Reading 90/341, 2 Samuel 18-19

[A] Though Joab was the great promoter and defender of Absalom before, now he kills him against the king's orders. By doing this he ends the war and spares many innocent lives, yet he executes him when he is already captured and defenseless. Joab has done worse, when he murdered Abner. This reminds me of the actions of President Truman at the end of WWII. He did something evil in hopes of preventing a greater evil. It is not easy even all the years later to decide what he should have done. The same in this case. Was Joab right in ending the war by murder rather than taking Absalom to David who would have surely forgiven him?
[B] The image of Absalom, son of the king, stuck in the tree, stabbed in the heart with a javelin, is a type of Christ on the Cross, stabbed in the heart with the lance.
[C] David's mourning for Absalom, who betrayed him, is like the love of God for us. Even when he must punish, he still loves.
[D] The dispute here between Judah and Israel shows that the division between this tribe and the others that will widen later.

...2 Samuel...

David mustered the men who were with him, and set over them captains of thousands and captains of hundreds. David sent forth the army: one third under the hand of Joab, one third under the hand of Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab's brother, and one third under the hand of Ittai the Gittite. The king said to the people, “I will surely go forth with you myself also.” But the men said, “You shall not go forth, for if we flee, they will not care for us, nor if half of us die will they care for us, but you are worth ten thousand of us. Therefore, now it is better that you are ready to help us from the city.” The king said to them, “What seems best to you I will do.” The king stood beside the gate, and all the people went out by hundreds and by thousands. The king commanded Joab and Abishai and Ittai, saying, “Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom.” All the people heard when the king gave all the captains charge concerning Absalom. So the people went out into the field against Israel, and the battle was in the forest of Ephraim. The people of Israel were struck there before the servants of David, and there was a great slaughter there that day of twenty thousand men. The battle was spread over the face of all the country, and the forest devoured more people that day than the sword.

Absalom happened to meet the servants of David. Absalom was riding on his 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 sky and earth, and the mule that was under him went on. A certain man saw it, and told Joab, and said, “Behold, I saw Absalom hanging in an oak.” Joab said to the man who told him, “Behold, you saw it? Why did not you strike him there to the ground? I would have given you ten pieces of silver, and a belt.” The man said to Joab, “Though I had in hand a thousand pieces of silver, I still would not put forth my hand against the king's son, for in our hearing the king charged you and Abishai and Ittai, saying, ‘For my sake protect the young man Absalom.’ Otherwise, if I had dealt falsely against his life (and there is no matter hid from the king), then you yourself would have set yourself against me.” Then Joab said, “I will not tarry thus with you.” He took three javelins in his hand, and thrust them through the heart of Absalom, while he was yet alive in the midst of the oak. Ten young men who bore Joab's armor surrounded Absalom and struck and killed him. Joab blew the trumpet, and the people returned from pursuing after Israel, for Joab held back the people. They took Absalom, and cast him into the great pit in the forest, and raised over him a very great heap of stones, and all Israel fled, everyone to his tent. Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and set up for himself the pillar, which is in the king's valley, for he said, “I have no son to keep my name in memory”, and he called the pillar after his own name, and it is called Absalom's monument, to this day.

Then Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said, “Let me now run, and bear the news to the king, how the Lord has avenged him of his enemies.” Joab said to him, “You shall not be the bearer of news this day. You shall bear news another day, but this day you shall bear no news, because the king's son is dead.” Then Joab said to the Cushite, “Go, tell the king what you have seen.” The Cushite bowed himself to Joab, and ran. Then Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said yet again to Joab, “Come what may, please let me also run after the Cushite.” Joab said, “Why will you run, my son, seeing that you will have no reward for the news?” “Come what may”, he said, “I will run.” He said to him, “Run.” Then Ahimaaz ran by the way of the plain, and outran the Cushite. Now David was sitting between the two gates, and the watchman went up to the roof of the gate to the wall, and lifted up his eyes, and looked and saw a man running alone. The watchman cried, and told the king. The king said, “If he is alone, there is news in his mouth.” He came quickly and drew near. The watchman saw another man running, and the watchman called to the porter, and said, “Behold, another man running alone.” The king said, “He also brings news.” The watchman said, “I think the running of the first is like the running of Ahimaaz the son of Zadok.” The king said, “He is a good man, and comes with good news.” Ahimaaz called, and said to the king, “All is well.” He bowed himself before the king with his face to the earth, and said, “Blessed be the Lord your God, who has delivered up the men who lifted up their hand against my lord the king.” The king said, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?” Ahimaaz answered, “When Joab sent the king's servant, your servant, I saw a great tumult, but I do not know what it was.” The king said, “Turn aside, and stand here.” He turned aside, and stood still. Behold, the Cushite came, and the Cushite said, “Good news for my lord the king, for the Lord has avenged you this day of all those who rose up against you.” The king said to the Cushite, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?” The Cushite answered, “The enemies of my lord the king, and all who rise up against you to hurt you, be as that young man is.” 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 that I had died instead of you, Absalom, my son, my son!”

It was told to Joab, “Behold, the king weeps and mourns for Absalom.” The victory that day was turned into mourning for all the people, for the people heard that day, “The king grieves for his son.” The people entered by stealth that day into the city, as people enter stealthily who are ashamed when they flee in battle. The king covered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice, “O my son Absalom, Absalom, my son, my son!” Joab came into the house to the king, and said, “You have shamed this day the faces of all your servants, who this day have saved your life, and the lives of your sons and of your daughters, and the lives of your wives, and the lives of your concubines. You love those who hate you, and hate those who love you. For you have declared this day, that commanders and servants are nothing to you, for this day I perceive that if Absalom had lived, and we all had died this day, it would have pleased you.” Now therefore arise, go forth, and speak kindly to your servants, for I swear by the Lord, if you do not go forth, not a man will stay with you this night, and that will be worse for you than all the evil that has happened to you from your youth until now.” Then the king arose and sat in the gate. They told all the people, saying, “Behold, the king is sitting in the gate”, and all the people came before the king.

Now Israel had fled, every man to his tent. All the people were at strife throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, “The king delivered us out of the hand of our enemies, and he saved us out of the hand of the Philistines, and now he has fled out of the land from Absalom. Absalom, whom we anointed over us, is dead in battle. Now therefore why do you not speak a word of bringing the king back?” King David sent to Zadok and to Abiathar the priests, saying, “Speak to the elders of Judah, saying, ‘Why are you the last to bring the king back to his house? Seeing the speech of all Israel has come to the king, to bring him to his house. You are my brothers, you are my bone and my flesh, why then are you the last to bring back the king?’ Say to Amasa, ‘Are you not my bone and my flesh? God do so to me, and more also, if you are not captain of the army before me in place of Joab.’” He bowed the heart of all the men of Judah, as the heart of one man, so that they sent to the king, saying, “Return with all your servants.” So the king returned, and came to the Jordan. Judah came to Gilgal, to go to meet the king, to bring the king over the Jordan. Shimei the son of Gera, the Benjamite, who was of Bahurim, hurried and came down with the men of Judah to meet King David. There were a thousand men of Benjamin with him, and Ziba the servant of the house of Saul, and his fifteen sons and his twenty servants with him, and they went through the Jordan in the presence of the king. A ferry boat went to bring over the king's household, and to do what he thought good. Shimei the son of Gera fell down before the king, when he was about to come over the Jordan. He said to the king, “Do not let my lord impute iniquity to me, nor remember what your servant did perversely the day that my lord the king went out of Jerusalem. Let not the king take it to heart. For your servant does know that I have sinned. Therefore, behold, I have come this day the first of all the house of Joseph to go down to meet my lord the king.” But Abishai the son of Zeruiah answered, “Shall Shimei not be put to death for this, because he cursed the Lord's anointed?” David said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah, that you should this day be adversaries to me? Shall any man be put to death this day in Israel? For do I not know that I am this day king over Israel?” The king said to Shimei, “You shall not die.” The king swore to him.

Mephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the king, and he had nor dressed his feet, nor trimmed his beard, nor washed his clothes, from the day the king departed until the day he came home in peace. It happened, when he was come to Jerusalem to meet the king, that the king said to him, “Why did not you go with me, Mephibosheth?” He answered, “My lord, O king, my servant deceived me, for your servant said, ‘I will saddle a donkey for myself, that I may ride on it, and go with the king’, because your servant is lame. He has slandered your servant to my lord the king, but my lord the king is as an angel of God, do therefore what is good in your eyes. For all my father's house were but dead men before my lord the king, yet you set your servant among those who ate at your own table. What right therefore have I yet that I should cry anymore to the king?” The king said to him, “Why speak anymore of your matters? I say, you and Ziba divide the land.” Mephibosheth said to the king, “Indeed, let him take all, because my lord the king has come in peace to his own house.”

Barzillai the Gileadite came down from Rogelim, and he went over the Jordan with the king, to conduct him over the Jordan. Now Barzillai was a very aged man, eighty years old, and he had provided the king with sustenance while he stayed at Mahanaim; for he was a very great man. The king said to Barzillai, “Come over with me, and I will sustain you with me in Jerusalem.” Barzillai said to the king, “How many are the days of the years of my life, that I should go up with the king to Jerusalem? I am this day eighty years old, can I discern between good and bad? Can your servant taste what I eat or what I drink? Can I hear anymore the voice of singing men and singing women? Why then should your servant be yet a burden to my lord the king? Your servant will just go over the Jordan with the king; why should the king repay me with such a reward? Please let your servant turn back again, that I may die in my own city, by the grave of my father and my mother. But behold, your servant Chimham, let him go over with my lord the king, and do to him what shall seem good to you.” The king answered, “Chimham shall go over with me, and I will do to him what shall seem good to you, and whatever you shall require of me, that will I do for you.” All the people went over the Jordan, and the king went over, and the king kissed Barzillai, and blessed him, and he returned to his own place. So the king went over to Gilgal, and Chimham went over with him, and all the people of Judah brought the king over, and also half the people of Israel. Behold, all the men of Israel came to the king, and said to the king, “Why have our brothers the men of Judah stolen you away, and brought the king, and his household, over the Jordan, and all David's men with him?” All the men of Judah answered the men of Israel, “Because the king is a close relative to us, why then are you angry for this matter? Have we eaten at all at the king's cost? Or has he given us any gift?” The men of Israel answered the men of Judah, and said, “We have ten shares in the king, and we have also more right in David than you, why then did you despise us? Were we not the first to speak of bringing back our king?” But the words of the men of Judah were fiercer than the words of the men of Israel.

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