2 Samuel 18:29
And the king said, Is the young man Absalom safe? And Ahimaaz answered, When Joab sent the king's servant, and me your servant…
This is the question of the home. Like David, every parent should be on the watch-tower of solicitude, to see whether it is "well with the child." Parents ought to watch how their children fight life's battle, for they have many foes and a hard conflict. This question of parental love asked in due season will help and may save them: "Is the young man safe?" It is also the question of the Church. Upon her battlements must be the watchtower, from which words of warning should be uttered. The paths of youth are slippery. A young man safe at thirty is, as a rule, safe for ever. All young men need the grace of God and the wise counsel of their elders. Paul says, "Young men exhort to be soberminded."
I. IS HE SAFE AS TO HIS TRAINING? A question for home and school. Parents are the world's rulers. Children are imitators, living phonographs. What they see and hear they reproduce. They will live the home life over again in the habits and characters formed there. As to character, in a life of eighty years, the first twenty form the bigger half. The first colours in the mind of a child are eternal. What means the proverb, "Once a man, twice a child?" Not the weakness of old age only, but that as the outward man perishes we return to the scenes of childhood.
II. IS HE SAFE AS TO HIS CALLING? Is he suited to his calling? If not, he cannot be safe. He is where he ought not to be; and if so, what chance has he for happiness or success? What irreparable wrong is wrought when parents insist on their son following trades or professions wholly distasteful to them! Nature's providence gives most men a genius for doing certain things easily and well. We should follow those lines of least resistance. A gifted youth was tied to a trade he loathed. He had to follow life on these lines of greatest resistance, and with a sad result. That life was wrecked through harsh and unwise treatment at the outset. Assistants like young Adam Clarke have been asked to become partakers of their masters' sins and to put their hands to evil. If all practised the golden rule, trade and commerce would soon pass out of the region of questionable methods. John Wesley used to tell his helpers, "Be ashamed of nothing but sin; no, not of cleaning your own shoes, when necessary."
III. IS HE SAFE AS TO HIS COMPANIONS? Absalom was not. He mixed with a set of vain and worthless flatterers, who made him as bad as themselves. He listened to them until they fed his ambition and puffed him up. A youth is known by the company he keeps. Woe be to the unwary who are beguiled by evil companions! Their steps lead to the gates of hell. Dr. Stalker says there are two methods of meeting temptation: one the method of restraint, the other that of counter-attraction. And, like Ulysses, who was tied to the mast of his ship and saved himself from the sirens, so there is many a cord by which young men may secure themselves. Love of home, of church, of school, and of Christian work, is a silver cord to keep them safe in willing bonds, bound yet free. And as Orpheus destroyed the charm of the inferior music by his superior strains, so there are counter-attractions by seeking which young men may be safe. Instead of evil companions, seek good ones.
IV. IS HE SAFE AS TO HIS PLEASURES? He must have them. The bow cannot be always strung. Hobbies and habits make life. It is true, as Mr. Gladstone says, that "change of labour is to a great extent the best form of recreation"; but it must not be always conscious labour That duty must be lost in the joy. To be always on duty, to be ever hearing the wheels of life's machinery, is to make life a treadmill. Such a youth will lack imagination, enthusiasm, and faith. But do our pleasures recreate? Do they give muscle to body, and force to mind? Do they send us back to our task strong and glad? If so, they are true pleasures.
V. IS HE SAFE IN HIS SUCCESS? Some men can endure sorrow, but cannot stand success. In its slippery paths they become giddy and fall. Sorrow and adversity brace them, and they are brave and patient, and play the man; but prosperity — wealth, popularity, influence — enervates, and their strength becomes weakness. When the world smiles, "pride compasseth them about," and soon they fall. Men sometimes fail at the strongest point; like Edinburgh Castle, which was once taken on the rocky side, supposed to be impregnable.
VI. IS HE SAFE IN THE HOUR OF DEATH? Alas! Absalom was not. Here was the pathos of David's lament. "My son, would God I had died for thee!" The shafts of death strike young and old. He who can face the grim monster is a man every inch of him. We are only safe in the arms of Jesus.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the king said, Is the young man Absalom safe? And Ahimaaz answered, When Joab sent the king's servant, and me thy servant, I saw a great tumult, but I knew not what it was.
WEB: The king said, "Is it well with the young man Absalom?" Ahimaaz answered, "When Joab sent the king's servant, even me your servant, I saw a great tumult, but I don't know what it was."