Mar 20 — 2 Samuel 18-19

2 Sam 18 — Absalom is Killed, David Hears of His Death
2 Sam 19:1-8 — Joab Rebukes David
2 Sam 19: 9-43 — David Returns to Jerusalem and Pardons his Enemies

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One Reply to “Mar 20 — 2 Samuel 18-19”

  1. The battle between David and Absalom is another sad story in the life of Israel. Absalom sends his full force against David’s army led by seasoned commanders Joab, Joab’s brother and Ittai. David’s men convince him stay behind, “you are worth ten thousand of us” (2 Sam 18:3) and the battle ensues in the forest of Ephraim. Absalom’s army was “routed by David’s men” where “the forest swallowed up more men that day than the sword” (18:7-8). Absalom got himself entangled in a large oak tree and “was left hanging in midair” (v9). Joab hears the report and though David commanded them to “be gentle with…Absalom” (18:5), Joab “took three javelins in his hand and plunged them into Absalom’s heart while Absalom was still alive in the oak tree” (18:14). Joab stops the battle, buries Absalom in the forest while Absalom’s men fled.

    Ahimaaz is excited and wants to run tell David of the news, but Joab knows this may not be received well, so he tells him “you must not do so today” (v20). Instead, Joab picks a foreigner to run and tell the news (a Cushite) and he runs off. After the Cushite ran off, Ahimaaz again says, “please let me run behind the Cushite” (18:22), so Joab tells him to run! Ahimaaz outruns him and gets to David first, but withholds the story of Absalom. The Cushite arrives and indirectly confirms that Absalom is dead. “The king was shaken…he said: ‘O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you–O Absalom, my son, my son!'” (2 Sam 18:33). David expresses his grief and such pain openly, all hear and know of his sorrow.

    The entire army mourns because of David’s reaction, they “stole into the city that day as men…who are ashamed when they flee from battle” (19:3). Joab is insulted because of David’s outrageous mourning and insists David go out and support his troops. Interesting to note, Joab is careful not to mention he is the one who killed Absalom. “So the king got up and took his seat in the gateway” (19:8).

    Shimei along with Ziba and Mephibosheth return to the story…seriously. Shimei, the one who cursed David and showered his men with stones and dirt (2 Sam 16:5-14), now begs for forgiveness…David pardons him with an oath, “you shall not die” (19:23). Next, Mephibosheth tells David that Ziba deceived him, saying, “he has slandered your servant” (19:27). Ziba vs Mephibosheth. David declares “divide the land” (19:29) and the case is closed.

    As the bickering between the rival forces ends out chapter 19, we see the seed planted for the future division of the kingdom. Though they will be united for a while in the coming chapters, Israel will eventually be referred to as the Northern Kingdom and Judah as the Southern Kingdom. It’s interesting to note the loyalties here, how deep the division between people can run.

    Instead of focusing on God, the Lord of all, we read about people relying on the judgement of men and the subsequent division of loyalties. Here is the lesson I hope to take from this story: I pray that I will be loyal to God first, knowing this allegiance will put me in the company of others who do the same. As a people aligned with God, with Christ, we will stand united as we battle the world, though we won’t fight with sword and javelin. The worldview that rejects God and puts self above Christ will divide and destroy people. As Christians, our task is to do the opposite, to unite all people under Christ with God as the one authority. Lord help us in this spiritual battle!

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