Reading through the Bible together
The scribe with David recorded everything very faithfully to form a narrative of events in David’s life that illustrated the sad results of sinful deeds. This chapter will end with David in tears, bitter tears. What led up to this bitter emotional experience is a complicated combination of factors. One notices that Joab's family tree is also involved. Joab's brother Abishai was selected by David to be a general over one third of the men, and Joab’s nephew, Amasa, had been placed as general over Absalom army. There is thus a family fight going on in these chapters.
David wanted to go out with his men to fight against Absalom and his army, but Daivd’s men insisted that he should stay behind and be of strategic help from inside the city (verse 3). So he stood by the gate and waved at them and then in a loud voice called out to Joab, Abishai and Ittai, the three generals, that they should be very gentle to his son Absalom. By word of mouth thousands of people had heard what David had said. The next piece of information came from a military scribe who reported the battle and that most of Absalom’s men died in the forest (verse 8).
Absalom did a very unwise thing, he rode on a donkey through a thick old oak-tree forest. Oak trees in Palestine and elsewhere, grow not only vertically but also horizontally and racing a donkey through the forest creates problems. Absalom was caught in the fork of one of the horizontal branches. When Joab and the ten young men with him saw Absalom hanging from the oak by his long hair, they refused to kill Absalom, so Joab did. Then he blew the trumpet and stopped the war.
Ahimaaz wished to run to tell David but Joab sent a Cushite. The only Cushite people the Semitic world knows are from southern Nile or Upper Egypt. So it is possible that this Cushite was from Ethiopia, a people of great marathon runners. He took the regular way and when Ahimaaz insisted that he also run so Joab let him go. He knew of a shortcut and arrived first to give David the sad news of his son. David was sitting between the two gates waiting for news. One could imagine the optimism of David who recognizing the runner said, “This is a good man and comes with good news” When David asked, “What about my son?” Ahimaaz declared that there was chaos and he did not know much more. Then the Cushite came running and said that he wished all David's enemies would die like that young man.
This chapter ends with the heavy emotional weeping of David in the room above the gates. David cried out that he was willing to die as substitute for his son. We are reminded of Someone who said the same when Adam sinned and agreed to one day die as our Substitute.
Also we are caught up with family problems sometimes and separation of loved ones due to sin. Emotional wars make us sometimes tired and we are all in need of the Substitute who died for our sins to free us of our guilt and guilt-projections on others, and to reconcile us with Himself, so that we it turn can reconcile with each other. In Jesus name,
Koot van Wyk
Kyungpook National University
Sangju, South Korea