David Copes with Ambivalence Regarding Death of Absalom

Glad but Sad


Ambivalence describes a situation in which the outcome of an event has both positive and negative implications for a person. You are happy with the positive but sad with the negative. If another person has labored or sacrificed for the event in order to provide the positive outcome, then it is important your sadness does not convey a message of regret or blame to the person. This bible study focuses on an example of ambivalence when David’s army put down a rebellion led by his son Absalom but the son was killed in the battle.

Grieved for Loss but Forgot the Victory

David grieved bitterly for his son, maybe more so because he felt responsible, wondering if the entire event was a punishment for his affair with Bathsheba and subsequent killing of her husband, Uriah. In his grief, he forgot to show appreciation to his troops for defeating the rebellion. His behavior actually made them feel low-spirited as if the death of Absalom meant they lost the battle. His commander Joab redirected him by reminding him that he owed appreciation to the troops.

Seeing Positive in the Negative

To cope with ambivalence, remember that you owe appreciation to persons that labor or sacrifice to bring about a positive event for you even if there is an associated negative outcome. Also, remember Paul’s advice that “… in all things God works for the good of those who love him …” [Romans 8:28] and “…give thanks in all circumstances…” [1 Thessalonians 5:18], so that you may be better able to accept the “negative” without forgetting to appreciate the positive.


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