2 Samuel 16-18
So remember Jonathan’s son who David fostered back in 2 Sam 9? Well in chapter 16, now that David’s on the losing side of the civil war, the son turns away from David, in hopes of getting his kingdom back from Absalom. I’m not sure why he would think that…. But when David hears about it, he gets angry and gives away everything the kid owns (v 3-4). David is discouraged, disparaged, and plagued by self-doubt. He allows himself to be mocked and cursed. Well it’s about time; he won’t get any pity from me. And now Nathan’s prophesy from chapter 12 is fulfilled – Absalom goes back to David’s palace, where David had left 10 of his concubines, remember them? Absalom sets up a tent on the roof and has sex with them in full view of the neighbors. Nice…
we’re back to Spy vs Spy. How to decide whom to trust? Absalom makes the wrong choice, and follows the military advice of David’s spy. But whose advice is it? Is it really just Yahweh pulling the strings again, and the spy is a puppet? (v 14.) David’s spies almost get caught, but in the end are successful in getting the warning to David. When Absalom’s advisor realizes his instructions have been disregarded, he hangs himself; I guess he didn’t want to live to see the defeat?
David and Absalom finally do battle, yet David begs his generals to spare Absalom’s life because, after all, even if he’s been a lot of trouble, he’s still David’s son. Funny how little regard there is here for human lives that are not members of the ruling class. Soldiers are just pawns; 20,000 of them die in the battle, but who cares? The soldier who sees Absalom dangling from a tree (v 10-13) knows this and doesn’t dare kill him, but Joab has no such reservations and finishes him off. When David gets the news of his death, he cries out the famous lines ‘O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!’. I always pictured a genuinely grieving father when I hear that line, but now that I read it in context, it seems disingenuous.