The king covered his face with his hands and kept on crying, “O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!” (2 Samuel 19:4)


The account of David’s grief at the death of his son, Absalom is quite intense. You might expect any father to mourn the death of a child but not perhaps so openly and so desperately under these circumstances. The history books are full of ruthless kings murdering their sons and vice-versa. They are less full of reports of grief stricken kings publicly weeping over there dead sons. I think David’s grief has its roots in his guilt at having had Uriah the Hittite deliberately killed in battle so that he could legitimise his affair with Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba. When David’s other son Amnon raped Absalom’s sister, David did not punish Amnon. Surely this was because of his own shame at his behaviour with Uriah and Bathsheba. This was the cause of the rift between David and Absalom. Absalom keenly felt the injustice. Ultimately, David found that he was still paying the consequences of his sinful behaviour. His own son had turned against him because of this injustice and so, David felt a huge burden of responsibility and blamed himself for Absalom’s death.


2 Samuel 19:1-8 NLT

Word soon reached Joab that the King was weeping and mourning for Absalom. As all the people heard about the king’s deep grief for his son, the joy of that day’s victory was turned into deep sadness. They crept back into the town that day as if they were ashamed and had deserted in battle. The king covered his face with his hands and kept on crying, “O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!” Then Joab went to the king’s room and said to him, “We saved your life today and the lives of your sons, your daughters, and your wives and concubines. Yet you act like this, making us feel ashamed of ourselves. You seem to love those who hate you and hate those who love you. You have made it clear today that your commanders and troops mean nothing to you. It seems that if Absalom had lived and all of us had died, you would be pleased. Now go out there and congratulate your troops, for I swear by the Lord that if you don’t go out, not a single one of them will remain here tonight. Then you will be worse of than ever before.” So the king went out and took his seat at the town gate, and as the news spread throughout the town that he was there, everyone went to him.


We must all live with the consequences of the things we have done in our lives. I don’t know about you, but I find it much, much harder to forgive myself, than I find it to forgive those who have wronged me. Joab had the courage to tell David to pull himself together and carry on. David had the wisdom to listen to Joab and see that he was right. In fact, David needed Joab to help him see past his own guilt clouded grief. My goal is to try to remember that although I have done wrong and there are still consequences to live with, I need to pull myself together, in order to get on with my new life in the service of the Lord.

Today’s readings:

2 Samuel 18:1-19:10, John 20:1-31, Psalms 119:153-176, Proverbs 16:14-15


2 thoughts on “The king covered his face with his hands and kept on crying, “O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!” (2 Samuel 19:4)

  1. Pingback: Just Do Your Duty… | Pastor Kemp's Blog

  2. Pingback: The Father’s Heart | A Display of His Splendor Blog

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