One of David’s most promising sons has killed another of his sons as revenge for a nasty rape and put himself in self imposed exile. We left the last chapter with David, over mourning the dead son, now missing the live one too. Its a tragic mess.
Joab, David’s loyal general is a notable bit player here, and he engineers with a wise woman a bit of a play act. She gets an audience with David to give him a fake petition about two sons… you get the drift. David does too. “did Joab put you up to this?” he asks.
Absalom, the exiled son is bought home, but David still can’t bring himself to see him. Absalom eventually forces Joab to pay him attention by burning one of Joab’s fields of barley! He has to come and see Absalom, and they talk about the real problem.
The chapter ends movingly at the end of this long road of forgiveness with David kissing his son.
My grandfather had a brother he stopped speaking to and never did again in his life. This chapter is about a profound insight about how much God is not like that – as the woman who Joab chose for the fake petition says “God … devises ways for the banished to be restored.”
This was an incredibly hard relationship to heal, but David, with help from some godly friends, and a lifetime of being schooled in grace, did it.