“So all the men of Israel withdrew from David and followed Sheba the son of Bichri. But the men of Judah followed their king steadfastly from the Jordan to Jerusalem.” (ESV – Read the chapter)
Unresolved issues become the fuel for future conflicts. There’s an old adage about conflict resolution that heralds time as a kind of universal problem-solver. Far from being true, though, this idea is nothing more than a dangerous fantasy. When we face a conflict or even a tension in a relationship, if things are not brought to a resolution, we should not consider the matter resolved. Time is no healer of wounds. Conflicts which are not resolved, but rather are simply left alone do not solve themselves. They become festering pools of bitterness that eventually threaten to poison everything around them and become the lens through which we view everything else in our lives.
In the aftermath of Absalom’s rebellion, the one issue that remained unresolved was a squabble between the tribe of Judah and the other eleven tribes of Israel. Judah took the honor of escorting David back to Jerusalem from his exile without waiting for the others to take part in the parade. They argued about it for a while and looked like they might even come to blows over it, but as chapter 19 reported, Judah’s words were fiercer than the others and so the matter was put to rest. But it wasn’t resolved.
Sometime later, a man from Benjamin led another revolt against David’s leadership. Had the tension between Judah and the rest of the tribes been properly resolved before, perhaps this would have come to nothing. But it wasn’t, and so when Sheba announced his revolt, the eleven tribes who still felt disenfranchised went with him, leaving only the people of Judah loyal to the king who was from their ranks.
When we have a conflict in our lives, unless we want to sow the ground for future issues, we need to keep working with it until it is resolved. Time won’t do that for us. We have to get our hands dirty and do the work. We have to extend and receive forgiveness. We have to put in place new boundaries that will allow trust to grow where it has been broken. We have to change patterns that were the cause of some point of tension. We have to pursue the path of resolution and keep on it until we reach the goal. Stopping short will only leave us open to tension and challenges and renewed conflicts down the road.