2 Samuel 18

Absalom Slain

1 Then David numbered the people who were with him and 1set over them commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds.
2 David sent the people out, 2one third under the command of Joab, one third under the command of Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab's brother, and one third under the command of 3Ittai the Gittite. And the king said to the people, "I myself will surely go out with you also."
3 But the people said, "4You should not go out; for if we indeed flee, they will not care * about us; even if half of us die, they will not care * about us. But you are worth ten thousand of us; therefore now it is better that you be ready to help us from the city."
4 Then the king said to them, "Whatever seems best to you I will do." So 5the king stood beside * the gate, and all the people went out by hundreds and thousands.
5 The king charged Joab and Abishai and Ittai, saying, "Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom." And 6all the people heard when the king charged all the commanders concerning * Absalom.
6 Then the people went out into the field against Israel, and the battle took place in 7the forest of Ephraim.
7 The people of Israel were defeated there before the servants of David, and the slaughter there that day was great, 20,000 * men.
8 For the battle there was spread over * the whole countryside, and the forest devoured more people that day than * the sword devoured.
9 Now Absalom happened to meet the servants of David. For Absalom was riding on his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a great oak. And 8his head caught fast in the oak, so he was left hanging between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him kept going.
10 When a certain man saw it, he told Joab and said, "Behold, I saw Absalom hanging in an oak."
11 Then Joab said to the man who had told him, "Now behold, you saw him! Why then did you not strike him there to the ground? And I would have given you ten pieces of silver and a belt."
12 The man said to Joab, "Even if I should receive a thousand pieces of silver in my hand, I would not put out my hand against the king's son; for 9in our hearing the king charged you and Abishai and Ittai, saying, 'Protect for me the young man Absalom!'
13 "Otherwise, if I had dealt treacherously against his life (and 10there is nothing * * hidden from the king ), then you yourself would have stood aloof *."
14 Then Joab said, "I will not waste time here with you." 11So he took three spears in his hand and thrust them through the heart of Absalom while he was yet alive in the midst of the oak.
15 And ten young men who carried Joab's armor gathered around and struck Absalom and killed him.
16 Then 12Joab blew the trumpet, and the people returned from pursuing Israel, for Joab restrained the people.
17 They took Absalom and cast him into a deep pit in the forest and 13erected over him a very great heap of stones. And 14all Israel fled, each to his tent.
18 Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and 15set up for himself a pillar which is in 16the King's Valley, for he said, "17I have no son to preserve my name." So he named the pillar after his own name, and it is called Absalom's Monument to this day.

David Is Grief-stricken

19 Then 18Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said, "Please let me run and bring the king news 19that the LORD has freed him from the hand of his enemies."
20 But Joab said to him, "You are not the man to carry news this day, but you shall carry news another day; however, you shall carry no news today because * the king's son is dead."
21 Then Joab said to the Cushite, "Go, tell the king what you have seen." So the Cushite bowed to Joab and ran.
22 Now Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said once * more * to Joab, "But whatever happens, please let me also run after the Cushite." And Joab said, "Why * would you run, my son, since 20you will have no reward for going?"
23 "But whatever happens," he said, "I will run." So he said to him, "Run." Then Ahimaaz ran by way of the plain and passed up the Cushite.
24 Now 21David was sitting between the two gates; and 22the watchman went up to the roof of the gate by the wall, and raised his eyes and looked, and behold, a man running by himself.
25 The watchman called and told the king. And the king said, "If he is by himself there is good news in his mouth." And he came nearer and nearer.
26 Then the watchman saw another man running; and the watchman called to the gatekeeper and said, "Behold, another man running by himself." And the king said, "This one also is bringing good news."
27 The watchman said, "I think the running of the first one 23is like the running of Ahimaaz the son of Zadok." And the king said, "24This is a good man and comes with good news."
28 Ahimaaz called and said to the king, "All is well." And 25he prostrated himself before the king with his face to the ground. And he said, "26Blessed is the LORD your God, who has delivered up the men who lifted their hands against my lord the king."
29 The king said, "27Is it well with the young man Absalom?" And Ahimaaz answered, "When Joab sent the king's servant, and your servant, I saw a great tumult, but 28I did not know what it was."
30 Then the king said, "Turn aside and stand here." So he turned aside and stood still.
31 Behold, the Cushite arrived, and the Cushite said, "Let my lord the king receive good news, for 29the LORD has freed you this day from the hand of all those who rose up against you."
32 Then the king said to the Cushite, "30Is it well with the young man Absalom?" And the Cushite answered, "31Let the enemies of my lord the king, and all who rise up against you for evil, be as that young man!"
33 The king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And thus he said as he walked, "32O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! 33Would * I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!"

2 Samuel 18 Commentary

Chapter 18

Absalom's army defeated. (1-8) He is slain. (9-18) David's over-sorrow. (19-33)

Verses 1-8 How does David render good for evil! Absalom would have only David smitten; David would have only Absalom spared. This seems to be a resemblance of man's wickedness towards God, and God's mercy to man, of which it is hard to say which is most amazing. Now the Israelites see what it is to take counsel against the Lord and his anointed.

Verses 9-18 Let young people look upon Absalom, hanging on a tree, accursed, forsaken of heaven and earth; there let them read the Lord's abhorrence of rebellion against parents. Nothing can preserve men from misery and contempt, but heavenly wisdom and the grace of God.

Verses 19-33 By directing David to give God thanks for his victory, Ahimaaz prepared him for the news of his son's death. The more our hearts are fixed and enlarged, in thanksgiving to God for our mercies, the better disposed we shall be to bear with patience the afflictions mixed with them. Some think David's wish arose from concern about Absalom's everlasting state; but he rather seems to have spoken without due thought. He is to be blamed for showing so great fondness for a graceless son. Also for quarrelling with Divine justice. And for opposing the justice of the nation, which, as king, he had to administer, and which ought to be preferred before natural affection. The best men are not always in a good frame; we are apt to over-grieve for what we over-loved. But while we learn from this example to watch and pray against sinful indulgence, or neglect of our children, may we not, in David, perceive a shadow of the Saviour's love, who wept over, prayed for, and even suffered death for mankind, though vile rebels and enemies.

Cross References 33

  • 1. Exodus 18:25; Numbers 31:14; 1 Samuel 22:7
  • 2. Judges 7:16; 1 Samuel 11:11
  • 3. 2 Samuel 15:19-22
  • 4. 2 Samuel 21:17
  • 5. 2 Samuel 18:24
  • 6. 2 Samuel 18:12
  • 7. Joshua 17:15, 18; 2 Samuel 17:26
  • 8. 2 Samuel 14:26
  • 9. 2 Samuel 18:5
  • 10. 2 Samuel 14:19, 20
  • 11. 2 Samuel 14:30
  • 12. 2 Samuel 2:28; 2 Samuel 20:22
  • 13. Deuteronomy 21:20, 21; Joshua 7:26; Joshua 8:29
  • 14. 2 Samuel 19:8; 2 Samuel 20:1, 22
  • 15. 1 Samuel 15:12
  • 16. Genesis 14:17
  • 17. 2 Samuel 14:27
  • 18. 2 Samuel 15:36
  • 19. 2 Samuel 18:31
  • 20. 2 Samuel 18:29
  • 21. 2 Samuel 19:8
  • 22. 2 Samuel 13:34; 2 Kings 9:17
  • 23. 2 Kings 9:20
  • 24. 1 Kings 1:42
  • 25. 1 Samuel 25:23; 2 Samuel 14:4
  • 26. 1 Samuel 17:46
  • 27. 2 Samuel 20:9; 2 Kings 4:26
  • 28. 2 Samuel 18:22
  • 29. Judges 5:31; 2 Samuel 18:19
  • 30. 2 Samuel 18:29
  • 31. 1 Samuel 25:26
  • 32. 2 Samuel 19:4
  • 33. Exodus 32:32; Romans 9:3

Footnotes 17

Chapter Summary


In this chapter is an account of David's review of his army, preparing it for battle with Absalom, and those with him, 2Sa 18:1-5; and of the defeat and flight of the rebels, 2Sa 18:6-8; and of the death of Absalom, and the manner of it, and of his burial, 2Sa 18:9-18; and of the news of it brought to David by different persons, 2Sa 18:19-32; and of his great grief and sorrow on that account, 2Sa 18:33.

2 Samuel 18 Commentaries