“…And the mule that was under him went away” (2 Samuel 18:9c). Our text relates to Absalom’s head being caught in the branches of a great oak and his mule walking out from under him, leaving Absalom hanging in the branches. He could not remove himself; and ultimately he was defenseless and was killed by Joab, King David’s Commander in Chief, and his ten men as he hung between heaven and earth, with no way to protect himself from his enemies.
I direct your attention to Absalom’s mode of transportation, his mule. If the mule had not walked away, Absalom may have been able to stand up on his beast of burden and dislodge his head from the branches. He then would not have been defenseless and died. The thing that Absalom relied on failed him in his day of trouble.
The lesson I see for all of us is that we must not depend upon the mule, which characteristically is a stubborn creature, a rebellious animal. I liken the mule to our flesh, or speaking of our “old man” or our “old sin nature.” In Romans 7:18, Paul said, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing…” and verse 20b, “…but sin that dwelleth in me.”
When Adam, our father, sinned in the Garden of Eden; we, being in his loins, sinned against God also and fell under the curse of the law. From that moment on, spiritual death was upon Adam and Eve and their posterity (Romans 5:12; 6:23a). From that moment until one is born again (given a new nature created in righteousness and holiness), his nature is bent to sin (Ephesians 2:2-3). The soul of man is in control of a man until Christ implants Himself in that man. Then he is a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), with a new nature that has had the love of God shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost, which is given to us (Romans 5:5), which desires to please God and not the flesh (or the old nature). The old nature only desires to please the carnal or fleshly appetite of the soul; which is the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.
Many will say, “You are speaking only of the unsaved man.” Yes, the unsaved man is in this condition. But what is sad is that many so called “saved people” know the difference, but are not walking in the difference.
Instead of living in the Spirit, walking in the Spirit, and being led of the Spirit; they are refusing to surrender to God; refusing to submit to His Word; and refusing to obey His Word. They are riding the mule of stubbornness; the mule of pride and self independence. They are rejecting walking by faith and are trying to walk by sight. This is impossible for a child of God to do, while at the same time having success over the enemy daily.
The flesh is deceiving; it is a liar and demands to be in control. Many times God allows the child of God to yield his members to the flesh to bring him to chastisement and change (Hebrews 12:5-11). However, sometimes it is too late for the child of God that continues to rely upon his flesh and to submit to the flesh’s desires; and when the day of battle comes, it costs him his life. This happened to Absalom. He walked in a course of rebellion to his daddy, King David. He tried to overtake David’s kingdom and did overtake David’s wives and his possessions. But his mule of rebellion would be what finally destroyed him; “…and the mule that was under him went away” (2 Samuel 18:9c). Your flesh will always fail you in the end. It will leave you hanging.
1 John 5:16 speaks of a sin unto death the child of God can commit; “…I do not say that he shall pray for it.” (Read Hebrews 10:26-31, verses 29-31 shown below.)
“Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:29-31)
Israel is also an example of the cost of depending upon the “mule of self,” in that they rebelled against God ten times; and God said, for this your carcasses shall fall in the wilderness. (Read Numbers 14:1-35, verses 22-23 shown below.)
“Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice; Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it:” (Numbers 14:22-23)
Child of God, if you are riding the Mule of Self, you are riding to your temporal destruction. Vain is the help of man and of the flesh. Our hope is Christ. We are children of the Light; let us walk by Faith, or by Christ. Hebrews 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”