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…
"Next to the calamity of losing a battle," a great general used to say, "is that of gaining a victory." The battle in the wood of Ephraim left twenty thousand of King David's subjects dead or dying on the field. It is remarkable how little is made of this dismal fact. Men's lives count for little in time of war, and death, even with, its worst horrors, is just the common fate of warriors. Yet surely David and his friends could not think lightly of a calamity that cut down more of the sons of Israel than any battle since the fatal day of Mount Gilboa. Nor could they form a light estimate of the guilt of the man whose inordinate vanity and ambition had cost the nation such a fearful loss. But all thoughts of this kind were for the moment brushed aside by the crowning fact that Absalom himself was dead. The elements of David's intense agony, when he heard of Absalom's death, were mainly three.
I. THERE WAS THE LOSS OF HIS SON, of whom he could say that, with all his faults, he loved him still. A dear object had been plucked from his heart, and left it sick, vacant, desolate. A face he had often gazed on with delight lay cold in death. An infinite pathos, in a father's experience, surrounds a young man's death. The regret, the longing, the conflict with the inevitable, seem to drain him of all energy, and leave him helpless in his sorrow.
II. ABSALOM HAD DIED IN REBELLION, without expressing one word of regret, without one request for forgiveness, without one act or word that it would be pleasant to recall in time to come, as a foil to the bitterness caused by his unnatural rebellion.
III. In this rebellious condition he had passed to the judgment of God. What hope could there be for such a man, living and dying as he had done?
IV. Two remarks.
(1) With reference to grief from bereavements in general, it is to be observed that they will prove either a blessing or an evil according to the use to which they are turned. All grief in itself is a weakening thing — weakening both to the body and the mind, and it were a great error to suppose that it must do good in the end. Not only does it depress the mourner himself, and unfit him for his duties to the living, but it depresses those that come in contact with him, and makes them think of him with a measure of impatience. It is not right to obtrude our grief overmuch on others, especially if we are in a public position. Let us take example in this respect from our blessed Lord. Was any sorrow like unto His sorrow? Yet how little did He obtrude it even on the notice of His disciples! And how many things are there to a Christian mind fitted to abate the first sharpness even of a great bereavement. Is it not the doing of a Father, infinitely kind? Is it not the doing of Him "who spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all?" Hear Him saying, "What I do, thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter."(2) Grief that may arise to Christians in connection with the spiritual condition of departed, children. When the parent is either in doubt as to the happiness of a beloved one, or has cause to apprehend that the portion of that child, is with the unbelievers, the pang which he experiences is one of the most acute which the human heart can know.
(W. G. Blaikie, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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!