Journey Through The Scriptures

David, Part III

Lesson 2: Absalom Returns from Exile

(Scripture to Read: 2 Samuel 14:1–33)

King David’s leadership was key to Israel’s security and prosperity. This is why we see Joab, David’s general, going to elaborate lengths to lift David’s spirits by the return of his exiled son, Absalom. Joab knew David longed for Absalom, and yet the general realized something had to clear the way for Absalom’s return without the king losing face. So Joab devised a scheme in which a woman came to David with a problem to be solved.

Pretending her own family had also suffered the murder of one brother by another, the woman persisted in her plea until she got what Joab wanted from David: the king’s promise that the murderer would not come to any harm (v. 11). The woman then turned the tables on the king: if he would guarantee the safety of an unknown offender, how could he not extend the same protection to his own son, Absalom? David knew immediately he had been “set up,” and he perceived that Joab was behind this—for David knew Joab as well as Joab knew him! David kept his promise, and Absalom was allowed to return home. But he was apparently confined to his quarters in Jerusalem, a situation that dragged on for two more years.

Study Questions

  1. How did Joab know that David was in deep emotional distress over Absalom?
  2. What might have happened to Absalom if David had not been led into making his promise of safety?
  3. Why did David forbid Absalom to see him for two years?
  4. What hints are we given in this chapter that Absalom would someday be able to steal the hearts of Israel’s people away from David?

Something to Think About

Joab was a man of war and violence, but we have to admire his deep concern for David’s emotional and mental well-being. Taking a cue from Joab, we could paraphrase a popular saying this way: friends don’t let friends suffer… not if there is something we can do to relieve the anguish. Is there a friend who needs your help and comfort?