Wednesday, May 01, 2019

"A Beautiful Man"

Pot Belly by Ellis Nadler2nd Samuel 18.9 NASU

“For Absalom was riding on his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a great oak. And his head caught fast in the oak, so he was left hanging between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him kept going.”

Absalom was a beautiful man. There was no one in all Israel “as handsome as Absalom… from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no defect in him” (2nd Samuel 14.25). He was a hunk of muscles, good looks, and flowing hair. Oh, that hair! Absalom’s hair was so thick he had to cut it once a year just to keep his head from drooping.

Absalom knew he was ‘all that.’ He had an inflated self-view. His pride led him to the false notion that he would make a better king than his father. “Absalom stole away the hearts of the men of Israel” (2nd Samuel 15.6) and he eventually conspired to overthrow David and usurp the throne.

He almost got away with it. Absalom should have cut his hair before going into battle. Helplessly dangling by his mane caught in a branches of a giant oak tree made him an easy target. The precariousness of the moment may have given Absalom pause to consider how he might have done things differently. I’m sure he would have gladly traded his beauty for his freedom. Can you imagine his terror as David’s army commander cocked his arm to thrust a spear through Absalom’s proud heart? Well, that was the end of Absalom.

How many times I’ve looked in a mirror, aghast at my own defects. Some parts are too skinny; others too fat. The shape is all wrong. There are lumps, bumps, sags, wrinkles, and blemishes of every kind. My hair is thin, my butt is small, and my belly is broad. I wish I were handsome with no defect at all. I can’t afford plastic surgery, hair transplants, face lifts, Botox, or liposuction. I am what I am. I might as well accept that I will never (again, if I ever was) be a beautiful man like Absalom. But that’s not all bad. I’m pretty sure I will never be (literally) caught hanging by what’s left of my thinning hair in the branches of a giant oak.

Perhaps my physical defects are Gods gift to keep me from becoming proud. The Lord knows how prone I am to that particular sin and how little reason I have for it. Nevertheless, I’m in good company. Even Paul admitted to the need for a “thorn in the flesh” to keep him humble:

“Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head,
I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations.”
2nd Corinthians 12.7 “The Message”

The Apostle Paul had reason to be proud. I certainly don’t. The Bible says a man should not “think of himself more highly than he ought to think” (Romans 12.3). The obvious limitations of my declining physical appearance keep me in touch with my own broken humanness. Maybe what I see in the mirror is God’s sense of humor in action. I hope it works. I never want to dangle helplessly “between heaven and earth” because of my pride.

"Pot Belly" is a pen and ink wash is used here by permission of London artist Ellis Nadler. Subscribe to his blog at and view his web site at


Kelly L said...

Thank you for your lovely post. I like the way you put your own thoughts into the middle of the scripture to illustrate for better understanding.


davescriven said...

thanks Kelly. I love the Bible. i really appreciate your comments.

Eliane Jany Barbanti said...

Thanks again for your visit to my Blog and become my follower.
Sincerely Hugs.
I love your blog.

davescriven said...

Thank you Eliane.