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READING: 2 Samuel 18-19 – Absalom Dies, David Mourns, Joab Rebukes, David Is Merciful

“David mustered his men and named commanders. David made three divisions, and said, ‘I’ll go with you.’ The men said, ‘You’ll not go. You’re worth 10,000 of us. It’s better that you help us from the city.’ David stood at the gate while they went out. He ordered his commanders to deal gently with Absalom, and the people heard him.” The battle was fought; Israel was defeated; 20,000 were slaughtered that day. 

Absalom fled and his head got caught in the branches of a large oak tree; his mule ran on, leaving Absalom hanging. A soldier saw him and told Joab who was incensed he had not killed him. The soldier said he heard David say deal gently with Absalom. Joab killed Absalom and recalled the army.  

The first news reaching David was that all is well. David asked about Absalom. The messenger said there was a commotion when Joab sent him, but he did not know what it meant. He lied; he knew Joab had killed Absalom. Joab had sent a Cushite (Ethiopian) runner ahead of Ahimaaz, son of the Priest Zadok, but Ahimaaz outran the Cushite. This runner arrived; David asked about Absalom; he said, “May the enemies of my lord the king be like that young man.” 

“David wept; as he wept, he said ‘O my son Absalom, my son! Would I had died instead of you!’” Victory turned into mourning, as the troops returned to the city. Joab rebuked David, saying, “You have shamed the officers and men today who saved you. We mean nothing to you. Go at once and speak kindly to your servants, or none will stay with you” David listened and went to greet the troops. 

David was still beyond Jordan. The men of Israel began talking about bringing David home. They remembered how he led them under Saul and protected them from the Philistines after Saul. No one was bringing David back, but the other tribes were talking about it. David sent word to the elders of Judah, “Why should you be the last to bring David back? You are my kin, my bone, and flesh; why be last.”  

As David went back, he was merciful to those who abused or neglected him. Shimei came with 1,000 men of Benjamin to celebrate David’s return. He begged David for mercy because he knew he had done wrong. David forgave him.  

Mephibosheth came to meet David, who asked why he had not come when he first fled. He said he had told Ziba to saddle him a donkey. Ziba then left him and lied about him to David. David said he had decided about Saul’s property; each should have half. 

He also showed kindness to Barzilla who faithfully supplied food and necessities when he crossed the Jordan. 

At the end of chapter 19, there is discord between the tribes of Judah and the rest of Israel. 

Israel is divided; there will be more fighting to come; David (and Joab) will prevail. But Israel is in trouble. 



Father, I know that you teach us to find strength in weakness, but I often look to see how I can use power to win over someone else. Forgive me of this and teach me to walk in the ways of your Son is my prayer, in the Name of Him who died to deliver me from my sins, AMEN! 

MY PRAYER FOR YOU (and for myself) 

Father, my prayer for those who read this is that we need to remember that our Lord said, “A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand.” This is true of the nation, the family, and the church. Divided, we cannot stand. We see great, vicious division in our nation. In many homes, people lead strained, tense lives and find no joy. In many congregations of your people similar tensions are there – and many flee to other spouses or to other churches. We will pray that all of these divisions may end, and that your shalom shall prevail in the nation, the family and in Your church. This is my prayer for all who read this, in the name of Jesus, who prayed for us that we may be one, AMEN! 

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