Parental Sorrows
2 Samuel 13:30-39
And it came to pass, while they were in the way, that tidings came to David, saying, Absalom has slain all the king's sons…

And the king also and all his servants wept very sore (ver. 36). David's intense feeling appears in his affection (vers. 6, 25, 39), his wrath (ver. 21), and his grief (ver. 31). The delight which a father finds in his children is seldom unalloyed. His sorrows, on their account, are -


1. Their misbehaviour. "A 'house cross' is the heaviest of all earthly crosses. The gall which is mingled in our cup by those who are nearest to us surpasses all others in bitterness" (Krummacher).

"How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is
To have a thankless child!"

(King Lear.')

2. Their misfortune (ver. 19).

3. Their disappointment of his hopes; his consternation, trembling anxieties, exaggerated fears (ver. 30); his bereavement by death (ver. 32) and by enforced exile through crime (ver. 34); his son a fratricide, like Cain, alive yet dead. What a heavy burden of trouble was thus laid upon David! It is not surprising that it was followed by serious and protracted bodily affliction, favourable to the designs of his enemies and conducive to still deeper distress (2 Samuel 15:4, 30), as several psalms seem to indicate (Psalm 38., 39., 41., 55.).

O Jehovah, rebuke me not in thine anger,
Nor chasten me in thy hot displeasure.
For thine arrows stick fast in me,
And thy hand presseth me sore," etc. (Psalm 38:1, 2.)


1. His sinful example. Children are more ready to imitate their father's vices than his virtues.

2. His defective discipline. "David's failure in the government of his family was due in part to the excessive, even morbid, tenderness of his feelings towards his children, especially some of them. He may also have thought of his family circle as too exclusively a scene for relaxation and enjoyment; he may have forgotten that even there there is a call for much vigilance and self-denial" (Blaikie). "By this example we see that children whom their parents spare to correct will in the end be a grief unto them" (Wilier). "Chastisement without love is an outrage; no father is at liberty to plague or torture his child; but a love that cannot chastise is no love, and reaps a poor reward. A child that does not at the proper time feel the father's rod becomes at last a rod for his father" (Schlier). "Ofttimes the child whom the father loves most (as David did Amnon) becomes his greatest grief by too much indulgence" (Guild).

3. His culpable clemency in the case of a great crime (ver. 21). Even if David did inflict some punishment on Amnon, as it has been supposed (Chandler), yet it was altogether inadequate to the offence. The sorrows of a father over the sins and sufferings of his children are intensified by the knowledge that they are, in some degree, the result of his own errors and transgressions. "A parent can have no sharper pang than the sight of his own sin reappearing in his child. David saw the ghastly reflection of his unbridled passion in his eldest son's foul crime (and even a gleam of it in his unhappy daughter) and of his murderous craft in his second son's bloody revenge" (Maclaren).


1. The occasion of trouble is less calamitous than it might have been; less than it was feared to be (ver. 32).

2. Grief is assuaged by the lapse of time (vers. 37, 38).

3. It is vain to mourn over what is irreparable (ver. 39; 2 Samuel 12:23; 2 Samuel 14:14).

4. These afflictions are chastisements from the heavenly Father's hand, and should be endured with patience and hope (Psalm 39:7, 9; Psalm 38:15).

5. They are mingled with tokens of Divine favour (2 Samuel 12:13, 25; Psalm 41:1-3; Isaiah 27:8).

6. Their purpose is morally beneficial (Hebrews 12:11). "It may seem strange to say it, but it is most true, that the tears which flow from the eyelids of a man are as needful to the fruitfulness of his heart as the dews which descend from the eyelids of the morning are to the thirsty ground" (E. Irving). - D.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And it came to pass, while they were in the way, that tidings came to David, saying, Absalom hath slain all the king's sons, and there is not one of them left.

WEB: It happened, while they were in the way, that the news came to David, saying, "Absalom has slain all the king's sons, and there is not one of them left!"

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