Beginning of the End


The Rebellion of Absalom, David’s Son

This chapter is based on 2 Samuel 13 to 19.

“He shall restore fourfold,” had been David’s unwitting sentence upon himself after hearing the prophet Nathan’s parable. Four of his sons must fall, and the loss of each would be a result of the father’s sin. BOE 367.1

David permitted the shameful crime of Amnon, his firstborn, to go unpunished. The law pronounced death upon the adulterer, and the unnatural crime of Amnon made him doubly guilty. But David, self-condemned for his own sin, failed to bring the offender to justice. For two years Absalom, the natural protector of the sister so terribly wronged, hid his plan of revenge. Then one day, during a feast of the king’s sons, the drunken, incestuous Amnon was killed by his brother’s command. BOE 367.2

The king’s sons returned in panic to Jerusalem and told their father that Amnon had been killed. And they “lifted up their voice and wept. Also the king and all his servants wept very bitterly.” But Absalom fled. David had neglected his duty to punish Amnon, and the Lord allowed events to take their natural course. When parents or rulers neglect the duty of punishing evil, a train of circumstances will follow that will punish sin with sin. BOE 367.3

Absalom’s alienation from his father began here. David, feeling that Absalom’s crime demanded punishment, refused to let him return. Shut out by his exile from the affairs of the kingdom, Absalom occupied his time with dangerous scheming. BOE 367.4

At the close of two years Joab determined to reconcile the father and son. He got a woman of Tekoah, known for her wisdom, to help him. The woman presented herself to David as a widow whose two sons had been her only comfort and support. In a quarrel one had killed the other, and now the relatives demanded that the surviving son be given over to the avenger of blood. And so, said the mother, “they would extinguish my ember that is left, and leave to my husband neither name nor remnant on the earth.” The king’s feelings were touched and he assured the woman that he would protect her son. BOE 367.5

Then, asking for the king’s permission to say more, she pointed out that he was at fault in not bringing his banished son home again. “For,” she said, “we will surely die and become like water spilled on the ground which cannot be gathered up again. Yet God does not take away a life; but He devises means, so that His banished ones are not expelled from Him.” This tender and touching portrayal of the love of God toward the sinner is striking proof that the Israelites were familiar with the great truths of redemption. The king could not resist this appeal. He gave the command, “Go therefore, bring back the young man Absalom.” BOE 367.6