Opening Prayer

Father, thank you that I can always come to you asking for mercy, for comfort, for wisdom; you will never turn me away.

Read 2 SAMUEL 13:23-39

Absalom Kills Amnon

23 Two years later, when Absalom’s sheepshearers were at Baal Hazor near the border of Ephraim, he invited all the king’s sons to come there. 24 Absalom went to the king and said, “Your servant has had shearers come. Will the king and his attendants please join me?”

25 “No, my son,” the king replied. “All of us should not go; we would only be a burden to you.” Although Absalom urged him, he still refused to go but gave him his blessing.

26 Then Absalom said, “If not, please let my brother Amnon come with us.”

The king asked him, “Why should he go with you?” 27 But Absalom urged him, so he sent with him Amnon and the rest of the king’s sons.

28 Absalom ordered his men, “Listen! When Amnon is in high spirits from drinking wine and I say to you, ‘Strike Amnon down,’ then kill him. Don’t be afraid. Haven’t I given you this order? Be strong and brave.” 29 So Absalom’s men did to Amnon what Absalom had ordered. Then all the king’s sons got up, mounted their mules and fled.

30 While they were on their way, the report came to David: “Absalom has struck down all the king’s sons; not one of them is left.” 31 The king stood up, tore his clothes and lay down on the ground; and all his attendants stood by with their clothes torn.

32 But Jonadab son of Shimeah, David’s brother, said, “My lord should not think that they killed all the princes; only Amnon is dead. This has been Absalom’s express intention ever since the day Amnon raped his sister Tamar. 33 My lord the king should not be concerned about the report that all the king’s sons are dead. Only Amnon is dead.”

34 Meanwhile, Absalom had fled.

Now the man standing watch looked up and saw many people on the road west of him, coming down the side of the hill. The watchman went and told the king, “I see men in the direction of Horonaim, on the side of the hill.”[a]

35 Jonadab said to the king, “See, the king’s sons have come; it has happened just as your servant said.”

36 As he finished speaking, the king’s sons came in, wailing loudly. The king, too, and all his attendants wept very bitterly.

37 Absalom fled and went to Talmai son of Ammihud, the king of Geshur. But King David mourned many days for his son.

38 After Absalom fled and went to Geshur, he stayed there three years. 39 And King David longed to go to Absalom, for he was consoled concerning Amnon’s death.

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  1. 2 Samuel 13:34 Septuagint; Hebrew does not have this sentence.

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


‘Peace I leave … my peace I give … I do not give … as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.’1

Think Further

It doesn’t take much imagination to work out what happened next. Absalom, Tamar’s full brother, waited two years before he took his revenge, maybe waiting to see if David really would let Amnon get away with it. He probably saw Amnon’s murder as a legitimate exercise of justice. The similarity of his plan to that of Amnon and Jonadab is probably not coincidental. David suspected that Absalom’s invitation was not without ulterior motives, although his unwillingness to challenge his sons may have left him with the hope that Absalom had got over Tamar’s rape as easily as David himself seems to have done. In any case, David gave his blessing to Absalom’s party and indeed explicitly allowed Amnon to go, while staying out of the way himself. David was devastated when he thought Absalom had killed all his half-brothers but Amnon’s unpleasant co-conspirator Jonadab, presumably present at the feast, now sought to ingratiate himself with David by bringing reassurance. It was only Amnon that had been killed; and the implication of his comment about the rape is that Amnon deserved to die. Absalom avoided possible repercussions by fleeing to the protection of his (and Tamar’s) grandfather in nearby Geshur – apparently then an independent province in the Golan Heights.

There are a lot of unanswered questions here. Was David expecting Absalom’s action? Was his mourning (v 37) for Amnon or for Absalom? What did Tamar think of all this? What does seem clear is that the writer wants to raise questions in his readers’ minds about David’s failures in parenting and to make it plain that this was a dysfunctional family. Absalom’s action is understandable, but whether it was right or wrong is left for readers to decide.


What do you think Absalom should have done in this situation? What advice would you have given? How significant do you think it is that God is not mentioned in this chapter?

Closing prayer

Lord God, keep me from a critical and judgmental spirit. Enable me to keep my thoughts and actions in line with your will for me.

Last Updated on September 19, 2023 by kingstar

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