Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Deadly Coif

Growing up I never really realized how much influence hair had in my life until just recently. As a kid I used to watch Happy Days and I remember the Fonze grabbing his comb from his back pocket, taking a look in the mirror and as he got ready to slide it through his perfect hair he would suddenly stop, throw us thumbs up and say Aaayyy in a way only The Fonze could say it. In the 80's I was in my teens and glam metal was all the rage. Dudes spent as much if not more than girls on mouse, gel and hair spray. The bigger and fluffier the better. And I ought to know because I had a part-time job working at a beauty supply store. We had one retail store down town that specialized in ethnic hair care products and another wholesale store that was geared towards the professional beautician. My job was to stock shelves and make deliveries to all of the salons within about a 30 to 40 mile radius of the store. Every salon was unique in its decor but the smells were the same, a somewhat putrid smell of perm solution, peroxide and hair dye. Sometimes I would make my deliveries around lunch time and all of those smells would be mixed with the smell of a fried chicken dinner or the salon was attached to a restaurant of some sort and oh the smells! So where am I going with all of this? This week I was reading in II Samuel and I came across this passage:

II Samuel 14: 25-26 -  25 In all Israel there was not a man so highly praised for his handsome appearance as Absalom. From the top of his head to the sole of his foot there was no blemish in him. 26 Whenever he cut the hair of his head—he used to cut his hair from time to time when it became too heavy for him—he would weigh it, and its weight was two hundred shekels by the royal standard.

Wow, the hair he cut weighed almost 5 pounds, thats a lot of hair. But as I read this I really did not pay much attention to it until later in II Samuel 18. All of this hair comes back to bite him:

II Samuel 18: 9 -  9 Now Absalom happened to meet David's men. He was riding his mule, and as the mule went under the thick branches of a large oak, Absalom's head got caught in the tree. He was left hanging in midair, while the mule he was riding kept on going.

If the results of this were not so sad it would be quite funny. Here is a guy who was probably well known for his hair. You may have heard conversations like this around town: 

Yeah, you need to go see Absalom about that. 
Go see who? 
Who is that? 
You know, David's son. 
No, I can't say I know him. 
Sure you do, you know, the guy with all the hair! 
Ooooh Yeah, now I know who you are talking about, the guy who makes sure everyone sees his big hair.
Yeah, that guy!

Absalom took a lot of pride in his big hair. Otherwise why wouldn't he have cut it before going to battle. Surely this must have been heavy and hot. When he cut his hair he cut 5 pounds off! Imagine the strain on his neck, I doubt he could have put a helmet on his head if he had this much hair and I bet his hair got caught on his armor, his shield and was constantly getting tangled up. I wonder if his fellow soldiers came to him from time to time and said you need to do something with that hair, it will eventually cost you. II Samuel 18 is the story of the battle between Absalom and David. The results of him being prideful with his hair cost him dearly.

II Samuel 18: 14, 15 -  14 Joab said, "I'm not going to wait like this for you." So he took three javelins in his hand and plunged them into Absalom's heart while Absalom was still alive in the oak tree. 15 And ten of Joab's armor-bearers surrounded Absalom, struck him and killed him.

As I read this I thought about the issue of pride in my own life. Even though I worked in the beauty industry for years and tried all kinds of products on my hair, it was to no avail, my hair is thin, falling out and turning gray.  I may not struggle with pride as it relates to my hair but what about pride in my job, my education, the size of my church, the neighborhood I live in, the club I am a member of, etc. The list could go on and on.

The book of Proverbs was written by Solomon, David's son. I wonder if this story of Absalom was in the back of his mind when he wrote Proverbs 16: 18 - Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. or Proverbs 18: 12 Before his downfall a man's heart is proud, but humility comes before honor. or Proverbs 22: 4 - Humility and the fear of the LORD bring wealth and honor and life. I am beginning to think God wants to make sure we understand how much He dislikes pride.

With this said, the application for me is that I need to constantly look at my life and find things that are areas of pride or may  eventually lead to pride, I need to make sure I have friends who keep me in check. Maybe you and I should find someone we consider a close friend and ask him to be honest with us and tell us what they think we take too much pride in or what area of our life do we seem somewhat over confident in. A conversation about that could just save our life.

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