2 Samuel Chapter 18

An Israelite army, led by Absalom, was prepared to fight against David and his people. David had fled Jerusalem and gone into the wilderness for safety. Absalom was following the counsel of Hushai, a friend of David who was secretly helping to stop Absalom from destroying the king. This chapter begins with:

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 a third part of the people 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 answered, 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 now thou art worth ten thousand of us: therefore now it is better that thou succour 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 came 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.

David sent Joab, Abishai, and Ittai, as captains of part of his army, each with one-third of his people as their army. David was willing to go and fight along side of them, but the people told him no, because he was of so much greater value than they. Instead, they told him that he would be better helping them from the city, which he did. David commanded his captains to deal gently with Absalom, who was, after all, his son, whom he loved. It really seems as though David would have made any other choice, than to go to battle against his son. This was not a worthwhile battle against some outside enemy, but a fight against his own blood and his own people. This must have been extremely difficult for him as a leader, and especially as a father. Sometimes in life, we are forced into our own battles against things that we had no intention of fighting. It can be hard and heartbreaking, just as it was for David.

6 So the people went out into the field against Israel: and the battle was in the wood of Ephraim;
7 Where the people of Israel were slain before the servants of David, and there was there a great slaughter that day of twenty thousand men.
8 For the battle was there scattered over the face of all the country: and the wood devoured more people that day than the sword devoured.

A battle began in the woods of Ephraim, and thousands of the army of Israel were slain. I think it is interesting that is says the woods were the reason for more deaths than the sword. The Lord, was once again on David’s side and blessing those who had been loyal to him and allowing other forces to be the reason for the deaths of so many of their own people, instead of their own hand.

9 And Absalom met the servants of David. And Absalom rode upon a 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 the heaven and the earth; and the mule that was under him went away.
10 And a certain man saw it, and told Joab, and said, Behold, I saw Absalom hanged in an oak.
11 And Joab said unto the man that told him, And, behold, thou sawest him, and why didst thou not smite him there to the ground? and I would have given thee ten shekels of silver, and a girdle.
12 And the man said unto Joab, Though I should receive a thousand shekels of silver in mine hand, yet would I not put forth mine 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 I should have wrought falsehood against mine own life: for there is no matter hid from the king, and 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 armour 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 a great pit in the wood, and laid a very great heap of stones upon him: and all Israel fled every one to his tent.

Absalom was riding on a mule and got caught up on an oak tree. His mule left him there, and a man of David’s side of the fight saw it, and went to tell Joab. He told him that Absalom was hanging in an oak tree, and Joab asked him why he did not killed him right then and there, because he would have been rewarded for it. The man would not take any amount of money in order to kill the son of the king, because David had commanded them not to touch him. He knew that the king would have known what he had done and his own life would have been at risk, even from Joab himself. Joab left the man, taking three darts with him, and went and shot Absalom in the heart. Men of Joab’s army, made sure that Absalom was dead. The fighting was stopped at the sound of a trumpet, and the body of Absalom was thrown into a pit with a pile of stones on his body. The men of Israel then fled back to their own tents.

18 Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and reared up for himself a 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 unto this day, Absalom’s place.

Absalom, who said he had no son to remember him, had built a memorial to himself, which was called Absalom’s place. I believe Absalom had had three sons, but I am guessing that at some point he had either lost them by death, or they had chosen to follow David and be with other family members, in essence, abandoning their father and his cause.

19 Then said Ahimaaz the son of Zadok, Let me now run, and bear the king tidings, how that the Lord hath avenged him of his enemies.
20 And Joab said unto him, Thou shalt not bear 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 Cushi, Go tell the king what thou hast seen. And Cushi bowed himself unto Joab, and ran.
22 Then said Ahimaaz the son of Zadok yet again to Joab, But howsoever, let me, I pray thee, also run after Cushi. And Joab said, Wherefore wilt thou run, my son, seeing that thou hast no tidings ready?
23 But howsoever, said he, let me run. And he said unto him, Run. Then Ahimaaz ran by the way of the plain, and overran Cushi.
24 And David sat between the two gates: and the watchman went up to the roof over 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, Me thinketh 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 fell down to the earth upon his face before the king, and said, Blessed be the Lord thy God, which hath delivered up the men that lifted up their hand against my lord the king.
29 And the king said, Is the young man Absalom safe? And Ahimaaz answered, When Joab sent the king’s servant, and me thy servant, I saw a great tumult, but I knew not what it was.
30 And the king said unto him, Turn aside, and stand here. And he turned aside, and stood still.
31 And, behold, Cushi came; and Cushi said, Tidings, my lord the king: for the Lord hath avenged thee this day of all them that rose up against thee.
32 And the king said unto Cushi, Is the young man Absalom safe? And Cushi answered, The enemies of my lord the king, and all that rise against thee to do thee hurt, be as that young man is.

Ahimaaz, wanted to return to David and tell him that the Lord had avenged him, but Joab refused and told him that the king’s son was dead. Instead, Joab told Cushi to bear tidings to David, of what he had done, and Cushi obeyed. Ahimaaz also wanted to go with Cushi, but Joab asked why, when he would have no message to take. Ahimaaz still asked to go after Cushi, so Joab allowed him to go. Ahimaaz took a shortcut and got to David first. The watchman of David saw Ahimaaz and Cushi coming from afar off, and told David they were coming. David knew they bore tidings from the fighting. They recognized Ahimaaz and David told them that he was a good man who would bring good tidings to him. Ahimaaz greeted David and David asked about Absalom. Ahimaaz told him that when he had been sent by Joab, he had seen a large amount of confusion, but that he did not know why. David told him to stand aside, to let Cushi come. Cushi told him that the lord had avenged him, and when David asked about Absalom, Cushi told him that he was killed with those that had risen against the king.

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 God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!

David left to his room and mourned for his son Absalom. It is horrible to suffer the loss of your own child. Even for some of the worst souls, who do horrific things in their lifetime, a good parent will still love them and want them to have peace and happiness. This was not how David had wanted things to turn out, and David cried that he would have rather died himself, than to lose Absalom.

Absalom was not blessed for his own choices to go against his father and to do wicked things to gain power. The Lord allowed the forest to stop Absalom from pursuing his course against David, just as the forest had caused the death of many others, and I wonder how likely it would have been for Absalom to have eventually been found dead from hanging where he was. I don’t know why Joab decided to go against David’s command, other than that he felt this was an enemy worthy of death. I think we will see what consequences came from this choice. And I don’t think that David would be glad to know that Joab had seen to the death of his son. David’s life continued to get harder and be full of heartache and loss, as he had been promised. However, because there was goodness in him, he continued to rely on the Lord through his difficulties, and he continued to lead his people as he had been called to do. We can follow this example through our own difficulties. Blessings come to those who rely on God and endure through the challenges of life.

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