The Revenge of Absalom
2 Samuel 13:22-29
And Absalom spoke to his brother Amnon neither good nor bad: for Absalom hated Amnon, because he had forced his sister Tamar.…

Absalom hated Amnon. References:

1. Third son (Chileab, probably, being dead) of David, by Maacab, daughter of Talmai, King of Geshur; born at Hebron, his name ("father of peace") indicating, perhaps, the hope entertained at his birth (2 Samuel 3:1-5). "The young handsome hero must have been conspicuous among the soldiers of Israel, and taken his place among the sons of David, who were 'chief rulers.'"

2. Hatred (when about eighteen years old) and murder (after two years).

3. Flight to Geshur (ver. 38) and residence there (three years).

4. Return (2 Samuel 14:23, 24) and partial reconciliation (during two years); married about this time, and father of three sons (dying in infancy, 2 Samuel 14:27; 2 Samuel 18:18) and one daughter (Tamar, named after his sister).

5. Full reconciliation (2 Samuel 14:33; 2 Samuel 15:1-11) and preparation for revolt (four years).

6. Conspiracy in Hebron (2 Samuel 15:12, 13).

7. Occupation of Jerusalem (2 Samuel 15:37; 2 Samuel 16:15-19), possession of the palace (2 Samuel 15:20-23), anointed king (2 Samuel 19:10), consultations (2 Samuel 17:1-14).

8. Pursuit of David, and defeat in battle (2 Samuel 17:24-26; 2 Samuel 18:1-8).

9. Slain by Joab (2 Samuel 18:9-18). 10. Lamented by David (2 Samuel 18:33; 2 Samuel 19:1-4). Revenge is sinful resentment. It is felt, on account of real or supposed injury, toward the person rather than the conduct of the offender; desires his suffering, not his improvement; and seeks it maliciously, deliberately, and unlawfully. "All pain occasioned to another in consequence of an offence or injury received from him, further than what is calculated to procure reparation or promote the just ends of punishment, is so much revenge" (Paley, 'Mot. Ph.'). It is "a kind of wild justice" (Bacon, 'Essays'). Of the spirit of revenge, which was embodied in Absalom, and too often finds a place in others, observe -

I. ITS SEEMING JUSTIFICATION; for he who indulges it commonly seeks to justify himself therein (2 Samuel 14:32), it may be, on account of:

1. The grievous wrong suffered, directly or in the person of another with whom he is closely connected. The more this is brooded over, the greater it appears and the more it incites to wrath.

2. The natural instinct of anger and retaliation, which is

"Far, far too dear to every mortal breast,
Sweet to the soul as honey to the taste."

(Homer.) But it must be directed, controlled, often completely repressed by justice and love. "The taking vengeance on a foe is honourable," it has been said, "rather than the being reconciled" (Aristotle, 'Rhetoric'). True wisdom teaches otherwise (1 Samuel 11:12, 13; Proverbs 20:22; Proverbs 24:29).

3. The culpable failure of justice, on the part of the civil magistrate, "the minister of God," etc. (Romans 13:4). It may be a temptation to private vengeance; but it does not warrant any one in taking the law into his own hands; whilst by doing so he becomes a breaker of the law and justly liable to its penalty. "The revenge which he took for the foul wrong that his sister had suffered at the hands of Amnon did not shock the men of Israel as it shocks us. To him, by the feeling of all Oriental nations, belonged the special guardianship of her honour; and subtly as the punishment was inflicted, it was nothing more than the monstrous turpitude of the guilt deserved. Had David been true to his kingly calling, instead of passing the crime over with a weak sorrow and a yet weaker leniency, there would have been no occasion for the vengeance which Absalom felt himself bound to take. The two long years of waiting which followed on his revenge, must have been a time in which disappointment, irritation, bitterness against his father, were gaining, slowly but surely, the mastery over him" (Plumptre).


1. Enduring and implacable hatred (ver. 23); a malicious purpose formed from the first (as his intimate companion read in his countenance, ver. 32), but concealed that it might be the more effectually accomplished when opportunity served. "A man that studieth revenge keeps his own wounds green, which otherwise would heal and do well" (Bacon).

2. Subtle and deceitful scheming (vers. 24, 26); under pretence of kindness; and taking a base advantage of affection, consideration, and confidence. Ver. 25 is "the first instance history offers of the ruinous cost of royal visits to those who are honoured with them" (Kitto).

3. Pitiless and treacherous cruelty (ver. 28; 2 Samuel 11:13). Another instance of indulgence in intoxication (1 Samuel 25:36, 37; 2 Samuel 11:13). "Absalom calls the execution of this base cruelty in his servants, courage and valour; being indeed but treacherous and cowardly murder; which shows that vices are ofttimes coloured with the name of virtues, as drunkenness is called good fellowship, avarice good husbandry, subtlety to deceive wisdom, and pride magnanimity" (Guild). It is not improbable that he wished to get rid of Amnon as an obstacle in the way to the throne. "The wild acts of Absalom's life may have been to some extent the results of maternal training; they were at least characteristic of the stock from which he sprang" (Smith, 'Dict.'). "From his father he inherited nothing but his regal pride" (Ewald). "He was a man who could scheme deeply, bide his time patiently, and then strike with decision and daring" (D. Macleod).


1. Disbelief in the presence and justice of God, who, though man fails to punish, "will by no means clear the guilty."

2. Insensibility to his forbearance, which should teach the like (1 Samuel 24:13; Matthew 5:48).

3. Disobedience to the Divine Law, which is fulfilled in one word," etc. (Galatians 5:14), and to many special injunctions (Romans 12:9; Matthew 6:15).

4. Fruitfulness in wickedness and crime (1 John 3:15), with all their evil consequences to others and to a man himself (vers. 36, 37). "Absalom fled from man, who only could kill the body; but he could not fly from blood guiltiness and an accusing conscience, nor yet from the hand of God's justice, which did reach him afterwards" (Guild). "It was asked of the sage, 'In what one virtue are all the rest comprised?' 'Patience,' was his answer. 'And in what single vice are all others concentrated?' 'Vindictiveness'" (Rabbi Salomon Ibn Gabirol). "Whereas some may be apt to suspect that the patient bearing of one injury may invite another, I believe it will be found quite otherwise, that the revenging of one injury brings on another; the one is like the withdrawing of fuel or combustible matter, which will soon put out the fire, and the other is continually furnishing fresh fuel, mixed with oil and gunpowder and such inflaming materials as are apt to spread the fire of contention, but not to extinguish it" (J. Blair: 1740).

CONCLUSION. How odious is the spirit of revenge! He who gives way to it might as well cherish a venomous serpent in his bosom. "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:21). - D.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And Absalom spake unto his brother Amnon neither good nor bad: for Absalom hated Amnon, because he had forced his sister Tamar.

WEB: Absalom spoke to Amnon neither good nor bad; for Absalom hated Amnon, because he had forced his sister Tamar.

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