Mid-air Crisis

The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), April 29

Some men go through mid-life crisis; Absalom’s life, however, ends in a mid-air crisis. While on the battlefield Absalom’s head gets caught in a tree. He is “left hanging between heaven and earth”—literally and figuratively (2 Sam. 18:9).

Earlier in the story, the Scriptures describe Absalom’s appearance, “Now in all Israel there was no one who was praised as much as Absalom for his good looks. From the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him. And when he cut the hair of his head—at the end of every year he cut it because it was heavy on him—when he cut it, he weighed the hair of his head at two hundred shekels according to the king’s standard” (14:25-26). Had Absalom lived today, he would have graced the cover of Time magazine as the world’s sexiest man, not once, but annually. He was that good-looking. So, how does a man like that wind up hanging by his hair in mid-air?

An addiction to praise fosters mid-air crises. Absalom spends his entire life hearing the adulation of others, until he begins to think that he is all that, and more! Addicted to praise, Absalom builds a monument to himself, lest his name be forgotten, “Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and set up a pillar for himself, which is in the King’s Valley. For he said, ‘I have no son to keep my name in remembrance.’ He called the pillar after his own name” (18:18). Talk about narcissistic behavior!

Pride, bitterness, and self-righteousness trigger mid-air crises. Perhaps Tamar’s rape fuels Absalom’s anger and bitterness toward his father. Only Absalom takes action to vindicate Tamar’s rape. He kills his brother, blames his father, and justifies himself.

Selfish ambition contributes to mid-air crises. Perhaps Absalom considers God’s promise to David and assumes that he will be the successor: “And it shall be, when your days are fulfilled, when you must go to be with your fathers, that I will set up your seed after you, who will be of your sons; and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build Me a house, and I will establish his throne forever” (1 Chron. 17:11-12). Absalom actively pursues David’s throne. He would not have been caught in mid-air had he not pursued his father.

Finally, men caught in mid-air crises bring down others with them. Twenty thousand soldiers die during the conflict with David’s army (2 Sam. 18:7). People follow people who think that they are somebody. And, they all get caught in mid-air. Figuratively and literally.

Absalom was an accident waiting to happen! He lifted up himself in praise, lifted up himself in ambition, lifted up himself in pride, and eventually died lifted up in mid-air.

Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading(2 Samuel 17:15-19:30; Psalm 3; Psalm 63):
What do Psalms 3 and 63 reveal about David’s spiritual state as he flees from Absalom?

Why does Joab rebuke David? How may guilt and regret have contributed to David’s excessive mourning over the death of Absalom?

How does David deal with Ziba and Mephibosheth after his return to Jerusalem?