2 Samuel 18  

Absalom Is Killed  

David numbers his forces and organizes them to face his son Absalom who has mustered an army and is intent on killing his father. David divides the army into thirds and places them under the command of Joab, Abishai, and Ittai. David intends to lead his forces, but his men protest the idea, and he submits to their counsel. The men believe that David will serve best by remaining in the city and directing the reserve forces with him in Mahanaim. The king reluctantly agrees, and he watched the troops march out of the side gate of the city. David charges his commanders to deal gently with Absalom for his sake in the hearing of all the army. Absalom was a threat to David's life, a threat to the kingdom, and a threat to his men, but he was also his son. The armies met in the forest of Ephraim where the contest proved that Absalom's men were no match for David's troops. David's men quickly gained the upper hand, and the men of Israel were soundly defeated. The losses were catastrophic that day as twenty thousand men lost their lives. A large contingent of Absalom's men was lost to the perils of fighting in the forest. Absalom tried to flee the carnage, but he got trapped in an oak by his hair as he fled on his donkey. Absalom was pulled from the beast of burden and rendered helpless as he dangled in midair. Absalom's predicament was related to Joab who rebuked his soldiers for not eliminating this treacherous son. Joab declared that he would have gladly rewarded them for their efforts. The men declared their loyalty to David and believed that Joab would have left them to the consequences of their actions without any support. Joab took matters into his own hands, and he thrust three spears into Absalom's heart. Ten of Joab's armor-bearers finished Absalom off after Moab's assault. With Absalom dead, Joab called off the attack. Absalom's body was tossed into a pit and covered in stones. Israel retreated and returned home. The prince had no heir and built a monument to preserve his name. 

Bad News

David's friend Ahimaaz wanted to carry the news of victory to the king, but Joab denies his request. Instead, Joab sent a Cushite. Ahimaaz continued to press Joab, and he was allowed to run. A watchman spotted the runners separately and told the king who was sitting between the two gates awaiting news from the battlefront. The watchman saw a man running alone, and David thought that this messenger was bringing good news. After the watchman had spotted the Cushite runner as well, David reasoned that they both were bringing a good report. As the runners neared the city, the watchman recognized the running of Ahimaaz which convinced David that this good man was bringing good news. Ahimaaz was out of breath, but he declared that all was well and he bowed down before David. Ahimaaz blessed the Lord for his deliverance from the hand of one who raised his hand against David. David wants to know about Absalom but Ahimaaz does not give a direct answer, and David asks him to stand aside so that he may listen to the other report. The Cushite arrives just after Ahimaaz, and he echoes the good news, but when he is pressed for information about Absalom's condition, he speaks directly, but he is not disrespectful. He wished that all of David's enemies would suffer the same fate as Absalom. David understands this message he begins to weep over his son declaring that he wished that he could have died in place of his son.

Things To Consider:

  • How do you think David coped with what was about to happen?
  • Do you think David kept thinking of the words of Nathan?
  • Why do you think David made his request concerning Absalom in front of the troops?
  • How had experience trained David's army for what they were facing?
  • Do you think Joab's men were correct in the way they handled Absalom? Why?
  • Do you think David suspected this outcome? Why?
  • How do you cope with confused emotions?