David's Son Absalom
INTRODUCTION: Amnon raped Absalom's sister Tamar, and two years later Absalom carried out his revenge by having his servants kill Amnon at a gathering of brothers arranged by Absalom. Immediately afterward Absalom fled to be safe with his mother's father, King Talmai of Geshur; and the other sons quickly went back to Jerusalem in fear, and there was great mourning for Amnon. Absalom remained in Geshur for three years before Joab took steps to convince King David to bring him back to Jerusalem, but King David would not see him in person. Two more years passed until Joab made another approach in his behalf. After that, Absalom gradually developed favor among the people, and finally planned to kill his father David and become king in his place.
NOTE: All passages are from the 1901 American Standard Version.
A - JOAB SENT A WOMAN BEFORE DAVID TO PREPARE FOR ABSALOM'S RETURN
2 Samuel 14 "1 Now Joab the son of Zeruiah perceived that the king's heart was toward Absalom. 2 And Joab sent to Tekoa, and fetched thence a wise woman, and said unto her, I pray thee, feign thyself to be a mourner, and put on mourning apparel, I pray thee, and anoint not thyself with oil, but be as a woman that hath a long time mourned for the dead: 3 and go in to the king, and speak on this manner unto him. So Joab put the words in her mouth. 4 And when the woman of Tekoa spake to the king, she fell on her face to the ground, and did obeisance, and said, Help, O king. 5 And the king said unto her, What aileth thee? And she answered, Of a truth I am a widow, and my husband is dead. 6 And thy handmaid had two sons, and they two strove together in the field, and there was none to part them, but the one smote the other, and killed him. 7 And, behold, the whole family is risen against thy handmaid, and they say, Deliver him that smote his brother, that we may kill him for the life of his brother whom he slew, and so destroy the heir also. Thus will they quench my coal which is left, and will leave to my husband neither name nor remainder upon the face of the earth. 8 And the king said unto the woman, Go to thy house, and I will give charge concerning thee. 9 And the woman of Tekoa said unto the king, My lord, O king, the iniquity be on me, and on my father's house; and the king and his throne be guiltless. 10 And the king said, Whosoever saith aught unto thee, bring him to me, and he shall not touch thee any more. 11 Then said she, I pray thee, let the king remember Jehovah thy God, that the avenger of blood destroy not any more, lest they destroy my son. And he said, As Jehovah liveth, there shall not one hair of thy son fall to the earth."
2 Samuel 14 "19 And the king said, Is the hand of Joab with thee in all this? And the woman answered and said, As thy soul liveth, my lord the king, none can turn to the right hand or to the left from aught that my lord the king hath spoken; for thy servant Joab, he bade me, and he put all these words in the mouth of thy handmaid; 20 to change the face of the matter hath thy servant Joab done this thing: and my lord is wise, according to the wisdom of an angel of God, to know all things that are in the earth."
2 Samuel 14 "21 And the king said unto Joab, Behold now, I have done this thing: go therefore, bring the young man Absalom back. 22 And Joab fell to the ground on his face, and did obeisance, and blessed the king: and Joab said, To-day thy servant knoweth that I have found favor in thy sight, my lord, O king, in that the king hath performed the request of his servant. 23 So Joab arose and went to Geshur, and brought Absalom to Jerusalem. 24 And the king said, Let him turn to his own house, but let him not see my face. So Absalom turned to his own house, and saw not the king's face. 25 Now in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty: from the sole of his foot even to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him. 26 And when he cut the hair of his head (now it was at every year's end that he cut it; because it was heavy on him, therefore he cut it); he weighed the hair of his head at two hundred shekels, after the king's weight. 27 And unto Absalom there were born three sons, and one daughter, whose name was Tamar: she was a woman of a fair countenance. 28 And Absalom dwelt two full years in Jerusalem; and he saw not the king's face."
COMMENTS: Joab observed that David had a compassionate desire to see Absalom again, and he sent a woman to King David with an allegory designed to bring David's response to a point of allowing Absalom to return to Jerusalem. Jehovah did not direct Joab to do this, as had been the case when Nathan used an allegory to show David his sin regarding Uriah the Hittite. When Absalom returned he was not permitted to see King David in person, and in verse 27 we find that Absalom had three sons and a daughter name Tamar (also the name of his sister): she was a woman of a fair countenance. Often in Scripture events are not necessarily stated in strict chronological order, so we don't know how old his children were at this point, though the term woman is used for Tamar. Another two years passed after Absalom's return before the next episode began.
B - ABSALOM USED EXTREME MEASURES BEFORE JOAB WOULD HELP HIM TO SEE KING DAVID
2 Samuel 14 " 29 Then Absalom sent for Joab, to send him to the king; but he would not come to him: and he sent again a second time, but he would not come. 30 Therefore he said unto his servants, See, Joab's field is near mine, and he hath barley there; go and set it on fire. And Absalom's servants set the field on fire. 31 Then Joab arose, and came to Absalom unto his house, and said unto him, Wherefore have thy servants set my field on fire? 32 And Absalom answered Joab, Behold, I sent unto thee, saying, Come hither, that I may send thee to the king, to say, Wherefore am I come from Geshur? it were better for me to be there still. Now therefore let me see the king's face; and if there be iniquity in me, let him kill me. 33 So Joab came to the king, and told him; and when he had called for Absalom, he came to the king, and bowed himself on his face to the ground before the king: and the king kissed Absalom."
COMMENTS: After two messages to Joab with no response, Absalom ordered his servants to set Joab's field on fire. Joab then went to Absalom and asked why that was done, and Absalom simply said he had not responded to messages. There is no indication of apology or restoration by Absalom, seemingly because he was the king's son and Joab was the king's nephew. Absalom said he had been back in Jerusalem, but since he could not see the King, it was as if he was still in Geshur: and if he was guilty of iniquity, then he should be killed. Joab made the arrangement for him, and Absalom bowed himself on his face to the ground before the king: and King David kissed Absalom. Absalom took advantage of the compassion of his father to put himself in clear acceptance again as the king's son so there would be little question of his authority as he took certain steps.
C - ABSALOM WAS NOW READY TO BEGIN WINNING THE HEARTS OF THE PEOPLE
2 Samuel 15 "1 And it came to pass after this, that Absalom prepared him a chariot and horses, and fifty men to run before him. 2 And Absalom rose up early, and stood beside the way of the gate: and it was so, that, when any man had a suit which should come to the king for judgment, then Absalom called unto him, and said, Of what city art thou? And he said, Thy servant is of one of the tribes of Israel. 3 And Absalom said unto him, See, thy matters are good and right; but there is no man deputed of the king to hear thee. 4 Absalom said moreover, Oh that I were made judge in the land, that every man who hath any suit or cause might come unto me, and I would do him justice! 5 And it was so, that, when any man came nigh to do him obeisance, he put forth his hand, and took hold of him, and kissed him. 6 And on this manner did Absalom to all Israel that came to the king for judgment: so Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel. 7 And it came to pass at the end of forty years, that Absalom said unto the king, I pray thee, let me go and pay my vow, which I have vowed unto Jehovah, in Hebron. 8 For thy servant vowed a vow while I abode at Geshur in Syria, saying, If Jehovah shall indeed bring me again to Jerusalem, then I will serve Jehovah. 9 And the king said unto him, Go in peace. So he arose, and went to Hebron. 10 But Absalom sent spies throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, As soon as ye hear the sound of the trumpet, then ye shall say, Absalom is king in Hebron. 11 And with Absalom went two hundred men out of Jerusalem, that were invited, and went in their simplicity; and they knew not anything. 12 And Absalom sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David's counsellor, from his city, even from Giloh, while he was offering the sacrifices. And the conspiracy was strong; for the people increased continually with Absalom."
COMMENTS: Absalom dramatically drew attention to himself in Jerusalem that he was a son of the king by riding in a chariot with fifty men to run before him. In verse 7 forty years is mentioned, but other ancient texts show that to be four years. There are passages in later chapters of 2 Samuel after Absalom's death that describe additional years of events, and David was only king for a total of forty years. From verse 9 it is clear that King David was prone to believe his son Absalom's reason to go to Hebron to keep a vow to Jehovah was authentic. That could be an indication that David had completely forgiven Absalom for having his brother Amnon killed. Absalom used Hebron as his base to separately gather followers, just as he had first used valuable time in Jerusalem convincing many of the people of all Israel that he would be a good successor to his father. Absalom sent spies throughout all the tribes of Israel to prepare them to accept him as king in Hebron. There had been two hundred men invited, who then went with Absalom from Jerusalem, but the text indicates they were unaware of his plan. That seemingly was so there would be a reasonable company for a king's son, but they could not deter his plan before they left. Absalom sent to Giloh for Ahithophel who was a counselor for King David. The conspiracy continued to grow stronger and more people joined with Absalom, but we are not given any length of time before the next phase.
D - ABSALOM BEGAN TO MOVE FOR JERUSALEM TO BECOME KING BY FORCE
2 Samuel 15 "13 And there came a messenger to David, saying, The hearts of the men of Israel are after Absalom. 14 And David said unto all his servants that were with him at Jerusalem, Arise, and let us flee; for else none of us shall escape from Absalom: make speed to depart, lest he overtake us quickly, and bring down evil upon us, and smite the city with the edge of the sword. 15 And the king's servants said unto the king, Behold, thy servants are ready to do whatsoever my lord the king shall choose. 16 And the king went forth, and all his household after him. And the king left ten women, that were concubines, to keep the house. 17 And the king went forth, and all the people after him; and they tarried in Beth-merhak. 18 And all his servants passed on beside him; and all the Cherethites, and all the Pelethites, and all the Gittites, six hundred men that came after him from Gath, passed on before the king. 19 Then said the king to Ittai the Gittite, Wherefore goest thou also with us? return, and abide with the king: for thou art a foreigner, and also an exile; return to thine own place. 20 Whereas thou camest but yesterday, should I this day make thee go up and down with us, seeing I go whither I may? return thou, and take back thy brethren; mercy and truth be with thee. 21 And Ittai answered the king, and said, As Jehovah liveth, and as my lord the king liveth, surely in what place my lord the king shall be, whether for death or for life, even there also will thy servant be. 22 And David said to Ittai, Go and pass over. And Ittai the Gittite passed over, and all his men, and all the little ones that were with him. 23 And all the country wept with a loud voice, and all the people passed over: the king also himself passed over the brook Kidron, and all the people passed over, toward the way of the wilderness."
2 Samuel 15 "24 And, lo, Zadok also came, and all the Levites with him, bearing the ark of the covenant of God; and they set down the ark of God; and Abiathar went up, until all the people had done passing out of the city. 25 And the king said unto Zadok, Carry back the ark of God into the city: if I shall find favor in the eyes of Jehovah, he will bring me again, and show me both it, and his habitation: 26 but if he say thus, I have no delight in thee; behold, here am I, let him do to me as seemeth good unto him. 27 The king said also unto Zadok the priest, Art thou not a seer? return into the city in peace, and your two sons with you, Ahimaaz thy son, and Jonathan the son of Abiathar. 28 See, I will tarry at the fords of the wilderness, until there come word from you to certify me. 29 Zadok therefore and Abiathar carried the ark of God again to Jerusalem: and they abode there. 30 And David went up by the ascent of the mount of Olives, and wept as he went up; and he had his head covered, and went barefoot: and all the people that were with him covered every man his head, and they went up, weeping as they went up.
COMMENTS: Ittai the Gittite was another foreigner to the people of Israel, but he applied the phrase "as Jehovah lives" as he expressed his unwavering loyalty to King David. Zadok and all the Levites came out and they set down the ark of God until all the people following David had come out of the city. King David told Zadok to take the ark of God back into Jerusalem, and if David found favor in the site of Jehovah he would return to see it; but if not, let Jehovah do whatever seems good to him. David said to Zadok the priest, are you not also a seer? Zadok was to return to the city in peace with Ahimaaz his son, and Jonathan the son of Abiathar.
David planned to go as far as the fords of the wilderness, which was a crossing point to go from the west side over to the east side of the Jordan River, until Zadok sent a messenger with necessary information for David to make more decisions. Therefore, Zadok and Abiathar carried the ark of God again to Jerusalem and they remained there. David went up by the ascent of the mount of Olives with his head covered, barefoot, and wept as he went. Every man that was with him covered his head, and wept as they went up. That mount of Olives again had special significance centuries later for the promised son of David, our everlasting King! Mark 14 "25 Verily I say unto you, I shall no more drink of the fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God. 26 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out unto the mount of Olives."
E - DAVID'S BRIEF PRAYER TO JEHOVAH AGAINST AHITHOPHEL'S COUNSEL WAS WELL ANSWERED
2 Samuel 15 "31 And one told David, saying, Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom. And David said, O Jehovah, I pray thee, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness. 32 And it came to pass, that, when David was come to the top of the ascent, where God was worshipped, behold, Hushai the Archite came to meet him with his coat rent, and earth upon his head. 33 And David said unto him, If thou passest on with me, then thou wilt be a burden unto me: 34 but if thou return to the city, and say unto Absalom, I will be thy servant, O king; as I have been thy father's servant in time past, so will I now be thy servant; then wilt thou defeat for me the counsel of Ahithophel. 35 And hast thou not there with thee Zadok and Abiathar the priests? therefore it shall be, that what thing soever thou shalt hear out of the king's house, thou shalt tell it to Zadok and Abiathar the priests. 36 Behold, they have there with them their two sons, Ahimaaz, Zadok's son, and Jonathan, Abiathar's son; and by them ye shall send unto me everything that ye shall hear. 37 So Hushai, David's friend, came into the city; and Absalom came into Jerusalem."
2 Samuel 16 "15 And Absalom, and all the people, the men of Israel, came to Jerusalem, and Ahithophel with him. 16 And it came to pass, when Hushai the Archite, David's friend, was come unto Absalom, that Hushai said unto Absalom, Long live the king, Long live the king. 17 And Absalom said to Hushai, Is this thy kindness to thy friend? why wentest thou not with thy friend? 18 And Hushai said unto Absalom, Nay; but whom Jehovah, and this people, and all the men of Israel have chosen, his will I be, and with him will I abide. 19 And again, whom should I serve? should I not serve in the presence of his son? as I have served in thy father's presence, so will I be in thy presence. 20 Then said Absalom to Ahithophel, Give your counsel what we shall do. 21 And Ahithophel said unto Absalom, Go in unto thy father's concubines, that he hath left to keep the house; and all Israel will hear that thou art abhorred of thy father: then will the hands of all that are with thee be strong. 22 So they spread Absalom a tent upon the top of the house; and Absalom went in unto his father's concubines in the sight of all Israel. 23 And the counsel of Ahithophel, which he gave in those days, was as if a man inquired at the oracle of God: so was all the counsel of Ahithophel both with David and with Absalom."
COMMENTS: David was told that his counselor Ahithophel had joined Absalom in the conspiracy, and David immediately prayed that Jehovah would frustrate Ahithophel's always excellent advice. Soon after, his counselor Hushai joined David with mourning. But David asked him to return to Jerusalem to counter the advice of Ahithophel. So Hushai, David's friend, came into the city; and Absalom came into Jerusalem. Hushai greeted Absalom with "long live the king" and Absalom questioned his lack of kindness to his friend David. Hushai was very wise in a complimentary answer; that he should serve the man chosen by Jehovah, this people, and all the men of Israel. He said, should I not serve in your presence, as I have served in your father's presence? Nothing more was said to Hushai, as Absalom turned to Ahithophel for some advice. Ahithophel told him to lie with all the concubines David left to keep the house; and all Israel would hear that he was abhorred by his father. That would give confidence to all who were with him to be strong. This was not the effective time for Hushai, so he said nothing about Ahithophel's counsel, no matter how he may have felt. A tent was spread upon the top of the house; and Absalom went in unto his father's concubines in the sight of all Israel (as Jehovah had previously said He would cause to happen - and he had referred to the man as a neighbor). 2 Samuel 12 "10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thy house, because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife. 11 Thus saith Jehovah, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house; and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbor, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun. 12 For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun. 13 And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against Jehovah. And Nathan said unto David, Jehovah also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. 14 Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of Jehovah to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die." David experienced unmerited grace and forgiveness from Jehovah, when he did not die for murder and adultery; but that first child of David and Bathsheba did die without being given a name. And David would experience much sorrow within his family for the rest of his life.
F - JEHOVAH HAD ORDAINED TO DEFEAT THE GOOD COUNSEL OF AHITHOPHEL TO BRING EVIL ON ABSALOM
2 Samuel 17 "1 Moreover Ahithophel said unto Absalom, Let me now choose out twelve thousand men, and I will arise and pursue after David this night: 2 and I will come upon him while he is weary and weak-handed, and will make him afraid; and all the people that are with him shall flee; and I will smite the king only; 3 and I will bring back all the people unto thee: the man whom thou seekest is as if all returned: so all the people shall be in peace. 4 And the saying pleased Absalom well, and all the elders of Israel. 5 Then said Absalom, Call now Hushai the Archite also, and let us hear likewise what he saith. 6 And when Hushai was come to Absalom, Absalom spake unto him, saying, Ahithophel hath spoken after this manner: shall we do after his saying? if not, speak thou. 7 And Hushai said unto Absalom, The counsel that Ahithophel hath given this time is not good. 8 Hushai said moreover, Thou knowest thy father and his men, that they are mighty men, and they are chafed in their minds, as a bear robbed of her whelps in the field; and thy father is a man of war, and will not lodge with the people. 9 Behold, he is hid now in some pit, or in some other place: and it will come to pass, when some of them are fallen at the first, that whosoever heareth it will say, There is a slaughter among the people that follow Absalom. 10 And even he that is valiant, whose heart is as the heart of a lion, will utterly melt; for all Israel knoweth that thy father is a mighty man, and they that are with him are valiant men. 11 But I counsel that all Israel be gathered together unto thee, from Dan even to Beer-sheba, as the sand that is by the sea for multitude; and that thou go to battle in thine own person. 12 So shall we come upon him in some place where he shall be found, and we will light upon him as the dew falleth on the ground; and of him and of all the men that are with him we will not leave so much as one. 13 Moreover, if he be gotten into a city, then shall all Israel bring ropes to that city, and we will draw it into the river, until there be not one small stone found there. 14 And Absalom and all the men of Israel said, The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel. For Jehovah had ordained to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, to the intent that Jehovah might bring evil upon Absalom. 15 Then said Hushai unto Zadok and to Abiathar the priests, Thus and thus did Ahithophel counsel Absalom and the elders of Israel; and thus and thus have I counselled. 16 Now therefore send quickly, and tell David, saying, Lodge not this night at the fords of the wilderness, but by all means pass over; lest the king be swallowed up, and all the people that are with him."
2 Samuel 17 "17 Now Jonathan and Ahimaaz were staying by En-rogel; and a maid-servant used to go and tell them; and they went and told king David: for they might not be seen to come into the city. 18 But a lad saw them, and told Absalom: and they went both of them away quickly, and came to the house of a man in Bahurim, who had a well in his court; and they went down thither. 19 And the woman took and spread the covering over the well's mouth, and strewed bruised grain thereon; and nothing was known. 20 And Absalom's servants came to the woman to the house; and they said, Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan? And the woman said unto them, They are gone over the brook of water. And when they had sought and could not find them, they returned to Jerusalem. 21 And it came to pass, after they were departed, that they came up out of the well, and went and told king David; and they said unto David, Arise ye, and pass quickly over the water; for thus hath Ahithophel counselled against you. 22 Then David arose, and all the people that were with him, and they passed over the Jordan: by the morning light there lacked not one of them that was not gone over the Jordan. 23 And when Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his ass, and arose, and gat him home, unto his city, and set his house in order, and hanged himself; and he died, and was buried in the sepulchre of his father. 24 Then David came to Mahanaim. And Absalom passed over the Jordan, he and all the men of Israel with him. 25 And Absalom set Amasa over the host instead of Joab. Now Amasa was the son of a man, whose name was Ithra the Israelite, that went in to Abigail the daughter of Nahash, sister to Zeruiah, Joab's mother. 26 And Israel and Absalom encamped in the land of Gilead. 27 And it came to pass, when David was come to Mahanaim, that Shobi the son of Nahash of Rabbah of the children of Ammon, and Machir the son of Ammiel of Lodebar, and Barzillai the Gileadite of Rogelim, 28 brought beds, and basins, and earthen vessels, and wheat, and barley, and meal, and parched grain, and beans, and lentils, and parched pulse, 29 and honey, and butter, and sheep, and cheese of the herd, for David, and for the people that were with him, to eat: for they said, The people are hungry, and weary, and thirsty, in the wilderness."
COMMENTS: Ahithophel gave the advice that would almost certainly have given victory to Absalom over his father David, and the elders of Israel who heard it agreed it was good. Jehovah was working in the situation as Absalom called for Hushai and explained what Ahithophel had advised, then asked Hushai to give his counsel. Hushai very wisely said to Absalom, Ahithophel's counsel this time is not good. Hushai gave a very plausible explanation of why he said that, then presented an alternate plan. That plan was intended in Hushai's inner thoughts to give David more time to go farther east of the Jordan and better prepare to engage in battle. The men of Israel saw only what seemed better for Absalom, and chose The counsel of Hushai the Archite as better than the counsel of Ahithophel. Jehovah had caused this to happen to bring evil upon Absalom. Hushai told both plans to Zadok and Abiathar the priests, and that his plan had been accepted. They needed to quickly send the messengers to David for everyone with him to pass over the fords of the wilderness.
Jonathan and Ahimaaz stayed by En-rogel outside the city; and a maid-servant relayed information which they then would take to David. After a lad saw them and told Absalom, they had to go to another place to avoid capture. A woman hid them in a well and covered it, and when Absalom's servants came, she said they had already gone on. But when they couldn't be found, the servants returned to Jerusalem. After that Jonathan and Ahimaaz came out of the well and went to King David to tell him to quickly pass over the water because of the way Ahithophel had counseled against him. David and all who were with him immediately crossed over the Jordan before the morning light. Meanwhile, when Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he went to his home city, set his house in order, and hanged himself. and He was buried in the sepulchre of his father.
David set his camp at Mahanaim, which may have been about ten miles east of the Jordan River (today that actual location is uncertain). The rulers and people of Ammon and nearby areas provided graciously with food, beverage, and bedding to make all of those with King David more comfortable. Absalom passed over the Jordan with a large company of the men of Israel, and encamped in the land of Gilead. He set Amasa over the troops instead of Joab (who was with King David). Joab and Amasa were cousins to each other and to Absalom, because they were sons of David's two sisters.
G - JEHOVAH BROUGHT VICTORY AGAINST ABSALOM
2 Samuel 18 "1 And David numbered the people that were with him, and set captains of thousands and captains of hundreds over them. 2 And David sent forth the people, a third part under the hand of Joab, and a third part under the hand of Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab's brother, and a third part under the hand of Ittai the Gittite. And the king said unto the people, I will surely go forth with you myself also. 3 But the people said, Thou shalt not go forth: for if we flee away, they will not care for us; neither if half of us die, will they care for us: but thou art worth ten thousand of us; therefore now it is better that thou be ready to succor us out of the city. 4 And the king said unto them, What seemeth you best I will do. And the king stood by the gate-side, and all the people went out by hundreds and by thousands. 5 And the king commanded Joab and Abishai and Ittai, saying, Deal gently for my sake with the young man, even with Absalom. And all the people heard when the king gave all the captains charge concerning Absalom. 6 So the people went out into the field against Israel: and the battle was in the forest of Ephraim. 7 And the people of Israel were smitten there before the servants of David, and there was a great slaughter there that day of twenty thousand men. 8 For the battle was there spread over the face of all the country; and the forest devoured more people that day than the sword devoured. 9 And Absalom chanced to meet the servants of David. And Absalom was riding upon his mule, and the mule went under the thick boughs of a great oak, and his head caught hold of the oak, and he was taken up between heaven and earth; and the mule that was under him went on. 10 And a certain man saw it, and told Joab, and said, Behold, I saw Absalom hanging in an oak. 11 And Joab said unto the man that told him, And, behold, thou sawest it, and why didst thou not smite him there to the ground? and I would have given thee ten pieces of silver, and a girdle. 12 And the man said unto Joab, Though I should receive a thousand pieces of silver in my hand, yet would I not put forth my hand against the king's son; for in our hearing the king charged thee and Abishai and Ittai, saying, Beware that none touch the young man Absalom. 13 Otherwise if I had dealt falsely against his life (and there is no matter hid from the king), then thou thyself wouldest have set thyself against me. 14 Then said Joab, I may not tarry thus with thee. And he took three darts in his hand, and thrust them through the heart of Absalom, while he was yet alive in the midst of the oak. 15 And ten young men that bare Joab's armor compassed about and smote Absalom, and slew him. 16 And Joab blew the trumpet, and the people returned from pursuing after Israel; for Joab held back the people. 17 And they took Absalom, and cast him into the great pit in the forest, and raised over him a very great heap of stones: and all Israel fled every one to his tent. 18 Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and reared up for himself the pillar, which is in the king's dale; for he said, I have no son to keep my name in remembrance: and he called the pillar after his own name; and it is called Absalom's monument, unto this day."
2 Samuel 18 "19 Then said Ahimaaz the son of Zadok, Let me now run, and bear the king tidings, how that Jehovah hath avenged him of his enemies. 20 And Joab said unto him, Thou shalt not be the bearer of tidings this day, but thou shalt bear tidings another day; but this day thou shalt bear no tidings, because the king's son is dead. 21 Then said Joab to the Cushite, Go, tell the king what thou hast seen. And the Cushite bowed himself unto Joab, and ran. 22 Then said Ahimaaz the son of Zadok yet again to Joab, But come what may, let me, I pray thee, also run after the Cushite. And Joab said, Wherefore wilt thou run, my son, seeing that thou wilt have no reward for the tidings? 23 But come what may, said he, I will run. And he said unto him, Run. Then Ahimaaz ran by the way of the Plain, and outran the Cushite. 24 Now David was sitting between the two gates: and the watchman went up to the roof of the gate unto the wall, and lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, a man running alone. 25 And the watchman cried, and told the king. And the king said, If he be alone, there is tidings in his mouth. And he came apace, and drew near. 26 And the watchman saw another man running; and the watchman called unto the porter, and said, Behold, another man running alone. And the king said, He also bringeth tidings. 27 And the watchman said, I think the running of the foremost is like the running of Ahimaaz the son of Zadok. And the king said, He is a good man, and cometh with good tidings. 28 And Ahimaaz called, and said unto the king, All is well. And he bowed himself before the king with his face to the earth, and said, Blessed be Jehovah thy God, who hath delivered up the men that lifted up their hand against my lord the king. 29 And the king said, Is it well with the young man Absalom? And Ahimaaz answered, When Joab sent the king's servant, even me thy servant, I saw a great tumult, but I knew not what it was. 30 And the king said, Turn aside, and stand here. And he turned aside, and stood still. 31 And, behold, the Cushite came; and the Cushite said, Tidings for my lord the king; for Jehovah hath avenged thee this day of all them that rose up against thee. 32 And the king said unto the Cushite, Is it well with the young man Absalom? And the Cushite answered, The enemies of my lord the king, and all that rise up against thee to do thee hurt, be as that young man is. 33 And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!"
COMMENTS: David set the thousands of troops under three commanders: Joab a third, Abishai a third, and Ittai the Gittite a third. The king planned to go with them, but he accepted their advice that he would be the key loss if he died. King David stood by the gate, as the army went out and he commanded Joab and Abishai and Ittai to deal gently for his sake with Absalom. The people of Israel were soundly defeated, and twenty thousand of them died that day. Again, Jehovah was much involved, as the text states that the forest devoured more people that day than the sword devoured. Absalom's head was caught in a tree and his mule ran out from under him. The first man who saw it told Joab, then replied to Joab that he knew the king had given instructions not to harm Absalom; and if he had done so, even Joab would then have been against him. While Absalom was still alive and caught in the tree, Joab thrust three darts through his heart, then his men made sure he was dead. Joab blew the trumpet, and the troops returned from pursuing Israel. Absalom's body was put into the great pit in the forest, and covered with a very great heap of stones. Though there is no record of worship or sacrifice by Absalom to Jehovah, he did set up a large monument to perpetuate his own name.
When Ahimaaz asked to run, Joab said he would not allow him to bear news that day, but he would be permitted some other day. This day he could not go because the king's son was dead. Joab told the Cushite to Go and tell the king what he had seen, and the Cushite bowed to Joab, and ran. Ahimaaz the son of Zadok again asked Joab to let him run. Joab said he would have no reward for that news; but Ahimaaz said regardless he wanted to run, so Joab let him go. When he outran the Cushite, he told the king Jehovah had defeated the king's enemies. When David asked about Absalom he said he saw a great tumult but did not know what it was about. His answer puzzles me because Joab first would not let him be the messenger and said it was because the king's son was dead; then the second time Joab said there would be no reward for bad news, but Ahimaaz persisted and was permitted to run. When David asked the Cushite about Absalom, he said may all the king's enemies be as that young man is. David was overcome with emotion and he went up to the chamber over the gate weeping and continually saying my son, my son Absalom. Would I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!
H - JOAB UPBRADED THE KING FOR IGNORING HIS LOYAL SERVANTS WHILE MOURNING FOR ABSALOM
2 Samuel 19 "1 And it was told Joab, Behold, the king weepeth and mourneth for Absalom. 2 And the victory that day was turned into mourning unto all the people; for the people heard say that day, The king grieveth for his son. 3 And the people gat them by stealth that day into the city, as people that are ashamed steal away when they flee in battle. 4 And the king covered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice, O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son! 5 And Joab came into the house to the king, and said, Thou hast shamed this day the faces of all thy servants, who this day have saved thy life, and the lives of thy sons and of thy daughters, and the lives of thy wives, and the lives of thy concubines; 6 in that thou lovest them that hate thee, and hatest them that love thee. For thou hast declared this day, that princes and servants are nought unto thee: for this day I perceive, that if Absalom had lived, and all we had died this day, then it had pleased thee well. 7 Now therefore arise, go forth, and speak comfortably unto thy servants; for I swear by Jehovah, if thou go not forth, there will not tarry a man with thee this night: and that will be worse unto thee than all the evil that hath befallen thee from thy youth until now. 8 Then the king arose, and sat in the gate. And they told unto all the people, saying, Behold, the king is sitting in the gate: and all the people came before the king. Now Israel had fled every man to his tent."
COMMENTS: Joab was told how the king was mourning for Absalom, and meanwhile all of the people felt like those who flee from a battle in shame, and the victory that day was of no value . They knew David covered his face and kept crying out loudly, O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son! Joab came into the house to the king, and told him he had brought shamed to all his servants who had saved his life, and the lives of all his sons and daughters, and the lives of his wives and concubines. You love those who hate you, and hate those who love you. He told David it was clear that his princes and servants meant nothing to him; he would have been very pleased if Absalom had lived, and everyone who fought for David had died. Joab said he swore by Jehovah that David must go out to give praise and approval to his servants, or there wouldn't be a single man to stay with him that very night, and that would be worse than all the evil things he had experienced in his life. David got up and sat in the gate and this changed the matter before all his servants as they came before the king. Joab had been very direct and firm to help David in a loyal manner. But the men of Israel who had been lead by Absalom had fled back to their tents after he was killed.
--- REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER ---
LORD, I thank you for the record of events during this period of years for King David, and several important characters in the related passages. David had a characteristic of true humility in his personality, and his love for his God was very much a part of his life. I am encouraged by the compassion he had, and also to know he had struggles against the desires of the flesh that remained even within a man who loved you so deeply. Joab and his brother Abishai were the sons of David's sister Zeruiah, and they had been valiant commanders and strong warriors for him even in the years David fled from King Saul, then when David was king at Hebron, and finally for King David at Jerusalem. There is no record that Absalom ever sought guidance from you, Jehovah, or offered sacrifices. When King David failed to take any action after Amnon raped Tamar; Absalom still didn't seek spiritual guidance or appeal directly to his father David. The hatred for his brother simmered for two years until his plan brought the death of Amnon. Joab showed some concern for David's sorrow while Absalom was in the kingdom of his grandfather; but later when it was very clear that Absalom wanted to kill his own father, Joab killed Absalom as the leader of the army in rebellion. Then he firmly drew David out of his uncontrolled sorrow for Absalom, and helped David to be restored in the eyes of his faithful servants to again respect him as their king. LORD, there needs to be mercy and compassion shown to others by those who follow you as the King of all Kings. But we must also accept without bitterness your sovereign choice when you do not remove consequences for our sins, or the sins of others close to us. Open my heart, LORD, to those things in your Word that can keep me on the path to bring glory to your name, and to give encouragement to others in whatever way you provide for me; as we who believe press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Published 20 November 2018