Useful Bible Studies > 2 Samuel Commentary > chapter 18

An opportunity to catch Absalom alive

2 Samuel 18:10

Absalom’s army had scattered across a large area of the forest. David’s soldiers were chasing them, but David’s soldiers had much more experience of how to fight battles in difficult situations. They remained in a group, close enough to call to each other. So the man who found Absalom, was able to speak to Joab, his commander, very soon afterwards.

That man reported to Joab that it was possible to catch Absalom alive. That was what David desperately wanted (18:5). Although Absalom was fighting against David, David still loved Absalom as his son. Perhaps David hoped that, in the future, Absalom might turn back to God, and away from his evil deeds – that was what David himself did in chapter 12. However, in any circumstance, David did not want Absalom to die.

So now Joab had to decide what to do about Absalom. After his (Absalom’s) accident with the tree, Absalom could not escape, and nobody was defending him. So Joab could choose whether to take Absalom as a prisoner, or to kill him. David wanted Absalom to live and, as David’s chief commander, Joab had a duty to obey David. God’s law says that a son must not behave in an evil manner towards his parent (Exodus 21:17, Leviticus 20:9). So, by God’s law, Absalom deserved to die.

However, Joab was an evil man (1 Kings 2:5); he did not care about God’s law or about his duties to the king. He had his own reason to hate Absalom (14:29-31). Absalom’s death would end his revolution and the present war – so of course Joab intended to kill him.

Next part: Joab argues with the man who found Absalom (2 Samuel 18:11-13)


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