If Only I Had Died

“The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!” – 2 Samuel 18:33

The family civil war had violently ended, and King David’s army had just won in a rout.  His son’s army now decimated, he was close to being reestablished as the King of the entire Jewish nation.  Yet, he was full of regret and heartache.  News of his rebellious son being killed, thoughts of their broken relationship, and all those years of opportunities lost, must have been too heart wrenching and powerful to keep his composure.  His mourning was public and loud, in the presence of his loyal warriors and subjects, some of whom fought and died to regain his position as the leader of God’s people.

2 Samuel 19:2 “And for the whole army the victory that day was turned into mourning, because on that day the troops heard it said, “The king is grieving for his son.”


They were so confused and moved by David’s outpouring of emotions, the army acted like it lost one of the most important battles of the king’s life.  It was so difficult for the people that the king had to be confronted by Joab in order to regain his composure, go out to the city gate, and reassure his people.

We All Have Regrets

Like King David, we all have felt deep seated regrets, and we all struggle on how to handle them.  We do not like to talk about them or even think about them, for it brings up unpleasant and distressing emotions.  Harboring these emotions about our past sins and regrets limit our effectiveness.  We become less able to serve both the Lord and others.  More importantly, we limit our contact with the Lord, himself.  We avoid the Lord when we should be running to him.  This is exactly the opposite of want we need to do. Fortunately, the Lord has an answer to our desperation, and that answer is forgiveness.  Forgiving ourselves of actions that have nothing to do with sin, and receiving God’s forgiveness for our transgressions against Him and others.

Forgiveness Reigns

God is in the business of forgiveness, and King David knew this. We all can learn from his life and take courage.  Thankfully, he recorded deeply felt prayers and songs that are preserved for us in the psalms.  His life was replete with examples of lessons about God’s mercy, forgiveness, and intercession.  David wrote about these in Psalm 103:1-5;

1   Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
2   Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
3   who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
4   who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
5   who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

In this psalm, David also makes one of the most profound statements on God’s position on mankind’s sin and potential for regret.  Meditate on it before you answer the following questions.

Psalm 103:12 “as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”

  1. What sins are you holding onto that the Lord has already removed?
  2. When does your regret about your sins affect others in a negative way?

The Apostle John records in the book of revelations, God’s plan to abolish our sin, pain, and regret.

Revelations 21:4 “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

  1. How can the future promise of no more tears, crying, or pain be an encouragement to live a life free of regret about former sins and broken relationships?
  2. How can the hope of the future heal your soul now?

Bible References:

The Holy Bible: New International Version. 1984 (2 Sa 18:33), (2 Sa 19:2), (Re 21:4). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2016 (Ps 103:1–5), (Ps 103:12). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2016 (Ps 103:1–5). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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