Biblical People

Biblical People: Absalom

Absalom is David’s third son. Absalom’s beautiful sister, Tamar, is raped by their conniving half-brother Amnon. Absalom comforts Tamar and avenges her dishonor by killing Amnon.

Though parents aren’t responsible for what their children do, these events suggest David is a hands-off dad who may not have raised his children well or instilled in them a sense of right and wrong.

We get implicit confirmation of this when the Bible says David never rebuked another son, Adonijah. It’s likely David didn’t attempt to correct Absalom or Amnon either.

This may be why Amnon takes advantage of his sister and Absalom takes revenge on Amnon. Rape and murder are not God’s way to live. We know this, but Amnon and Absalom don’t. Or might they think that as the king’s sons they’re above the law?

This attitude of doing whatever he wants carries forward in Absalom’s life. He wants to become king. With his older brother Amnon out of the way, Absalom now has one less roadblock to achieve his goal.

Absalom doesn’t even wait for his father to die. He orchestrates a coup to usurp his father’s throne and seize control. 

David and his entourage flee for their lives. When Absalom’s rebellion falters and David reinserts himself as king, he tells his army to be gentle with his undeserving son.

However, Joab, the commander of the army, disregards David’s instructions and kills Absalom. This puts an end to Absalom’s threat, as well as his sinful behavior.

Have we ever been like Absalom and tried to seize something that wasn’t ours? Are we willing to show mercy to a family member or friend who did us wrong? 

[Read Absalom’s story throughout 2 Samuel 13–18.]

Learn about more biblical characters in Old Testament Sinners and Saints, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover. Get your copy today.

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 1,000-page website to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and many books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

By Peter DeHaan

Peter writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and make a faith that matters. Learn more at