2 Samuel 18

Vs. 1-5.
David has fled the city from his son Absalom. Absalom has gathered his followers together to pursue his dad, and they are totally committed to kill David. It appears that David does not understand the seriousness of the situation or the wickedness of his son.

1. David numbered the people. This is a military term for mustering the men of war to go into war. It also refers to seeing how much strength the king has to go to war. The leaders of Israel were forbidden to number the people (unless explicitly commanded to by the Lord) because the Lord said that He would give them enough to do the job. David latter gets into great difficulty for numbering the people.

It almost makes me wonder about numbering how many come to church, or how many members a church has.

2. Apparently, David has learned his lesson. He is ready to lead the army into warfare.

Only the person who does nothing will not make mistakes. We can be assured that we will make great mistakes, but the greatest mistake of all is when we do not learn from our mistakes and sins.

3. The people ask David not to go into warfare; they say that he is worth more than the average person.

I believe that the word of God does indeed teach that, from a human standpoint, people do have different values. It is the constitution, not the Bible, that teaches that all men are created equal.

4. The meekness of David is evident throughout his life. It is his meekness that made him a man after God's own heart. But it was also his meekness that caused him not to stand up to the evil of his own children.

We each have our own unique personality, but our personality is no excuse for sin. God's grace is sufficient to overcome all weaknesses of our personality,

5. In Absalom, we see the utter rebellion and hatred of God that is prevalent in the heart of fallen man. Absalom's real goal was to overthrow the rightful king and set himself up in His place. This has been rebellious man's goal since the garden, ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. Adam, Absalom and every man every since has hated and rebelled against their Father, their Creator.

6. David: regardless of Absalom's hatred and rebellion, the king pleads for mercy for the rebel. David plead with Joab. Joab means, Jah is father. Thus, we have David pleading with Joab that Joab would spare the rebel for my sake. For David's sake. Not for the boy's sake or for any other reason. David says, for my sake.

Joab's name means Jah is father. Jesus, the Son of David, also pleads with Jehovah, God the Father, for us. We have been nothing but rebels, but the love of Christ causes Him to plead with the Father for us. No more than did Absalom, have we done anything to deserve the Son of David to plead in our behalf before the holy Father, so He pleads for His sake. There is no good on our part which He can plead, so He must plead for His sake.

The mercy of God.

So what do we have here? Absalom is a picture of man's hatred toward the very one he should love, God the Father. David is a picture of Jesus' love toward the elect in spite of their hatred and rebellion against Him.

And, of course, the Son of David did indeed die for His rebellious sons, you and I the elect.

Vs. 6-8.

The battle rages between the forces of the rightful king, King David, and the rebel, the usurper of the throne, Absalom.

The location of the battle is interesting: in the woods. The woods should have been a place of safety for the rebel forces, but it turned out to be their greatest enemy. Thus we see that the very place that the ungodly should be able to find safety, is used against them. Rebellious man cannot avoid the judgment of God. If the rebel flees to the deepest woods to avoid God's judgement, the wood itself will devour him.

1. There is no place one can go to avoid God's judgment, Ps 139:8. Jonah found out that God will find you no matter where you might hide. Pr 21:31 The horse [is] prepared against the day of battle: but safety [is] of the LORD. People can spend all their money preparing for difficult times, but if they are not right with the Lord, their money is useless.

2. A fact often overlooked is that when one is at war with the rightful King, all nature is at war against him. And guess who will win?

The sea devoured Pharaoh, Exodus 15:10 Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them: they sank as lead in the mighty waters.

Great stones fell from heaven upon Azekah, Joshua 10:11 And it came to pass, as they fled from before Israel, [and] were in the going down to Bethhoron, that the LORD cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azekah, and they died: [they were] more which died with hailstones than [they] whom the children of Israel slew with the sword.

The stars and rivers fought against Sisera, Judges 5:20, 21 They fought from heaven; the stars in their courses fought against Sisera. The river of Kishon swept them away, that ancient river, the river Kishon. O my soul, thou hast trodden down strength.

A wall fought against Benhadad's army, 1 Kings 20:30 But the rest fled to Aphek, into the city; and [there] a wall fell upon twenty and seven thousand of the men [that were] left. And Benhadad fled, and came into the city, into an inner chamber.

Lu 23:30 Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us.
Re 6:16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:

Le 18:28 That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that [were] before you.

Le 20:22 Ye shall therefore keep all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: that the land, whither I bring you to dwell therein, spue you not out.

I am sure that it is only a coincidence that Re 3:16 reads, So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because if the Lord meant it the way it sounds, then it would mean that the land itself fights against those who are neither hot or could for Him.

the wood devoured more people that day than the sword devoured.

Obviously, when the Lord gets ready to judge sin, sin will be judged. Nature itself will carry out the King's will against the rebellious inhabitants of the earth.

Vs. 9-17, Absalom meets his fate.

Absalom rode a mule into battle. The mule went under a tree and Absalom was caught in the tree. Joab hears about him being in the tree, and pierces him through the heart, but Joab's armour bears slew him. The result is that the rebellion under Absalom is over and all Israel goes home.

1) the pride of this man, Absalom, is astounding. Ridding a mule into battle is not the proper way to go to battle. The mule was a sign of royalty, and was reserved for the king. Absalom could not even wait until the throne was secure in his hands before he got on the royal mule. At the least, he probably should have waited until David was out of the way.

Pride: both Saul and Absalom had the problem.

Saul wore his royal robes into battle, and got himself into trouble.
Absalom rode his mule into battle, as a king would do, and got himself into trouble.

Neither Saul nor Absalom fell to the sword of an enemy. Saul fell on his own sword; Absalom hung himself (in a tree).

2) Absalom's head got caught. It does not really say that he hung by his hair, although we commonly assume that is what took place.

Absalom's hair:

A) it was quite long. On a man, long hair is a mark of rebellion, but on a woman it is a mark of beauty, glory and submission. How long is long? My supposition is that the ears are the dividing line. The background of 1 Cor 11 (14, 15) is that the church at Corinth was in the midst of paganism. The pagan temple had both male and female prostitutes. The females shaved their head and the male let their hair get long.

Obviously, man's natural inclination is to let his hair grow long, and the woman's natural tendency is to cut her's off, or Paul would not have had to write 1 Cor 11. I have noticed along this line that the younger girls seem to like to see long hair on guys. A man normally likes to see long hair on a woman.

B) he was entangled in the tree by his hair, but not really his hair, but by his pride. We can rest assured that if we allow our pride to grow, we will get entangled. That thing we love and hang on to will be our demise.

C) in a tree. The Lord has a way of seeing that justice is accomplished.

De 21:22, 23 And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged [is] accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee [for] an inheritance.

Even though David would not deal with Absalom, God did. The Judge of the universe will do right.

Absalom's pride and sin hung him on the tree.
My pride and sin hung Christ on the tree.

3) v. 11-13, Joab asks, "Why didn't you kill him?" The man's answer is good. This man said that no matter what kind of money he was offered, he would not go against the king's commandment. This is excellent advice for everyone.

The man said that nothing escape the king's notice. Heb 4:13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things [are] naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

4) Joab says, I may not tarry thus with thee. Joab was man of action: when something needed to be done, he did it.

1 Kgs 2:5, notice that David did not condemn Joab for what he did to Absalom, but for what he did to Abner. I think this shows us that sometimes it is not practical nor advisable to obey the authority.

Zeal is good, but only as used according to the word of God.

5) V. 14. Joab thrust Absalom through. Joab is a very bold man. He openly goes against the king, but if he did not act in the manner he did, the war would have continued. And, more than likely, if Absalom had been returned to David as David asked, David would have turned him lose to do his evil work again.

6) there are some interesting parallels here:

pit... what the Lord did to Absalom was a new thing: the Lord hung him in the tree by his head, and being cast into a pit was a fitting end for Absalom.

Nu 16:30, 33, But if the LORD make a new thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that [appertain] unto them, and they go down quick into the pit; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the LORD. They, and all that [appertained] to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation.

David wrote the 7 Psalm, which says in part, 14-17, Behold, he travaileth with iniquity, and hath conceived mischief, and brought forth falsehood. He made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch [which] he made. His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down upon his own pate. I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high.

It almost sounds like he wrote this psalm as a result of this encounter with Absalom.

stones... Deut 21:18 If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and [that], when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son [is] stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; [he is] a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

I think we see here that even though Absalom's parents were unwilling to deal with their child as he was to be dealt with, the Lord dealt with him.

How many parents are afraid to take a firm stand with their children for fear of their own broken heart or fear of losing the children? How many churches refuse to take a stand for fear of losing the people, and thus the offering?

7) We can be assured, though the heathen rage against our God and His people, God will return their wickedness upon their heads.

Ps 9:15 The heathen are sunk down in the pit [that] they made: in the net which they hid is their own foot taken.

Ps 55:23 But thou, O God, shalt bring them down into the pit of destruction: bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; but I will trust in thee.

Ps 57:6 They have prepared a net for my steps; my soul is bowed down: they have digged a pit before me, into the midst whereof they are fallen [themselves]. Selah.

Pr 26:27 Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him.

Ec 10:8 He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it; and whoso breaketh an hedge (hedge, the word of God?), a serpent shall bite him.

Isa 14:15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

V. 18, This is a strange statement because we are told in 2 Sa 14:27 that Absalom had three sons and a daughter. The implication is that his sons have died. We could speculate that they followed him in his rebellion and were killed.

Ps 37:28 For the LORD loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.

Vs. 19-33, the runners and the message.

Ahimaaz means "my brother is anger (wrath)"
Cushi comes from the word, Cush, meaning "black."

The first thing I am struck with is the two messengers. Evidently, the army had two messengers, each with a different purpose. One runner delivered only good news, and the other delivered only bad news.

By doing this, the king would know what kind of news each carried as soon as the identity of the runner could be determined. Ahimaaz was the bearer of good news, and Cushi, the black man, was the bearer of bad news. Ahimaaz wants to run with the message, but Joab tells him that the news is not good; the king's son is dead.

Joab turns to Cushi, and sends him with the news. Ahimaaz wants to run anyway, so Joab permits him. Ahimaaz, the good runner, outruns Cushi, and is seen by the watchman first. The king is told that a runner is approaching, and David says that because he is alone, the news is good. If the battle had gone ill for David, there would have been more than one runner together. Ahimaaz is recognized and identified as a bearer of good news. Ahimaaz arrives before the king first. The king wants to know what is going on, and Ahimaaz either cannot or will not tell the king about his Absalom.

Cushi arrives and joyfully tells the king that the king's son is dead.


1) These two men were known by the message they carried. One was known as a glad tidings messenger; the other was known as a doom and gloom messenger, but both messengers carried the truth.

How are we known? Do people dread to be around us because of our doom and gloom?

2) He had no message, but Ahimaaz wanted to run anyway. Apparently, he only wanted to prove he was faster than Cushi. The only message he had for the king was that he was faster than Cushi.

It is sad the amount of work people will do just to prove that they are better than someone else.

3) Cushi was slower, but he had the message.

It is the person who slowly and consistently plods along what will get the job done. I do not know how many "flash in the pans" I have seen; they are here setting the woods on fire today, and gone tomorrow. This is one of the problems that I have with any motivation other than the word of God. We might be able to get some temporary motivation, but how long will it last?

4) Cushi was joyful over the death of the king's son. Even Joab was man enough not to rejoice in the death of the rebels.

V. 33. The king sorrows greatly.

David quit weeping over the loss of the son of Bathsheba, but starts and won't quit weeping over the lose of this son. He had the hope of seeing Bathsheba's son again, but no hope of seeing Absalom again, 1 Thes 4:13. At his other son's death, it was time to get up and eat. At this sons death, it was time for sorrow and remorse. I wonder how different things would have turned out if David had wept over his son while the son was young?

Concluding points:

2. Joab smote Absalom. The application is obvious: God the Father smote Christ for our sins. Man did not kill Christ; He gave up the ghost.

2. Christ was not only the Lamb of God, He was also the great High Priest that killed the lamb and presented its blood to the Father.

3. The connection is obvious: some one must suffer our curse for us, Ga 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed [is] every one that hangeth on a tree:

4. There is another strange statement in 18:9, between heaven and earth. Not only did Christ become a cures for us when Hung on a tree, but He became the mediator between heaven and earth.

5. The parallel between Absalom and Christ is not by accident: Christ presented Himself to Israel as their legitimate king when He rode in on the mule. Instead of receiving His offer, they hanged Him on a tree where He became the mediator between heaven and earth.

This is a poor way to put it, but Christ became our Absalom, 2 Co 5:21 For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Isa 53 makes it very clear that Christ took all our sin and rebellion upon Himself, and paid our price in full.

6. David weeps over his rebellious son.
Christ wept over his rebellious nation, Jerusalem.