2 Samuel 13-19: Absalom’s Coup

Original Publication Date
January 11, 2017
Oct 25, 2022 2:31 AM
Chapter Study2 SamuelDavidRelationshipsTamarWomenSexual ImoralitySexual AssaultRepentance and Forgiveness
Bible References

2 Samuel 13-19

Table of Contents
This page was originally posted on my Blogger version of the blog on January 11, 2017 The content below has a few minor tweaks for clarity, and additional references, and some updated information.


2 Samuel 13-18 starts off focusing on 3 of David's children: Absalom, Amnon, and Tamar. As the narrative goes on, the focus shifts to Absalom. Absalom starts off as a protective and caring brother, but by the end of the his life, he has become a vain rebel. This narrative allows us to explore a few different topics.

Trigger warning one of the topics discussed in this post is sexual assault and rape.
2 And unto David were sons born in Hebron: and his firstborn was Amnon, of Ahinoam the Jezreelitess; 3 And his second, Chileab, of Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite; and the third, Absalom the son of Maacah the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur;

2 Samuel 3:2-3

Tamar: The Price of Beauty

There are at least 3 Tamar's in the Tribe of Judah. The first is introduced in Genesis 38 and was the widow of Judah's eldest (and subsequently, his middle) son. She continues the lineage by tricking Judah into sleeping with her. Essentially, she is the mother of the Tribe of Judah. The second and third Tamars, are both introduced in 2 Samuel. The latter of these two is likely named after the former, and perhaps the former is named for the very first. Although this post will really only discuss the latter two, I'm going to refer to them as Tamar I, Tamar II, and Tamar III. Tamar I is the Tamar of Genesis. Tamar II is the daughter of David and the sister of Absalom. Tamar III is the daughter of Absalom.

Tamar II

In this section we will focus on Tamar II, who is said to be very beautiful. So beautiful that her half brother, Amnon, becomes infatuated with her. Amnon's infatuation is so distressing that he begins to lose weight, which draws the attention of his friend and cousin Jonadab. When Amnon confesses that he is "in love" with his sister, Joandab devises a plan to lure Tamar to Amnon, despite the fact that both pre-martial sex and incest (Leviticus 18:9) were against God's law.

Amnon pretends to be sick, per Jonadab's advice, and requests care from Tamar. David obliges, giving Amnon the opportunity to be alone with his sister. While alone, he asks her to have sex with him, but she refuses. Tamar is not concerned with the shame of incest, it seems she is concerned with the shame of premarital sex, because she tells Amnon to speak to David about the matter, suggesting that David would break the law and allow them to marry.[2] It is unclear if Tamar actually intended to marry Amnon, or if this was a ploy to get her off the hook. It's possible she thought he would actually take the matter to David and get himself in trouble.

Amnon could have been patient and followed Tamar's advice, after all if anyone in the kingdom could have lifted a law, it would have been David. Instead, Absalom rapes her. If the rape didn't prove he never loved her, but was merely infatuated, after raping her, his actions after do. Suddenly, he claims to hate her and kicks her out of his home. Tamar says that it is more evil for him to put her out than for the rape he committed.

By law, Amnon was now required to marry Tamar, and pay David a sum of money. By kicking her out and refusing to marry her, Amnon put Tamar in a very low position. In Tamar's time, virginity signified marriage eligibility. Without it, Tamar's marriage prospects would plummet, as no respectable Israelite would want to marry her, princess or not. Tamar is so distraught that she rips the special robe she wore (this robe was made specifically for virgin daughters of the king). She also places ashes on her head and goes out crying, all signs of mourning and distress.

Absalom's Reaction

Although we are not given the details of when or how Absalom discovers the awfulness that has happened to Tamar. Absalom acts as the loving brother and supports Tamar through her distress. He tells her not to worry about what has happened and allows her to stay with him. Even today rape victims are often blamed for their own circumstance, in addition to having to cope with what has happened to them, often leaving them alienated and alone. Without marriage prospects, Tamar would not have a benefactor and with a brother set to inherit her father's property, she wouldn't have an inheritance either. Thankfully, Absalom was providing her with shelter. This may seem small and insignificant to us today, but in ancient times, the stigma of rape was even worse than it is today. Having a person who was committed to loving her regardless and providing her with food and shelter would have been a great comfort to Tamar.

Absalom hates Amnon for what he has done and seeks to get revenge in Tamar's honor. After two years, Absalom sets out to avenge his sister's honor. Perhaps it took two years for him to lay out his plan, or perhaps Absalom was waiting on their father to handle the matter. Whatever the case, Absalom invites David plus all his brothers to visit his sheep-shearers in a town near Ephraim. David declines the invitation and Absalom accepts this, but he pleads for David to allow Amnon to come. David agrees that all of his sons, including Amnon, can go to the celebration. Meanwhile, Absalom gives the order for his servants to kill Amnon when he is drunk from the wine.

When the other sons of David realize Amnon has been killed, they flee the city. As is the case with the news media today, broken pieces of the story reach David: someone tells David that all his sons are dead at the hand of Absalom. While the king is mourning the loss of all his sons, Jonadab explains that Absalom was seeking revenge for Tamar and only Amnon is dead.

Likely fearing David's reaction or a banding together of his brothers against him, Absalom flees to Geshur. Here, Absalom goes to Talmai, king of Geshur, who was also Absalom's grandfather. He remains in Geshur for 3 years. Although David misses Absalom, he does not immediately send for him to return (this seems to be a trend with David).

David's Reaction

David learns of the matter early on, as well. We are not told how David learns about the situation either. Perhaps Absalom discusses the matter with David hoping he will punish Amnon. Despite being told that David is angry about the situation, we are not told of any actions David takes against Amnon. I find this very strange. Most men would be ready to kill any man who touched their daughter, though Biblically we see that it is more typical of a woman's brothers to taken on the burden of punishing the rapist (Genesis 34). As king, David could have enacted any punishment he wanted on Amnon, but for some reason, he does nothing.

Scholars suggest that David's non-reaction was due to his own sins.[1] Amnon was the eldest son of David and was born some times before David's sinful encounter with Bathsheba. We aren't given a timeline such that we could determine Amnon's age at the time of the encounter, but it is likely he knew something about the incident. David may have felt powerless to do or say any thing to his son about the rape of Tamar because he was embarrassed about his own sexual sins. While David didn't rape Bathsheba in the same sense,[7] he had committed a sin nonetheless. Condemning and punishing Amnon for his sin would have been the pot calling the kettle black.

Absalom's Exile and Return

When Joab sees that David is conflicted about how to handle the situation with Absalom, he seeks to bring resolve to the king so that Absalom can be welcomed back. Joab finds a "wise woman" to asks her to pretend to be a mourner in front of the king.

The woman pretends to be in a dilemma that is quite similar to David's. She claims her two sons fought and one killed the other. Now, the family expected her and her husband to deliver up and kill the surviving son for the murder. However, by killing this son, her family's name would not go on and their property would have no heir; thus, she did not want to kill the living son. David promises the woman that everything will be ok and that he will issue a decree that no one might kill her son. This wasn't David condoning the murder, but he essentially agreed to pardon the man for committing the murder, simply for this family's sake. If he was will to to do that, why wasn't he eager to bring back his own son?

After receiving David's promise, the wise woman was expected to leave, but she requests another word with David and he accepts her request. This time, the woman points out how similar her situation is to David's. She also reminds David that while God is serious about sin, he is capable of delivering us from our sins, an important message we should all remember, as well as a glimpse of the true covenant we have with the Father—even in the Old Testament people were forgiven without the immediate punishment of death.

While the woman's words probably hit home for David, I'd like to point out that the situations have two major differences. The first is motive. The woman's fictional sons simply fought, which could have been similar to Cain and Abel or Jacob and Esau, whereas Absalom was avenging the rape of his sister. When Jesus discusses the law concerning murder, he says that anyone who is angry with his brother without reason is guilty of murder, but Absalom had a reason to be mad at Amnon and honored God's law to make right Amnon's sins. It is possible that God saw Absalom as justified in killing Amnon. The second difference is the issue of why the murdering son should live. Unlike in the woman's fictional scenario, David had plenty of sons to both inherit and carry on his legacy.

Nonetheless, when David hears the woman's words, he knows that Joab has put her up to the task. The woman admits that Joab has instructed her to do this, however, David is not angry with Joab. In fact, he agrees to bring Absalom back. Joab, realizing what was at stake if the king had been angry about the deception, bows himself to David and expresses his gratitude.

Who (and What) is a Wise Woman?

After reading this passage in 2 Samuel 14, I was curious about the phrase "wise woman." As I read it, I assumed it meant sorcerer or witch, but all of the commentaries I've read interpret the phrase "wise woman" literally. A wise woman appears again in 2 Samuel 20, while a clear use of the literal wise woman is found in Proverbs 14. In the context of the passage, I agree with scholars since the woman does not conjure or attempt to predict anything. It seems reasonable that this is simply a woman full of wisdom.

The Return

It is Joab that goes to Geshur to tell Absalom he is welcome home, not David—though I imagine having a high ranking army member deliver news to you is better than a peon as the messenger. When Absalom returns, however, he is not allowed in the presence of the king. Can you imagine what that invitation sounded like? "You are cordially welcomed back in Jerusalem with your family, except you are forbidden from seeing your father."

We aren't told if Absalom was able to see Tamar, or any of his other siblings. From a storyteller's perspective, I think it would be interesting to hear Tamar's perspective. Was she happy Abaslom killed Amnon? What happened to her while Absalom was in exile. Did she care for him when he returned? However, I understand from a Biblical stand point that the focus was on Absalom's relationship with David and how justice was (or wasn’t) carried out, rendering the remainder of his relationship with Tamar unnecessary.

Beauty and Race

And when the Philistine looked about, and saw David, he disdained him: for he was but a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance.

1 Samuel 17:42 KJV

After reading this passage, we have a description of 4 Israelites across 3 generations! Most people in the Bible are not given a physical description, so this is quite a rare occurrence! First, we are told that David was "fair" with a ruddy complexion. We are told that Tamar II, Absalom's sister is very "fair," as well. Then, we are told that Absalom, David's son, was praised for his beauty, that he was without blemish and his hair weighed 200 shekels (which is roughly 5 pounds).[1] Finally, we are told that Tamar III, David's granddaughter, is also "fair." These descriptions of beauty are quite interesting as the provide a clue on race and beauty as viewed today versus in the Bible.


The word "fair" is often used to mean beautiful, but it is also synonymous with having a "white" complexion. As seen below, fair means both pleasing to the eye and "not dark." When used to describe skin complexion, people equate "not dark" with whiteness, despite "not dark" applying to the various skin tones between dark and white. Furthermore, the fact that fair is defined both as "not dark" and "pleasing to the eye" link the two ideas. For much of human history, dark skin and dark features have been seen as displeasing or unattractive. Ironically, fair also means to be marked with impartiality, which is in direct opposition to considering one shade more attractive than the other.

And it came to pass after this, that Absalom the son of David had a fair sister, whose name was Tamar; and Amnon the son of David loved her.

2 Samuel 13:1 KJV

And unto Absalom there were born three sons, and one daughter, whose name was Tamar: she was a woman of a fair countenance.

2 Samuel 14:27 KJV

Generally, the description of David (1 Samuel 17:42), Tamar II (2 Samuel 13:1), and Tamar III (2 Samuel 14:27) as being fair is taken to mean they were both white and beautiful. However, the original Hebrew word used to describe them is yapheh, and it only means beautiful.[3][4] Unlike the modern usage of the word fair, yapheh doesn't imply anything about skin color. In fact, the same word is used in Isaiah 54:11 to refer to a black powder used to paint ones eyelids.[4]

Fair according to
Fair according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary


David is described as "ruddy," which basically means red. The current definition, from Merriam-Webster, shown to the right, says that to be ruddy is to have a healthy reddish color. That begs the question of what do they mean by "healthy." There are several conditions that cause red skin, most of which aren't really signs of "healthy" skin. Perhaps a natural blush would be considered healthy, but then, when have you seen a person blush all over?

Using the modern definition of ruddy and the modern definition of fair, the description of David doesn't seem to make sense. How can someone be "fair" meaning pale or white while also having a healthy reddish color. Most people with a fair complexion as we define it today are only red if the have a condition (not healthy), are sunburned (not healthy), or have a cold (not healthy). While it's not impossible, it's certainly hard to picture. Even if you convince yourself that the verse simply mean he had rosy cheeks, "red" just isn't a term usually associated with white skin.

Yet, when the Europeans colonized the Americas, they described the natives as having red skin; hence the origin of the pejorative term for Native Americans still in use by Washington's NFL team (as of 2017). In the black community, red or "red-bone" is used to describe a light-skinned black person; the complexion referenced is a reddish-brown, similar to Native Americans. The skin complexions are described as "red" due to the red undertones visible in the skin. These undertones appear naturally and are not caused by sickness or overexposure to the sun.

It seems more likely that the author of The Book of Samuel used ruddy to describe a person with a reddish brown complexion. It is also worth noting that original Hebrew word translated to ruddy is "admoni" which is also linked to the word Adam.[5]

David, Tamar II, and Tamar III, likely had complexions that where midrange, much like mixed-race Africans, Native Americans, Hispanics, Indians, and Arabs today. Depending on the complexion of his wives and the combination of genes passed on to his children, all 4 people in question may have been brown skinned.

Ruddy according to
Ruddy according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Thick Hair

Which brings us to the description of Absalom. Absalom's hair is so thick hair it weighs about 5 pounds. Yet, thick hair is not something we often attribute to whites either; it's much more common in people of African descent. In fact, the woman who holds the record for longest dreadlocks has hair that weighs 25 pounds when wet (and she is black).[6]

Knowing that Absalom cut his hair yearly (2 Samuel 14:26) and assuming he weighed it while dry, it's very reasonable to picture him with a head full of healthy dreadlocks. People of virtually any race can grow dreadlocks, though I would wager the weight of them is dependent upon hair type. Given what we have discovered about the complexion of Absalom's father and the reference to the thickness of his hair, however, I find it unlikely that he was Caucasian in appearance as often depicted. Absalom (and his relatives) may have resembled modern Arabs, but it's probable that their hair texture (possibly even their skin color) favored that of Africans.

Reunification of Father and Son

After 2 years without any contact to David, Absalom sends for Joab, hoping to get a message to his father. Joab ignores Absalom's request twice, which prompts Absalom to grow angry. In anger, Absalom instructs his servants to set Joab's barley field on fire.

What is odd, is that Joab is the one who wanted Absalom returned, but suddenly refused to speak with him. Perhaps Joab was instructed to refrain from contact with Absalom by David. It is also possible that Joab knew David would deny any requests from Absalom and didn't have the heart or courage to face Absalom with these tidings. Whatever Joab's reasons for ignoring Absalom, he puts them aside once his field is set afire.

Finally able to pass along his message, Absalom complains that being in Jerusalem unable to speak to David is no better than being "exiled" in Geshur. Absalom tells Joab he wants to either see the king or be put to death. When Joab delivers the message, David invites Absalom to his home. Absalom bows before David and David kisses his son. It had been a total of 5 years since Absalom had seen David and 7 since the incident that had spurred all of this. That is a long time for people to be at odds with one another; it would take a concerted effort on both sides to heal this rift.

Absalom's Coup

After speaking with his father, Absalom gathers an entourage with chariots and horses, numbering 50 men. This would have elevated his position in the eyes of the Israelites, similar to the "he drives a nice car" trick. When people came to the gates to resolve their issues, Absalom acted as a sympathetic ear, lamented the fact that no one spoke with them, and placed the idea of making him a judge in their ear. To make himself even more likable, he refused people bowing to him and greeted them as though they were equals. Basically, Absalom created a base to position himself for a coup—all coups start this way.


What's a coup without a conspiracy? Absalom goes to David and requests to pay a vow in Hebron, when actually, he is staging his coup. David grants him permission, and Absalom sends spies throughout the nation. Absalom takes 200 men, who know nothing of his plan, with him when he leaves. He further sends for David's counselor. Even though many of these people weren't in on the coup, they were not in place to defend Jerusalem or David!

David Flees

Surprisingly, David doesn't take a stand against his son when he hears this (much like his reaction to Saul). In the past David was quick to take on God's enemies, but suddenly David isn't sure. Now that David's enemy is his own son, David doesn't know if he is in the position Saul was just before he claimed the throne, or if Absalom is an enemy of God. David evacuates his people—600 of whom were Philistines—into the wilderness to ensure their safety. David leaves behind 10 of his concubines to maintain the house. It is unclear whether David assumed they would be safe and could act as a place holder in his home, or if he simply didn't care what happened to them. Abiathar and Zadok, both priests, follow David with the Ark, but David sends it back. He has faith that if God wants him as king, he will make it back to Jerusalem to see the Ark again. David's prayer at this time isn't one of his own preference, but that the Will of God takes place. Although David doesn't fight, he does take matters into his own hand. David sends Hushai to be a spy for him. Hushai was to report to Abiathar and Zadok, whose son's would bring word to David.

Betraying David

The first person to deceive or betray David was his own son, followed by his counselor, Ahithophel who apparently joined Absalom after being summoned. Now, Ziba, the servant who had helped David locate Mephibosheth (a son of Saul), was deceiving him as well.

Ziba brings David parting gifts—donkeys, food, and wine—for his trip. When David asks where Mephibosheth is, Ziba tells David that Mephibosheth is trying to take advantage of the situation to restore Saul's throne. This scenario seems very likely in the context of how rulers (and want-to-be rulers) behave, however it isn't verified by Mephibosheth and is later disputed. Possibly in a rush to get out of the city, or out of blind faith in a loyal servant, David believes him. Ziba's loyalty is rewarded with David giving him Mephibosheth's estate.

Shimei, another descendant of Saul's, curses David as he passes on toward the wilderness. To the men's surprise, David doesn't stop him. Neither does he take it to heart. David realizes that Shimei could be right in his assessment of David, and confirms that as God's servant, he doesn't have the right to ask Shimei to stop if God has told Shimei to do so. This is something we should be mindful of today. We get full of ourselves and don't want to hear criticism, even when it's valid. David knew that he wasn't perfect, so he was willing to accept the criticism of others.

Ahithophel not only turned against David, but desired to pursue after him with 12,000 men. This is interesting considering the fact that David peacefully gave up the throne. What need was there to pursue him? To me this indicates that both Ahithophel and Absalom knew in their hearts that David was the rightful ruler. The only logical reason anyone would pursue someone like that would be to keep them from reclaiming the throne. Ahithophel proves this when he reveals that his plan would allow David's followers to flee and only David was to die. Since the Israelites had been cunningly swayed to Absalom's side, the elders were in agreement of this plan.

Fulfilling Prophecy

Absalom is quick to fulfill the prophecy given to David by Nathan in 2 Samuel 12:11; he takes David's concubines and sleeps with them "in the sight of all Israel." I don't think this means he publicly had sex with them, so much as the fact that he made a show of himself coming and going from sleeping with these women. Perhaps he even lavished them when trinkets and jewelry.

As I ponder on this in 2022, I find it interesting that Absalom is becoming that which he hates. First, a man was not to have sex with his father’s wife, even if that wife was not his mother, according to sexual immorality laws in Leviticus 18—this is the same set of laws that forbade Amnon from sleeping with Tamar II. Further, it is unlikely that David’s concubines had secretly been crushing on Absalom all this time. There was likely some degree of coercion used to get them to comply—this could have been as subtle as suggesting David could no longer provide for them since he fled, or as forceful as Amnon’s advances on Tamar II. Either way, Absalom did to these women essentially the same thing he killed Amnon for.


Absalom then asks for Hushai's counsel. Hushai, David's spy, says that it's a bad plan because David is a warrior and his men are mighty men. Absalom would need a great and vast army to win this battle, but he would also need to win it completely; simply killing David would not do. Absalom appreciates Hushai's counsel more than Athithophel, who is actually loyal to him. This confirms that God has revoked the wise counsel of Athithophel, at David's request, so harm comes to Absalom.

A true friend and loyal servant, Hushai sticks with the plan and informs the priests of what is happening. They are instructed to tell David so that he might find safety. Their sons were safely lodged outside of the city and a young girl was sent to pass the message. While this meant there were many people involved in the chain, something usually not recommended, it kept the main players from looking suspicious. Unfortunately it wasn't sneaky enough. A young boy sees what happens and notifies Absalom. The trio is still able to outwit Absalom's men, and are able to get the message to David.

Ego: The Downfall of Ahithophel

Egotism has been an issue for humans since the being of time. People say money is the root of all evil, but pride and vanity surely lead to most of the problems we have today. This was true in David's day as well. Vanity distorts the focus of our life.

When Ahithophel learns that his counsel wasn't followed, he hangs himself. How dramatic, right? Ahithophel's identity was apparently wrapped up in his ability to give good counsel, and now that he could not, he saw no point in life. This proves he was doing it for the wrong reasons. He didn't pray to God about his sudden loss of wisdom or favor. Nor did he stick around to see if Absalom would be successful. All he cared about was being right—that's a dangerous place to be.

Absalom Continues to Pursue David

Absalom makes some military changes, demoting Joab and appointing Amasa to be captain. Amasa was also family, like Joab, and was married to Joab's aunt (David's sister). As Absalom pursues David, the people of Ammon provide David with shelter, food, and drink. It is not uncommon that in times of need, it is external people that provide more assistance than our own. Sometimes, we are simply too close to the situation to realize our own folly. The Israelites didn't realize they were working against their own self interest just as poor people in the U.S. didn't realize that Trump will not help them. In both cases, the masses were tricked and won over by rhetoric, whereas the Ammonites were able to see the situation with unclouded eyes.

David Fights Back

Despite Absalom's rise to power, David acquires quite the army himself. He divides it into three companies placing his trusted generals Joab and Abishai over two companies, and Ittai, a foreign servant who has taken shelter with him, over the third. David has every intention of going to battle with his men, but the people don't want that. They know that Absalom's men will kill as many of them as possible to get to David, but without David present, the enemy would let them flee. David instructs his commanders to "deal gently" with Abaslom. Upon first reading I was certain this a command either to kill him quickly or to leave him alive; David's reaction to his son's death confirms that he meant the latter. David loved his son despite his son's behavior.

Absalom's Death

The big battle takes place in the woods of Ephraim, and 20,000 people die in the altercation. As Absalom approached David's men, he had to pass beneath a great oak tree. When he did, his thick and strong hair became tangled in the branch, hoisting him above the earth. One of David's men sees this and informs Joab. Joab asks why the man didn't kill Absalom, and the man voices his concern relating to David's command. Joab wastes no time on the issue and thrusts 3 darts into Absalom's heart. Joab's men then surround Absalom and kill him while he hung from the tree.

Absalom had spent so much time causing chaos, he never even produced an heir (other than his daughter). He leaves behind only a pillar named after him (and this narrative that showcases what happens when you hold a grudge). Absalom started off as a great person, a loving brother out to protect his sister. However, in his attempt to "do right" he became convinced that "right" was overthrowing his father. How did he get there? The component in Absalom's narrative that is missing is God. David's reaction to most situations is to pray and to wait for God's answer, but Absalom never seeks God's help. If Absalom had asked, God may have struck Amnon down without Absalom having to commit murder. The lack of direction from God allows Absalom's view to be corrupted. We often have good intentions, but because we can’t see the whole picture, our actions may not be in anyone's best interest.

David Receives the News of Absalom's Death

Ahimaaz was eager to tell his father (Zadok, the priest) that David had won, but Joab cautions him that the news of the Absalom's death was somber. It was not a time to rejoice, for the king's son had died. Instead, David should be notified first. Joab sends Cushi to tell David what has transpired.

When the watchman sees a single man running toward the gates, he weeps. It seems that Cushi was not the appointed messenger and likely, the watchman thought this meant everyone else was dead. Still eager to be of service, Ahimaaz follows Cushi, and when the watchman recognizes Ahimaaz, David commands the watchman to let them in, assuming they have brought good tidings.

Once they have established that David has won, they come to David's concern for Absalom. David, like any parent, wants to know that his son is ok. Ahimaaz deflects, claiming he does not know. It is Cushi that must deliver the tragic news. When Cushi tells David the news, David despairs and begins to weep.

An Unruly Child

David Mourns

David is deeply hurt by the death of Absalom. He grieves openly, crying out to God, and even wishing that he had died instead. Joab requests to speak to David privately and confronts him about the mourning. Expressing the sentiment that the army feels as though David would have been happier if they had all died and Absalom lived, Joab warns David that if he doesn't pull it together those that had stuck by him would desert him.

It wasn't that Joab and the army didn't understand that David had lost a son, it was the idea that someone who was determined to kill you was more important to you than people who would risk their life to save you. Not only do we keep toxic people in our lives and push away those who love us (re: Kelly Rowland in "Dirty Laundry"), but we do the same thing to Jesus. Jesus came to the Earth and died for us, but when told to give up our worldly ties (like the rich man in Mark 10), we weep for something that cares nothing about us.

A Parable for God's Love

There's a passage in the Books of Law that commands parents of disobedient children to put them to death, but no loving parent wants to see their child die. David, like most us, knew that something had to be done about Absalom, but he didn't want that something to involve Absalom's death. In some cases, a child may simply be rebellious, and not present a threat to anyone, but in Absalom's case anyone who supported David was in danger. This made it all the more important that Absalom be stopped.

God made us in His image, and we are constantly told that He is our Father for a reason. Just as a loving parent would send word not to kill their child and weep at their death even though said child was ready to kill the parent, God doesn't want us to die permanently either. He sent Jesus such that if we surrender to Him, no matter how far off the rails we've gone, our lives are spared. However, when we continue to rebel, we get lost in the battle and find death.

The Return of King David

Now that Absalom was dead, the rebellion is over but technically Israel was without king, since Absalom had been anointed in David's place. The Israelites reflect upon the fact that David was a good king and soon desire him back. However, the Tribe of Judah does not ask him to come back. David sends word through the priests, to ask his brethren why they, of all people, have not welcomed him back. David approaches them humbly, and this moves their hearts so that they ask him to return.

Shimei, someone who had previously rose against David, was the first from the tribe of Benjamin, to greet David. He conveys his apologies and requests that David not kill him. Abishai recommends otherwise, but David doesn't want anymore bloodshed.

It is at this time that David learns of Ziba's deceit. Mephibosheth, who has actually been mourning the loss of David has king, greets David as well. He had not dressed his feet, trimmed his beard, or washed his clothes—all signs of mourning—since David had fled. David asks why Mephibosheth didn't come with him, to which Mephibosheth reveals Ziba's treachery. It seems Ziba tricked Mephibosheth into staying home and ran off with the donkeys. Being handicapped, it is likely that Mephibosheth couldn't get to David without aid. Unable to determine which story was correct, David settles the matter by telling Ziba and Mephibosheth to divide the land in half.

We are also introduced to Barzillai, a servant of David, that cared for him while they were in the wilderness. David tells Barzillai that it is now time for David to care for him and invites Barzillai to the palace. Barzillai, who is 80 years old, says that he would only be a burden. As such, he requests to be left to die in his hometown; he suggests another loyal man (Chimham), to go with David into Jerusalem.

References and Footnotes

  1. Holman Bible Publishers. Holman KJV Study Bible, pg 547-549. 2014
  2. Deuteronomy 22:28-29
  3. "3303. yapheh". Strong's Concordance; via BibleHub.com in 2017
  4. James Orr, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'FAIR'". International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. 1915
  5. "132. admoni". Strong's Concordance; via BibleHub.com; visited 2017
  6. Grace Murano. "World's Most Amazing Real Life Rapunzels". Oddee. September 2013
  7. Based on today’s standards, we might argue that David did rape Bathsheba on the basis of the power imbalance. David was the King of Israel and Bathsheba was a citizen of his kingdom. That being said, if we look at the power play of kings, all marriages and sexual encounters outside of those with a woman from a different kingdom could be considered coerced and thus rape. It’s impossible to know how much of David and Bathsheba’s relationship was a result of coercion vs. simple lust vs. a power play even (after all it is Bathsheba’s son that ends up becoming the next king). As such it is hard to classify this act strictly as rape.

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