Absalom: a window into your teenager’s heart

Posted on · Posted in Anger, Teenagers

Absalom projected the image of power and intimidation. He was angry, arrogant, proud, self-assured and had the presence of a rock star. He was consumed with his appearance to the point of obsession. But inside he was hurting. He had no answer for the pain in his heart due to the rape of his sister. He had no comfort for the lack of relationship with his father, King David. He had no confidence in the loving-kindness of God; rather, he was convinced he had to make his own way in this world.

Absalom used the images of power, good looks, arrogance, and popularity to secure what he thought he wanted. But none of those brought satisfaction. Underneath, he was weak and lonely. In life he built a monument of rock to honor his memory. In death he lay in disgrace covered by a pile rocks. Absalom’s story is one of the saddest narratives in Scripture.

Teenagers are often like Absalom. They present an image of arrogance and defiance. Yet inside they are hurting and weak. Too often, parents react only to the projected image. They, like Absalom’s father, David, fail to see that what is needed is relationship with God. So parents respond to teenagers with hurt, fear or anger.  Parents forget that God is bigger than their troubled, hurting teenager. An angry teen is at odds with the God of heaven, he lives with a troubled, unsettled spirit.

Think about your teenagers. Often, just beneath the surface of their defiant demeanor is a restless sea of uncertainty and hurt. They perceive something in their lives to be unjust, and take aim at the first target available—usually parents. Do not misunderstand—I am not excusing this behavior—just attempting to understand it.

If you are confronted with an angry teenager, reach out in the power of God. Seek God’s help in prayer—pray for a  heart of compassion. Love him or her sacrificially, showing Christ-like love and commitment. Return good for evil. Don’t engage in a shouting match. Become a refuge for your teen. Often the image of defiance you see hides a deep hurt that only God can heal. Your teenager may be hurting because he believes he has lost your approval or believes he has been treated unjustly. Yes, your teen may be wrong, horribly wrong, and you must work to lead him along the right path.

More than anything, your teenager needs the love of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit. David failed to reach out to Absalom with God’s love. By ignoring the hurting heart of his son, David allowed the great final confrontation to occur. Absalom lost his life. David lost his son.

Final thought:
I know there are many important questions that might arise from reading this post. For more posts dealing with teenagers and communication, explore the “teenagers” category of this blog.


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Jay Younts
John A. (Jay) Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger, and is a ruling elder serving at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He has written Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, Finding the Right Track, the In Touch With Paul stewardship series, and What About War. He has studied and taught about biblical childrearing for 30 years. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.