Front Matter The Story of a Beautiful Garden The First Baby in the World and His Brother The Great Ship That Saved Eight People The Tower That Was Never Finished The Story of a Long Journey How Abram's Choice Brought Blessing The Angel by the Well The Rain of Fire That Fell on a City The Boy Who Became an Archer How an Angel's Voice Saved a Boy's Life The Story of a Journey after a Wife How Jacob Stole His Brother's Blessing Jacob's Wonderful Dream A Midnight Wrestling Match The Rich Man's Son Who Was Sold as a Slave From the Prison to the Palace How Joseph's Dream Came True A Lost Brother Found From the Land of Famine to the Land of Plenty The Beautiful Baby Who Was Found in a River The Voice from the Burning Bush The River That Ran Blood The Night When a Nation Was Born How the Sea Became Dry Land and the Sky Rained Bre The Mountain That Smoked and Words That Were Spoke How Aaron Made a Golden Calf and What Became of It The Tent Where God Lived Among His People How They Worshipped God in the Tabernacle What Strong Drink Brought to Aaron's Sons The Scapegoat in the Wilderness The Cluster of Grapes from the Land of Canaan How the Long Journey of the Israelites Came to an What a Wise Man Learned from an Ass How Moses Looked upon the Promised Land The Story of Job The Story of a Scarlet Cord How the River Jordan Became Dry The Story of a Wedge of Gold How Joshua Conquered the Land of Canaan The Old Man Who Fought Against the Giants The Avenger of Blook and the Cities of Refuge The Story of an Altar Beside the River The Presnt That Ehud Brought to King Eglon How a Woman Won a Great Victory Gideon and His Brave Three Hundred Jephthah's Rash Promise and What Came from It The Strong Man: How He Lived and How He Died The Idol Temple at Dan and Its Priest How Ruth Gleaned in the Field of Boaz The Little Boy with a Linen Coat How the Idol Fell Down Before the Ark The Last of the Judges The Tall Man Who Was Chosen King How Saul Saved the Eyes of the Men of Jabesh The Brave Young Prince Saul's Great Sin and His Great Loss The Shepherd Boy of Bethlehem The Shepherd Boy's Fight with the Giant The Little Boy Looking for the Arrows Where David Found the Giant's Sword How David Spared Saul's Life The Last Days of King Saul The Shepherd Boy Becomes a King The Sound in the Treetops The Cripple at the King's Table The Prophet's Story of the Little Lamb David's Handsome Son and How He Stole the Kingdom Absalom in the Wood; David on the Throne The Angel with the Drawn Sword on Mount Moriah Solomon on This Father's Throne The Wise Young King The House of God on Mount Moriah The Last Days of Solomon's Reign The Breaking Up of a Great Kingdom The King Who Led Israel to Sin The Prophet Who Raised a Boy to Life The Prayer That Was Answered in Fire The Voice That Spoke to Elijah in the Mount The Wounded Prophet and His Story What Ahab Paid for His Vineyard The Arrow That Killed a King Elijah's Chariot of Fire A Spring Sweetened by Salt The Pot of Oil and the Pot of Poison The Little Boy at Shunem How a Little Girl Helped to Cure a Leper The Chariots of Fire around Elisha What the Lepers Found in the Camp Jehu, the Furious Driver of His Chariot Elisha and the Bow; Jonah and Nineveh How the Ten Tribes Were Lost The First Four Kings of Judah The Little Boy Who Was Crowned King Three Kings and a Great Prophet The Good King Hezekiah The Lost Book Found in the Temple The Last Four Kings of Judah and the Weeping Proph What Ezekiel Saw in the Valley The Jewish Captives in the Court of the King The Golden Image and the Fiery Furnace The Tree That Was Cut Down and Grew Again The Writing upon the Wall Daniel in the Den of Lions The Story of a Joyous Journey The New Temple on Mount Moriah The Beautiful Queen of Persia The Scribe Who Wrote the Old Testament The Nobleman Who Built the Wall of Jerusalem Ezra's Great Bible Class in Jerusalem The Angel by the Altar The Manger of Bethlehem The Star and the Wise Men The Boy in his Father's House The Prophet in the Wilderness Jesus in the Desert, and beside the River The Water Jars at the Wedding Feast The Stranger at the Well The Story of a Boy in Capernaum and a Riot A Net Full of Fishes The Leper and the Man Let Down through the Roof The Cripple at the Pool and the Withered Hand The Twelve Disciples and the Sermon on the Mount The Captain's Servant, the Widow's Son, and a Sinn Some Stories Jesus Told by the Sea "Peace, Be Still" The Little Girl Who Was Raised to Life A Dancing Girl and What Was Given Her The Feast beside the Sea and What Followed It The Answer to a Mother's Prayer The Glory of Jesus on the Mountain The Little Child in the Arms of Jesus At the Feast of Tabernacles The Man with Clay on His Face The Good Shepherd and the Good Samaritan Lazarus Raised to Life Some Parables in Perea The Poor Rich Man and the Rich Poor Man Jesus at Jericho Palm Sunday The Last Vistis of Jesus to the Temple The Parables on the Mount of Olives The Last Supper The Olive Orchard and the High Priests Hall The Crown of Thorns The Darkest Day of All the World The Brightest Day of All the World The Stranger on the Shore The Church of the First Days The Man at the Beautiful Gate The Right Way to Give, and the Wrong Way Stephen with the Shining Face The Man Reading in the Chariot The Voice That Spoke to Saul What Peter Saw by the Sea How the Iron Gate Was Opened The Earliest Missionaries The Song in the Prison Paul's Speech on the Hill Paul at Corinth Paul at Ephesus Paul's Last Journey to Jerusalem The Speech on the Stairs Two Years in Prison The Story That Paul Told to the King Paul in the Storm How Paul Came to Rome and How He Lived There The Throne of God The City of God

Story of the Bible Told for Young and Old - Jesse Hurlbut

Absalom in the Wood: David on the Throne

The land on the east of Jordan, where David found a refuge, was called Gilead, a word which means "high," because it is higher than the land opposite on the west of Jordan. There, in the city of Mahanaim, the rulers and the people were friendly to David. They brought food of all kinds and drink for David and those who were with him; for they said, "The people are hungry, and thirsty, and very tired, from their long journey through the wilderness."

And at this place David's friends gathered from all the tribes of Israel, until around him was an army. It was not so large as the army of Absalom, but in it were more of the brave old warriors who had fought under David in other years. David divided his army into three parts, and placed over the three parts Joab, his brother Abishai, and Ittai, who had followed him so faithfully.

David said to the chiefs of his army and to his men, "I will go out with you into the battle."

But the men said to David, "No, you must not go with us; for if half of us should lose our lives, no one will care; but you are worth ten thousand of us, and your life is too precious. You must stay here in the city, and be ready to help us if we need help."

So the king stood by the gate of Mahanaim while his men marched out by hundreds and by thousands. And as they went past the king the men heard him say to the three chiefs, Joab, and Abishai, and Ittai, "For my sake, deal gently with the young man, Absalom."

Even to the last David loved the son who had done to him such great wrong, and David would have them spare his life.

A great battle was fought on that day at a place called "The Wood of Ephraim," though it was not in the tribe of Ephraim, but of Gad, on the east of the Jordan. Absalom's army was under the command of a man named Amasa, who was a cousin of Joab; for his mother, Abigail, and Joab's mother, Zeruiah, were both sisters of David. So both the armies were led by nephews of King David. Absalom himself went into the battle, riding upon a mule, as was the custom of kings.

David's soldiers won a great victory, and killed thousands of Absalom's men. The armies were scattered in the woods, and many men were lost, so that it was said that the woods swallowed up more men than the sword. When Absalom saw that his cause was hopeless he rode away, hoping to escape. But as he was riding under the branches of an oak-tree, his head, with its great mass of long hair, was caught in the boughs of the tree. He struggled to free himself, but could not. His mule ran away, and Absalom was left hanging in the air by his head.

Absalom fleeing through the forest


One of David's soldiers saw him, and said to Joab, "I saw Absalom hanging in an oak."

"Why did you not kill him?" asked Joab. "If you had killed him I would have given you ten pieces of silver and a girdle."

"If you should offer me a thousand pieces of silver," answered the soldier, "I would not touch the king's son; for I heard the king charge all the generals and the men, 'Let no one harm the young man Absalom.' And if I had slain him, you yourself would not have saved my life from the king's anger."

"I cannot stay to talk with you," said Joab; and with three darts in his hand he hastened to the place where Absalom was hanging. He thrust Absalom's heart through with the darts, and after that his followers, finding that Absalom was still living, pierced his body until they were sure that he was dead. Then they took down his body, and threw it into a deep hole in the forest, and heaped a great pile of stones upon it.

During his life Absalom had built for himself a monument in the alley of the Kidron, on the east of Jerusalem. There he had expected to be buried; but though the monument stood long afterward, and was called "Absalom's pillar," yet Absalom's body lay not there, but under a heap of stones in the wood of Ephraim.

Absalom's Pillar


After the battle Ahimaaz, the son of the priest Zadok, came to Joab. Ahimaaz was one of the two young men who brought news from Jerusalem to David at the river Jordan, as we read in the last Story. He said to Joab, "Let me run to the king, and take to him the news of the battle."

But Joab knew that the message of Absalom's death would not be pleasing to King David, and he said, "Some other time you shall bear news, but not to-day, because the king's son is dead."

And Joab called a negro who was standing near, and said to him, "Go, and tell the king what you have seen."

The negro bowed to Joab, and ran. But after a time Ahimaaz, the son of Zadok, again said to Joab, "Let me also run after the negro, and take news."

"Why do wish to go, my son?" said Joab; "the news will not bring you any reward."

"Anyhow, let me go," said the young man; and Joab gave him leave. Then Ahimaaz ran with all his might, and by a better road over the plain, though less direct than the road which the negro had taken over the mountains. Ahimaaz outran the negro, and came first in sight to the watchman who was standing on the wall, while King David was waiting below in the little room between the outer and inner gates, anxious for news of the battle, but more anxious for his son, Absalom.

The watchman on the wall called down to the king, and said, "I see a man running alone."

And the king said, "If he is alone, he is bringing a message." He knew that if men were running away after a defeat in battle there would be a crowd together. Then the watchman called again, "I see another man running alone."

And the king said, "He also is bringing some news."

The watchman spoke again, "The first runner is coming near, and he runs like Ahimaaz, the son of Zadok."

And David said, "He is a good man, and he comes with good news." Ahimaaz came near, and cried out as he ran, "All is well!"

The first words which the king spoke were, "Is it well with the young man Absalom?"

Ahimaaz was too wise to bring to the king the word of Absalom's death. He left that to the other messenger, and said, "When Joab sent me, there was a great noise over something that had taken place, but I did not stop to learn what it was."

A little later came the negro, crying, "News for my lord the king! This day the Lord has given you victory over your enemies!"

And David said again, "Is it well with the young man Absalom?"

Then the negro, who knew nothing of David's feelings, answered, "May all the enemies of my lord the king, and all that try to do him harm, be as that young man is!"

Then the king was deeply moved. His sorrow over Absalom made him forget the victory that had been won. Slowly he walked up the steps to the room in the tower over the gate, and as he walked he said, "O my son Absalom! my son, my son Absalom! I wish before God that I had died for you, O Absalom, my son, my son!"

The word soon went forth that the king, instead of rejoicing over the victory, was weeping over his son. The soldiers came stealing back to the city, not as conquerors, but as if they had been defeated. Every one felt sorry for the king, who sat in the room over the gate, with his face covered, and crying out, "O Absalom, my son! my son, my son Absalom!"

But Joab saw that such great sorrow as the king showed was not good for his cause. He came to David, and said to him, "You have to put to shame this day all those who have fought for you and saved your life. You have shown that you love those who hate you, and that you hate those who love you. You have said by your actions that your princes and your servants, who have been true to you, are nothing to you; and that if Absalom had lived and we had all died, you would have been better pleased. Now rise up, and act like a man, and show regard for those who have fought for you. I swear to you in the name of the Lord, that unless you do this, not a man will stay on your side, and that will be worse for you than all the harm that has ever come upon you in all your life before this day!"

Then David rose up, and washed away his tears, and put on his robes, and took his seat in the gate as a king. After this he came from Mahanaim to the river Jordan, and there all the people met him, to bring him back to his throne in Jerusalem.

Among the first to come was Shimei, the man who had cursed David and thrown stones at him as he was flying from Absalom. He fell on his face, and confessed his crime, and begged for mercy. Abishai, Joab's brother, said, "Shall not Shimei be put to death, because he cursed the king, the Lord's anointed?"

But David said, "Not a man shall be put to death this day in Israel, for to-day I am king once more over Israel. You shall not be slain, Shimei; I pledge you the word of a king."

And Ziba, the servant of Mephibosheth, was there with his sons and his followers; and Mephibosheth was there also to meet the king. And Mephibosheth had not dressed his lame feet, nor trimmed his beard, nor washed his clothes, from the day when David had left Jerusalem until the day when he returned in peace. And David said to him, "Mephibosheth, why did you not offer to go with me?"

"My lord, O king," said Mephibosheth, "my servant deceived me. He said, 'You are lame, and cannot go; but I will go in your name with the king, and will help him.' And he has done me wrong with the king; but what matters it all, now that the king has come again?"

David said, "You and Ziba may divide the land and the property."

And Mephibosheth said, "Let him have it all, now that the king has come in peace to his own house!"

The army of Absalom had melted away, and was scattered throughout all Israel. David was still displeased with Joab, the chief of his army, because he had slain Absalom, contrary to David's orders. He sent a message to Amasa, who had been the commander of Absalom's army, and who was, like Joab and Abishai, David's own nephew. He said to Amasa, "You are of my own family, of my bone and my flesh, and you shall be the general in place of Joab."

Joab and his brother were strong men, not willing to submit to David's rule; and David thought that he would be safer on his throne if they did not hold so much power. Also, David thought that to make Amasa general would please not only those who had been friends to Absalom, but many more of the people, for many feared and hated Joab.

At the river Jordan almost the whole tribe of Judah were gathered to bring the king back to Jerusalem. But this did not please the men of the other tribes. They said to the men of Judah, "You act as though you were the only friends of the king in all the land! We, too, have some right to David."

The men of Judah said, "The king is of our own tribe, and is one of us. we come to meet him because we love him."

But the people of the other tribes were still offended, and many of them went to their homes in anger. The tribe of Ephraim, in the middle of the land, was very jealous of the tribe of Judah, and unwilling to come again under David's rule. One man in Ephraim, Sheba, the son of Bichri, began a new rebellion against David, which for a time threatened again to overthrow David's power.

Amasa, the new commander of the army, called out his men to put down Sheba's rebellion. But he was slow in gathering his army, and Joab, the old general, went forth with a band of his own followers. Joab met Amasa, pretending to be his friend, and killed him, and then took the command. He shut up Sheba in a city far in the north, and finally caused him to be slain. So at last every enemy was put down; and David sat again in peace upon his throne. But Joab, whom David feared and hated because of many evil deeds that he had done, was, as before, the commander of the army and in great power. Joab was faithful to David, and was a strong helper to David's throne. Without Joab's courage and skill in David's cause David might have failed in some of his wars, and especially in the war against Absalom's followers. But Joab was cruel and wicked; and he was so strong that David could not control him. David felt that he was not fully the king while Joab lived.

But few people knew how David felt toward Joab; and in appearance the throne of David was now as strong as it had ever been; and David's last years were years of peace and of power.