Now it came about after this that Absalom provided for himself a chariot and horses and fifty men as runners before him. Absalom used to rise early and stand beside the way to the gate; and when any man had a suit to come to the king for judgment, Absalom would call to him and say, “From what city are you?” And he would say, “Your servant is from one of the tribes of Israel.” Then Absalom would say to him, “See, your claims are good and right, but no man listens to you on the part of the king.” Moreover, Absalom would say, “Oh that one would appoint me judge in the land, then every man who has any suit or cause could come to me and I would give him justice.” And when a man came near to prostrate himself before him, he would put out his hand and take hold of him and kiss him. In this manner Absalom dealt with all Israel who came to the king for judgment; so Absalom stole away the hearts of the men of Israel (2 Samuel 15:1-6).
I rarely just post scripture with little comment. But I am working through the David – Absalom history, for I am facing similar betrayal these days myself. When I read this paragraph it struck me—this is what happens all the time, and it’s saddest when it occurs in the non-profit world. The con is on, and those with evil or harmful intent are not looking to help people, they are seeking to gain power over others. Absalom didn’t care for the people he was conning, but were using them to usurp power from his father the King (David). Two things strike me this morning in my quiet time reading: 1) The gate mentioned here is similar to the political arena today. So we have cons who work the system and people to get them to see “they” (the ones doing the con) are the real ones who care and are better suited for the power. 2) Fast forwarding to the end of the story, Absalom will get his comeuppance (2 Sam 18:9ff). In the end, Absalom dies alone hanging in a tree and is buried in a ditch. Although I believe God watches over the unjust and brings about their just reward, they leave a lot of people in their destructive wake. Beware of those who con, presenting themselves as your friends while attempting to bring down others. These cons are easily spotted. But the unwise listen still, opening their ears to the con. You can always tell when you’re being conned: If only someone would help you. That guy or gal in power simply doesn’t, I know. I will help you... Beware the con. And if you are the victim of or target of the con, be patient; and as David in this story did, stay doing the right things; and, eventually the Absaloms of this world will hang in a tree and be cast aside as no-things.