Useful Bible Studies > 2 Samuel Commentary > chapter 18

David urges his commanders not to kill Absalom

2 Samuel 18:5

Before David sent his men out to fight in the battle, he had one final request. He spoke to the three men whom he had appointed to command his soldiers. All of his soldiers were still there; they all heard what David said.

David asked them to remember that this was not an ordinary battle. Their enemy was not like the enemies whom they had defeated on previous occasions. On those occasions, they fought with all their strength against their enemies. They were trying to destroy the power of their enemies; they fought to kill their enemies, not to save the lives of the men who opposed them.

However, on this occasion, the leader of David’s enemies was David’s own son, Absalom, whom David truly loved. It was hard for David when Absalom organised a revolution against him. It was hard for David when he had to escape from Jerusalem. Now David had to organise his men to fight against Absalom. It would be terrible for David, if, that same day, he had to deal with the news of his son’s death.

So David requested that his soldiers should make every effort not to kill Absalom. That, of course, would make their task even harder. They would have to try to catch him alive. Their lives would be in even greater danger when they did that.

David realised, of course, that Absalom did not deserve this kindness. Absalom had caused all this trouble; many people would die because of his selfish ambitions. So David told his men that he was not asking them to show this kindness for Absalom’s benefit. Rather, they should do it to help David, their king, in this very difficult situation. Clearly, David felt extremely anxious about his son.

Next part: A terrible battle (2 Samuel 18:6-8)


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