The Second Book of Samuel

Chapter 18

David, viewing the armies in their march, gives them charge of Absalom, 1-5. The Israelites are sorely smitten in the forest of Ephraim, 6-8. Absalom, hanging in an oak, is slain by Joab and cast into a pit, 9-17. Absalom's place, 18. Ahimaaz and Cushi bring tidings to David, 19-32. David mourns for Absalom, 33.

1 And David numbered the people who were with him and set over them captains of thousands and captains of hundreds. 2 And David sent forth a third part of the people under the hand of Joab, a third part under the hand of Abishai the son of Zeruiah (Joab's brother), and a third part under the hand of Ittai the Gittite. And the king said to the people, "I myself will surely go forth with you also." 3 But the people answered, "You shall not go forth. For if we flee away, they will not care for us. Even if half of us die, they will not care for us. But now you are worth ten thousand of us; therefore, it is better that you give us aid from the city." 4 And the king said to them, "What seems to you best I will do." And the king stood by the gate side, and all the people came out by hundreds and by thousands. 5 And the king commanded Joab, Abishai, and Ittai, saying, "Deal gently for my sake with the young man, even with Absalom." And all the people heard when the king gave all the captains charge concerning Absalom.

6 So the people went out into the field against Israel, and the battle was in the forest of Ephraim. 7 There the people of Israel were slain before the servants of David, and there was a great slaughter there that day of twenty thousand men. 8 For the battle there was scattered over the face of all the country, and the forest devoured more people that day than the sword devoured.

9 And Absalom met the servants of David. And Absalom rode upon a mule, and the mule went under the thick boughs of a great oak, and his head caught hold of the oak and he was suspended between the heaven and the earth, and the mule that was under him went away. 10 And a certain man saw it and told Joab and said, "Behold, I saw Absalom hanging in an oak." 11 And Joab said to the man who told him, "And behold, you saw him, and why did you not smite him there to the ground? And I would have given you ten shekels of silver and a girdle." 12 And the man said to Joab, "Though I should receive one thousand shekels of silver in my hand, yet I would not put forth my hand against the king's son. For in our hearing the king charged you, Abishai, and Ittai, saying, 'Beware that no one touch the young man Absalom.' 13 Otherwise, I should have wrought falsehood against my own life (for there is no matter hid from the king), and you yourself would have set yourself against me." 14 Then Joab said, "I will not wait like this with you." And he took three darts in his hand and thrust them through the heart of Absalom while he was still alive in the midst of the oak. 15 And ten young men who bore Joab's armor surrounded and smote Absalom and slew him.

16 And Joab blew the trumpet, and the people returned from pursuing Israel, for Joab restrained the people. 17 And they took Absalom, cast him into a great pit in the forest, and laid a very great heap of stones upon him. And all Israel fled, each to his tent. 18 Now Absalom in his life-time had taken and raised for himself a pillar, which is in the king's valley, for he said, "I have no son to keep my name in remembrance." And he called the pillar after his own name, and it is called to this day, Absalom's Place.

19 Then Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said, "Let me now run and inform the king how the LORD has avenged himself of his enemies." 20 And Joab said to him, "You shall not bear tidings this day, but you shall bear tidings another day. But this day you shall bear no tidings because the king's son is dead." 21 Then Joab said to Cushi, "Go, tell the king what you have seen." And Cushi bowed himself to Joab and ran. 22 Then Ahimaaz the son of Zadok yet again said to Joab, "But whatever may come, let me also, I pray you, run after Cushi." And Joab said, "Why will you run, my son, seeing that you have no tidings ready?" 23 "But whatever may come," he said, "let me run." And he said to him, "Run." Then Ahimaaz ran by the way of the plain and outran Cushi.

24 And David sat between the two gates. And the watchman went up to the roof over the gate on the wall and lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man running alone. 25 And the watchman called and told the king. And the king said, "If he is alone, there are tidings in his mouth." And he came apace and drew near. 26 And the watchman saw another man running. And the watchman called to the gatekeeper and said, "Behold, another man running alone." And the king said, "He also brings tidings." 27 And the watchman said, "I think the running of the foremost is like the running of Ahimaaz the son of Zadok." And the king said, "He is a good man and comes with good news."

28 And Ahimaaz called and said to the king, "All is well." And he fell down to the earth upon his face before the king and said, "Blessed be the LORD your God who has delivered up the men who raised their hand against my lord the king." 29 And the king said, "Is the young man Absalom safe?" And Ahimaaz answered, "When Joab sent the king's servant and me, your servant, I saw a great tumult, but I did not know what it was." 30 And the king said to him, "Turn aside and stand here." And he turned aside and stood still.

31 And behold, Cushi came. And Cushi said, "Tidings, my lord the king, for the LORD has avenged you this day of all those who rose up against you." 32 And the king said to Cushi, "Is the young man Absalom safe?" And Cushi answered, "May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise against you to do you hurt be as that young man is."

33 And the king was much moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And as he went, he said, "O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! O that I had died for you, O Absalom, my son, my son!"


Matthew Henry Commentary - 2nd Samuel, Chapter 18[➚]


[v.18] - "I have no son to keep my name" - This is no doubt God's judgment upon Absalom. This judgment is upon him because he hated his brother Amnon and had him murdered out of revenge for the trespass Amnon committed against his sister. See the comment for 2nd Samuel 13:22. In addition to that, Absalom also sought the life of his father (2nd Samuel 15:14), David, and coveted his throne (2nd Samuel 15:7-12), sinning even more. God's law states, "Honor your father and your mother" (Exodus 20:12), "You shall not covet" (Exodus 20:17), and "You shall not kill" (Exodus 20:13), and then also says, "He who smites a man, so that he dies, shall surely be put to death" (Exodus 21:12), and, "he who smites his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death" (Exodus 21:15). Moreover, Deuteronomy 11:28 states that a curse will be set before those who do not obey the commandments of the Lord. Finally, this is what David said in the 37th Psalm: "Cease from anger, and forsake wrath. Do not fret yourself, it leads only to evil-doing. For evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth. For those who are blessed by him shall inherit the earth, and those who are cursed by him shall be cut off," and, "the seed of the wicked shall be cut off" (Psalm 37:8-9, 22, 28). So, when Absalom said that he had no sons by which his name may be kept, this indicates that after his death, he and his seed were cut off.