political connections to wrangle a pardon and returned home. Then he began to gather supporters around him to help him overthrow his father. Finally, with the help of mercenaries, he forced the King to flee.

As the decisive battle loomed, the King asked his loyal troops to defeat the Prince’s forces but not to kill the Prince himself. As the battle raged, the prince rode his horse under a tree where his beautiful hair became entangled in the tree branches. As his horse kept going, he was left helplessly dangling by his hair under the tree. The King’s soldiers found him there and killed him.

You may have heard of this story, the saga of King David and his son Absalom. You can read this story in 2 Samuel 13 to 19.

When David heard the news that the battle had been won and his life and kingdom saved but that Absalom was dead. He cried openly and called out “O my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son!”. His troops were embarrassed that they had won the battle.

Fortunately, King David had a wise general who admonished the King. He reminded David that his troops had saved his life that day. He told the King that if he didn’t receive the troops to celebrate their victory, then they would abandon him and his life would be in greater danger than ever. King David wisely accepted this correction and went out to celebrate the victory with them.

That general also said something that struck me. He said, “You love those who hate you and you hate those who love you!”. He was describing King David’s confusing love for a son that was trying to kill him. How could a leader as great as King David have such muddled emotions?

David’s family problems were the result of his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband Uriah. After David was confronted by Nathan the Prophet for these sins, David repented, and God forgave him. But Nathan told David that conflict and turmoil would afflict his children and descendants. The rebellion of Absalom was part of the consequences of God’s discipline of David.

This reminds me that sin has consequences for our hearts too. Sin is open rebellion against God, and it is doing the things that we know are wrong. The result of sin is that our emotions or our hearts are confused. We love people who don’t love us and hate people who do love us. This is described in Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” We can’t trust our emotions because our hearts are scarred by our sin, our rebellion against God.

But God has a plan. In Ezekiel 36:26-27 God promises “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” You see, God had a plan to give us new hearts that will help us to obey and follow Him.

This what Jesus meant when he told Nicodemus “You must be born again” in John 3. Our hearts are deceitful because of sin. Only God can give us a new heart, a trustworthy heart, a heart that desires to follow Jesus and to obey God’s commands. But the question remains, do you want a new heart?

-Paul Jefferson