2 Samuel 18:1-19:8: "O Absalom, my son, my son!"
David intends to take the field himself against Absalom’s army, but his men will not let him take the risk. He therefore sends out his troops under three commanders, giving them instructions to be gentle with Absalom himself.
David’s forces are victorious. Absalom rides his mule under a tree during the battle and gets his long hair stuck in the branches, the mule riding out from under him. One of David’s soldiers reports to Joab that he saw Absalom hanging helpless in the tree. While the soldier refuses to kill Absalom for David’s sake, Joab is not so reticent. He plunges three javelins into Absalom’s heart and his men finish the job, unceremoniously dumping his body in a pit.
Ahimaaz wants to take the news of the victory to David. However, Joab knows David will be inconsolable at the loss of Absalom, and that in his grief he might harm the messenger. Instead Joab sends an unnamed Cushite (a foreigner in Israel), to run with the news. Ahimaaz however, will not take no for an answer. He outruns the Cushite with the news. However, both of these messengers are gentle with their news. When asked about Absalom, Ahimaaz claims ignorance. The Cushite tells of Absalom’s death from the viewpoint of those loyal to David, “May all the enemies of David wind up like Absalom.”
David, however, does not take the news as joyous victory over an enemy, but as the loss of a beloved son. His grief is so great, he wishes he had died instead of Absalom. Such grief demoralizes his army. So much so, that Joab warns him to show some appreciation for those who risked their lives for him; otherwise all might desert. David then sits in the gate of the city to receive his returning soldiers.
God of love, be with us in our deepest grief. Do not let that grief blind us to the needs of others.
DR. GARY HOLLOWAY
Gary Holloway is Executive Director of the World Convention. Holding degrees from Freed-Hardeman, Harding, The University of Texas, and Emory University, he has written or edited thirty books, including (with Douglas Foster) Renewing God’s World: A Concise Global History of the Stone-Campbell Movement from ACU Press. He is married to Deb Rogers Holloway.