02 March 2011


I have been fascinated by the life of David's son, Absalom as found in 2 Samuel and thought I'd share it here. So many things have struck me about this man.

The thing that amazes me most is just how much David, his father, King of Israel, loved him. David loved his son so much. This son who did nothing but wrong against his father. Absalom murdered his brother and plotted to and even briefly succeeded in overthrowing his father. Yet in spite of all this David loved him!

Absalom was a very handsome man. That is something that I never knew. He was very well built and lovely to behold. In fact, no one compared to him in the whole of Israel. The bible says that from the top of his head to the sole of his feet, no blemish could be found on him. He had long hair which appears to have been an admirable thing in a man at that time. These days all young men ever hear is 'cut your hair'.

I have been struck by Absalom's love. It was love that drove him to kill his own half brother. Absalom's sister was Tamar. She was raped by Amnon, her half brother. Absalom found his sister (with whom he shared a mother) weeping and she explained to him what had happened. In those days, her life was pretty much over. No man would ever want to marry her. She had been disgraced. Absalom, spoke to her tenderly and invited her to live with him in his house. I was quite surprised at that account because I have always known this man in negative light. Absalom carried a grudge against his half brother Amnon for two entire years until finally an opportunity arose to take the life of his brother. He did not hesitate. After that incident, Absalom fled for fear of the punishment of this terrible crime.

Inorder to assassinate Amnon, Absalom with the permission of David, invited all his father's sons to a feast in the town where he lived. When Amnon was drunk, Absalom had his men kill him. All the princes were afraid and immediately fled back to their father's palace. They entered into it weeping. Imagine David, watching all his sons rush into his palace weeping, like scared children bringing back news that Amnon, his first born son, was dead. Yet inspite of this David loved Absalom and wished that he would return from exile. Even those who surrounded him in his palace could tell that David was not himself. He longed for his son.

Finally it was arranged, Absalom was assured that the King would not punish him. Absalom returned home. After two years he was allowed an audience with the King, his father David, who kissed him. The two year delay probably served to chastise Absalom or simply to show some form of disapproval for his actions and would have been longer had it not been for Absalom's efforts.

Absalom was an ambitious man. His ambition led to his death. He was obviously a brilliant man as well. Not long after his return, he conspired rather brilliantly to overthrow his father. His father David, ruled over a nation consisting of twelve tribes. Everytime men came from a particular tribe to seek an audience with the King, Absalom made sure that he met them first. Here is what the bible says:

In the course of time, Absalom provided himself with a chariot and horses and with fifty men to run ahead of him. He would get up early and stand by the side of the road leading to the city gate. Whenever anyone came with a complaint to be placed before the king for a decision, Absalom would call out to him, “What town are you from?” He would answer, “Your servant is from one of the tribes of Israel.” Then Absalom would say to him, “Look, your claims are valid and proper, but there is no representative of the king to hear you.” And Absalom would add, “If only I were appointed judge in the land! Then everyone who has a complaint or case could come to me and I would see that they receive justice.”

Also, whenever anyone approached him to bow down before him, Absalom would reach out his hand, take hold of him and kiss him. Absalom behaved in this way toward all the Israelites who came to the king asking for justice, and so he stole the hearts of the people of Israel.

A brilliant man he was indeed! Absalom did this for four entire years. His plan was now ready for execution. He sent out his men to all the tribes of Israel telling them that when they heard the sound of trumpets they were to shout out that Absalom was King.

David his father had to run for his life. What sort of a man would do this to his own father? Well, in the end, David came up with an idea of his own were he sent his advisers to Absalom to pretend that they too had forsaken him. Absalom accepted them and even asked them, "Is this the love you show your friend?" Ironic isn't it? I'm sure in their hearts they responded, "Our sentiments exactly!"

Well eventually, this plan succeeded and Absalom was now the one on the run. David instructed those who were pursuing him not to harm him. But his more objective army commander who was leading the hunt for Absalom killed him as soon as he caught him. Absalom was on horse back and as he passed beneath some trees his long hair got caught up in the branches and he was left suspended in the air. When David's army commander reached him, he killed Absalom. And thus the hair that made him once famous was now the reason for his undoing.

As soon as his men returned, David asked, "Is the young man Absalom safe?" When he learnt the bad news, these were his words:

"O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!"

Yes. The most remarkable thing about Absalom's life was his father's love for him. I am convinced that the most remarkable thing about my life, is God's love for me. Like Absalom I have rebelled so many times but I am yet to be forsaken.