A Prosperous Reign Darkened by Civil War
vs. 1-2 – David organizes his army into companies and divisions
under Joab, Abishai and Ittai the Gittite.
He wants to go to battle but the people dissuade him.
v. 5 – David instructs his officers to “deal gently with Absalom
for my sake”
vs. 6-8 – David’s three divisions attacked and routed Absalom’s
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vs. 12-13 – The young man was faithful to the king’s wishes and
was aware of Joab unscrupulous character – Joab would
have turned against him before David.
vs. 14-15 – Joab is outdone with the young man and proceeds with
ten of his men to do the job –
v. 17 – They took Absalom and threw him in a big pit in the wood
and piled stones on him, much like Joshua did Achan in
Joshua 7:26 – no doubt intended as a sign of condemnation
of Absalom’s conduct.
vs. 19-33 – David hears of the news by runners
Joab sends Cushi (an Ethiopian), a person of low rank to tell the
evil tidings – had it been good news he would have sent Ahimaaz,
Zadok’s son –
Absalom, in the assertion of his own self-hood, ceased
to be a true son. This was his fall! This the secret of sin!
A kind of moral death - a renouncation of sonship - I will be
free & do as I wish - a sin against God - like the prodigal in
Luke 15, was weary of his father.
All powers made subservient to self is against the
righteous dominion of God.
A resolve to get rid of authority!
a. feelings of alienation
b. the misery of lost love
It is misery to be loveless and know at the same
time, God lives.
To some, there is no more welcome thought than that God is not?
Unhappyily, Absalom found abettors & flatterers.
His independent spirit accorded with the temper of
others. His endeavors to live without his father’s love
& blessing seemed most successful, for never did men
make so much of him as now when he has shaken off
the yoke of dependence and ha gone off for a free life!
No visible punishment comes on them. They are free
from restraints to which once they submitted. They
become “as gods, knowing good & evil”.
They use their talents and wit to try & put down the
authority to which they ought to submit. These are
the wicked that prosper in the world.
vs. 6-8 - A Reversal - Absalom’s forces are scattered.
He meets a force, the strength of which he was
not expecting - the so called mighty powers on
his side, receives a check.
Absalom - over-confident, surprised in rough terrain - expect-
ing David to stay in Mahanaim - really no battle - David’s
three divisions, under Joab, Abishai and Ittai wrought
slaughter on the army and people fleeing in confusion.
Even inanimate creation will sooner or later be sub-
servient to the ends of justice - in the bush a limb knocks
Absalom for a loop - there are always “branches”
stretching out in front of the wicked, resisting their
Absalom, proud of his name, and ambitious of
posthumous fame, erected a memorial pillar for
himself - see v. 18.
Nothing could have been more mortifying to him, had he
known, than to be cut down from a tree like a common
felon and be buried as a dog. The wicked are cut off,
their memorial perishes - the truth is that they will have
no memorial in the New Jerusalem - See Rev. 2:17 -
Importance of names - interesting to Indian names -
Warning - Prov. 10:7 - “the memory of the just is
blessed: but the name of the wicked shall rot”
I Tim. 5:24-25 Rev. 14:13
The best monument we can rear to ourselves is that
blessed memory of the just which rests on a life of
love to earthly parents, leaving a godly legacy for
our children to follow, and righteous fulfillment of
all the obligations we owe to God and man in that
v. 11 - Absalom’s death was well deserved and there
can be little doubt that, if he had gotten victory,
he would have massacred David and all his
family. Ahithophel’s counsel, had rendered
all reconciliation impossible.
But Joab is disobeying the king’s express orders, and
since Absalom was incapable of resisting, Joab ought
to have taken him prisoner, & let David decide his
punishment (perhaps lenient as to Amnon)
v. 10 - The “certain man” - another example of morality
the fear motive. (modern spin doctors
try to exclude fear as a motivator but
they are liars)
vs. 12-13 - The soldier - faithful to his king - aware
of Joab’s unscrupulous character.
Two classes of men represented in the soldier &
the commander, Joab.
The soldier accepts the first principles of obligation,
conscientious of duty as lying at the very basis of
society and individual life.
Joab, example of those who while formally admitting
those principles, nevertheless set them aside whenever
they think it to their advantage to do otherwise.
The soldier, example of those who see law, government,
family, religion as necessary and will promote these
irregardless of circumstance.
Joab, and his crowd however, do not necessarily base
their philosophy on these principles, and will break the
law or set aside supreme authority for reasons of their
There are children who disobey their parents and there
are men of the world who dare to disobey the Eternal
king and His commandments in relation to repentance,
faith, and unswerving righteousness, for reasons which
seem to them, sufficient at the time.
The soldier would not think of deviating from a command
from the king so plain as “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 concern-
ing Absalom.”) The justice, or injustice, of such a command,
its prudence or imprudence, were no matters for him to
settle. Law was binding - the king must be obeyed.
This the instinct of a guileless nature. Not like those of Ps. 2:3
Joab was a man of the world, a man of many designs &
combinations of thought, a man whose purity & guilelessness
were GONE. In the moral struggle, pure principle was
deprived of its original native force.
The New Testament calls it “a seared conscience” -
another expression for the gradual deterioration of
sensibility produced by the enforced habit of
accommodating oneself to sins which are the natural
outcome of former sins.
and strict adherence to duty to God and man, the guileless
man is the most likely to be dependable.
v. 16 - Joab slays Absalom - his armor bearers finish him
off - Joab did this for public reasons although he may
have remembered his own blazing barley field -
v. 17 - “a pit” - like Achan - intended as a sign of
v. 18 - Absalom reared himself a monument - ch. 14:27
Three unnamed sons seemed to have died in
their infancy - also perhaps his wife died early - no
reason to think this was for vanity, although he was
showy at times - he apparently never married again,
although going into David’s harem is evidence
enough of moral deficiencies - ch. 16:21-22
v. 29 - Apprehension - “Is the young man Absalom safe?”
The rebel was David’s own child, and a pious heart could
not but wish to have opportunity once more to pour upon
that child the full force of its sorrowful love, in hopes of
winning him over to a sense of guilt.
David’s experience of mercy from God gave him hope
for the salvaging of his son.
Many have come to God in the eleventh hour - I
wouldn’t count on it - statistics - “Today” is the day
to seek God!
One of the bitterest ingredients in sorrow over the
lost is that of reflection on personal contribution
toward bringing on the damnation.
How many times to I have to pass on the saying -
A very sad reflection, indeed, for any
parent to think within himself that he
should be instrumental in giving his
child a body only to damn his soul”
David could not but think of the effect on his son’s views
of life and tendencies of heart produced by his own great
sin and the months of alienation from God which it
Christ did what David longed to do for his son!
The sword had devoured one son, now another Where
would it end?
vs. 29-33 - Contrast David’s reaction to the messenger
bringing news of Uriah’s death in ch. 11:22-25