Second Samuel 15 records some key tactics used by a popular man who obtained a top position of national leadership through corrupt practices. This revelation provides helpful biblical instruction about some common tactics of corrupt politicians.
Absalom as a Popular Figure in Israel
In addition to his being a son of the king, Absalom was an exceedingly handsome man who was highly praised for his remarkably unblemished physical appearance (2 Sam. 14:25). He also exerted considerable influence over his father king David (cf. 2 Sam. 13:27).
How Absalom Usurped His Father’s Throne
Absalom usurped his father’s throne through a “political” campaign of convincing aggrieved people (2 Sam. 15:2b) that his father did not really care enough about them to give them the justice that they deserved (2 Sam. 15:3). Using an extensive PR campaign of rising early to meet these people (2 Sam. 15:2) and patronizing them (Absalom “put forth his hand, and took him, and kissed him” [2 Sam. 15:5]), Absalom was able to steal away their hearts from their allegiance to David as their king (2 Sam. 15:6).
Absalom then lied to his father about his desire to serve God and did so in order to accomplish his evil purposes (2 Sam. 15:7-9). Through his influence over a vast number of co-conspirators, he was able to usurp the throne of David (2 Sam. 15:10-12).
The Deceitfulness of Absalom
Scripture provides no evidence that Absalom was truly concerned with providing unjustly treated people in Israel with the justice for which they sought. His goal was rather to attain supreme national authority (2 Sam. 15:10) by pretending that he really cared for their welfare.
To obtain his ends, Absalom asserted that King David had failed to depute someone to hear and settle their cases justly (2 Sam. 15:3). Scripture, however, does not mention anything about such a failure on David’s part.
Furthermore, Absalom asserted that he was qualified and eager to serve the people in such a capacity (2 Sam. 15:4). Again, we have no biblical basis for thinking that he had the character and training to exercise such authority over the people.
Instead, he used his “charismatic” appeal (cf. 2 Sam. 14:25; 15:5) to sway them into believing that he was qualified to do what he claimed he would do for them and that he would do so if they supported him in overthrowing their government. Through his great deceitfulness, Absalom even succeeded in manipulating many other people into unknowingly support him in usurping the throne of Israel (2 Sam. 15:11).
Some Common Tactics of Corrupt Politicians
The Scriptural account of Absalom’s corrupt rise to power reveals that he employed some common tactics to deceive people into wanting him to be in a leading position of authority over them:
1. He used his highly attractive appearance and his skill in patronizing people to ingratiate himself with them. Pretending to take a genuine personal interest in them, he was able to win their hearts.
2. He used his skill at deceitfully manipulating people so that they thought he was qualified to rule over them in a capacity in which he had no intent in doing so.
3. He deceived people who wanted justice from their existing governmental leaders into thinking that their government did not really care for them and that he really cared for their concerns and would see to it that their concerns would be addressed properly. He thus manipulated these people so that they would support him in overthrowing the supposedly unjust leader who was then ruling over them.
4. He lied to the existing governmental authority to achieve his evil purpose.
5. He pretended to be a religious man when it suited his evil designs.
6. He skillfully used his abilities to manipulate people to form a strong conspiracy against legitimate governmental authority. In fact, he was so cunning that he was able deceitfully to garner the support of a sizeable number of people who did not know anything about his evil intentions.
Through this passage that exposes these common tactics of corrupt politicians, let us beware of the use of such tactics by deceitful, popular people who are highly skilled in manipulating people into supporting them in their political activities. Furthermore, let us scrutinize carefully the claims of all those who assert that putting them into power would help us to get the justice that we deserve but supposedly have not received from existing governmental leaders who are legitimately in power over us.