2 Samuel 18:33
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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(33) Was much moved.—David’s grief was not merely that of a father for his first-born son, but for that son slain in the very act of outrageous sin. His sorrow, too, may have gained poignancy from the thought—which must often have come to him during the progress of this rebellion—that all this sin and wrong took its occasion from his own great sin. Yet David was criminally weak at this crisis in allowing the feelings of the father completely to outweigh the duties of the monarch.

18:19-33 By directing David to give God thanks for his victory, Ahimaaz prepared him for the news of his son's death. The more our hearts are fixed and enlarged, in thanksgiving to God for our mercies, the better disposed we shall be to bear with patience the afflictions mixed with them. Some think David's wish arose from concern about Absalom's everlasting state; but he rather seems to have spoken without due thought. He is to be blamed for showing so great fondness for a graceless son. Also for quarrelling with Divine justice. And for opposing the justice of the nation, which, as king, he had to administer, and which ought to be preferred before natural affection. The best men are not always in a good frame; we are apt to over-grieve for what we over-loved. But while we learn from this example to watch and pray against sinful indulgence, or neglect of our children, may we not, in David, perceive a shadow of the Saviour's love, who wept over, prayed for, and even suffered death for mankind, though vile rebels and enemies.There is not in the whole of the Old Testament a passage of deeper pathos than this. Compare Luke 19:41. In the Hebrew Bible this verse commences the nineteenth chapter. The King James Version follows the Greek and Latin versions. 24-32. David sat between the two gates—that is, in the tower-house on the wall that overhung the gate of Mahanaim. Near it was a watchtower, on which a sentinel was posted, as in times of war, to notify every occurrence. The delicacy of Ahimaaz' communication was made up by the unmistakable plainness of Cushi's. The death of Absalom was a heavy trial, and it is impossible not to sympathize with the outburst of feeling by which David showed that all thoughts of the victory he had won as a king were completely sunk in the painful loss he had sustained as a father. The extraordinary ardor and strength of his affection for this worthless son break out in the redundancy and vehemence of his mournful ejaculations. Went up to the chamber over the gate; retiring himself from all men and business, that he might wholly give up himself to lamentation.

David might speak thus from a deep sense of his eternal state, because he died in his sins, without the least testimony of repentance, and because David himself had by his own sins been the unhappy instrument and occasion of his son’s death.

And the king was much moved,.... His affections were moved, his passions were stirred up; he was greatly troubled, distressed, and grieved:

and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept; got out of sight and company as soon as he could; as his own dwelling was at some distance, he made haste to the chamber in the watchtower, over the gate of the city, where the watchman was, to vent his grief; and could not suppress it till he got thither:

and as he went; up the stairs to the chamber:

thus he said, O my son Absalom! my son, my son Absalom! which repetition expresses the vehemence of his affections, and how inconsolable he was on account of his son's death:

would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son! some think he said this on account of his eternal state, being satisfied of his own; but it may be it was only the effect of natural affection, indulged to too great a degree, and unbecoming so good a man in such a case; the Targum is,"I wish I had died for thee, and thou hadst remained this day.''

And the king was much {l} 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!

(l) Because he considers both the judgment of God against his sin, and could not otherwise hide his fatherly affection for his son.

33. David’s mourning for Absalom

33. was much moved] Better perhaps, was sore troubled. Sept. ἐταράχθη is a good rendering. This passionate outburst of grief was due not only to the tenderness of affection, which was so striking a trait in David’s character, but to the bitterness of the thought that the rebel, the would-be parricide, was thus

“Cut off even in the blossoms of his sin,

No reckoning made, but sent to his account

With all his imperfections on his head;”

and that this terrible catastrophe was the fruit and the punishment of his own crimes. The heart-broken cry “Would God I had died for thee” was not only the utterance of self-sacrificing love, but the confession that he had himself deserved the punishment which fell upon another. Cp. ch. 2 Samuel 24:17.

would God, &c.] So Moses (Exodus 32:32), and so St Paul (Romans 9:3), would have sacrificed themselves, had it been possible, to save others.

Verse 33. - The king was much moved. The Hebrew word properly refers to agitation of body. A violent trembling seized the king, and, rising, he went up to the guard chamber over the two gates, that he might give free course to his lamentation. The whole is told so vividly that we can scarcely doubt that we have here the words of one who was present at this pathetic scene, who saw the tremor which shook David's body, and watched him as he crept slowly up the stairs, uttering words of intense sorrow. And it was conscience which smote him; for his own "sin had found him out." In Psalm 38, and 40. he has made the confession that it was his own iniquity which was now surging over his head.

2 Samuel 18:33The king understood the meaning of the words. He was agitated, and went up to the balcony of the gate (the room above the entrance) and wept, and said, walking about, "My son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Oh that I had died for thee, Absalom, my son, my son!" To understand this passionate utterance of anguish, we must bear in mind not only the excessive tenderness, or rather weakness, of David's paternal affection towards his son, but also his anger that Joab and his generals should have paid so little regard to his command to deal gently with Absalom. With the king's excitable temperament, this entirely prevented him from taking a just and correct view of the crime of his rebel son, which merited death, and of the penal justice of God which had been manifested in his destruction.
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