Here is, I. The fright that David was put into by a false report brought to Jerusalem that Absalom had slain all the king’s sons, 2 Sam. 13:30. It is common for fame to make bad worse; and the first news of such a thing as this represents it as more dreadful than afterwards it proves. Let us not therefore be afraid of evil tidings, while they want confirmation, but, when we hear the worst, hope the best, at least hope better. However, this false news gave as much affliction to David, for the present, as if it had been true; he tore his garments, and lay on the earth, while as yet it was only a flying story, 2 Sam. 13:31. It was well that David had grace; he had need enough of it, for he had strong passions.
II. The rectifying of the mistake in two ways:—1. By the sly suggestions of Jonadab, David’s nephew, who could tell him, Amnon only is dead, and not all the king’s sons (2 Sam. 13:32, 33), and could tell him too that it was done by the appointment of Absalom, and designed from the day Amnon forced his sister Tamar. What a wicked man was he, if he knew all this or had any cause to suspect it, that he did not make David acquainted with it sooner, that means might be used to make up the quarrel, or at least that David might not throw Amnon into the mouth of danger by letting him go to Absalom’s house. If we do not our utmost to prevent mischief, we make ourselves accessory to it. If we say, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider whether we did or no? See Prov. 24:11, 12. It is well if Jonadab was not as guilty of Amnon’s death as he was of his sin; such friends do those prove who are hearkened to as counsellors to do wickedly: he that would not be so kind as to prevent Amnon’s sin would not be so kind as to prevent his ruin, when, it should seem, he might have done both. 2. By the safe return of all the king’s sons except Amnon. They and their attendants were speedily discovered by the watch (2 Sam. 13:34, 35), and soon arrived, to show themselves alive, but to bring the certain sad news that Absalom had murdered their brother Amnon. The grief David had been in for that which was not made him the better able to bear that which was, by giving him a sensible occasion, when he was undeceived, to thank God that all his sons were not dead: yet that Amnon was dead, and slain by his own brother is such a treacherous barbarous manner, was enough to put the king and court, the king and kingdom, into real mourning. Sorrow is never more reasonable than when there is sin in the case.
III. Absalom’s flight from justice: Absalom immediately fled, 2 Sam. 13:34. He was now as much afraid of the king’s sons as they were of him; they fled from his malice, he from their justice. No part of the land of Israel could shelter him. The cities of refuge gave no protection to a wilful murderer. Though David had let Amnon’s incest go unpunished, Absalom could not promise himself his pardon for this murder; so express was the law in this case, and so well known David’s justice, and his dread of blood-guiltiness. He therefore made the best of his way to his mother’s relations, and was entertained by his grandfather Talmai, king of Geshur (2 Sam. 13:37), and there he was protected three years (2 Sam. 13:38), David not demanding him, and Talmai not thinking himself obliged to send him back unless he were demanded.
IV. David’s uneasiness for his absence. He mourned for Amnon a good while (2 Sam. 13:37), but, he being past recall, time wore off that grief: he was comforted concerning Amnon. It also wore off too much his detestation of Absalom’s sin; instead of loathing him as a murderer, he longs to go forth to him, 2 Sam. 13:39. At first he could not find in his heart to do justice on him; now he can almost find in his heart to take him into his favour again. This was David’s infirmity. Something God saw in his heart that made a difference, else we should have thought that he, as much as Eli, honoured his sons more than God.