King David could win the award for the biggest party pooper of all time. When his army defeated the enemy and his men were coming into town ready to celebrate a big victory, he almost blew it completely. They had chased the usurper down and killed him, squelching his plot to take over David’s throne, and saved his kingdom. But instead of a party atmosphere, there was the pall of death. You see, the enemy who had tried to displace David was the king’s own son.

Absalom had plotted against his father, God’s anointed king. For four years he had lied and finagled his way into the people’s hearts. He then built a statue of himself, declared himself king in Hebron, and headed for Dad’s palace to take over. David had to run for his life from his own son! The final insult was when Absalom set up a tent on the palace roof to have sex with his father’s concubines where everyone could see it.

David finally rallied his troops and went to battle against Absalom and his men. David ordered him kept alive, but in the end Absalom’s vanity did him in. His long, thick hair, which he was so proud of, got caught in some tree branches during the chase. His mule kept going, but Absalom hung by his hair until David’s soldiers surrounded him and ended the conflict.

It was a great victory. The troops saved Israel from the control of a murderous,conceited tyrant. David could return to his palace to rule in peace. However, King David was not in the mood to celebrate:

“As all the people heard of the king’s deep grief for his son, the joy of that day’s victory was turned into deep sadness. They crept back into the town that day as though they were ashamed and had deserted in battle. The king covered his face with his hands and kept on crying, ‘O my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son!’” (2 Sam. 19:2-4, NLT)

That put a definite damper on the party. The only thing David could see was that his son was dead. And he was probably riddled with guilt for not having disciplined Absalom when the first signs of rebellion emerged. Things might have completely fallen apart if it hadn’t been for David’s chief in command:

“Joab went to the king’s room and said to him, ‘We saved your life today and the lives of your sons, your daughters, and your wives and concubines. Yet you act like this, making us feel ashamed of ourselves. You seem to love those who hate you and hate those who love you. You have made it clear today that your commanders and troops mean nothing to you. It seems that if Absalom had lived and all of us had died, you would be pleased. Now go out there and congratulate your troops, for I swear by the Lord that if you don’t go out, not a single one of them will remain here tonight. Then you will be worse off than ever before.’ So the king went out and took his seat at the town gate” (2 Sam. 19:5-8, NLT).

That was the wakeup call he needed. It’s not that King David’s grief was not valid. He had just lost a son! No matter what our children do, we still love them. We still hate to see them suffer tragic consequences for their actions. And we certainly don’t want them to die a violent death. But David had lost sight of the big picture. And sometimes, so do we.

Sometimes, in grieving over what is not happening in the lives of those I love, I miss the victories God is winning all around me. I’m so thankful God shakes me up a bit and points out the need to celebrate the victories, even while grieving the momentary losses on other battlefields. The war’s not over yet! I don’t want to be a party pooper when so many victories are being won for the sake of the King.

This verse has reminded me lately, “This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for thejoy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10, NIV). May God keep our eyes on Him, our voices lifted in praise, and our hearts devoted to Him above all other loves.