Handsome Absalom

2 Samuel

Handsome Absalom

June 11th, 1961 @ 7:30 PM

2 Samuel 14-18

Now Joab the son of Zeruiah perceived that the king’s heart was toward Absalom. And Joab sent to Tekoah, and fetched thence a wise woman, and said unto her, I pray thee, feign thyself to be a mourner, and put on now mourning apparel, and anoint not thyself with oil, but be as a woman that had a long time mourned for the dead: And come to the king, and speak on this manner unto him. So Joab put the words in her mouth. And when the woman of Tekoah spake to the king, she fell on her face to the ground, and did obeisance, and said, Help, O king. And the king said unto her, What aileth thee? And she answered, I am indeed a widow woman, and mine husband is dead. And thy handmaid had two sons, and they two strove together in the field, and there was none to part them, but the one smote the other, and slew him. And, behold, the whole family is risen against thine handmaid, and they said, Deliver him that smote his brother, that we may kill him, for the life of his brother whom he slew; and we will destroy the heir also: and so they shall quench my coal which is left, and shall not leave to my husband neither name nor remainder upon the earth. And the king said unto the woman, Go to thine house, and I will give charge concerning thee. And the woman of Tekoah said unto the king, My lord, O king, the iniquity be on me, and on my father’s house: and the king and his throne be guiltless. And the king said, Whosoever saith ought unto thee, bring him to me, and he shall not touch thee any more. Then said she, I pray thee, let the king remember the LORD thy God, that thou wouldest not suffer the revengers of blood to destroy any more, lest they destroy my son. And he said, As the LORD liveth, there shall not one hair of thy son fall to the earth. Then the woman said, Let thine handmaid, I pray thee, speak one word unto my lord the king. And he said, Say on. And the woman said, Wherefore then hast thou thought such a thing against the people of God? for the king doth speak this thing as one which is faulty, in that the king doth not fetch home again his banished. For we must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again; neither doth God respect any person: yet doth he devise means, that his banished be not expelled from him. Now therefore that I am come to speak of this thing unto my lord the king, it is because the people have made me afraid: and thy handmaid said, I will now speak unto the king; it may be that the king will perform the request of his handmaid. For the king will hear, to deliver his handmaid out of the hand of the man that would destroy me and my son together out of the inheritance of God. Then thine handmaid said, The word of my lord the king shall now be comfortable: for as an angel of God, so is my lord the king to discern good and bad: therefore the LORD thy God will be with thee. Then the king answered and said unto the woman, Hide not from me, I pray thee, the thing that I shall ask thee. And the woman said, Let my lord the king now speak. And the king said, Is not the hand of Joab with thee in all this? And the woman answered and said, As thy soul liveth, my lord the king, none can turn to the right hand or to the left from ought that my lord the king hath spoken: for thy servant Joab, he bade me, and he put all these words in the mouth of thine handmaid: To fetch about this form of speech hath thy servant Joab done this thing: and my lord is wise, according to the wisdom of an angel of God, to know all things that are in the earth. And the king said unto Joab, Behold now, I have done this thing: go therefore, bring the young man Absalom again. And Joab fell to the ground on his face, and bowed himself, and thanked the king: and Joab said, To day thy servant knoweth that I have found grace in thy sight, my lord, O king, in that the king hath fulfilled the request of his servant. So Joab arose and went to Geshur, and brought Absalom to Jerusalem. And the king said, Let him turn to his own house, and let him not see my face. So Absalom returned to his own house, and saw not the king’s face. But in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty: from the sole of his foot even to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him. And when he polled his head, (for it was at every year’s end that he polled it: because the hair was heavy on him, therefore he polled it:) he weighed the hair of his head at two hundred shekels after the king’s weight. And unto Absalom there were born three sons, and one daughter, whose name was Tamar: she was a woman of a fair countenance. So Absalom dwelt two full years in Jerusalem, and saw not the king’s face. Therefore Absalom sent for Joab, to have sent him to the king; but he would not come to him: and when he sent again the second time, he would not come. Therefore he said unto his servants, See, Joab’s field is near mine, and he hath barley there; go and set it on fire. And Absalom’s servants set the field on fire. Then Joab arose, and came to Absalom unto his house, and said unto him, Wherefore have thy servants set my field on fire? And Absalom answered Joab, Behold, I sent unto thee, saying, Come hither, that I may send thee to the king, to say, Wherefore am I come from Geshur? it had been good for me to have been there still: now therefore let me see the king’s face; and if there be any iniquity in me, let him kill me. So Joab came to the king, and told him: and when he had called for Absalom, he came to the king, and bowed himself on his face to the ground before the king: and the king kissed Absalom. And it came to pass after this, that Absalom prepared him chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him. And Absalom rose up early, and stood beside the way of the gate: and it was so, that when any man that had a controversy came to the king for judgment, then Absalom called unto him, and said, Of what city art thou? And he said, Thy servant is of one of the tribes of Israel. And Absalom said unto him, See, thy matters are good and right; but there is no man deputed of the king to hear thee. Absalom said moreover, Oh that I were made judge in the land, that every man which hath any suit or cause might come unto me, and I would do him justice! And it was so, that when any man came nigh to him to do him obeisance, he put forth his hand, and took him, and kissed him. And on this manner did Absalom to all Israel that came to the king for judgment: so Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel. And it came to pass after forty years, that Absalom said unto the king, I pray thee, let me go and pay my vow, which I have vowed unto the LORD, in Hebron. For thy servant vowed a vow while I abode at Geshur in Syria, saying, If the LORD shall bring me again indeed to Jerusalem, then I will serve the LORD. And the king said unto him, Go in peace. So he arose, and went to Hebron. But Absalom sent spies throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, As soon as ye hear the sound of the trumpet, then ye shall say, Absalom reigneth in Hebron. And with Absalom went two hundred men out of Jerusalem, that were called; and they went in their simplicity, and they knew not any thing. And Absalom sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counsellor, from his city, even from Giloh, while he offered sacrifices. And the conspiracy was strong; for the people increased continually with Absalom. And there came a messenger to David, saying, The hearts of the men of Israel are after Absalom. And David said unto all his servants that were with him at Jerusalem, Arise, and let us flee; for we shall not else escape from Absalom: make speed to depart, lest he overtake us suddenly, and bring evil upon us, and smite the city with the edge of the sword. And the king’s servants said unto the king, Behold, thy servants are ready to do whatsoever my lord the king shall appoint. And the king went forth, and all his household after him. And the king left ten women, which were concubines, to keep the house. And the king went forth, and all the people after him, and tarried in a place that was far off. And all his servants passed on beside him; and all the Cherethites, and all the Pelethites, and all the Gittites, six hundred men which came after him from Gath, passed on before the king. Then said the king to Ittai the Gittite, Wherefore goest thou also with us? return to thy place, and abide with the king: for thou art a stranger, and also an exile. Whereas thou camest but yesterday, should I this day make thee go up and down with us? seeing I go whither I may, return thou, and take back thy brethren: mercy and truth be with thee. And Ittai answered the king, and said, As the LORD liveth, and as my lord the king liveth, surely in what place my lord the king shall be, whether in death or life, even there also will thy servant be. And David said to Ittai, Go and pass over. And Ittai the Gittite passed over, and all his men, and all the little ones that were with him. And all the country wept with a loud voice, and all the people passed over: the king also himself passed over the brook Kidron, and all the people passed over, toward the way of the wilderness. And lo Zadok also, and all the Levites were with him, bearing the ark of the covenant of God: and they set down the ark of God; and Abiathar went up, until all the people had done passing out of the city. And the king said unto Zadok, Carry back the ark of God into the city: if I shall find favour in the eyes of the LORD, he will bring me again, and shew me both it, and his habitation: But if he thus say, I have no delight in thee; behold, here am I, let him do to me as seemeth good unto him. The king said also unto Zadok the priest, Art not thou a seer? return into the city in peace, and your two sons with you, Ahimaaz thy son, and Jonathan the son of Abiathar. See, I will tarry in the plain of the wilderness, until there come word from you to certify me. Zadok therefore and Abiathar carried the ark of God again to Jerusalem: and they tarried there. And David went up by the ascent of mount Olivet, and wept as he went up, and had his head covered, and he went barefoot: and all the people that was with him covered every man his head, and they went up, weeping as they went up. And one told David, saying, Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom. And David said, O LORD, I pray thee, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness. And it came to pass, that when David was come to the top of the mount, where he worshipped God, behold, Hushai the Archite came to meet him with his coat rent, and earth upon his head: Unto whom David said, If thou passest on with me, then thou shalt be a burden unto me: But if thou return to the city, and say unto Absalom, I will be thy servant, O king; as I have been thy father’s servant hitherto, so will I now also be thy servant: then mayest thou for me defeat the counsel of Ahithophel. And hast thou not there with thee Zadok and Abiathar the priests? therefore it shall be, that what thing soever thou shalt hear out of the king’s house, thou shalt tell it to Zadok and Abiathar the priests. Behold, they have there with them their two sons, Ahimaaz Zadok’s son, and Jonathan Abiathar’s son; and by them ye shall send unto me every thing that ye can hear. So Hushai David’s friend came into the city, and Absalom came into Jerusalem. And when David was a little past the top of the hill, behold, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth met him, with a couple of asses saddled, and upon them two hundred loaves of bread, and an hundred bunches of raisins, and an hundred of summer fruits, and a bottle of wine. And the king said unto Ziba, What meanest thou by these? And Ziba said, The asses be for the king’s household to ride on; and the bread and summer fruit for the young men to eat; and the wine, that such as be faint in the wilderness may drink. And the king said, And where is thy master’s son? And Ziba said unto the king, Behold, he abideth at Jerusalem: for he said, To day shall the house of Israel restore me the kingdom of my father. Then said the king to Ziba, Behold, thine are all that pertained unto Mephibosheth. And Ziba said, I humbly beseech thee that I may find grace in thy sight, my lord, O king. And when king David came to Bahurim, behold, thence came out a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera: he came forth, and cursed still as he came. And he cast stones at David, and at all the servants of king David: and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left. And thus said Shimei when he cursed, Come out, come out, thou bloody man, and thou man of Belial: The LORD hath returned upon thee all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose stead thou hast reigned; and the LORD hath delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom thy son: and, behold, thou art taken in thy mischief, because thou art a bloody man. Then said Abishai the son of Zeruiah unto the king, Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? let me go over, I pray thee, and take off his head. And the king said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah? so let him curse, because the LORD hath said unto him, Curse David. Who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so? And David said to Abishai, and to all his servants, Behold, my son, which came forth of my bowels, seeketh my life: how much more now may this Benjamite do it? let him alone, and let him curse; for the LORD hath bidden him. It may be that the LORD will look on mine affliction, and that the LORD will requite me good for his cursing this day. And as David and his men went by the way, Shimei went along on the hill’s side over against him, and cursed as he went, and threw stones at him, and cast dust. And the king, and all the people that were with him, came weary, and refreshed themselves there. And Absalom, and all the people the men of Israel, came to Jerusalem, and Ahithophel with him. And it came to pass, when Hushai the Archite, David’s friend, was come unto Absalom, that Hushai said unto Absalom, God save the king, God save the king. And Absalom said to Hushai, Is this thy kindness to thy friend? why wentest thou not with thy friend? And Hushai said unto Absalom, Nay; but whom the LORD, and this people, and all the men of Israel, choose, his will I be, and with him will I abide. And again, whom should I serve? should I not serve in the presence of his son? as I have served in thy father’s presence, so will I be in thy presence. Then said Absalom to Ahithophel, Give counsel among you what we shall do. And Ahithophel said unto Absalom, Go in unto thy father’s concubines, which he hath left to keep the house; and all Israel shall hear that thou art abhorred of thy father: then shall the hands of all that are with thee be strong. So they spread Absalom a tent upon the top of the house; and Absalom went in unto his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel. And the counsel of Ahithophel, which he counselled in those days, was as if a man had enquired at the oracle of God: so was all the counsel of Ahithophel both with David and with Absalom. Moreover Ahithophel said unto Absalom, Let me now choose out twelve thousand men, and I will arise and pursue after David this night: And I will come upon him while he is weary and weak handed, and will make him afraid: and all the people that are with him shall flee; and I will smite the king only: And I will bring back all the people unto thee: the man whom thou seekest is as if all returned: so all the people shall be in peace. And the saying pleased Absalom well, and all the elders of Israel. Then said Absalom, Call now Hushai the Archite also, and let us hear likewise what he saith. And when Hushai was come to Absalom, Absalom spake unto him, saying, Ahithophel hath spoken after this manner: shall we do after his saying? if not; speak thou. And Hushai said unto Absalom, The counsel that Ahithophel hath given is not good at this time. For, said Hushai, thou knowest thy father and his men, that they be mighty men, and they be chafed in their minds, as a bear robbed of her whelps in the field: and thy father is a man of war, and will not lodge with the people. Behold, he is hid now in some pit, or in some other place: and it will come to pass, when some of them be overthrown at the first, that whosoever heareth it will say, There is a slaughter among the people that follow Absalom. And he also that is valiant, whose heart is as the heart of a lion, shall utterly melt: for all Israel knoweth that thy father is a mighty man, and they which be with him are valiant men. Therefore I counsel that all Israel be generally gathered unto thee, from Dan even to Beersheba, as the sand that is by the sea for multitude; and that thou go to battle in thine own person. So shall we come upon him in some place where he shall be found, and we will light upon him as the dew falleth on the ground: and of him and of all the men that are with him there shall not be left so much as one. Moreover, if he be gotten into a city, then shall all Israel bring ropes to that city, and we will draw it into the river, until there be not one small stone found there. And Absalom and all the men of Israel said, The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel. For the LORD had appointed to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, to the intent that the LORD might bring evil upon Absalom. Then said Hushai unto Zadok and to Abiathar the priests, Thus and thus did Ahithophel counsel Absalom and the elders of Israel; and thus and thus have I counselled. Now therefore send quickly, and tell David, saying, Lodge not this night in the plains of the wilderness, but speedily pass over; lest the king be swallowed up, and all the people that are with him. Now Jonathan and Ahimaaz stayed by Enrogel; for they might not be seen to come into the city: and a wench went and told them; and they went and told king David. Nevertheless a lad saw them, and told Absalom: but they went both of them away quickly, and came to a man’s house in Bahurim, which had a well in his court; whither they went down. And the woman took and spread a covering over the well’s mouth, and spread ground corn thereon; and the thing was not known. And when Absalom’s servants came to the woman to the house, they said, Where is Ahimaaz and Jonathan? And the woman said unto them, They be gone over the brook of water. And when they had sought and could not find them, they returned to Jerusalem. And it came to pass, after they were departed, that they came up out of the well, and went and told king David, and said unto David, Arise, and pass quickly over the water: for thus hath Ahithophel counselled against you. Then David arose, and all the people that were with him, and they passed over Jordan: by the morning light there lacked not one of them that was not gone over Jordan. And when Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his ass, and arose, and gat him home to his house, to his city, and put his household in order, and hanged himself, and died, and was buried in the sepulchre of his father. Then David came to Mahanaim. And Absalom passed over Jordan, he and all the men of Israel with him. And Absalom made Amasa captain of the host instead of Joab: which Amasa was a man’s son, whose name was Ithra an Israelite, that went in to Abigail the daughter of Nahash, sister to Zeruiah Joab’s mother. So Israel and Absalom pitched in the land of Gilead. And it came to pass, when David was come to Mahanaim, that Shobi the son of Nahash of Rabbah of the children of Ammon, and Machir the son of Ammiel of Lodebar, and Barzillai the Gileadite of Rogelim, Brought beds, and basons, and earthen vessels, and wheat, and barley, and flour, and parched corn, and beans, and lentiles, and parched pulse, And honey, and butter, and sheep, and cheese of kine, for David, and for the people that were with him, to eat: for they said, The people is hungry, and weary, and thirsty, in the wilderness. And David numbered the people that were with him, and set captains of thousands and captains of hundreds over them. And David sent forth a third part of the people under the hand of Joab, and 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 unto the people, I will surely go forth with you myself also. But the people answered, Thou shalt not go forth: for if we flee away, they will not care for us; neither if half of us die, will they care for us: but now thou art worth ten thousand of us: therefore now it is better that thou succour us out of the city. And the king said unto them, What seemeth you best I will do. And the king stood by the gate side, and all the people came out by hundreds and by thousands. And the king commanded Joab and 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. So the people went out into the field against Israel: and the battle was in the wood of Ephraim; Where the people of Israel were slain before the servants of David, and there was there a great slaughter that day of twenty thousand men. For the battle was there scattered over the face of all the country: and the wood devoured more people that day than the sword devoured. 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 taken up between the heaven and the earth; and the mule that was under him went away. And a certain man saw it, and told Joab, and said, Behold, I saw Absalom hanged in an oak. And Joab said unto the man that told him, And, behold, thou sawest him, and why didst thou not smite him there to the ground? and I would have given thee ten shekels of silver, and a girdle. And the man said unto Joab, Though I should receive a thousand shekels of silver in mine hand, yet would I not put forth mine hand against the king’s son: for in our hearing the king charged thee and Abishai and Ittai, saying, Beware that none touch the young man Absalom. Otherwise I should have wrought falsehood against mine own life: for there is no matter hid from the king, and thou thyself wouldest have set thyself against me. Then said Joab, I may not tarry thus with thee. And he took three darts in his hand, and thrust them through the heart of Absalom, while he was yet alive in the midst of the oak. And ten young men that bare Joab’s armour compassed about and smote Absalom, and slew him. And Joab blew the trumpet, and the people returned from pursuing after Israel: for Joab held back the people. And they took Absalom, and cast him into a great pit in the wood, and laid a very great heap of stones upon him: and all Israel fled every one to his tent. Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and reared up for himself a pillar, which is in the king’s dale: 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 unto this day, Absalom’s place. Then said Ahimaaz the son of Zadok, Let me now run, and bear the king tidings, how that the LORD hath avenged him of his enemies. And Joab said unto him, Thou shalt not bear tidings this day, but thou shalt bear tidings another day: but this day thou shalt bear no tidings, because the king’s son is dead. Then said Joab to Cushi, Go tell the king what thou hast seen. And Cushi bowed himself unto Joab, and ran. Then said Ahimaaz the son of Zadok yet again to Joab, But howsoever, let me, I pray thee, also run after Cushi. And Joab said, Wherefore wilt thou run, my son, seeing that thou hast no tidings ready? But howsoever, said he, let me run. And he said unto him, Run. Then Ahimaaz ran by the way of the plain, and overran Cushi. And David sat between the two gates: and the watchman went up to the roof over the gate unto the wall, and lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold a man running alone. And the watchman cried, and told the king. And the king said, If he be alone, there is tidings in his mouth. And he came apace, and drew near. And the watchman saw another man running: and the watchman called unto the porter, and said, Behold another man running alone. And the king said, He also bringeth tidings. And the watchman said, Me thinketh 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 cometh with good tidings. And Ahimaaz called, and said unto the king, All is well. And he fell down to the earth upon his face before the king, and said, Blessed be the LORD thy God, which hath delivered up the men that lifted up their hand against my lord the king. And the king said, Is the young man Absalom safe? And Ahimaaz answered, When Joab sent the king’s servant, and me thy servant, I saw a great tumult, but I knew not what it was. And the king said unto him, Turn aside, and stand here. And he turned aside, and stood still. And, behold, Cushi came; and Cushi said, Tidings, my lord the king: for the LORD hath avenged thee this day of all them that rose up against thee. And the king said unto Cushi, Is the young man Absalom safe? And Cushi answered, The enemies of my lord the king, and all that rise against thee to do thee hurt, be as that young man is. And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!
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HANDSOME ABSALOM

Dr. W. A. Criswell

2 Samuel 14-18

6-11-61    7:30 p.m.

Now one of the young people said to me today, when looking at the title of the sermon tonight Handsome Absalom, that young person said to me, “Listen, we have killed Absalom three times already in these Sunday evening sermons.  And you are going to preach on him again?”  Well, we have slain him heretofore incidentally; now, we are going to murder him on purpose.  One time, Joab, last Sunday night, in the judgment of God upon David; this time we are going to look at the young man for himself.  And there is not a more profitable character to study in the Bible than Absalom.  It will bring a message to the heart of young people in their visions and dreams like nothing else will, if you will open your heart to look at the message brought to us by God in this handsome, beautiful, athletic, personable, amenable, gifted young man Absalom.

Now turn to 2 Samuel, and we are going to read a passage out of the story.  Second Samuel chapter 15, 2 Samuel chapter 15, we shall read from verse 23 through verse 30, 2 Samuel, in the heart of your Old Testament, 2 Samuel chapter 15, verse 23 to verse 30.

Now those proper names in there: Zadok, and Ahimaaz, Jonathan, and Abiathar, now when you get to those names, you pronounce them just like that, and say it out.  Don’t mumble when you get down to Ahimaaz, Zadok, and Abiathar; and you say them out.  All right, 2 Samuel 15:23-30:

And all the country wept with a loud voice, and all the people passed over: the king also himself passed over the Brook Kidron, and all the people passed over, toward the way of the wilderness.

And lo, Zadok also, and all the Levites were with him, bearing the ark of the covenant of God: and they set down the ark of God; and Abiathar went up, until all the people had done passing out of the city.

And the king said unto Zadok, Carry back the ark of God into the city: if I shall find favor in the eyes of the Lord, He will bring me again, and show me both it, and His habitation.

But if He thus say, I have no delight in thee; behold, here am I, let Him do to me as seemeth good unto Him.

The king said also unto Zadok the priest, Art not thou a seer?  Return unto the city in peace, and your two sons with you, Ahimaaz thy son, and Jonathan the son of Abiathar.

See, I will tarry in the plain of the wilderness, until there come word from you to certify me.

Zadok therefore and Abiathar carried the ark of God again to Jerusalem:  and they tarried there.

And David went up by the Ascent of Mount Olivet, and wept as he went up, and had his head covered, and he went barefoot: and all the people that were with him covered every man his head, and they went up, weeping as they went up.

[2 Samuel 15:23-30]

You could not find in literature a more dramatic and pathetic scene than that.  David, the king with his head bare and his feet bare, weeping as he climbs the steep Ascent of Olivet, and behind him and around him, surrounded by his mighty men, every one of them bare, every one of them with tears falling from his face, weeping as they climbed the Ascent of Olivet and faced toward the east and the wilderness, leaving their lives, their destiny in the hands of God.  Where did such a thing come from that this man, this king of whom God said, “I have chosen Me a man after Mine own heart, and his throne will I establish forever” [Acts 13:22].  This man David, an exile; hated and hounded and fleeing for his life, a refugee from one of his own sons; how could a thing like that ever have come to pass?

It came to pass, it came to pass because of one of the most beautiful and gifted and able young men who was ever born; I describe him to you, in the words of God:

But in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty: from the sole of his foot, even to the crown of his head there was not a blemish in him.

And when he polled his head, (for it was at every year’s end that he polled it, he cut off his hair, because his hair was heavy on him, therefore he polled it:) he weighed the hair of his head at two hundred shekels after the king’s weight.

[2 Samuel 14:25-26]

Nobody knows how much that was, but it was an extraordinary weight.  He was beautiful, long, luxurious, curly hair, with stature and countenance, beautiful eyes, beautiful face, and beautiful form; and he was athletic with it.  No sissy, this Absalom.  Look again, “And it came to pass . . . that Absalom prepared him chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him” [2 Samuel 15:1].  When Absalom appeared, you never saw anything as dramatic, as athletic.  He was a sportsman and a showman from the beginning of the word.  And when he came into town, or when he left town, or when he went down the road, the whole populace poured out to see that unusually handsome and good-looking and athletic young man, Absalom.  And he was as shrewd and astute as he was good-looking and athletic:

And Absalom rose up early, and stood beside the way of the gate: and it was so, and it was so, that when any man that had a controversy came to the king David for judgment, that Absalom called unto him, and said, Of what city art thou? And he said, Thy servant is such and such of the tribes of Israel.

And Absalom said unto him, See, thy matters are good and right: but there is no man deputed of the king to hear thee—

never said anything about David himself, but lamented over David’s administration—

And Absalom said moreover, Oh that I, oh that I were made judge in the land, that every man which had any suit or cause might come unto me, and I will do him justice!

And it was so, that when a man came nigh to do him obeisance, being the king’s eldest son, he put forth his hand, and took him, and kissed him.

[2 Samuel 15:2-5]

            This man Absalom; and can you imagine the electric effect that it had upon all Israel?  The king’s son, the heir apparent to the throne, the Prince of Wales, the king’s designate, and Absalom takes him and salutes him and kisses him.  Why, the man turns aside, “Man, I am a king myself!”  Absalom made him feel that way, “And on this manner did Absalom to all Israel that came to the king for judgment: so Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel” [2 Samuel 15:6].

They all went back home, and they all went back down the road, and they all went wherever they came from, and they all said, “This man David’s a great man all right.  And this man David is a great soldier all right.  And this man David is great king all right, but say, that man Absalom, that good-looking, handsome, athletic, that man Absalom, nobody like him!”  And he stole the hearts of the men of Israel.  That’s why, that’s why, that’s why that he could do the damage that he did, because he was good-looking, because he was able and gifted!

That’s what does it in every area of life.  I can take any boy in this world, any boy in the world, I can walk down the street and in the gutter is an old drunk in his stinking vomit.  There he lies in the gutter.  There’s not a boy in the world that would want to drink.  I don’t need to fear the example of a sot, of a drunkard, there in the filth of the gutter, lying unconscious.  The boy says he stinks, the boy says he’s filthy, the boy says that’s the lowest thing a boy could think of, and he turns away.  He doesn’t drink because of the sot or the drunkard.

But you take the young men in our church and in everybody’s church, and you take the fine, aspiring young businessmen out there in that world of the skyscraper and the mercantile establishment and the big enterprise in the city of Dallas; you take the young man, and his boss calls him in, and his boss heads the corporation, and his boss is a genius at making money, and his boss is a multimillionaire!  The boss calls him in, and by the side of the boss sits a big executive, and over here sits a big merchandiser, and over here sits a big other kind of a man, and the boss has the drinks brought in.  And the big man, the ten-talent man, he drinks, and the big executive drinks, and the big merchandiser drinks, and the young fellow says, “Well, well, look at them, the finest in the city, if they drink, I drink, too.”  And he empties his glass in the presence of the big executive.

You don’t need to fear the sot.  You don’t need to fear the drunkard.  No boy is going to follow him.  But every boy is impressed; every young man is swept off his feet by the big ten-talent magnate and tycoon!  And pretty soon, the boy is an alcoholic because of the example of the big guy, the ten-talent man.  All life is that way.  It’s all that way.

This man Absalom was as cruel as he was good-looking, as ruthless and as merciless as he was handsome.  I just turn the page over here and though it is an awful and foul and terrible thing that happened: Amnon, the eldest son of David, violated Tamar, the sister of Absalom [2 Samuel 13:1-19].  Now, a man may do something in a rage and in a passion.  I heard the head of the penitentiary here in the state of Texas say that the model prisoners down there were murderers.  And he gave us a reason for it.  Every man is a potential murderer.  What a man will do in a fit of rage and in a fit of passion, he himself doesn’t know!  And there is many and many a man that if he were to see certain things happen before his eyes would lose the equilibrium of his life.  And though it cost him his own soul, he would throw himself into some kind of a defense.  That’s human nature.  Every man is a potential murderer.

But this wasn’t a murder of passion, or of rage, or of fury.  Two years, two solid years Absalom waited and plotted, and waited and plotted, and at the end of two solid years when the thing had been forgotten and buried, Absalom slew, in cold blood, his eldest brother, Amnon [2 Samuel 13:23-29].  I’m not justifying what Amnon did.  I’m just saying that what Absalom did was a thing of cruelty and ruthless mercilessness.  That’s Absalom.

And so Absalom plots this thing against his father.  “And it came to pass after four years, that Absalom said to the king,” and he covers it over with religious pretexts, “‘I have a vow to make.  I have a vow to make.  And I have got to discharge it at Hebron.  Let me go there and pick out elders of Israel, two hundred, and my young men, and let me go to the sacrifices and pay my vow in Hebron’” [2 Samuel 15:7-11].

So he goes down there to Hebron.  David never dreamed for he loved Absalom, who is now the eldest son living.  And his heart is inclined to Absalom.  He dotes upon Absalom.  If David has a weakness, it is a weakness where Absalom is concerned.  And down there in Hebron with the leaders, he sounds the trumpet.  And they say, “Absalom is king!  Long live King Absalom!” [2 Samuel 16:16].

And all those people he befriended, and all people he’d kissed, and all those people he had been nice to, and all those people that he’d helped, and all those people that he promised justice to, there by the thousands, those men gathered around Absalom.  And when David heard it, he said to his men, “Let us flee for our lives!  Let us flee for our lives!”  [2 Samuel 15:14].

So the scene happened that you just now read, and David leaves [2 Samuel 15:16-17].  And by his side are the Cherethites, and the Pelethites, and the Gittites, the six hundred men of war who had been with David from the beginning, standing by the side of the king [2 Samuel 15:18].  They passed over Kidron and up Olivet and then said to the king, Ittai the Gittite, who was a stranger in the land, Ittai the Gittite said, “I also go with thee.”  And David said, “You are a stranger.  You are an exile from Philistia, you don’t risk your life, don’t jeopardize your future with me.  Go back to Jerusalem.  Go back to Jerusalem.”  And Ittai answered the king and said—and this reminds you of Ruth [Ruth 1:16-17]—”As the Lord liveth,” Ittai says, “and as my lord the king liveth, surely in what place my lord the king shall be, whether in death or in life, even there should also thy servant be” [2 Samuel 15:19-21].  And when the war was fought, a third of his army David gave to Ittai [2 Samuel 18:2], and apparently Ittai lost his life in the battle, last time you ever meet him.  So they go over and the king flees to the east of the Jordan [2 Samuel 15:23-26].

            Then, you have the story, and I will not follow it in detail, it’s too long.  Then you have the story of the war.  I wish I had time to follow it through, I prepared it tonight, but I don’t think I should, how the king sends back Zadok, and Abiathar, and Ahimaaz and Jonathan, the sons of the two priests, “Tell David what is going on so he will know how to do” [2 Samuel 15:27-29, 35-36].  And Ahithophel, the wisest man, look, “And the counsel of Ahithophel, which he counseled in those days, was as if a man had inquired at the oracle of God” [2 Samuel 16:23], guiding Absalom.

            And then David sends back Hushai in order to subvert the counsel of Ahithophel [2 Samuel 15:32-37].  And it was so that Ahithophel gave the wisest counsel to Absalom.  “While David is fleeing, give me twelve thousand men, and I will overtake him, and we will destroy him from the earth, and the kingdom will be yours” [2 Samuel 17:1-4].  And had Absalom followed Ahithophel’s advice, he would have destroyed David, for David was weak and fleeing and disorganized.  And the kingdom would have fallen, would have devolved upon Absalom, but Hushai, the counselor who was secretly in sympathy with King David, Hushai said, “Not so, not so, but wait.  Wait.  Let David go.  Don’t worry about him.  And gather together as the sand of the sea all of the armies of Israel and Judah.  And you lead them in person and go war against the king and overcome him.  And the kingdom will be yours in glory and in honor.”  And the thing appealed to Absalom.  So, that’s the plan that he followed [2 Samuel 17:5-14].

So he made Amasa, Joab’s cousin, he made Amasa captain of the hosts.  And David divides his hosts into three parts.  One part he gave to Joab.  And one part he gave to Abishai, Joab’s brother.  And the third part he gave to that Hittite named Ittai.  And there on the other side of the Jordan River, somewhere in the hills of Gilead, in a forest called Ephraim, there the battle was joined.  And it was fought bitterly.  And twenty thousand men were slain that day [2 Samuel 18:2-7]. 

            And the battle was scattered over the face of all the country.  And those who were pursuing in the woods, slaying each other, killed more in battle than those that were destroyed as the battle was joined face-to-face.  And Absalom’s hosts were scattered and decimated.  And Absalom himself was fleeing away.  And as he was fleeing in the darkness of the woods, his head got caught in the bows of an oak tree.  And his hair helped entangle him in the branches [2 Samuel 18:9].  And early in the morning a young man saw him hanging there, caught by his head in the tree.

            And he went to tell Joab, and Joab said, “Why didn’t you slay him?” [2 Samuel 18:10-11].  And the servant said, “Because King David said touch not the young man Absalom” [2 Samuel 18:5, 12].  And Joab brushed him aside and with the young men who carried his armor, walked to the place where Absalom was caught hanging from the oak tree.  And Absalom took—you have it translated “darts” here; they were just branches, rods—and Joab took those rods and he thrust through the body of Absalom, one time, two times, three times [2 Samuel 18:14].

            And then the ten young men who bore his armor, they said, “Cut him down.”  And they hewed Absalom to pieces, put him in a pit and poured stones upon him in a mark of derision, and horror, and hatred, and disgust, and ignominy, and shame [2 Samuel 18:15-17].  And then, word has to be sent to David because David’s word was, “You are not to bother the young man Absalom” [2 Samuel 18:5]  Isn’t that unusual?  You see, Absalom was seeking the life of David, and David is fighting with his men against the conspiracy and the rebellion, “but do not touch this young man Absalom” [2 Samuel 18:12].  So, Ahimaaz wants to carry news, and Joab says, “No, you could not tell him.”

            “Oh, but let me run!”  And he calls the Cushite, Joab calls the Cushite and says, “You run and tell David.”  And after the Cushite left, Ahimaaz says, “Let me run, too.”  So Ahimaaz runs and he outruns the Cushite, going by a more direct route [2 Samuel 18:19-23].  And when Ahimaaz comes to David, David says, “And how is the young man Absalom?” [2 Samuel 18:29].  And Ahimaaz won’t tell him, “I do not know” [2 Samuel 18:29], he says, “I saw a tumult, but what it was I do not know.”  And while he was standing there, the Cushite comes, and the king says, “But, how is the young man Absalom?”  And the Cushite says, “May all of the king’s enemies be as that young man is!” [2 Samuel 18:30-32], dead and buried under a heap of stones.

            And the paternal heart of the father, overcomes the kingly spirit by which he reigns and governs.  And the king was much moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept, and as he wept, thus, he said, and this is the cry of many a father since, weeping over a prodigal and wayward boy, “O, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom!  Would God I had died for thee!  O Absalom, my son, my son!” [2 Samuel 18:33].  All because he was good-looking, all because he was handsome, all because he was athletic, all because he had a flair for the showman, all because he had a genius in making friends, all because he was amenable, all because he was personable; and he stole the hearts of the people, but underneath he was cruel, and wrong, and selfish; had no other goal in his life but to win a kingdom for himself.

            I wish now I had an hour to expatiate, what is the blessing of life; what is it in a marriage?  What is it in a home?  What is it in a man?  What is it in a woman?  What is the great incomparable blessing of life?  “Oh, to be good-looking!  Oh, to be handsome!  Oh, to be beautiful!  Oh, to be able to shine, to sing, to do, to excel!”  Ah, in themselves they are curses, but sometimes drag our souls and drags those who love them down to the depths of sorrow and despair.

What is the great virtue of life?  Not on the outside, nor is it one on the inside of selfishness and grasping eagerness just for us.  The great pristine virtue of all the benefits and blessings and boons that God could bestow upon us is this: that our hearts are right; godliness, to love Jesus, faithful, devotion, loyalty.  These are the things that will bless a home, that will bless a life, that will bless a boy, that will bless a girl, that will bless a young man in his business, that will bless a girl in her prayers and in the devotion of her life.  All of the rest is as dust and ashes.

But if on the inside of us our hearts are right, we have Jesus, we have God, then with that you can build a kingdom.  You can raise an empire.  You can erect a house.  You can build a home.  You can live a life.  And in the world that is to come, you can look with anticipation to the glorious favor of God upon us.  How mistaken are we in the things we covet in life!  Oh, that I were rich!  Oh, that I were handsome!  Oh, that I could excel in athletics!  Oh, that I had these things!  And most of the time these things damn us and curse us and destroy us.

Whereas the great hope of our souls, and the prayers of our life ought to be, “Oh! that my heart can be filled with the goodness of God, that I might have Jesus on the inside of me, that my life might be His, and that all of the issues of my day might flow toward His blessed loving grace and mercy!”  That’s it, and if you’ve got Jesus, you have got everything.  If you don’t have the Lord, no matter what you have, you are poor and someday shall face the most tragic despair that life could pay for or imagine.

“Choose you this day!” [Joshua 24:15].  I choose Jesus.  That was a big placard at the front of the tabernacle out there at the camp.  “I choose Jesus.”

And the man who made that great, large placard put on the one side a boy with his hand raised up to a likeness of Jesus.  And by the side of the boy there is a girl with her hand raised up to that form and figure of Jesus.  And there stands the boy.  And there stands the girl.  And their hands are raised up to the form and figure of our Lord and the caption above, “I choose Jesus.”

That’s it.  Then whether we are rich or not, whether we are good-looking or not, whether we are handsome or not, whether we succeed at all or not, these things are nothing, but having God, we have the world and all that’s in it and heaven beside, ”I choose Jesus.”  And that is the appeal we make to your heart tonight.  While we sing this song of invitation, giving your life, and your soul, and your heart to the Lord Jesus, would you come?  Would you come?

To the farthest seat in that upmost balcony, there’s time to come.  Down one of these stairways and here to the pastor, on this lower floor, somebody you, “Here I am, and here I come.  I give my life in devotion and in trust to God.  I’d rather have Him than to have the world.  I’d rather have Jesus than houses and land.  I choose Jesus.”  Would you make it tonight?  Or somebody you that ought to come, putting your life with us in the fellowship of the church, while we make this appeal and while we stand and sing this song, would you make it now?   “Here I come, and here I am.”

HANDSOME ABSALOM

Dr. W. A. Criswell

2 Samuel 14-18

6-11-61

I. Absalom talented, most handsome, most influential, most loved in the kingdom

II. Influence

1.    Absalom influenced people with his looks, charm, shrewdness

2.    Young people are always influenced into sin by successful men

III. Cruelty

1.    Absalom was as cruel as he was handsome

2.    Model prisoners in penitentiary are murderers, who murder in a fit of instant rage

3.    Absalom waited two years to murder his half brother, plotting patiently

IV. Israel allows Absalom to take kingdom from David

V. Absalom tries to murder David

VI. David’s general Joab kills Absalom, David mourns for his son

VII. Choose Jesus over vanity