Bible Commentaries

2 Samuel 18

Verses 1-33

The delay advised by Hushai resulted in multitudes gathering to David, and at last the day of battle between those loyal to him and Absalom's followers arrived. Two men attract our attention, David and Joab. A chastened and almost docile spirit is evident as the king yielded to the constraint of his people, and did not himself lead the hosts. It is conceivable, and, indeed, almost certain, that his love for Absalom caused his action. He earnestly charged those going to battle to deal gently with the young man. It is here that Joab appears in the terrible sternness of his character. He had no pity for Absalom. He knew that Absalom was the center of all the trouble, and directly he learned that Absalom was dead, he sounded a trumpet to stay the battle. He had seen David's action toward his sons characterized by lack of discipline. In the highest interests of the kingdom his hand was raised to slay Absalom.

Everything leads up to, and culminates in, David's wail for Absalom. It was brief, but thrilled with agony. Five times he repeated the two words, "my son." It is as though he had said, He is indeed my son. His weaknesses are my weaknesses, his passions my passions, his sins my sins. The deepest cry escaping from his heart was, "Would God I had died for thee." Here David surely reached the profoundest moment of his suffering. We cannot stand in the presence of that suffering without learning the solemn lessons of parental responsibility it has to teach, not merely in training our children, but in that earlier training of ourselves for their sakes.