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[Makes it appear unimportant, insignificant]

O God, just be merciful … this is the cry of our culture – let’s not hear anything about the justice of God; nothing about repentance; nothing about propitiation; God is a big God – He should just forget about sin

The Goal is Reconciliation – important and worthy goal

But the means are important as well

We looked earlier at the contrast between how King Saul responded when he was confronted by Samuel with his sin = worldly sorrow

And how King David responded when he was confronted by the prophet Nathan = godly sorrow = leads to repentance = results in reconciliation – restored to God’s favor

Very important lessons


The family problems began with David. The multiplication of wives created a lot of friction and competitiveness. His failure to properly nurture and discipline his sons led to further breakdown. When David fell with Bathsheba, he set into motion a chain of events that had a grievous impact on his family. This chapter deals with the separation and estrangement between David and Absalom. There are personal implications (between father and son) as well as kingdom implications. It is a story of reconciliation and reconnection . . . but not at the heart level for Absalom. He never expresses any repentance or remorse for taking the life of his brother. The ensuing rebellion of Absalom will cause David and the kingdom of God much hardship.

This passage helps us appreciate the fullness of God’s grace and forgiveness and reconciliation which we have received in Jesus Christ. We have truly been restored to a position of favored status as sons of God where God’s favor rests upon us. The death of Christ as a propitiation for us all truly satisfied God’s wrath and met the demands of God’s justice – a factor totally missing in this episode of conflicting principles and priorities.

The other factor in this narrative that is missing is any sign of repentance on the part of Absalom. Reconciliation should be a high priority . . . but repentance is essential to dealing with the sin issues involved. This is a very complicated and messy situation – so drawing practical lessons for us for today can be somewhat speculative.


Our culture knows a lot about delayed justice

– Positives of our court system

– Negatives of our court system

A. (13:37a) Clear Guilty Verdict — Absalom knew he was Guilty and Deserving of Judgment

B. (13:37b-39) Clouded Judgment — David’s Grief for Amnon and Fatherly Affection for Absalom Clouded His Judgment and Made Him Indecisive

C. (14:1-3) Conniving Opportunist – Joab takes advantage of King David’s Vulnerability

This tactic of deception necessary because Joab’s motives were not pure — Was this a noble initiative of Intervention to accomplish a reconciliation desperately needed by God’s kingdom? Even so – you would not want to stage a scenario that would trivialize God’s Justice

Certainly forcing the king’s hand to bring back Absalom through this form of deception set in motion some very negative outcomes for the kingdom. Just look at the events in Chap. 15. Not a good thing to allow Absalom a favored presence with the public.

1. (:1) Perception of Joab

“Now Joab the son of Zeruiah perceived that the king’s heart was [against] Absalom.”

(cf. same word in Daniel 11:28) – most translations have “inclined toward” here which is just the opposite connotation

[Interesting debate – arguments from Keil & Del. Persuasive]

Both emotions were battling within David. He seemed to have somewhat of a longing for restoration (13:39); yet it is clear that he was harboring anger and resentment because even when he allowed Absalom to return he refused to see him. So either translation could be appropriate in this context. David was not able to forgive his son completely.

2. (:2-3) Plan of Joab

“So Joab sent to Tekoa and brought a wise woman from there and said to her, ‘Please pretend to be a mourner, and put on mourning garments now, and do not anoint yourself with oil, but like a woman who has been mourning for the dead many days; then go to the king and speak to him in this manner.’ So Joab put the words in her mouth.”

Joab coached her and prepped her so that she could tell a convincing story. Interesting that such a woman could gain a hearing with the king – similar to a Supreme Court ruling.

David Guzik: ii. There were several factors that made this woman’s appeal successful.

· She was a widow, which would invite sympathy

· She lived at some distance from Jerusalem, which made it difficult o easily know or inquire of the facts of her case

· She was old, which gave more dignity to her story

· She wore the clothes of mourning to heighten the effect

· She brought a case of family estrangement to David

· She brought a case that was not too similar, lest it arouse David’s suspicions

D. (:4-7) Case Study with Significant Deviation from Circumstances at Hand — Parable Pitting Justice Against Preservation of the Family Line

There must be some exposure of the issues involved; what are we wrestling with? Why this estrangement? In this case the conflicting priorities made for a thorny situation.

1. Priorities of Justice (tinged with anger and revenge)

“Hand over the one who struck his brother, that we may put him to death for the life of his brother whom he killed, and destroy the heir also.” (:7)

Not a pure desire for justice; many other conflicting emotions and motives.

2. Preservation of Family Line at Stake

“Thus they will extinguish my coal which is left, so as to leave my husband neither name nor remnant on the face of the earth.” (:7b)

Ryrie: The extinction of a family line on account of the absence of an heir was regarded as a terrible misfortune. The surviving son is compared to the last coal left among the embers.

Guzik: God has devised a way to bring the banished back to Him, that they might not be expelled from Him. The way is through the person and work of Jesus, and how He stood in the place of guilty sinners as He hung on the cross and received the punishment that we deserved.

E. (:8-11) Careless Verdict — Judgment of King David that Death Should not be Compounded

“As the Lord lives, not one hair of your son shall fall to the ground.” (:11)

At some point the cycle of death and destruction needs to be broken

But no investigation of the facts; only heard one side of the story; quick snap judgment

F. (:12-17) Calculated Application of the Parable to David’s Situation – Reconciliation and Mercy Should Take Priority over Judgment and Punishment

“For we shall surely die and are like water spilled on the ground which cannot be gathered up again. Yet God does not take away life, but plans ways so that the banished one may not be cast out from him.” (:14)

There is a proper time for judgment and punishment; but there must also be a priority on reconciliation and restoration???

This statement reminds me of Christ’s instruction that He came the first time to save men rather than to judge them (John 3:17) ????

G. (:18-20) Clairvoyant Perception of Joab’s Direction — Disclosure of Joab’s Initiative

“So the king said, ‘Is the hand of Joab with you in all this?’”

Gordon: Joab was a “loyalist” and a pragmatist, always ready to act in the best interests of the kingdom as he happened to conceive of them.

H. (:21-23) Course of Action — Retrieval of Absalom – But Without Reconciliation = the essential Prerequisite for Reconciliation – and without Inquiring of the Lord = the essential checkpoint before taking action

1. (:21) Command to Retrieve Absalom

“Then the king said to Joab, ‘Behold now, I will surely do this thing; go therefore, bring back the young man Absalom.’”

2. (:22) Thankfulness / Relief of Joab

“And Joab fell on his face to the ground, prostrated himself and blessed the king; then Joab said, ‘Today your servant knows that I have found favor in your sight, O my lord, the king, in that the king has performed the request of his servant.’”

3. (:23) Physical Return of Absalom

“So Joab arose and went to Geshur, and brought Absalom to Jerusalem.”

Absalom and Joab had been anticipating this day – why was the king making such a big deal over murdering Amnon? He had it coming to him.

I. (:24) Conflicted Conscience — Vacillation on the part of King David – wavering, indecisive

Bitterness Prevents Full Reconciliation

“However the king said, ‘Let him turn to his own house, and let him not see my face.’ So Absalom turned to his own house and did not see the king’s face.”

No clear conscience on the matter; no “Thus saith the Lord” to guide his actions; he is making things up as he goes along

Blaikie: The king refuses to see his son, and for two years Absalom lives in his own house, without enjoying any of the privileges of the king’s son. By this means David took away all the grace of the transaction, and irritated Absalom. He was afraid to exercise his royal prerogative in pardoning him out-and-out. His conscience told him it ought not to be done. To restore at once one who had sinned so flagrantly to all his dignity and power was against the grain.

Deffinbaugh: I may be reading too much into the text, but is there not a kind of poetic justice here, with David confining Absalom to his own house? On the one hand, Absalom is still a murderer who has not been brought to justice. To have him “confined to quarters” is a very practical way of protecting him. It is also a way of keeping him out of circulation. After all, David agreed to his return against his better judgment, it seems. But I am also reminded of the fact that it was Absalom who confined his sister Tamar to quarters. By confining Tamar to his house, Absalom kept her quiet. He also kept her desolate. All of this enabled him to carry out his evil plan to murder Amnon. Now, it somehow seems appropriate that Absalom himself should be confined to the same quarters in which he confined his sister for the rest of her life.


A. (:25-27) David’s Hand Forced by Absalom’s Growing Popularity

1. (:25-26) Admired for His Physical Attributes

“Now in all Israel was no one as handsome as Absalom, so highly praised; from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no defect in him. And when he cut the hair of his head (and it was at the end of every year that he cut it, for it was heavy on him so he cut it), he weighed the hair of his head at 200 shekels by the king’s weight.”

External, physical attributes are very impressive to others, but not the most essential prerequisites for effective governing. Absalom did not score high in the character department.

2. (:27) Blessed with Beautiful Family

“And to Absalom there were born three sons, and one daughter whose name was Tamar; she was a woman of beautiful appearance.”

B. (:28-32) David’s Hand Forced by Absalom’s Frustration –

Ignored by David and Joab for 2 Years – David never dealt effectively with the situation

1. (:28) Frustrating Prolonged Period of Isolation for Absalom

“Now Absalom lived two full years in Jerusalem, and did not see the king’s face.”

2. (:29-31) Getting the Attention of a Reluctant Joab

a. (:29) Initial Two Attempts Rebuffed

“Then Absalom sent for Joab, to send him to the king, but he would not come to him. So he sent again a second time, but he would not come.”

b. (:30-31) Strategic Arson Got Joab’s Attention

“Therefore he said to his servants, ‘See, Joab’s field is next to mine, and he has barley there; go and set it on fire.’ So Absalom’s servants set the field on fire. Then Joab arose, came to Absalom at his house and said to him, ‘Why have your servants set my field on fire?’”

3. (:32) Pressing for a Relationship Resolution – one way or the other

“And Absalom answered Joab, ‘Behold, I sent for you, saying, Come here, that I may send you to the king, to say, Why have I come from Geshur? It would be better for me still to be there. Now therefore, let me see the king’s face; and if there is iniquity in me, let him put me to death.’”

No remorse on Absalom’s part – he knew the king did not have it in him to execute him; calling his bluff

C. (:33) David’s Hand Forced by the Charade of Pretended Submission

“So when Joab came to the king and told him, he called for Absalom. Thus he came to the king and prostrated himself on his face to the ground before the king, and the king kissed Absalom.”

But heart reconciliation is still missing.

No propitiation for what had occurred.

Contrast Genesis 45:14 – Response of Joseph after years of exile; his reconciliation with Benjamin

Study Prodigal Son – Luke 15