- 2 Sam. 16:15-19:4
Absalom had taken Jerusalem after David and his army had fled the city. David's former confidant Ahithophel had betrayed David and allied with Absalom.
Now in those days the advice Ahithophel gave was like that of one who inquires of God.
(2 Sam. 16:23 NIV)
David's friend Hushai went to Absalom's side and pretended as though he had turned against David as Ahithophel had. GOD caused Absalom to listen to Hushai's military advice as opposed to Ahithophel's in order to protect David and defeat Absalom.
Hushai told the priests Zadok and Abiathar what Absalom's plan was and they relayed the message to David so that he could be properly prepared. Once Ahithophel saw that Absalom had not heeded his advice he went home and hanged himself.
David went to Mahanaim where he prepared his army, dividing them into three groups. At first, David was planning to join in the battle but his soldiers advised him not to do so, feeling that he was of more value alive than to risk his being killed in battle.
The battle took place in the forest of Ephraim and there was fierce fighting. David's men prevailed, killing 20,000 Israelite soldiers. 2 Sam. 18:8 contains a most curious statement: "the forest claimed more lives that day than the sword." Unfortunately, no explanation is given so we don't know exactly what is meant by this statement, but nonetheless, a great many people lost their life in this battle.
During the battle, as Absalom was riding his mule, his long hair got caught in a tree branch which snatched him off his mule. As he was hanging there alive, one of David's commanders, Joab, took three javelins and stabbed them through Absalom's heart. Then ten of Joab's armor-bearers struck Absalom and he died there. They threw Absalom's body into a pit in the forest and piled a heap of stones on top of him. Absalom's army fled to their homes.
When David learned that Absalom had been killed he mourned greatly, covered his face, and cried aloud. He said:
"O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!"
(2 Sam. 18:33 NIV)
Even though Absalom had rebelled against his father and had tried to overthrow his kingdom, David still loved him greatly. David was seemingly more concerned with his son's situation than he was about the kingdom's status. David loved his son unconditionally. That's the same way GOD loves us. GOD always has our best interest at heart.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us...For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
(Rom. 5:8-10 NKJV)