Temper tantrums are a childish way to get attention, but Absalom was frustrated. Five years earlier, Absalom had murdered his brother Amnon whose uncontrolled lust led him to rape their sister Tamar. After prolonged estrangement from his father, King David, Absalom wanted to talk. Absalom tried to recruit Joab as a mediator, but Joab would have nothing to do with Absalom. Desperate to get Joab’s attention, Absalom burned Joab’s barley field.
Then Absalom sent for Joab, to send him to the king, but he would not come to him. So he sent again a second time, but he would not come. Therefore he said to his servants, “See, Joab’s field is next to mine, and he has barley there; go and set it on fire.” So Absalom’s servants set the field on fire. Then Joab arose, came to Absalom at his house and said to him, “Why have your servants set my field on fire?” (2 Sam. 14:29-31)
Beware the capacity in every human heart to burn barley fields; to make a lot of smoke and flame to get the attention we want. When it comes to our relationship with God, that kind of attention seeking comes from questioning whether God listens.
Satan likes to take little lies and doubts in our hearts and to toy with them, irritating a tiny spot until it grows into a festering boil of unbelief. Memories of times when we felt that God did not do what we thought He had said and promised become inflamed into a doubt as to whether God listens to us or even cares about us. Seasons of apparent dryness and inactivity can lead to a heightened temptation to take the initiative and act before receiving God’s guidance. It feels better to execute our own good ideas rather than waiting, with little hope, for God to speak.
Absalom set the barley on fire because he had come to believe that no one would listen unless he made a scene. Burning the barley got him noticed. We don’t have to behave like that with God because God listens.
The truth about our heavenly Father is that He “sees in secret” and knows our needs even before we ask. He delights to give good gifts to His children. If we are to resist Satan’s interference in our faith, we must focus on the character of God that is revealed in the Bible. God listens and cares for us, but He doesn’t follow our schedule.
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