Absalom’s Revolt

Open Your Bible

2 Samuel 15:1-37, 2 Samuel 16:1-23, 2 Samuel 17:1-29, Psalm 96:10, Isaiah 11:1-5

Scripture Reading: 2 Samuel 15:1-37, 2 Samuel 16:1-23, 2 Samuel 17:1-29, Psalm 96:10, Isaiah 11:1-5

We think of God’s favor as an endless river of glittering gifts, but that’s not the whole story.

David shows us that God’s favor isn’t always an easy pill to swallow. Sure, he received a kingdom from the Lord (2 Samuel 7:8). That gift came with plenty of perks, but being a man after God’s own heart also came with challenges.

When Samuel anointed David as king, I’m sure it was a happy occasion, mostly because Samuel never mentioned the possibility of facing down a giant (1 Samuel 17), potential death threats from the existing king (1 Samuel 18-23), and the massive temptations that come with being the most powerful man in the land (2 Samuel 11). Samuel certainly didn’t mention that David would have to fight his own beloved son to keep his kingdom.

We find the story of Absalom’s rebellion in 2 Samuel 13-18. The wheels started to come off the train when David’s son Amnon raped his half-sister, Tamar. Tamar’s brother, Absalom (Amnon’s half-brother), was enraged by his brother’s sin and eventually had Amnon killed (2 Samuel 13).  

This was a low blow for David, but the hits had just started coming. Absalom fled to live with his grandparents. During that long season of waiting, a bitter root started to grow in Absalom’s heart. Though his father eventually welcomed him home with a kiss, Absalom began to plot a coup to take the throne. He launched a PR campaign, tricked 200 men into joining his cause, recruited David’s advisers, amassed an army, and prepared to march on to Jerusalem.

The same David who had been promised a kingdom that would last forever put on a disguise and ran for his life.

Though the battle cost him mightily—20,000 casualties, including his own son—David kept his throne, and God kept His promises. Yes, David was highly favored by God, but that didn’t vaccinate him from hard work and heartbreak.

This story reminds me of another hero who knew the gut-wrenching reality of God’s favor.  

“And the angel came to [Mary] and said, ‘Rejoice, favored woman! The Lord is with you.”
– Luke 1:28

Yes, Mary was a “favored woman” with reason to rejoice. But serving God also meant suffering. The angel didn’t mention that Mary would watch her miracle boy die a horrible death on the cross.

When we confuse God’s favor with a free ticket to Easy Street, we can find ourselves easily blindsided. As God’s child, you are highly favored, but that doesn’t mean life will never throw you a curveball. Absalom’s rebellion shows us that suffering is not a sure sign that God’s favor has left us.

Will we praise God, even when His favor comes with both victories and challenges?


Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

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39 thoughts on "Absalom’s Revolt"

  1. Lana says:

    I find it really interesting how David turns to God in times of war, one aspect of his life, but doesn’t seem as inclined to turn to God about women, another aspect of his life. What if he had asked God about Bethsheba like he had asked God about battle plans? What if he had asked God about how to restore Tamar? What if he asked God about how to judge Amnon? I am sure all of this – and I do mean ALL of it – could have be avoided if David had turned to the Lord in all aspects of his life. It’s my prayer we seek God’s council in everything and not just in a couple areas of our lives. Sin is contagious. So much better to act in love. Love is also contagious.

    1. Lana says:

      Just added this to my notes: it’s wise to seek God in all areas, PARTICULARLY the areas that bring us pleasure.

    2. Tyasia Goodwin says:

      This was really good commentary! I totally agree. I’d imagine all that power might have gotten to him. If I’m remembering correctly even in 1 Samuel Samuel warned Israel of what having a king over them would cost them.

  2. Ashley BB says:

    My overwhelming thought through today’s reading is, “Rest in the prophecy to courageously move forward through the suffering.” David was given a prophecy, as was Mary, as were the Israelites. Each one had to live in and boldly move forward through suffering, loss and heartbreak.

    The suffering doesn’t negate the prophecy, but more important is our response to the suffering.

  3. Heidi V says:

    I found myself captivated by this part of David’s story. A child’s rejection and betrayal, so publicly seen – my heart broke. This would torment me. Can you imagine the family strife, first with the Tamar situation, and then Abasalom’s coup attempt? What an absolute mess! I often measure my family up against other seemingly “perfect” families, you know those one’s where the Daddy leads family devotions every night and the Mommy makes homemade bread and never yells. But David gives me hope. He is still part of God’s great story of redemption despite so many mis-steps and so often NOT having that perfect family. I see David – trusting God – even though he knew he had responsibility in the his family drama. I often move away from God when I know that some of my drama is my own fault. David seems to have little moments when he forgets God is God and he temporarily places someone or something in that primary position – as an idol before him. I do this everyday. But David sets an example of repentance and returns to trust God despite his faults and failure. This is humility before God. David’s heart for God inspires me to let God redeem me, not because of my actions, but because of His great power. If God chooses to redeem and esteem David, then I am encouraged. My parenting needs as much redemption as David’s. May God grant me wisdom and patience, perseverance and humility today as I endeavor to parent these children He has blessed me with. Would not have guessed that David would be an example of parenting to me today. The Word is always full of surprises.

    1. RondaGale says:

      “….let God redeem me, not because of my actions, but because of His great power ” ❤️

  4. Diane Huntsman says:

    I wonder if King David laid in bed at night tossing and turning blaming himself for the rape, the family murder and now the revolt.. was he in turmoil over all the sin that seemed to be ransacking his children.. I love that no matter how gross my sin is, no matter how low I sink, my God will forgive me, He will cleanse me from all unrighteousness.. but BUT the law of reaping and sowing doesn’t change.. consequences are for real and the sting is lasting.. God says what He means and He means what He says and not even the man after Gods own heart, the chosen King was exempt from living a life of reaping what he had sown… may we never confuse grace as a ticket to sin.. yes there is grace in limitless supply, but repercussions happen and I don’t want to toss and turn on my bed at night connecting my sin to horrible consequences.. Lord help us to seriously take time to consider our choices and the weight of each one.. and if it’s too late and we’ve already made our messes, graciously clean them up and help us to not be buried under the weight of the guilt and the repercussions.. help us to do our best to live on for You in light of the collateral damages..

  5. Melody says:

    This story is a good reminder to me that though we are forgiven, our actions and sin still have consequences. We like to think that God is only a God of love–but he is also a just judge. The things that Absalom did were prophesied about as part of David’s punishment for the murder of Uriah. Usually our punishment is not so blatant as this. But may I never underestimate the seriousness of sin in my life. And praise to the God who cleanses us and breaks the chain of sin & death!

    1. Emily says:

      I was thinking about this too. I agree that suffering doesn’t mean we have lost God’s favor, but in this case wasn’t it a consequence of David’s sin? if David had not sinned against Bathsheba, would his children have still rebelled? I think this gets into things I will never understand this side of heaven :)

  6. Rebekah DeLibro says:

    Even the most put together families have struggles and scandals and David faced some really big ones in his. I think of Luke 12:48 -from everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. David was chosen by God and so there were many things he did well for God but many he missed the mark like his sons and Bathsheba. As Christians I think we need to understand God will ask a lot of us and that may include some suffering, but if we follow His commands daily, He will be with us during the suffering. Hopefully none of us will have the type of suffering David experienced, but I know as long as we are on this Earth there will be torment, evil, and heartache. There will be no Easy street just because you are a Christian but when it’s not easy God promises he will be with us unconditionally. Our faithfulness is so important, even when you think The Lord has forsaken you and doesn’t have your best interest in mind. David knew he deserved what God had put on him and asked for forgiveness and deliverance and was given it.

    1. Emily B. says:


  7. RondaGale says:

    “Praise God even when His favor comes with both victories and challenges” … Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. IN EVERYTHING give thanks.
    1 Thess 5:16-18. So hard to do unless you look to God drawing you closer to Him, making you more like Him.

  8. Alicia S says:

    This makes me think about the sermon that was preached this past weekend at my church on the book of Job. Despite everything that happened to Job, he still refused to curse God which raises the question do we praise the Lord because of the blessings he has given us? If we lost everything, would we still continue to trust in the Lord, or would we turn away from him because he allowed bad things to happen to us?