Soured Souls and Stolen Hearts

By Larry Ray Hafley

Absalom’s innocent dupes were led as lambs to the slaughter. Chaos and corruption, rebellion and division resulted.

Soured souls are embittered, angry, and frustrated. The truth lashes their minds. Their conscience is smitten. Unwilling to lay aside their selfish, stubborn pride, they attempt to disguise and hide their poisoned hearts. With every passing day, they descend deeper and deeper into their vat of vile thinking. Slowly, they wrap and imprison themselves in the cocoon of the bond of iniquity.

Feigned faith and hypocritical humility is the mask they wear to snare the innocent and entangle them in their web of deceit and malice. To some degree, perhaps, this is the story of Absalom. He “stole the hearts of the men of Israel” (2 Sam. 15:6). Ultimately, many were led astray. “Then two hundred men went with Absalom from Jerusalem who were invited and went innocently, and they did not know anything” (2 Sam. 15:11).

Here is how Absalom succeeded:

1. He expressed his sympathy for them (2 Sam. 15:4). Absalom told the people that he felt sorry for them. We all like to be pitied. We like those who show concern for our needs. Absalom played on this.

2. While lamenting their predicament, he told the people that he could not help them (2 Sam. 15:4). In effect, he said, “I really wish I could help you, but my hands are tied. Of course, if things were different, if I were king, if you were following me rather than my father, David, then I could help you. But as things stand now, there is nothing I can do.”

3. He made the people believe he was seeking their best interest (2 Sam. 15:4). This made the people want to take up Absalom’s cause. They had been snared by empty promises. There was no word from God. There was no divine authority for Absalom’s actions. It was all done by playing on emotions with enticing words. Absalom was only interested in Absalom. He was not concerned about the plight of the people. He made them think he was in order to win their favor. This is the way “evil men and seducers” work. They will make you believe they are helping you. In reality, they are merely using you to obtain their goals of self-promotion.

4. He made the people feel important (2 Sam. 15:11). Absalom “invited” them. Imagine the honor of being “invited” by the king’s son! He courted and wooed them with “good words and fair speeches.” “His speech was smoother than butter, but his heart was war; His words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords” (Ps. 55:21). “For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Jesus Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting” (Rom. 16:18).

Absalom’s innocent dupes were led as lambs to the slaughter. Chaos and corruption, rebellion and division resulted. They had been deceived by a clever, shrewd politician. Such conniving men still work among churches today. “These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage” (Jude 16). Beware of their snare!