While David was sitting between the inner and outer gates of the town, the watchman climbed to the roof of the gateway by the wall. As he looked, he saw a lone man running toward them. He shouted the news down to David, and the king replied, “If he is alone, he has news.” As the messenger came closer, the watchman saw another man running toward them. He shouted down, “Here comes another one!” The king replied, “He also will have news.”
“The first man runs like Ahimaaz son of Zadok,” the watchman said. “He is a good man and comes with good news,” the king replied.
Then Ahimaaz cried out to the king, “Everything is all right!” He bowed before the king with his face to the ground and said, “Praise to the Lord your God, who has handed over the rebels who dared to stand against my lord the king.” . . .
“What about young Absalom?” the king demanded. “Is he all right?” And the Ethiopian replied, “May all of your enemies, my lord the king, both now and in the future, share the fate of that young man!”
The king was overcome with emotion. He went up to the room over the gateway and burst into tears. And as he went, he cried, “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you! O Absalom, my son, my son.”
(2 Samuel 18:24-33)
Why was David so upset over the death of his rebel son? (1) David realized that he, in part, was responsible for Absalom’s death. Nathan, the prophet, had said that because David had killed Uriah, his own sons would rebel against him. (2) David was angry at Joab and his officers for killing Absalom against his wishes. (3) David truly loved his son, despite his son’s rebellion. It would have been kinder and more loving to deal with Absalom and his runaway ego when he was younger.
Prayerfully consider ways you can reach out to those who grieve. You might send a card or offer the gift of your presence, even if you’re not sure what to say. If you’re grieving the loss of a child, know that our compassionate God is present and offers his comfort and love.