2 Samuel 18:6
So David's army marched into the field to engage Israel in the battle, which took place in the forest of Ephraim.
David's Victory Over His Rebellious SubjectsB. Dale 2 Samuel 18:1-8
Absalom: a Character StudyJ. O. Keen, D. D.2 Samuel 18:1-17
Bush WarfareSunday Companion2 Samuel 18:1-17
David and AbsalomR. E. Faulkner.2 Samuel 18:1-17
The Battle and its IssueH. E. Stone.2 Samuel 18:1-17
The Fatal FightC. Ness.2 Samuel 18:1-17

Thou art worth ten thousand of us. The doctrine that all men are equal is true in some important respects, but its application and use are very limited. It is equally true that all men are unequal, that no man is of exactly the same weight and worth as any other man. Men differ infinitely in body and mind, in intelligence and goodness, in position and influence, in their value to society; and so in the degrees of their responsibility to God. In domestic and social, civic, national, and Church life, one man is often worth many others. David's "people" felt this now that they were going forth to meet the forces of Absalom in battle; and they give as a reason why he should be content to remain in the city instead of exposing himself to the dangers of the battlefield, that he was worth ten thousand of them; that it was better that ten thousand of them should be slain than he, though he was only one. This sentiment underlies and justifies the natural feeling of loyalty to a sovereign, the willingness to protect him at the cost of many lives. In personal worth he may not be equal to many a single soldier or subject; but he represents the state; in his life may be involved the welfare of a nation, to protect which it is worth while for many to die. Such thoughts might well console the private soldier dying in obscurity on the field or in hospital. His king, his country, is worth a multitude of such as he. His life is worthily sacrificed for them. The same sentiment is applicable to the commanders of an army in contrast with common soldiers; to great statesmen and other leaders of men in contrast with the multitude. It is no disparagement of these to say that it would require many of them to equal in value to society one of those; and that, if necessary, it would be better that the many should die rather than the one. We may use the words emphatically in reference to our great King and Captain, the Lord Jesus Christ. True, he is no longer in personal peril from his enemies. "He lives beyond their utmost rage" (Watts). But his cause, influence, hold of mankind, place in their esteem and affection, in a word, his kingdom, may be endangered; and his true disciples will be ready to die in thousands rather than he should in these respects perish or even suffer loss. And the justification of their feeling is that he, personally and in his cause, "is worth ten thousand of them."


1. In personal excellence. It is well when the monarch of a country is distinguished for mental and moral endowments. Even when the personality of the ruler is of less account in the actual government, it adds much to the welfare of the state that he is noble in the qualities of his mind and heart. This has been made manifest in the long reign of our beloved and honoured queen. Where the power of government is very largely trusted to the will of the sovereign, it is of incalculable importance that he should be both wise and good. David's kingdom sprang very mainly from, and was maintained by, his personal qualities. And this is more emphatically true of his great Son Jesus. He is "chiefest among ten thousand," chiefest among and above all creation. The perfections of God and the perfections of man are combined in this one glorious Person. In himself he is worthy of the utmost love and self-devotion.

2. In position and dignity. As "King of kings and Lord of lords;" "Lord of all;" King of souls; "Head of the Church" "Head over all things." These are not empty titles; but represent facts, actual glory and power. To serve such a King may well be esteemed the highest possible honour; to die for him, a great glory.

3. In relation to the good of men. Who shall say how much Christ is "worth" in this view? of how much value his work for and amongst men? how essentially their welfare in time and in eternity is bound up with his unchanging existence and power, and the manifestation of himself in the world through his Church? Every believer experiences his preciousness (1 Peter 2:7), and desires that all should have a like experience, through a "like precious faith" (2 Peter 1:1); and to keep him living in the memory of men, and secure the wider exercise of his saving power, would cheerfully sacrifice himself. We are insignificant, and if we die it matters little; but for him to perish from the life of men, or become feeble in his influence among them, would be disastrous indeed.

4. In power to succour and aid his servants. David was requested to remain in the city with the reserves, that, if it were required, he might send them to the succour of those fighting in the field. Our Lord can, "out of the city" in which he dwells, aid his servants in more effectual manner. Not only has he numberless reserves eager to do his bidding, but he is able to gather around him, from the very ranks of his foes, fresh hosts to fight his battles. And, beyond all this, he can himself be - yea, he is with his people everywhere and evermore, to inspirit them by his presence, and render them victorious. Who of them, what "ten thousand" of them, could fill his place?

5. In power to reward those who die in his service. Earthly rulers are powerless to recompense the soldiers who are slain in fighting their battles. Not so our great King. He is able to promise eternal life and glory to his faithful followers; and what he promises he performs (see Mark 8:35; John 12:25).


1. Satisfaction that he lives safe above all the hostility of his enemies. Lives, not in heaven only, but on earth in spirit and power, working in and, with his people and confirming his Word (John 14:19; Mark 16:20). Human leaders and teachers die, but "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8). That One of so much worth to men, and so needful to them, should be thus immortal and immutable, is matter for joy and thankfulness. He needs not, like David, the plans and efforts of his servants to preserve him; but we can and should rejoice that he lives and reigns, and "mast reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet" (1 Corinthians 15:25).

2. Devoted loyalty to him even unto death. The readiness with which David's friends hazarded and gave up their lives for him, nay, the similar devotedness of many a common soldier, may well put most Christians to the blush.

3. Contentment in view of the enormous sacrifice of human lives which has been made for his sake. It is not waste; the willing deaths of martyrs, missionaries, Christian workers of all grades, have not been unreasonable. He and his cause are worthy of it all.

4. Confidence in respect to ultimate victory over all his foes. With such a King and Captain, final defeat is impossible.

5. Assurance of ample recompense for whatever we lose, were it life itself, in his service.

6. Concern to be on the side of Christ rather than of a multitude in opposition to him. We are tempted to follow the crowd, and (with or without thinking) to esteem that to be the right course which the greater number pursue. But truth goes not necessarily, or even ordinarily, with the majority. With the one Person, the Lord Jesus Christ, are truth, safety, victory, ultimate gain. His judgment is worth more than that of "ten thousand" others; his favour of infinitely more value than theirs. If adherence to him were to lead to the separation from us of all besides, and we were to find ourselves alone, we might say after his manner, "I am not alone, because the Master is with me" (John 16:32). - G.W.

Deal gently for my sake with the young man, even with Absalom.
Bishop Hall thus descants on this — What means this ill-placed love? This unjust mercy. Deal gently with a traitor. Of all traitors, with a son? Of all sons with an Absalom? that graceless darling of so good a father? And all this, for thy sake, whose crown, whose blood, he hunts after? For whose sake must he be pursued, if forborne for thine? Must the cause of the quarrel be the motive of the mercy? Even in the holiest parents nature may be guilty of an injurious tenderness, of a bloody indulgence. But was not this done in type of that immeasurable mercy of the true King and Redeemer of Israel, who prayed for his persecutors. "Father, forgive them. Deal gently with them for my sake." When God sends an affliction to correct his children it is with this charge, "Deal gently with them for my sake"; for He knows our frame.

Abishai, Absalom, Ahimaaz, Cushi, David, Israelites, Ittai, Joab, Zadok, Zeruiah
King's Valley, Mahanaim
Army, Battle, Ephraim, E'phraim, Field, Fight, Forest, Fought, Marched, Meet, Wood, Woods
1. David viewing the armies in their march gives them charge of Absalom
6. The Israelites are sorely smitten in the wood of ephraim
9. Absalom, hanging in an oak is slain by Joab, and cast into a pit
18. Absalom's place
19. Ahimaaz and Cushi bring tidings to David
33. David mourns for Absalom

Dictionary of Bible Themes
2 Samuel 18:1-8

     7236   Israel, united kingdom

2 Samuel 18:1-17

     5087   David, reign of

2 Samuel 18:6-17

     4448   forests

The Wail of a Broken Heart
'Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and reared up for himself a pillar, which is in the king's dale; for he said, I have no son to keep my name in remembrance; and he called the pillar after his own name: and it is called unto this day, Absalom's Place. 19. Then said Ahimaaz the son of Zadok, Let me now run, and bear the king tidings, how that the Lord hath avenged him of his enemies. 20. And Joab said unto him. Thou shalt not bear tidings this day, but thou shalt bear tidings another day; but
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Church and the Young Man.
A Sermon Delivered on Sabbath Morning, November 4, 1866, In The First Presbyterian Church, Troy, At The Request of The Young Men's Christian Association. 2 Sam. xviii, 5. "And the king commanded Joab and Abishai and Ittai saying, deal gently for my sake with the young man, even with Absalom." There are few passages of Holy writ more beautiful or suggestive than this. Notwithstanding the astounding character of Absalom's rebellion; though the mind of the sovereign and father of his people is
Rev. Marvin R. Vincent.—Amusement: A Force in Christian Training

Alike from the literary and the historical point of view, the book[1] of Samuel stands midway between the book of Judges and the book of Kings. As we have already seen, the Deuteronomic book of Judges in all probability ran into Samuel and ended in ch. xii.; while the story of David, begun in Samuel, embraces the first two chapters of the first book of Kings. The book of Samuel is not very happily named, as much of it is devoted to Saul and the greater part to David; yet it is not altogether inappropriate,
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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