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War between Absalom and David (17:1-19:8)
Ahithophel advised Absalom that he needed to do only one thing to make his throne secure, and that was kill David. If he did this swiftly, without war or unnecessary bloodshed, the people would soon be fully behind him (17:1-4). Hushai, wishing to gain time for David to escape and organize his troops, advised against such a risky operation, for David was a very experienced soldier. He recommended that the whole Israelite army be assembled and Absalom himself lead them into battle (5-13). Being as vain as he was ambitious, Absalom liked this idea and accepted Hushai’s advice (14).
At the risk of their lives, David’s spies took him news of Absalom’s plan (15-20), with the result that David and his men quickly escaped across Jordan (21-22). Ahithophel committed suicide. His plotting had brought Absalom to the throne, and he knew that all would be lost if Absalom followed Hushai’s advice (23). David had now gained valuable time to rest his weary men, obtain provisions and plan his war strategy (24-29).
The military leaders whom David appointed over his men suggested he not go with his troops to the battle, lest he be killed. David agreed, but warned them not to kill Absalom (18:1-5). David’s experienced army leaders knew better than the inexperienced Absalom how to direct the fighting in the difficult conditions of the thick forest. Absalom’s forces suffered a crushing defeat (6-8). Though Joab acted against David’s command in killing Absalom, he knew that this was the only way to bring the revolt to an end (9-15). Once Absalom was dead, further fighting was not necessary. Absalom had hoped for himself an honourable memorial, but he was buried in disgrace (16-18).
Not knowing how best to break the news of Absalom’s death to David, Joab sent an African slave, in case the king reacted violently and killed the bearer of such bad news. But Ahimaaz, knowing that David would be overcome with grief, persuaded Joab to send him as well (19-23). Ahimaaz arrived first and tried to break the news to David softly (24-29), but when the African arrived he told David bluntly that Absalom was dead (30-33).
David’s uncontrolled grief over the death of Absalom created dissatisfaction among those who had risked their lives to save him (19:1-4). Joab spoke harshly to David, telling him to stop mourning and show some appreciation of what his troops had done for him. If not, he might lose their support entirely (5-8).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 17". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
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