II Samuel Chapter 14

"Absalom's Recall"
"Parable, of Woman and King [4-11]."
"David's Recall of Absalom [12-33]."

This Bible Study is written by Roger Christopherson, and it's transcription is provided with written permission by http://www.theseason.org

II Samuel 14:1 "Now Joab the son of Zeruiah perceived that the king's heart was toward Absalom."

Anything that Joab does for the king will have a price tag on it, for he has the hidden secret of Uriah's death in his mind to hold against David. Joab was the only one to receive and read that letter from David, commanding him to send Uriah to his death. Joab can see that now that Absalom has gone and was living with his grandfather, the king of Geshur, his mother's father. David had very little time for Joab and Joab sensed the distance between them. So on the surface this chapter appears that Joab was trying to help his uncle David, and bring Absalom back to Jerusalem.

II Samuel 14:2 "And Joab sent to Tekoah, and fetched thence a wise woman, and said unto her, "I pray thee, feign thyself to be a mourner, and put on now mourning apparel, and anoint not thyself with oil, but be as a woman that had a long time mourned for the dead:"

The house of Tekoah was the house of Amos of the Minor prophets. Amos 1:1; "The words of Amos, who was among the herdsmen of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboan the son of Joash king of Israel, two years before the earthquake." These were herdsmen of shepherds living about ten miles south of Jerusalem. In the Hebrew there was a special name for these people, "nak'dim", for they were named after a special type of sheep that they bred. Their wool was very fine and known for its quality.

Joab sent his servant to Tekoah and brought this woman to him, to "feign" which is to "play the part of a mourner". Sort of like what a movie star does today, play the role of someone that he or she is not. No doubt this woman was a good actress, and Joab knew her from some roles he had witnessed. Joab told her to come to Jerusalem dressed and made up to play the role of a mourner.

II Samuel 14:3 "And come to the king, and speak on this manner unto him." So Joab put the words in her mouth."

Joab wrote the words that she would say, and those words coming from her mouth were as the words coming from the mouth of an actress playing a role.

II Samuel 14:4 "And when the woman of Tekoah spake to the king, she fell on her face to the ground, and did obeisance, and said, "Help, O king."

II Samuel 14:5 "And the king said unto her, "What aileth thee?" And she answered, "I am indeed a widow woman, and mine husband is dead."

King David was probably thinking, what is wrong with this woman, coming in before the king looking in such a condition. So he asked her what her problem was. Mourners normally don't go to see a king. So here comes this woman with her bleeding heart story pouring it all out to David.

II Samuel 14:6 "And thy handmaid had two sons, and they two strove together in the field, and there was none to part them, but the one smote the other, and slew him."

Remember this was the story that Joab thought up, and it is similar to what happened between Amnon and Absalom, David's two sons. In this story, there are two sons, and they are out in the field, and there are no witness to the fact that one son killed the other.

II Samuel 14:7 "And, behold, the whole family is risen against thine handmaid, and they said, `Deliver him that smote his brother, that we may kill him, for the life of his brother whom he slew; and we will destroy the heir also: and so they shall quench my coal which is left, and shall not leave to my husband neither name nor remainder upon the earth.' "

This story was asking for capital punishment and that would have been the correct penalty, for what the family was asking was to try him, and if found guilty, his life would be taken. This is presenting a situation where by this widowed mother had two sons, whereby one son killed the other. If the second son was allowed to die in capital punishment, than, she would have no one to pass the family inheritance on to. So of course, the inheritance would go to other distant family members. No wonder the rest of the family wanted the death of the only surviving son. The inheritance would be passed on to them. That man's seed would die right there with the death of the surviving son.

What she was presenting to David was the same thing that happened to David, for Absalom was alive, and Amnon was dead. Amnon was in the ground, and the family was crying out for the blood of Absalom, and that is why Absalom was off to grandfather Ammihud, living in a foreign land.

II Samuel 14:8 "And the king said unto the woman, "Go to thine house, and I will give charge concerning thee."

After the woman had stated her case, David ordered her to leave and said he would pass judgment later.

II Samuel 14:9 "And the woman of Tekoah said unto the king, "My lord, O king, the iniquity be on me, and upon my father's house: and the king and his throne be guiltless.' "

She is telling the king that what ever happens, she will take full responsibility.

II Samuel 14:10 "And the king said, "Whosoever saith ought unto thee, bring him to me, and he shall not touch thee any more." "

The king has sworn his protection to this woman of Tekoah that was playing this acting role for Joab. David has just sworn an oath that even protects her from the actions of himself, the king. She was protecting herself from when David finally realized that this whole thing was a sham. Joab is sharp, and even considered the protection of the woman that was play a part in the return of Absalom.

II Samuel 14:11 "Then said she, "I pray thee, let the king remember the Lord thy God, that thou wouldest not suffer the revengers of blood to destroy any more, lest they destroy my son." And he said, "As the Lord liveth, there shall not one hair of thy son fall to the earth." "

David is now swearing an oath by the Almighty, not only for the protection of this woman, but also for the protection of the one that she names. David has a good mind, and was able to see through things like this, however, he swore the oath before he understood what this whole thing was about.

II Samuel 14:12 "Then the woman said, "Let thine handmaid, I pray thee, speak one word unto my lord the king." And he said, "Say on." "

She asked for permission to say just one more word before she departs, and David allowed her to speak.

II Samuel 14:13 "And the woman said, "Wherefore then hast thou thought such a thing against the People of God? for the king doth speak this thing as one which is faulty, in that the king doth ot fetch home against his banished." "

She now is coming out of that acting role and asking David how he can be passing this sentence on the woman's son, yet you leave your own son banished in a foreign land. In the name of God, how can you give such an order, and still be fair to the people. Absalom was not living with God's people, but the heathen.

II Samuel 14:14 "For we must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again; neither doth God respect any person: yet doth He devise means, that His banished be not expelled from Him."

This woman was pointing out that by his own word and by the law you have passed sentence, you show you are not equally just. She was throwing David's own words back into the king's face. Remember that she can now feel save in this matter, for the king himself swore his protection for her, even from himself.

II Samuel 14:15 "Now therefore that I am come to speak of this thing unto my lord the king, it is because the People have made me afraid: and thy handmaid said, `I will now speak unto the king; it may be that the king will perform the request of his handmaid." "

The people loved Absalom, for he was a handsome and well spoken man.

II Samuel 14:16 "For the king will hear, to deliver his handmaid out of the hand of the man that would destroy me and my son together out of the inheritance of God.' "

David was pretty sharp and he is now starting to see through this entire scene. A woman in true mourning does not come in before the king and make these requests unless someone has put her up to it. These words are not the words of a woman in mourning, but of a well planned legal mind. Remember she is supposed to be the wife a dead shepherd, living off in the hills.

II Samuel 14:17 "Then thine handmaid said, `The word of my lord the king shall now be comfortable: for as an angel of God, so is my lord the king to discern good and bad: therefore the Lord thy God will be with thee.' "

She is now pouring it on, and stating that David was led by an angel of God, for he has made the right decision on her requests. What she was saying then is that David is always fair to other people, but he would not apply his mercy to his own family. Remember that Nathan has already told David that just as he has pronounced on another family, that would happen to his own family.

This woman now is concerned for her own protection after she has spoken these words, and has made David vow an oath for her own protection. She knows that this was an act, and she has no sons. When the story is revealed to David, she wants protection. David now knows what is going on, as she finished her act. David knows that Joab put her up to this whole thing.

II Samuel 14:18 "Then the king answered and said unto the woman, "Hide not from me, I pray thee, the thing that I shall ask thee." And the woman said, "Let my lord the king now speak." 

II Samuel 14:19 "And the king said, "Is not the hand of Joab with thee in all this?" And the woman answered and said, "As they soul livieth, my lord the king, none can turn to the right hand or to the left from ought that my lord the king hath spoken: for thy servant Joab, he bade me, and he put all these words in the mouth of thine handmaid:"

David now sees that something is wrong with her story, and in that Joab knew all about David and the troubles of David, from Uriah and Nathan the prophet. David can see the mind of Joab in the planning of it all. Before this woman allows the king to speak, she is reminding David that he has already sworn protection for her, in the name of God. Than she doesn't even let David ask her if Joab was instigating the whole thing, for she states it right up front. She reminded the king that he would not let anyone get away with anything, to the right or to the left, and this was true. David was a gifted man, blessed by God with much wisdom. There was never any complaint on David's judgment except for his judgments to his own family.

There is a good lesson in this for us, even today, for many times we will give the outsider the benefit of a doubt, and become more forgiving to one outside the family, than we for the ones that we love within our family. We probably expect more from our own family than others, and in turn we sometimes take them for granted. When we observe other people in their mistakes, let that be a lesson to us.

So what is the purpose of Joab's actions here? is it for good, or to deceive David into doing something to get even?

II Samuel 14:20 "To fetch about this form of speech hath thy servant Joab done, and my lord is wise, according to the wisdom of an angel of God, to know all things that are in the earth." "

The woman continued with her speech trying to defend herself before David, until she got the safety of vow from David. David is remembering his sin, and what Nathan the Prophet had said to him. When this woman is gone, and the king then calls in Joab, to confront him why he put this woman up to do what she did.

II Samuel 14:21 "And the king said unto Joab, "Behold now, I have done this thing: go therefore bring the young man Absalom again." "

David now gives Joab permission to go to Geshur and bring Absalom back to Jerusalem.

II Samuel 14:22 "And Joab fell to the ground on his face and bowed himself, and thanked the king: and Joab said, "To day thy servant knoweth that I have found grace in thy sight, my lord, O king, in that the king hath fulfilled the request of his servant."

The woman had the protection of David for doing the thing that she had done, but Joab did not. The king could have killed him right there on the spot, even though Joab was his own nephew. However the act of using Joab to bring back Absalom to Jerusalem made it obvious that David did not hold anything against Joab. Joab had forced a vow and a oath out of the king over two sons that did not exist. That is walking on very thin ice, and could get you in great trouble.

II Samuel 14:23 "So Joab arose and went to Geshur, and brought Absalom to Jerusalem."

II Samuel 14:24 "And the king said, "Let him turn to his own house, and let him not see my face." So Absalom returned to his own house, and saw not the king's face."

Though it appears that David forgave Absalom, we see that David did not completely forgive his son Absalom for carrying out the punishment of Amnon for the rape of his sister Tamar. Absalom was the king's son and the next in line to David's throne, and David insulted him before the entire kingdom by not allowing him to enter into the very palace that he was next in line to rule in. David knew that Amnon deserved exactly what he got, yet he was protecting Amnon. The law demanded the next of kin to take the life of the rapist, and Absalom was the full blood brother to Tamar, the one that the law demanded.

When David told Joab to tell Absalom to go home and don't show your face around men, it is obvious that there was no forgiveness for Absalom. Sure David stuck to the vow and the oath, but there was no forgiveness in his heart.

One of the most beautiful parts of Christianity is that of forgiveness. To forgive those that have done us wrong. We all make mistakes, and do and say things that we feel sorry for later, but when there is true repentance and asking for forgiveness, we are bound by Christ to accept that person's forgiveness. Forgiveness is the greatest gift that God has given us, and God expects more for those that He loves that have received His forgiveness, than from those in ignorance. Some times when our pride gets roughed up a little, it becomes hard to forgive that person.

II Samuel 14:25 "But in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty: from the soul of his foot even to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him."

Remember what is said in Ezekiel 28:12 concerning Satan and his beauty? "Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus [Satan], and say unto him, `Thus saith the Lord God; `Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty." There wasn't a flaw in Satan in any part of his wisdom nor beauty. God created Satan perfect to be the guardian cherub over His mercy seat.

Ezekiel 28:15 "Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee."

Absalom's iniquity fulfilled the prophecy that Nathan gave to David in the twelfth chapter, as to what his own house would do to him. Absalom will later turn on David, and even attempt to dethrone David. That is exactly what Satan tried to do when his pride got in his way. For Satan also thought that he could dethrone God, the King of kings. God passed judgment on Satan for his pride and brought him down.

Ezekiel 28:17 "Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee."

David did drive Absalom from Jerusalem, and remember also that Absalom receive his cunning and directions from Jonadab, the Kenites that mixed in with the family of David, and sought to influence the actions of the whole family. He was the one that directed the rape of Tamar, then instructed Absalom to kill the very one that he told to commit the rape. When the killing of Amnon took place, he placed himself next to David to plant the thought in David's mind, that his sons were all dead. That thought of killing all was not in the instructions, yet Jonadab thought that Absalom was just like himself, cunning and of a plotting and destructive mind.

II Samuel 14:26 "And when he polled his head, (for it was at every year's end that he polled it: because the hair was heavy on him, therefore he polled it:) He weighed the hair of his head at two hundred shekels after the king's weight."

The king's weight was different than the sacred weight, and a years growth was about four pounds of hair. Absalom had a full head of hair in his beauty and countenance. Remember that Absalom's mother came from Syria.

II Samuel 14:27 "And unto Absalom there were born three sons, and one daughter, whose name was Tamar: she was a woman of a fair countenance."

Absalom's daughter was named after her aunt, the one that was raped by Amnon at a very young age.

II Samuel 14:28 "So Absalom dwelt two full years in Jerusalem, and saw not the king's face."

For two full years David would not allow Absalom to visit him, nor have any word with him. This was an insult to Absalom that the king would state publicly that he forgave Absalom, and then treat him in this manner. The people could see right through David's "feigning", or hypocrisy, to say one thing and do just the opposite.

II Samuel 14:29 "Therefore Absalom sent for Joab, to have sent him to the king; but he would not come to him: and when he sent again the second time, he would not come."

Absalom wanted to see the king, and get this problem out in the open, however Joab would not come when Joab sent for him; Even on the second time Absalom called. Joab did not want to press his luck, for remember David could have killed Joab for the trick that he pulled on David the first time, and he just did not want to become involved any more. Absalom will not stand by and let someone take advantage of him.

II Samuel 14:30 "Therefore he said unto his servants, "See, Joab's field is near mine, and he jath barley there; go and set it on fire." And Absalom's servants set the field on fire."

It seems that to many people that the only time you can get their attention is when you get to their pocket book. Joab and Absalom had fields next to each other, and Joab's field was ready for harvest. When the smoke of the burning barley went up, Joab knew that he had to do something. Though it seems like a cruel thing to do, Absalom got Joab's attention and Joab came calling. In a spiritual sense, barley is a poor man's food, and the rich had their wheat for bread.

II Samuel 14:31 "Then Joab arose, and came to Absalom unto his house, and said unto him, "Wherefore have thy servants set my field on fire?" "

II Samuel 14:32 "And Absalom answered Joab, "Behold, I sent unto thee, saying, `Come hither, that I may send thee to the king, to say, `Wherefore am I come from Geshur? it had been good for me to have been there still: now therefore let me see the king's face; and it there be any iniquity in me, let him kill me.' " 

It was Joab that made the promises to Absalom when he was in Geshur, to Absalom's return to Jerusalem. Now that he was back, the king would have nothing to do with him. Because the king would not allow Absalom to see his face, the only one that rightfully could approach the king on this matter was Joab. In that Joab would not come to Absalom, he is telling Joab that this is the only thing that I could do to get your attention.

So Absalom is telling Joab to go to his father David and ask him why he sent for him in the first place, for back in Syria [Geshur] I had it good. Remember that his grandfather there was the king of Syria, or Geshur, and Absalom was treated as part of the royal family. Absalom is telling his father, David the king, lets get this over with, if you find iniquity in me deserving death, than kill me, but in any case let me speak to you face to face; either forgive me or kill me.

At this point in time, David was about mid to late fifties, Absalom was in his mid twenties, and Solomon was just a baby in arms. So David's kingdom would be Absalom's should David have died at this time.

II Samuel 14:33 "So Joab came to the king, and told him and when he had called for Absalom, he came to the king, and bowed himself on his face to the ground before the king: and the king kissed Absalom."

I'm sure through the years, David wanted to be near his son Absalom many times, only he was boxed in by his own words. After Joab told David these words of Absalom, David had a change of heart. There was still this thought in his mind that Absalom had taken his own brother's life, while the rape of Tamar was completely overlooked by David in the matter. Remember that Tamar was David's daughter, by the wife that Ammihud, king of Geshur gave him. She also was of the royal Syrian [Geshur] family. It seems by this that David was willing to overlook the law, and the punishment under the law, when it came to his oldest son Amnon. This of course was the same sin that he committed against Bath-sheba.

Even by today's standards, a man has the right to protect his sister. The revenger of the blood has the right to revenge the blood, by biblical law at this time. Today however in our land we have the laws of the land that must be observed, and the law of the land should provide for this situation. Many times family and next of kin don't go to the law, but take the law in their own hands. Be that as it may, it is reality.


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