Introduction: 2 Samuel 18 tells the story of the defeat of Absalom’s rebellion and his death. This account is real and should be read at three levels. First, it shows God’s grace in honoring His covenant with David. Second, it shows the judgment that comes to those like Absalom who live in rebellion without repenting. Third, Absalom foreshadows Satan. Like Absalom, Satan’s rebellion will also end in defeat. From Absalom’s demise, God reveals seven lessons regarding Satan’s defeat in the end times and the hope in Jesus’ good news that God wants you to share.
First, David raised an army and then allowed his commanders and his soldiers to fight on his behalf. Like David, Jesus has raised His Church to fight Satan and his followers. Second, with God on their side, David’s troops defeated Absalom’s army. Like David’s army, Jesus and His Church will ultimately defeat Satan and his followers. Third, as his forces fled, Absalom was caught hanging from a tree as he fled through the forest. Being hung by a tree is a symbol of God’s curse. Like Absalom, Satan and his followers are cursed for their rebellion against God. Yet, for those who accept Jesus, He took that curse by being crucified and hung on a tree. Fourth, David’s general Joab stabbed Absalom. Ten men then killed Absalom. The ten men symbolized the judgment that comes under God’s Ten Commandments. Like Absalom, Satan and his followers will also be judged for their rebellion. Fifth, following his death, Absalom was cast into a pit. Like Absalom, Satan will be cast into a pit as part of his judgment. Sixth, Joab sent two runners to give David the good news of the enemy’s defeat. Jesus also wants believers to give the good news of His victory. Finally, David grieved over the loss of his wayward son. Like David, Jesus grieves over every sinner. He died so that none would need to perish.
David raises an army to defeat Absalom’s army with the goal of sparing Absalom. After God allowed David to cross the River Jordan to safety, David wisely used the time to assemble an army under his most capable commanders: “1 Then David numbered the people who were with him and set over them commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds. 2 David sent the people out, one third under the command of Joab, one third under the command of Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab’s brother, and one third under the command of Ittai the Gittite. And the king said to the people, ‘I myself will surely go out with you also.’ 3 But the people said, ‘You should not go out; for if we indeed flee, they will not care about us; even if half of us die, they will not care about us. But you are worth ten thousand of us; therefore now it is better that you be ready to help us from the city.’ 4 Then the king said to them, ‘Whatever seems best to you I will do.’ So the king stood beside the gate, and all the people went out by hundreds and thousands. 5 The king charged Joab and Abishai and Ittai, saying, ‘Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom.’ And all the people heard when the king charged all the commanders concerning Absalom.” (2 Sam. 18:1-5). Even though he prepared to win the battle, David ordered his men to spare Absalom: “How does David render good for evil! Absalom would have only David smitten; David would have only Absalom spared. This seems to be a resemblance of man’s wickedness towards God, and God’s mercy to man, of which it is hard to say which is most amazing.” (Matthew Henry on 2 Sam. 18:1-8).1
God assembled an army to protect David from Absalom2
The seven keys to David’s eventual victory. To win the war, David had several things going for him. First, God’s covenant was with David (2 Sam. 7:8-15). As part of this covenant, God promised: “I will give you rest from all your enemies.” (2 Sam. 7:11(b)). Absalom did not stand a chance in trying to defeat God’s covenant with David. Second, David was a man of faith. “A Psalm of David. The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread?” (Ps. 27:1; 1 Sam. 17:45). “who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions,” (Heb. 11:33). Third, David wisely used the time given to him to organize an army. “As Absalom gathered all Israel to him, there would be some delay; and David, like a wise general, made use of it for training the brave but undisciplined men who had joined him, chiefly from Gilead. Besides these, he had with him numerous veterans, whose skill and experience would be invaluable in such service. The result was that when the rebels came to close quarters, they had a vast body of men, but David a disciplined force, which, under skillful generalship, scattered Absalom’s raw levies with ease.” (Pulpit commentary on 2 Sam. 18:1).3 Fourth, David followed the principles of delegation that Moses learned through his father-in-law Jethro by selecting capable leaders (Ex. 18:25; Dt. 1:15). Fifth, David followed Gideon’s example when he divided his army in three companies in order to defeat the far more numerous troops from Midian (Jdgs. 7:16). When Saul walked with God, he also divided his army into three companies in order to encircle and defeat the more numerous Ammonite army (1 Sam. 11:11). David’s plan allowed for Absalom’s troops to be surprised with a strategic attack from three directions. Sixth, David hid his forces in the forests of Ephraim, where Absalom’s larger forces would not be able to fight in a single formation (2 Sam. 18:6). Finally, David also heeded the advice of his commanders to let them lead the fight (2 Sam. 18:3-4). A king would normally lead a fight (2 Sam. 11:1). But his commanders knew that David was emotionally compromised in fighting his son. He would also be a target for the enemy forces seeking to quickly end the fight with a surprise assassination. They also claimed that he could send reservist troops if needed.
God frequently uses His Church to accomplish His victory. Like this battle, God does not always use a visible miracle to win your battles. On multiple occasions, He helped the Jews defeat their enemies through conventional military ambushes (Josh. 8:1-9; Jdgs. 20:29, 32; 2 Kgs 7:12; 2 Chr. 13:13). He does not need to part the Red Sea to show that He is fighting for you. He also may not work in the same way when He intervenes in your life. But the basis for victory is always the same. It includes faith and trusting God. When you are attacked, are you putting your faith and hope in Him to deliver you?
Victory requires the body of Christ to work together. In some circumstances, the enemy can be rebuked through faith and prayer in Jesus’ name. But there are many spiritual strongholds that cannot be broken without the help of other believers. This requires that churches have times of prayer and fasting in coordination with others to pray for the nation. Are you praying and fasting with others for the nation and those trapped in sin?
David’s forces defeat the forces of Absalom. With God on their side, David’s forces defeated the united army serving under Absalom: “6 Then the people went out into the field against Israel, and the battle took place in the forest of Ephraim. 7 The people of Israel were defeated there before the servants of David, and the slaughter there that day was great, 20,000 men. 8 For the battle there was spread over the whole countryside, and the forest devoured more people that day than the sword devoured.” (2 Sam. 18:6-8). The three companies in David’s army caused Absalom’s forces to panic, break ranks, and flee in every direction through the woods. The fact that more of Absalom’s larger forces died in the woods than in combat suggests that they died at the supernatural hand of God.
God caused Absalom’s forces to be defeated at the forest of Ephram4
The invisible power of God turned the battle. Because Absalom was fighting against God’s anointed king, there was no question about the outcome: “The LORD shall cause your enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before you; they will come out against you one way and will flee before you seven ways.” (Dt. 28:7; Lev. 26:7). “How could one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock had sold them, and the LORD had given them up?” (Dt. 32:30). When you feel under attack while doing God’s work, this should give you hope. God cannot be defeated.
Judgment comes to God’s people before non-believers. Sadly, 20,000 Jews died for joining with Absalom in his rebellion. God’s judgment will always come first to His own people: “For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Pet. 4:17). God also “repays those who hate Him to their faces, to destroy them; He will not delay with him who hates Him, He will repay him to his face.” (Dt. 7:10). ‘“Vengeance is Mine, and retribution, in due time their foot will slip; for the day of their calamity is near, and the impending things are hastening upon them.”’ (Dt. 32:35). ‘“Were they ashamed because of the abomination they had done? They certainly were not ashamed, and they did not know how to blush; therefore they shall fall among those who fall; at the time of their punishment they shall be brought down,’ Says the LORD.” (Jer. 8:12). “A jealous and avenging God is the LORD; the LORD is avenging and wrathful. The LORD takes vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserves wrath for His enemies.” (Nahum 1:2). God is looking for people like you to warn other people that His judgment will come to all who refuse to repent and accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. This is Jesus’ Great Commission for every believer (Matt. 28:16-20).
David later credited God with his victory. David took no credit for this victory. Through his many psalms, he gave all the credit back to God: “I will sing a new song to You, O God; upon a harp of ten strings I will sing praises to You, who gives salvation to kings, who rescues David His servant from the evil sword.” (Ps. 144:9-10). “He gives great deliverance to His king, and shows lovingkindness to His anointed, to David and his descendants forever.” (Ps. 18:50; 2 Sam. 22:51). “O GOD the Lord, the strength of my salvation, You have covered my head in the day of battle.” (Ps. 140:7). “The LORD is their strength, and He is a saving defense to His anointed.” (Ps. 22:8). When God delivers you from oppression or an illness, will you also give Him the credit?
God will also defeat Satan’s army. Like Absalom’s army, Satan’s army will also gather for a great battle in Israel: “And they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon.” (Rev. 16:16). Satan’s forces will also be defeated.
Absalom hung on a tree as part of his curse. Absalom suffered an ignoble end. Instead of a mighty horse, he fled on a donkey and was then caught by his head in the branches: “9 Now Absalom happened to meet the servants of David. For Absalom was riding on his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a great oak. And his head caught fast in the oak, so he was left hanging between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him kept going. 10 When a certain man saw it, he told Joab and said, ‘Behold, I saw Absalom hanging in an oak.’” (2 Sam. 18:9-10). Some commentators state that he hung by his hair, the source of his vanity: “When he cut the hair of his head (and it was at the end of every year that he cut it, for it was heavy on him so he cut it), he weighed the hair of his head at 200 shekels by the king’s weight.” (2 Sam. 14:26). The text does not state this. If he did hang by his hair, his pride led to his downfall. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.” (Prov. 16:18). Whatever caused him to get caught, the more important fact is that he was cursed for hanging on a tree.
Absalom was caught by his head in branches of tree while trying to escape5
Satan’s similar future judgment. Like Absalom, Joshua hung the enemy king of Ai on a tree (Josh. 8:29). Moses warned that any person who hung upon a tree was subject to a curse: “If a man has committed a sin worthy of death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his corpse shall not hang all night on the tree, but you shall surely bury him on the same day (for he who is hanged is accursed of God), so that you do not defile your land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance.” (Dt. 21:22-23). The curse of Absalom symbolized the curse that Satan will receive in the end times.
Jesus took the curse for you by hanging on a tree. Absalom’s curse is the same curse that every person would receive if it were not for Jesus’ sacrifice: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us-- for it is written, ‘cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.” (Gal. 3:13). “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross.” (Acts 5:30). How are you thanking Jesus for taking the curse that you would otherwise deserve for your sins?
Joab and his men kill Absalom. Although David’s men were afraid of causing any harm to Absalom, Joab disobeyed David and executed him: “11 Then Joab said to the man who had told him, ‘Now behold, you saw him! Why then did you not strike him there to the ground? And I would have given you ten pieces of silver and a belt.’ 12 The man said to Joab, ‘Even if I should receive a thousand pieces of silver in my hand, I would not put out my hand against the king’s son; for in our hearing the king charged you and Abishai and Ittai, saying, ‘Protect for me the young man Absalom!’ 13 Otherwise, if I had dealt treacherously against his life (and there is nothing hidden from the king), then you yourself would have stood aloof.’ 14 Then Joab said, ‘I will not waste time here with you.’ So he took three spears 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 who carried Joab’s armor gathered around and struck Absalom and killed him.” (2 Sam. 18:11-15). David’s loyal men would not disobey him, even with Joab’s offer of a large reward. They further knew that Joab was a man of questionable moral character. They suggested that Joab would have let them take the blame before David for Absalom’s murder (2 Sam. 18:13). Joab then took matters into his own hands and struck Absalom. But Joab’s three spears to his heart did not by themselves immediately cause Absalom to die. While Absalom lay mortally wounded, ten of Joab’s armor bearers finished him off.
Joab threw three spears through Absalom6
Joab was a man of vengeance who ignored David’s command to spare Absalom. Joab may have rationalized his murder by claiming that he was acting in David’s best interests by murdering David’s treasonous son. He might have also thought that David was too emotionally compromised to spare Israel from further war. But Absalom was also likely motivated by vengeance. Joab once tried to help Absalom by using a fake widow to trick David into bringing Absalom home from exile (2 Sam. 14:1-121). When David then refused to meet with Absalom, Absalom forced Joab to act on his behalf to obtain an audience with David by setting Joab’s fields on fire (2 Sam. 14:30-2). David never did anything to punish Absalom for this act. Nor did Absalom ever apologize. This also was not the first time that Joab placed his personal vengeance above one of David’s orders. Joab previously ignored David’s order not to kill a general named Abner after Abner switched sides in Israel’s civil war (2 Sam. 3:6-11). Joab could not forgive Abner because he killed Joab’s brother Asahel in battle (2 Sam. 2:18-24; 3:26-30). Joab’s prior actions brought dishonor upon David. Because Joab also manipulated the protections of a sanctuary city when he killed Abner, David warned that God would judge him. “May the Lord repay the evildoer according to his evil.” (2 Sam. 3:39(b)). God would ultimately hold Joab accountable (1 Kgs. 2:5-6). But God allowed Joab to pursue his evil act of rebellion to bring justice to Absalom, who was also in an evil act of rebellion. David had repeatedly shown that he would not judge Absalom for his crimes.
God judged Absalom for his many sins. As part of his judgment, Joab thrust three spears into Absalom’s heart. The ten men who finished Absalom off (2 Sam. 18:15) symbolized the judgment that comes under the Ten Commandments. Absalom was judged for his rebellion against God and his ten acts of adultery, rape, and incest.
God will also judge Satan and his demons. The spears in Absalom’s heart foreshadowed the arrows that God will use to pierce the hearts of Satan and his followers: “Your arrows are sharp; the peoples fall under You; Your arrows are in the heart of the King’s enemies.” (Ps. 45:5). Satan and his followers will be killed in a lake of fire (Rev. 20:10). “For, behold, Your enemies, O LORD, for, behold, Your enemies will perish; all who do iniquity will be scattered.” (Ps. 92:9). “But the wicked will perish; and the enemies of the LORD will be like the glory of the pastures, they vanish-- like smoke they vanish away.” (Ps. 37:20). “For, behold, those who are far from You will perish; You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You.” (Ps. 73:27). “As smoke is driven away, so drive them away; as wax melts before the fire, so let the wicked perish before God.” (Ps. 68:2). “When my enemies turn back, they stumble and perish before You.” (Ps. 9:3). Part of sharing the good news includes a warning not to fight on the wrong side.
The foreshadow of God’s destruction of mankind’s counterfeit system of government. Just as God judged Absalom’s counterfeit government, He will also judge the counterfeit governments of mankind during the end times. Everything of this world will be destroyed and replaced with a perfect government under Jesus’ reign. Are you warning nonbelievers what awaits them if they fail to repent and accept Jesus?
Absalom is cast into the pit. After killing Absalom, Joab gave him an ignominious burial with a pile of rocks in a deep pit in the forest: “16 Then Joab blew the trumpet, and the people returned from pursuing Israel, for Joab restrained the people. 17 They took Absalom and cast him into a deep pit in the forest and erected over him a very great heap of stones. And all Israel fled, each to his tent. 18 Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and set up for himself a pillar which is in the King’s Valley, for he said, ‘I have no son to preserve my name.’ So he named the pillar after his own name, and it is called Absalom’s Monument to this day.” (2 Sam. 18:16-18). Joab was likely interested in preventing others from turning Absalom’s grave into a monument for further rebellion. Thus, his memorial was also a public rebuke: “Such cairns were used as memorials of any event deemed worthy of lasting remembrance, but the similar cairn piled over the dead body of Achan (Joshua 7:26) makes it probable that the act was also intended as a sign of condemnation of Absalom’s conduct. In contrast with the heap of stones cast over his dishonored body, the narrator calls attention to the costly memorial erected by Absalom in his lifetime.” (Pulpit commentary on 2 Sam. 18:17-18). Absalom had three sons (2 Sam. 14:27). But Joab’s words suggest that they were also now dead. Absalom tried to exalt himself with a pillar (2 Sam. 18:18). But his only lasting memorial would be a rebuke to his evil rebellion: “Joab made sure that Absalom did not have a memorial in death, but Absalom made himself a memorial in life.” (David Guzik on 2 Sam. 18).7
Absalom bore the curse of a rebellious son. Absalom’s rebellion against his father cost the lives of 20,000 men (2 Sam. 18:7). God rejected Saul as Israel’s king for far less egregious acts of rebellion: “For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has also rejected you from being king.” (1 Sam. 15:23). Being buried in rocks, Absalom bore the punishment of a cursed son who rebels against his father: “They shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey us, he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death; so you shall remove the evil from your midst, and all Israel will hear of it and fear.” (Dt. 21:20-21). Absalom foreshadowed Satan. Like Absalom, Satan rebelled against God the Father and causes the deaths of countless people who are seduced by his lies, deceit, and vanity.
Absalom was also cursed for his murder, adultery, rape, and incest. Absalom was also cursed for his many other horrific sins. First, Absalom’s premeditated murder of Amnon carried a death penalty (Nu. 35:20-21, 30; Gen 9:6; Ex. 21:12; Lev. 24:17). Second, he publicly slept with David’s ten concubines (2 Sam. 16:22). Each act of adultery carried a separate death penalty (Lev. 20:10). Third, because Absalom raped these women, he had ten additional death sentences against him (Dt. 22:25; Ex. 22:16). Fourth, because Absalom was sleeping with his father’s wives and his mothers-in-law, he was also guilty of the crime of incest (Lev. 18:8; Dt. 22:30). For his ten acts of incest, Absalom’s punishment carried ten additional death sentences (Lev. 20:11). In addition to his death sentences, Absalom was also cursed for his ten acts of incest (Dt. 27:20). In this way, Absalom was also like Satan. Satan also carries countless curses for his many crimes.
Absalom reaped what he sowed. As a result of his betrayal, his rebellion, his murder, his adultery, his rape, and his incest, Absalom reaped the brutal death and public shame that he deserved: “For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds.” (Matt. 16:27). “Who will render to each person according to his deeds” (Ro. 2:6). “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” (Gal. 6:7-8). “According to what I have seen, those who plow iniquity And those who sow trouble harvest it.” (Job 4:8). “For they sow the wind and they reap the whirlwind. The standing grain has no heads; it yields no grain. Should it yield, strangers would swallow it up.” (Hos. 8:7). “He who sows iniquity will reap vanity, and the rod of his fury will perish.” (Prov. 22:8). Are you laying seeps in your life that will result in sorrow or the joy of the Lord?
Satan’s similar future judgment. Like Absalom, Satan will also be cast into the pit. “and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.” (Rev. 20:3) Thus, you have no reason to fear him. His reign will end in defeat, and all his demons will be punished.
Joab sent runners to alert David to the “good news” of their victory. After winning a decisive battle that brought an end to the civil war, Joab sent runners to give David the good news: “19 Then Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said, ‘Please let me run and bring the king news that the Lord has freed him from the hand of his enemies.’ 20 But Joab said to him, ‘You are not the man to carry news this day, but you shall carry news another day; however, you shall carry no news today because the king’s son is dead.’ 21 Then Joab said to the Cushite, ‘Go, tell the king what you have seen.’ So the Cushite bowed to Joab and ran. 22 Now Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said once more to Joab, ‘But whatever happens, please let me also run after the Cushite.’ And Joab said, ‘Why would you run, my son, since you will have no reward for going?’ 23 ‘But whatever happens,’ he said, ‘I will run.’ So he said to him, ‘Run.’ Then Ahimaaz ran by way of the plain and passed up the Cushite. 24 Now David was sitting between the two gates; and the watchman went up to the roof of the gate by the wall, and raised his eyes and looked, and behold, a man running by himself. 25 The watchman called and told the king. And the king said, ‘If he is by himself there is good news in his mouth.’ And he came nearer and nearer. 26 Then the watchman saw another man running; and the watchman called to the gatekeeper and said, ‘Behold, another man running by himself.’ And the king said, ‘This one also is bringing good news.’ 27 The watchman said, ‘I think the running of the first one is like the running of Ahimaaz the son of Zadok.’ And the king said, ‘This is a good man and comes with good news.’ 28 Ahimaaz called and said to the king, ‘All is well.’ And he prostrated himself before the king with his face to the ground. And he said, ‘Blessed is the Lord your God, who has delivered up the men who lifted their hands against my lord the king.’ 29 The king said, ‘Is it well with the young man Absalom?’ And Ahimaaz answered, ‘When Joab sent the king’s servant, and your servant, I saw a great tumult, but I did not know what it was.’ 30 Then the king said, ‘Turn aside and stand here.’ So he turned aside and stood still. 31 Behold, the Cushite arrived, and the Cushite said, ‘Let my lord the king receive good news, for the Lord has freed you this day from the hand of all those who rose up against you.’ 32 Then the king said to the Cushite, ‘Is it well with the young man Absalom?’ And the Cushite answered, ‘Let the enemies of my lord the king, and all who rise up against you for evil, be as that young man!’” (2 Sam. 18:19-32). David and Joab liked their servant Ahimaaz. Joab at first rejected Ahimaaz’s offer to give David the news because he did not want David to take his anger about Absalom’s death out on him. Thus, Joab picked an Ethiopian Cushite to give the news. But the Cushite did not know how to filter his words to a grieving father. In contrast, Ahimaaz offered thanksgivings to God: “By directing David to give God thanks for his victory, Ahimaaz prepared him for the news of his son’s death. The more our hearts are fixed and enlarged, in thanksgiving to God for our mercies, the better disposed we shall be to bear with patience the afflictions mixed with them.” (Matthew Henry on 2 Sam. 18).8
Joab sent a runner David, believing that David would see his son’s death as good news9
David’s failure to accept the “good news”. The “good news” is referenced four times in this account (2 Sam. 18:25, 26, 27, 31). Joab later rebuked David for failing to accept the good news of their deliverance from their enemy: “Today you have covered with shame the faces of all your servants, who today have saved your life and the lives of your sons and daughters, the lives of your wives, and the lives of your concubines, 6 by loving those who hate you, and by hating those who love you. For you have shown today that princes and servants are nothing to you; for I know this day that if Absalom were alive and all of us were dead today, then you would be pleased.” (2 Sam. 19:5-6). One commentator observes that “When the translators of the Septuagint rendered this term [for good news] in Greek, they used the term which we often find in the New Testament in reference to the proclamation of the gospel. The good news which Ahimaaz wanted to proclaim to David was that God had given him the victory by defeating the army of Absalom and by Absalom’s death. The problem is that David is not inclined to accept this report as good news. Notice that when each of the two messengers approach David, they indicate to him that they have good news for him. David does not ask about the outcome of the battle, but only about the well-being of his son, Absalom. Good news for David would be that Absalom is still alive. Good news for every other man involved in the war with Absalom and his men that day would be that his army has been defeated, and the trouble-maker has been removed. . . . As David once used his authority to condemn a righteous man (Uriah) to death, he now seeks to use his authority as king to keep a revolutionary from the death penalty he deserves. David’s perspective is completely messed up. It takes Joab’s sharp rebuke to bring him out of his mental stupor.” (Robert L. (Bob) Deffinbaugh 17. “The Darkest Days of David’s Life” (2 Samuel 16:20 -- 19:8)) (italics in original).10
Many today also will not hear about Jesus’ Good News during times of suffering. When he didn’t sin, David foreshadowed Jesus. This account is another exception to that rule. David’s actions here foreshadow the rejection that many have made of Jesus’ Good News. He defeated death through His crucifixion. Yet, like David at this time in his life, many are unwilling to allow Jesus’ Good News to bring them comfort during times of sadness. “How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!’ However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, ‘LORD, who has believed our report?”’ (Ro. 10:15-16). Like Ahimaaz, God is looking for believers who will run to spread the good news, yet with a kind and loving heart. Will you be an Ahimaaz to others around you?
Celebrate the good news of your deliverance from evil. Like Ahimaaz, the prophet Nahum also encouraged the Jews to celebrate their deliverance from the evil one: “Behold, on the mountains the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace! Celebrate your feasts, O Judah; pay your vows. For never again will the wicked one pass through you; he is cut off completely.” (Nahum 1:15). “Get yourself up on a high mountain, O Zion, bearer of good news, lift up your voice mightily, O Jerusalem, bearer of good news; lift it up, do not fear. Say to the cities of Judah, ‘Here is your God!’” (Is. 40:9). “Formerly I said to Zion, ‘Behold, here they are.’ And to Jerusalem, ‘I will give a messenger of good news.’” (Is. 41:27). “How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation, and says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!”’ (Is. 52:7) Are you giving thanks and celebrating the good news? Or, is it now simply old news to you.
David grieves over his son Absalom. Despite winning the war, David had no joy. He instead cried for his dead son: “33 The king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And thus he said as he walked, ‘O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!’” (2 Sam. 18:33). David felt deep remorse because he loved his son. He also felt in part responsible for Absalom’s wayward behavior. But he failed to honor those who fought and executed the judgment that he as the king was supposed to administer to his son.
David mourned the death of his son Absalom11
David knew that he was responsible for Absalom’s rebellion. To an outsider, it might be hard to understand why David would want to die in the place of the man who overthrew his government and caused the deaths of 20,000 Jews. But David knew that Absalom’s rebellion was a direct result of his own rebellion against God. After his adultery and murder, the prophet Nathan told David that civil strife would always exist within his household as a direct result of his sins: ‘“10 Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ 11 Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household; . . .’” (2 Sam. 12:10-11(a)). David therefore felt responsible for Absalom’s rebellion. He did not want to have Absalom’s death on his conscience.
God also punished David with fourfold restitution for his murder. David previously sentenced himself to fourfold restitution for his crime of murder (2 Sam. 12:6). He had previously lost his son with Bathsheba (2 Sam. 12:15-19). He then lost Amnon to Absalom’s murder (2 Sam. 13:28-29). He had now lost Absalom (2 Sam. 18:14-15). His self-imposed punishment would be complete with the future death of his son Adonijah.
David’s failure to raise Absalom in the teachings of God’s laws. No parent should ever be held fully responsible for their children’s sins. Every child will sin as part of their own free will and sinful nature. But Absalom showed no inclination to serve or fear God at any point in his life. This reflected a failure on David’s part to teach Absalom (and Amnon) to follow God’s laws. God commands all parents: “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” (Dt. 6:7). “You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up.” (Dt. 11:19; 31:12-13). Possibly after having witnessed the lives of his dysfunctional older brothers, Solomon later advised: “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Prov. 22:6). Do you teach your children God’s Law?
Absalom became a spoiled prince because David did not discipline him. By withholding discipline from Absalom, David created a spoiled child who only thought for himself (Prov. 13:14). “Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil.” (Ecc. 8:11). Are you teaching by your own example to be selfless in dealing with others?
David was required to administer God’s law without favoritism. As the King of Israel and the highest judge in the land, David was required to judge according to God’s law: “In a dispute they shall take their stand to judge; they shall judge it according to My ordinances.” (Ezek. 44:24). David was further prohibited from showing favoritism to his son because of his power as a prince of Israel: “You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge your neighbor fairly.” (Lev. 19:15; Ex. 23:8; Dt. 16:19; 10:17; 1 Pet. 1:17-19). By failing to judge Absalom, David dishonored God and His standards for righteousness.
Jesus cries for wayward people the way David grieved for Absalom. Just as David did not want to judge Absalom, God does not want to judge mankind. He will ultimately judge non-believers only after they have been given every chance to repent: “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9). Jesus wept over the sins that He saw in Jerusalem: “When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it,” (Lk. 19:41). Because He created us, He weeps over every lost sinner.
Where David wanted to die for a sinner, Jesus died for every sinner. David wished that he could die in the place of Absalom (2 Sam. 18:33). Moses also offered to trade his life to save the Jews: “But now, if You will, forgive their sin-- and if not, please blot me out from Your book which You have written!” (Ex. 32:32). Paul also wished that he could trade his life to save the Jews: “For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh,” (Ro. 9:3). Unlike David, Moses, and Paul, Jesus did in fact trade His life for every sinner. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. . . He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (Jo. 3:16, 18). If you want to thank Jesus for what He did for you , make your life a living sacrifice to Him (Ro. 12:1-2).
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