II Samuel Chapter 18

"The Battle Fought [1-8]."
"Absalom's Death [9-15]."
"Sorrows and Tidings [16-33]."

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

II Samuel 18:1 "And David numbered the people that were with him, and set captains of thousands and captains of hundreds over them."

David called on those troops that would support him, of which there were many.

II Samuel 18:2 "And David sent forth a third part of the people under the hand of Joab, and a third part under the hand of Abishai, the son of Zeruiah, Joab's brother, and a third part under the hand of Ittai the Gittite. And the king said unto the people, "I will surely go forth with you myself also." "

Both Joab and Abishai were nephews of David. David divided the troops and places the command of the troops under the charge of these three men. David will be the top general in the battle, to oversee the men as they go into battle. David always liked to attack from at least two fronts or directions and thus we see that he has not lost his battle field skills. He will attack from two fronts, keeping one of the groups in reserve for support. Once David and his men started the attack, David would not let up, for he would never allow the enemy to have a chance to rest and fall back and dig in. It is sort of like how our army and marines fight their battles, for you may lose many men getting the enemy out of the trenches, but once they are out of the trenches, you pursue the enemy until they battle is won. Once you have paid the price with the blood of your men, it become to costly to allow a repeat of the battle to happen again.

II Samuel 18:3 "But the People answered, "Thou shalt not go forth: for if we flee away, they will not care for us; neither if half of us die, will they care for us: but now thou art worth ten thousand of us: therefore now it is better that thou succour us out of the city." "

The People that supported David knew the value of David. They saw that God had his hand on David, and People would come to his aid. They knew that if David was killed there would be no one to take care of them like David could do, for many of David's subjects came to the support of David with food and supplies. They knew that even if they had ten thousand more men, they would not be as valuable to them as having David over them. David was a real leader, he was the king. So the people pleaded with David to "seccour" on our behalf. "Seccour" in the Hebrew tongue is to "pray" and ask God's intercession in the matter. Ask God to give us the victory without you going to the battle front.

This is important even in our lives today, for when the challenges and troubled times come into our lives, that is the time to pray and give it over to the Lord. Ask Him to direct your life and make those hard times possible to get over and through. Keep your spiritual eyes and ears open to the direction that the Holy Spirit gives.

II Samuel 18:4 "And the king said unto them, "What seemeth you best I will do." And the king stood by the gate side, and all the People came out by hundreds and by thousands."

David prayed about it, and he was lead to stay behind. So the people or troops came out of the city by the thousands, in the groups that David ordered, and the battle is about to begin.

II Samuel 18:5 "And the king commanded Joab and Abishai and Ittai, saying, "Deal gently for my sake with the young man, even with Absalom." And all the people heard when the king gave all the captains charge concerning Absalom."

The people could still see the love in David's heart for his son Absalom, even though Abaslom had cause David so much trouble. Even though Joab is commanded to do so, he will not. Remember that Absalom replaced Joab's position as the top general with a foreigner, Amasa the Ishmaelite, and booted him out of the army. Joab left and went to be with his uncle David, and take a command in David's army. Joab still retained his hatred towards his cousin Absalom. This is civil war.

II Samuel 18:6 "So the People went out into the field against Israel: and the battle was in the wood of Ephraim;"

This word "wood" just does not get it, for it was a thick jungle. It had roots, vines, bogs, and all the wild animals that go along with a jungle. This was the worse place that you could pick to fight a military battle.

II Samuel 18:7 "Where the People of Israel were slain before the servants of David, and there was there a great slaughter that day of twenty thousand."

It is important to see how the enemy was slain, for God had his hand in this. David picked the sight of the battle field, and we will see the hand of the Lord in the victory.

II Samuel 18:8 "For the battle was there scattered over the face of all the country: and the wood devoured more people that day than the sword devoured."

The bogs, the pits, the wild animals, and all the other dangers of a jungle claimed a greater number of David's enemy than the swords of all of David's people. We are also told that David did not lose many men, it was Absalom's army that was being tore up in the jungle. Absalom knew much of his own ego and pride, but he knew nothing of the blessings of God. All these vines and branches were a webb of life's troubles, and Abaslom is being caught up in all over them. When you get away from God, this is exactly what your life will turn into.

II Samuel 18:9 "And Absalom met the servants of David. And Absalom rode upon a mule, and the mule went under the thick boughs of a great oak, and his head caught hold of the oak, and he was taken up between the heaven and the earth; and the mule that was under him went away."

In other words, Absalom hung himself by his head of hair. God took the thing that was the most precious and valued to Absalom, and hung him by it. Remember Absalom only cut his head of hair once a year, and the last time recorded that the cut it, it weighed about four pounds of hair. This re-growth of Absalom's hair was the very thing that trapped him before his enemies. Absalom's pride was in his hair, and God allowed it to catch in the branches of this mighty oak tree.

The mere fact that Absalom still had his head of hair, and going into battle shows how little he knew of discipline in the military. Hair is a good place for lice, insects and all sorts of problems. Absalom was hung up by his filthy growth hair, and as Absalom hung there his donkey kept going through the jungle.

II Samuel 18:10 "And a certain man saw it, and told Joab, and said, "Behold, I saw Absalom hanged in an oak." "

There is a far deeper meaning to this chapter than what is obvious on the surface. So here sits this type, a self appointed king of Israel hanging in the jungle from this oak tree.

II Samuel 18:11 "And Joab said unto the man that told him, "And, behold thou sawest him, and why didst thou not smite him there to the ground: and I would have given thee ten shekels of silver, and a girdle." "

Joab is asking this man that has told him of Absalom hanging from the tree. Why didn't you kill him? Joab even would have given the man a small gift for his deed.

II Samuel 18:12 "And the man said unto Joab, "Though I should receive a thousand shekels of silver in mine hand, yet would I not put forth mine hand against the king's son: for in our hearing the king charged thee and Abishai and Ittai, saying, `Beware that none touch the young man Absalom.' "

This man and all the other men heard the warning by David when he gave the order to the generals and to the troops before they went to battle.

II Samuel 18:13 "Otherwise I should have wrought falsehood against mine on life; for there is no matter hid from the king, and thou thyself wouldest have set thyself against me." "

This young man knew that the people were loyal to the king, and as such the secret of who killed the king's son could not be kept a secret for long. Of what good is ten or a thousand pieces of silver if the king orders your head to be cut off.

II Samuel 18:14 "Then said Joab, "I may not tarry thus with thee." And he took three darts in his hand, and thrust them through the heart of Absalom, while he was yet alive in the midst of the oak."

Joab was tired of hearing the people protect Absalom for the king's sake, and he took three darts and ran them through Absalom while he was hanging there on the oak tree. This "dart" that Joab used was a club with a spike hanging out of it. Absalom was put out of his trouble quickly.

II Samuel 18:15 "And ten young men that bare Joab's armour compassed about and smote Absalom, and slew him."

After Joab hit Absalom in the heart with this club with a spike in it, the ten young armor-bearers of Joab finished the job, but mutilating the dead body of Absalom. They did the very thing that David pleaded with the troops not to do.

II Samuel 18:16 "And Joab blew the trumpet, and the people returned from pursuing after Israel: for Joab held back the People."

When Absalom was dead, the whole reason for the battle was over. The purpose for the battle was to kill David, and place Absalom on the throne. Joab blew the trumpet, because he did not need to pursue the enemy any longer, for they now were now not the enemy but fellow Israelites. Absalom their leader was dead, as well as their cause. There simply was no order left in the enemies troops, for the jungle was having its heavy toll on them.

II Samuel 18:17 "And they took Absalom, and cast him into a great pit in the wood, and laid a very great heap of stones upon him: and all Israel fled every one to his tent."

Don't overlook this as a type, for Absalom was a type of Satan, and the place or pit that he was thrown was also a type. The pit is the place where Satan will be thrown when his role of the Antichrist is over and completed. Absalom was a son of David but not a son by Bathsheba, as Solomon was. Remember that Absalom was not a good man, for before he left for battle, he had raped all of David's wives that were left behind, so there were many reason that Joab wanted to kill Absalom.

Joab and Absalom were kin, and Joab was there in Jerusalem when this disgrace of David's wives was taking place. There was no love lost in the death of Absalom, but it was more or less the carrying out of the law of the next of kin, when Joab killed his cousin Absalom. David would have had to judge Absalom and take his life under the law, and Joab saved David of the hurt that David would have had to go through, in forcing David to put his own son to death under the law. Though it appeared that Joab did an evil thing, he was actually showing mercy to his uncle David in fulfilling this act.

Knowing the law at that time, after the seduction, "uncovering his father's nakedness", which is "to lie with your father's wife", required death of the man. This is what happened when Ham "uncovered his father's nakedness", for Ham laid with him mother for the sexual act, and from that sexual act came Canaan.

Leviticus 18:7 "The nakedness of thy father, or the nakedness of thy mother, shalt thou not uncover: She is thy mother, shalt thou not uncover her nakedness."

Leviticus 18:8 "The nakedness of thy father's wife shalt thou not uncover: it is thy father's nakedness."

These ten wives of David were the wives of Absalom's father, and thus were to be treated as you would your mother. This was the law of that day, and it is called incest. These are what is called statutes, and they are just as strong in our land today as they were in David's time. This sin deals not only with the act against the mother, but the sister, and next of kin. In fact this was the very thing that caused Absalom to kill his brother Amnon, when Amnon raped their sister. The taking of the life was the duty of the next of kin then to carry out the sentence, however today we have the laws of our land that set the punishment for this crime.

This then was the reason that Joab felt compelled to kill Absalom, for he was there and witnessed the taking of David's wives, which made them his step-mothers. As next of kin it became his duty. Had Absalom lived, David would have had to pass judgment on his own son, and this would have killed David, or destroyed him mentally. Joab made quick work of destroying Absalom and many lives were saved as the spike was driven through Absalom's heart. The false Christ that will come to earth shortly will end up the same way as Absalom, in the pit.

II Samuel 18:18 "(Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken a reared up for himself a pillar, which is in the king's dale: for he said, "I have no son to keep my name in remembrance:" and he called the pillar after his own name: and it is called unto this day, Absalom's place.)"

Just a note here: The tribes that were with David during this battle were mostly the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. While the elders of the rest of the ten tribes wanted Absalom to be their king. This split in the nation of Israel was healed over for a period of about fifty years, during the time of Solomon's reign. Then after Solomon's death they would be split again into two separate nations, never more to be joined as a nation until the coming of Christ at the second advent. So this split that happened during this civil war between the tribes is only the start of what will come again in the next generation.

Once the split takes place, all reference to the tribes will also be divided in all the scriptures, for they will be two separate nations. These nations are called "houses" and will be know as "the house of Judah", and "the house of Israel". The "house of Judah" will be the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, while the "house of Israel" will be all the other ten tribes, with the tribe of Levi scattered amongst all the tribes. Remember also from Genesis 48 and 49 that Jacob passed on the birthright, and the right to be called Israel to Ephraim, the youngest son of Joseph, and this was the reason that Israel was placed on the larger of the two houses. Ephraim was the leading tribe of the house of Israel, while Judah lead only the tribe of the house of Judah.

So Absalom was the third king over Israel, but he was the self appointed king. This then was the start of the split that will come, and last through the rest of this earth age of the flesh. God didn't appoint Absalom, but Absalom's ego forced himself on the people. This place that Absalom made for a monument to himself, is called "Absalom's hand" today, and it is just north of Jerusalem in the Valley of Jehoshaphat. This monument either was put up before his son's were born, or Absalom put it up after they died as children. However we can see Absalom's vanity in this pillar that he built to himself. Vanity is the same thing that Satan uses on people in all generation, and he will use it upon his arrival to win you over to him in the time of the end. Be prepared for it. Every thing that Absalom did was just as we see Satan uses himself.

II Samuel 18:19 "Then said Ahimaaz the son of Zadok, "Let me now run, and bear the king tidings, how that the Lord hath avenged him of his enemies."" "

David's enemy was his own son. Ahimaaz was a fast runner, and he was well known for his speak. Ahimaaz was one of David's spies, and David chose him because of his speed.

II Samuel 18:20 "And Joab said unto him, "Thou shalt not bear tidings this day, but thou shalt bear tidings another day: but this day thou shalt bear not tidings, because the king's son is dead."

The old oak has always represented strength. Absalom did not die the death of a hero, and his body was never allowed to be drug through the streets to torment David. Joab wanted to send word that the battle was over but not that the king's son was dead. Joab loved David, and he did not want the tidings of the death of his son to fall on the same day as the death. There is no way that David would be happy over any news that come to him.

II Samuel 18:21 "Then said Joab to Cushi, "Go tell the king what thou hast seen." And Cushi bowed himself unto Joab, and ran."

Cushi was not of Israel but a foreigner living amongst the Israelites. Cushi was there to witness the death of Absalom, and after being requested not to tell of Absalom's death, he was to tell David of the end of the war only. Leave the details for a later date.

II Samuel 18:22 "Then said Ahimaaz the son of Zadok yet again to Joab, "But howsoever, let me, I pray thee, also run after Cushi." And Joab said, "Wherefore wilt thou run, my son, seeing that thou hast no tidings ready?"

The runner is to carry the news of what has happened, and there was nothing that Joab wanted to add to what he has ordered Cushi to give to David. Yet Ahimaaz wanted to run also, so Joab told him to go ahead and run.

II Samuel 18:23 "But howsoever," said he, "let me run." And he said unto him, "Run." Then Ahimaaz ran by the way of the plain, and overran Cushi,"

Ahimaaz was a faster runner and took a more direct route, and beat Cushi to David. When David heard the news of what happened, David know in his heart that all these things that wee happening to him was prophesied years in advance of them happening. For David passed the judgment on himself, when Nathan the prophet told him the parable of the rich man with many sheep, and the poor man with the little pet sheep. When David thought that it was a story about someone else, he brought judgment on himself. The judgment that came from David's lips, was the judgment that God passed on David. David judged himself, and God allowed that prophecy to come to pass. So this brings to the end of the prophecy dealing with Absalom. This all was caused by David's own sin when he took Uriah's wife to himself, and plotted the murder of Uriah. David was not perfect, just as each of us have things in our life that are not right. However that is the beauty that we have in Christ, and the forgiveness that comes through repentance, and the cross of Christ.

II Samuel 18:24 "And David sat between the two gates: and the watchman went up to the roof over the gate unto the wall, and lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold a man running alone."

II Samuel 18:25 And the watchman cried, and told the king. And the king said, "If he be alone there is tidings in his mouth." And he came apace, and drew near."

David is saying, if this man is running alone, then he is bringing us news. Bring him to me.

II Samuel 18:26 "And the watchman saw another man running: and the watchman called unto the porter, and said, "Behold another man running alone." And the king said, "He also bringeth tidings."

So here we have two runners and both are carrying news from the battle front. A wise person will listen to both of the runners before he makes up his mind what to believe.

II Samuel 18:27 "And the watchman said, "Me thinketh the running of the foremost is like the running of Ahimaaz the son of Zadok." And the king said, He is a good man, and cometh with good tidings." "

This young man, Ahimaaz was David runner, and he knew that Ahimaaz could be trusted to bring the news correctly. He had a good reputation for not only speed, but truthfulness in his messages. Remember it was Ahimaaz that was to carry the messages back from Jerusalem of the activity of Absalom, while David was on the run.

II Samuel 18:28 "And Ahimaaz called, and said unto the king, "All is well." And he fell down to the earth upon his face before the king, and said, "Blessed be the Lord thy God, Which hath delivered up the men that lifted up their hand against my lord the king." "

In all these words, what Ahimaaz said was "We won!", and he fell to the ground. That was exactly what Joab said to tell David, and Ahimaaz was faithful in delivering that message.

II Samuel 18:29 "And the king said, "Is the young man Absalom safe?" And Ahimaaz answered, "When Joab sent the king's servant, and me, thy servant, I saw a great tumult, but I knew not what it was." 

Ahimaaz side-stepped the issue of Absalom's condition on purpose. In claiming his ignorance to the matter, he was not questioned on the matter any more. However he did know. He had no good news for the king that day.

II Samuel 18:30 "And the king said unto him, "Turn aside, and stand here." And he turned aside, and stood still."

The king would not release him until he had heard the other message that was coming by Cushi. David wanted both reports and to examine each in the light of the other.

II Samuel 18:31 "And behold, Cushi came; and Cushi said, "Tidings, my lord the king: for the Lord hath avenged thee this day of all them that rose up against thee." "

"All them" includes Absalom.

II Samuel 18:32 "And the king said unto Cushi, "Is the young man Absalom safe?" And Cushi answered, "The enemies of my lord the king, and all that rise against thee to do thee hurt, be as that young man is." "

Cushi did not answer directly, but what he said was enough to let David know that Absalom was truly dead.

II Samuel 18:33 "And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, "O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!" "

This was one of David's weakest moments in his life. David had thousands of men risk their lives for the sake of protecting him from his son Absalom, yet all David's thoughts are not with the dead that gave their life to protect his, but for this no good, worthless, lying son that even raped his own wives. David was given the victory when the odds were all stacked against him, and all he could do is run to the corner and cry like a baby. David left his orders, "Don't touch my son", yet in the end it was the oak tree that hung Absalom. When Absalom was riding on his ass and heading out of the jungle, his hair caught on the limb of that tree, and the ass kept right on going, while Absalom hung there by his hair.

A general or king, if he desires to be respected by his troops does not cry for the enemy. Not when they risk their lives to bring the victory. God's nature and human nature are not the same, for human nature is the law of survival. David at this time was a leader that was all caught up in his own trouble and simply was not facing reality. His emotions are running high, for David knew deep down that it was because of his own sin that God allowed all these things to happen to those members of his own family. David's daughter was seduced by his son, and that son killed by another son. Trouble even came when David's sister's sister in law was raped by Amasa, the foreigner who took command of Absalom's army. A revolt within his own household, and even ten of his wives were seduced by Absalom his son. Remember that God told him through Nathan the prophet that it would all come to pass, and David watched as these prophesies took place before his eyes.

The short sin of pleasure with Bathsheba cost David a lot, and now it has devastated his entire family. Even with Absalom playing the role of king, David still loved Abaslom, and now it is all over. David has lived through it all, and now this king sits in the corner, crying and weeping like a little child. The son didn't suffer because of the father's sin, for Absalom had enough sin to get himself exactly what he deserved. The point is that God pulled His protective hand off of David's family when he murdered Uriah, and God allowed David to pass judgment on himself. It is a sobering thing to have God pull His protective hand off your family, whether it was in David's time, or in our generation today.

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