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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 18

Expositor's Dictionary of TextsExpositor's Dictionary

Verses 1-33

The Might-have-been

2 Samuel 18:33

I. Besides the Absalom who was, there is the Absalom who might have been: this is the dead son whom David is lamenting, this is the son he knew, the son he cannot forget, whose image is not blotted out by the shamed figure of the murderer, rebel, traitor, which is the only Absalom visible to all the rest.

II. King David has been for Jew and for Christian a type of the Christ. For this once we will make him a type of something else: he shall be an image not of God the Son, but of God the Father: his fatherly love shall be symbol to us of the love of a Father Who is in heaven. May it not be that even the great Father loves and mourns a son as David did, yes, and for cause the same.

Consider it. Such an one is dead, gone (as we say) to his last account: it is a bad record which closes a life vicious, reckless, false: the world sighs with relief to be well rid of him: the Joabs have struck their spears into him as he hung in calamity's grip, and the multitude have cast each man his opprobrious stone to build up the monument of infamy over that disastrous life. But meanwhile the news of that shameful ending has been borne to the towers of heaven. Is it relief, exultation, is it opprobrium that greets it there? I think it not. Rather I think it is a Father, a Divine Father, mourning in His high place with a sorrow larger than the sorrow of man, over 'His son, His son'. That Father is mourning not the fool, the rebel, the profligate, but the son whom He knew before these evil days: the child of His desires, His hopes; the man who might have been, who was not, and now can never be.

III. Would Absalom, if he could have foreseen David's passion of grief over his ruin, would Absalom have been touched at heart, and chosen to have the father's love rather than his own ruin? One cannot know. And however that may be, one of us mortal children of the Father in heaven may find a power upon our wills in the imagination of that parental love which can so sorrow at our fall. If God so cherishes my soul, if He can so delight in the work of His own hands, and believe it so capable of good, mourn so over its failure of good, shall I not care for it myself, believe in it myself, covet to become that which I might be, was made to be?

J. H. Skrine, The Heart's Counsel, p. 134.

Reference. XVIII. 33. W. Howell Evans, Sermons for the Church's Year, p. 176.

Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 18". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/2-samuel-18.html. 1910.
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