A Broken-hearted Father

After Absalom and all the men of Israel crossed the Jordan, David

counted the troops who were with him, and put over them commanders of

thousands and of hundreds. And he divided the troops into three

divisions; one was under the command of Joab, another under Abishai, and

another under the command of Ittai. Then David said to the people, "I

too will surely go out with you." But the people said, "You shall not go

out; f
r if we are defeated, or if half of us die, it will make no

difference, for you are equal to ten thousand of us. It is therefore

more important for you to be ready to help us from the city." David said

to them, "I will do what you think best!" So he stood beside the gate,

while all the troops marched out by hundreds and by thousands.

David commanded Joab and Abishai and Ittai, "Deal gently for my sake

with the young man, with Absalom!" All the people heard when he gave the

commanders this order about Absalom.

So the troops went out into the field against Israel. The battle was

fought in the forest of Ephraim. And the soldiers of Israel were

defeated there by those who were loyal to David, and the loss of life on

that day was great--twenty thousand men. The battle spread over the

whole country; and the dense thickets killed more people than were

killed by the sword.

Absalom happened to meet the soldiers of David while riding upon his

mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a great oak, and

Absalom's head caught fast in the oak, and he was hung between heaven

and earth, while the mule that was under him went on. A certain man saw

it and told Joab, "I saw Absalom hanging in an oak." Joab said to the

man who told him, "You saw him! Why did you not strike him to the

ground? I would have given you ten pieces of silver and a belt." But the

man said to Joab, "If I were to feel the weight of a thousand pieces of

silver in my hand, I would not raise my hand against the ruler's son,

for in our hearing he commanded you and Abishai and Ittai, 'Take care of

the young man Absalom.' If I had treacherously taken his life, nothing

would have been hidden from the ruler of Israel, and you yourself would

not have tried to save me." Joab answered, "I will not waste time with


So he took three spears in his hand and drove them into Absalom's heart,

while he was still alive in the midst of the oak. Then Joab said to a

negro slave, "Go, tell the ruler of Israel what you have seen." And the

negro bowed before Joab and ran off.

Now David was sitting between the two gates, and when the negro came, he

said, "Let my lord receive the good news; Jehovah has punished for you

this day all those who rose up against you.'" David said to the negro,

"Is it well with the young Absalom?" The negro answered, "May the

enemies of my lord and all who rebel against you to harm you be as that

young man!"

Then David was very sad and went up to the chamber over the gate and

wept. As he wept he said, "My son Absalom, my son, O my son Absalom! Oh

that I had died for you, Absalom, my son, my son!" And it was reported

to Joab, "The ruler of Israel is weeping and mourning for Absalom." So

for all the people the victory that day was turned to mourning, because

they heard that David was mourning for his son. Therefore, the people

stole away into the city, as people who are ashamed steal away when they

have run away in battle. But David covered his face and cried aloud, "My

son Absalom, Absalom, my son, my son!"