Today we see a side of David that we have not really seen yet. Although David allowed Absalom to return to Jerusalem, he did not want to see his face. David may have thought that this was done correctly, but that is far from the truth. When God forgave David for his murder and adultery, it was a complete forgiveness. David, unlike Absalom, did not kill for the honor of his sister; he instead killed to cover his sin and take another man’s wife. David was not able to forgive Absalom as God had forgiven him. The animosity this action brought forth in Absalom, would nearly cost David the kingdom, and it would indeed leave a black eye on Israel as we will see in the following chapters.
I believe that we can learn from this chapter that there is no such thing as “partial” forgiveness. I would like to use the marriage relationship as an example. If a spouse commits some act that causes a great deal of stress on the relationship, then comes and asks for forgiveness with a sorrowful heart, the spouse should forgive and forget. When the spouse that has been wronged decides that they will just remain married to the offender, but still remain angry; they have not forgiven them. Co-habitation does not equal forgiveness; just as it did not for Absalom as he returned to Jerusalem. In these circumstances the spouse that has been wronged will often use the offence to hold over the head of the other. It is like a secret weapon that can be pulled out when ever needed. In every argument or dis-agreement, the past sin will be brought up and ends up crushing the spirit of the one who has come seeking forgiveness. What if God forgave us in this same manner? What a terrible existence we would have! We always need to remember that awesome grace that was given us before we decide how we will forgive another.