Absalom was the 3rd son of David, King of Israel, with Maacah; see 2Sam. 3:1-3. 2Sam. 14:25 describes him as the most handsome man in the kingdom… having “no blemish” in his appearance. It sounds like the beginning of a fairy tale. But, his heart was ugly, and the end of his life was anything but a happy ending…
Absalom was David’s 3rd son born at Hebron. When Absalom was still young, the family moved to the capital, in Jerusalem, where he spent most of his life. He was a favorite of his father… and of the people. His charming manners, his personal beauty, together with his love and pomp and royal pretensions, captivated the hearts of the people from the beginning. He lived in great style, drove a magnificent chariot and had 50 men run before him. Such magnificence produced the desired effect on the hearts of the young people in the royal city (2Sam. 15:1).
Little is known of Absalom’s family life, but we read in 2Sam. 14:27 that he had 3 sons and 1 daughter, whose name was Tamar (named after his sister). From 2Sam. 18:18, we can infer his sons died at an early age.
Murder of Amnon (2Sam. 13,14)
I. Absalom & Tamar (13:20-22)
Absalom, Amnon’s half-brother, attempted to comfort Tamar, his full sister, after Amnon had raped her (she was also his half-sister). Absalom hated Amnon for what he had done, but he didn’t tell anyone about his hatred…
II. Absalom & Amnon (13:23-33)
Absalom conspired to murder Amnon in revenge for raping Tamar. He saw the perfect opportunity 2yrs later as Amnon was celebrating the shearing of the sheep. He avenged her by sending his servants to murder Amnon at a feast while Amnon was drunk.
III. Absalom & David (13:34-39)
Absalom fled to Talmai, the king of Geshur, his maternal grandfather. It would be 3yrs until he was allowed to return to Jerusalem, though he was not publicly received by David even then.
After waiting 2yrs to see his father, Absalom set a barley field on fire to get his attention… and David agreed to meet with him… though things remained distant and cold (2Sam. 14:28-33).
David should have intervened when 2 of his own children were involved in a rape situation… but he didn’t.
David should have intervened when 2 of his own children were involved in a murder situation… but he didn’t.
Parental involvement is SO important! Ignoring a situation, “hoping it will get better on its own” rarely works. Take a deep breath, pray over the situation, then act like a parent!
The Revolt at Hebron (2Sam. 15,16)
While at Jerusalem, Absalom built support for himself among the population by promising justice for all “if only I were appointed judge in the land”, and by showing humility by kissing those who approached him rather than accepting supplication. He was the consummate politician!
After 4yrs, when he felt the time was finally right, he declared himself king, marking his territory in Jerusalem by having sex with his father’s concubines. Then he raised a revolt at Hebron, the former capital. Most of Israel & Judah flocked to his side, and David, attended only by his general Joab, the Cherethites & Pelethites, and his former bodyguard that had followed him from Gath, thought it best to flee. Absalom reached the capital, only to find it mostly empty. He took his place on the throne and began to take counsel from Ahithophel.
David took refuge from Absalom’s forces beyond the Jordan River. But, he took the precaution of instructing a servant, Hushai, to infiltrate Absalom’s court and subvert it. Hushai convinced Absalom to ignore Ahithophel’s advice to attack his father while he was on the run, and, instead, to prepare his forces for a major attack. This gave David critical time to prepare his own troops for the coming battle.
The Battle of Ephraim’s Wood (2Sam. 17,18)
See 18:5.A fateful battle was fought in the Wood of Ephraim, and Absalom’s army was completely routed.
Absalom himself was caught by his hair in the branches of an oak tree as the mule he was riding ran beneath it – an irony given that he was known for his abundant hair and handsome head. He was discovered hanging there – still alive – by one of David’s men, who reported the situation to Joab, David’s commander. Joab avenged David – against David’s previous orders to take Absalom alive – by fatally striking and killing Absalom… using 3 spears… followed by a group of swordsmen… and act that caused David much sorrow; see 18:33.
Absalom would have probably been the eventual king, but in his desire to want what he wanted RIGHT NOW, he lost everything.
Despite Absalom’s many talents, good looks, leadership skills, people skills, and family name, his impatience – and his self-importance – doomed his chances to become who God intended him to be. He left behind no son… and no legacy of godly leadership; nothing but a stone memorial he had built for himself (18:18).
God gives you the talents, abilities, and gifts you need to succeed in whatever He has called you to do. When you remain patient and allow Him to do His work through you… in His time, you will receive the very best He has to offer.
You can read Absalom’s story in 2Samuel 13-18.