2 Samuel 14

Absalom Restored to David

1 Joab son of Zeruiah observed that the king's mind was on Absalom.
2 So Joab sent someone to Tekoa to bring a clever woman from there. He told her, "Pretend to be in mourning: dress in mourning clothes and don't put on any oil.[a] Act like a woman who has been mourning for the dead for a long time.
3 Go to the king and speak these words to him." Then Joab told her exactly what to say.
4 When the woman from Tekoa came[b] to the king, she fell with her face to the ground in homage and said, "Help me, my king!"
5 "What's the matter?" the king asked her. "To tell the truth, I am a widow; my husband died," she said.
6 "Your servant had two sons. They were fighting in the field with no one to separate them, and one struck the other and killed him.
7 Now the whole clan has risen up against your servant and said, 'Hand over the one who killed his brother so we may put him to death for the life of the brother he murdered. We will destroy the heir!' They would extinguish my one remaining ember by not preserving my husband's name or posterity on earth."
8 The king told the woman, "Go home. I will issue a command on your behalf."
9 Then the woman of Tekoa said to the king, "My lord the king, may any blame be on me and my father's house, and may the king and his throne be innocent."
10 "Whoever speaks to you," the king said, "bring him to me. He will not trouble you again!"
11 She replied, "Please, may the king invoke the Lord your God, so that the avenger of blood will not increase the loss, and they will not eliminate my son!"[c] "As the Lord lives," he vowed, "not a hair of your son will fall to the ground."
12 Then the woman said, "Please, may your servant speak a word to my lord the king?" "Speak," he replied.
13 The woman asked, "Why have you devised something similar against the people of God? When the king spoke as he did about this matter, he has pronounced his own guilt. The king has not brought back his own banished one.
14 For we will certainly die and be like water poured out on the ground, which can't be recovered. But God would not take away a life; He would devise plans so that the one banished from Him does not remain banished.
15 "Now therefore, I've come to present this matter to my lord the king because the people have made me afraid. Your servant thought: I must speak to the king. Perhaps the king will grant his servant's request.
16 The king will surely listen in order to rescue his servant from the hand of this man who would eliminate both me and my son from God's inheritance.
17 Your servant thought: May the word of my lord the king bring relief, for my lord the king is able to discern the good and the bad like the Angel of God. May the Lord your God be with you."
18 Then the king answered the woman, "I'm going to ask you something; don't conceal it from me!" "Let my lord the king speak," the woman replied.
19 The king asked, "Did Joab put you up to[d] all this?" The woman answered. "As surely as you live, my lord the king, no one can turn to the right or left from all my lord the king says. Yes, your servant Joab is the one who gave orders to me; he told your servant exactly what to say.
20 Joab your servant has done this to address the issue indirectly,[e] but my lord has wisdom like the wisdom of the Angel of God, knowing everything on earth."
21 Then the king said to Joab, "I hereby grant this request. Go, bring back the young man Absalom."
22 Joab fell with his face to the ground in homage and praised the king. "Today," Joab said, "your servant knows I have found favor with you, my lord the king, because the king has granted the request of your servant."
23 So Joab got up, went to Geshur, and brought Absalom to Jerusalem.
24 However, the king added, "He may return to his house, but he may not see my face." So Absalom returned to his house, but he did not see the king.[f]
25 No man in all Israel was as handsome and highly praised as Absalom. From the sole of his foot to the top of his head, he did not have a single flaw.
26 When he shaved his head-he shaved [it] every year because [his hair] got so heavy for him that he had to shave it off-he would weigh the hair from his head and it would be five pounds[g] according to the royal standard.
27 Three sons were born to Absalom, and a daughter named Tamar, who was a beautiful woman.
28 Absalom resided in Jerusalem two years but never saw the king.
29 Then Absalom sent for Joab in order to send him to the king, but Joab was unwilling to come. So he sent again, a second time, but he still wouldn't come.
30 Then Absalom said to his servants, "See, Joab has a field right next to mine, and he has barley there. Go and set fire to it!" So Absalom's servants set the field on fire.[h][i]
31 Then Joab came to Absalom's house and demanded, "Why did your servants set my field on fire?"
32 "Look," Absalom explained to Joab, "I sent for you and said, 'Come here. I want to send you to the king to ask: Why have I come back from Geshur? I'd be better off if I were still there.' So now, let me see the king. If I am guilty, let him kill me."
33 Joab went to the king and told him. So David summoned Absalom, who came to the king and bowed down with his face to the ground before the king. Then the king kissed Absalom.

2 Samuel 14 Commentary

Chapter 14

Joab procures Absalom's recall. (1-20) Absalom recalled. (21-24) His personal beauty. (25-27) He is admitted to his father's presence. (28-33)

Verses 1-20 We may notice here, how this widow pleads God's mercy, and his clemency toward poor guilty sinners. The state of sinners is a state of banishment from God. God pardons none to the dishonour of his law and justice, nor any who are impenitent; nor to the encouragement of crimes, or the hurt of others.

Verses 21-24 David was inclined to favour Absalom, yet, for the honour of his justice, he could not do it but upon application made for him, which may show the methods of Divine grace. It is true that God has thoughts of compassion toward poor sinners, not willing that any should perish; yet he is only reconciled to them through a Mediator, who pleads on their behalf. God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, and Christ came to this land of our banishment, to bring us to God.

Verses 25-27 Nothing is said of Absalom's wisdom and piety. All here said of him is, that he was very handsome. A poor commendation for a man that had nothing else in him valuable. Many a polluted, deformed soul dwells in a fair and comely body. And we read that he had a very fine head of hair. It was a burden to him, but he would not cut it as long as he could bear the weight. That which feeds and gratifies pride, is not complained of, though uneasy. May the Lord grant us the beauty of holiness, and the adorning of a meek and quiet spirit! Only those who fear God are truly happy.

Verses 28-33 By his insolent carriage toward Joab, Absalom brought Joab to plead for him. By his insolent message to the king, he gained his wishes. When parents and rulers countenance such characters, they will soon suffer the most fatal effects. But did the compassion of a father prevail to reconcile him to an impenitent son, and shall penitent sinners question the compassion of Him who is the Father of mercies?

Footnotes 9

  • [a]. 2 Sm 12:20; Dn 10:2-3
  • [b]. Some Hb mss, LXX, Syr, Tg, Vg; other Hb mss read spoke
  • [c]. Nm 35:19-21; Dt 19:10-13
  • [d]. Lit Is the hand of Joab in
  • [e]. Lit to go around the face of the matter
  • [f]. Lit king's face
  • [g]. Lit 200 shekels
  • [h]. DSS, LXX add So Joab's servants came to him with their clothes torn and said, "Absalom's servants have set the field on fire!"
  • [i]. Jdg 15:3-5

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO SECOND SAMUEL 14

This chapter relates that Joab, perceiving David's inclination to bring back Absalom, employed a wise woman of Tekoah to lay before him a feigned case of hers, drawn up by Joab, whereby this point was gained from the king, that murder might be dispensed with in her case, 2Sa 14:1-20; which being applied to the case of Absalom, and the king finding out that the hand of Joab was in this, sent for him, and ordered him to bring Absalom again, though as yet he would not see his face, 2Sa 14:21-24; and after some notice being taken of the beauty of Absalom's person, particularly of his head of hair, and of the number of his children, 2Sa 14:25-27; it is related, that after two full years Absalom was uneasy that he might not see the king's face, and sent for Joab, who refused to come to him, till he found means to oblige him to it, who, with the king's leave, introduced him to him, 2Sa 14:28-33.

2 Samuel 14 Commentaries