Posthumous Fame
2 Samuel 18:18
Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and reared up for himself a pillar, which is in the king's dale: for he said…

Absalom's place (literally, "hand," equivalent to "monument," or "memorial," 1 Samuel 15:12). To live in the memory of men after death is, in a sense, to be immortal on earth (2 Samuel 7:9). Of this earthly immortality observe that:

1. It is an object of natural and legitimate desire. To be wholly forgotten as soon as we are laid in the dust is a prospect from which we instinctively turn away with aversion, as from death itself. The natural love of life, of reputation, of power, of pre-eminence, implies the desire of their continuance, in so far as it is possible, not merely of exerting a continued influence (as every one must do), but also of having one's name kept in continued remembrance; and this desire exists in those who have little or no knowledge of personal immortality. It is well that men's thoughts should extend beyond the narrow span of their own lifetime. But the memory of themselves which they wish to be perpetuated should not be of their shining qualities and extraordinary achievements, but of their genuine faith, their holy character, and their beneficent deeds, as an incentive to the like (Psalm 78:7; Proverbs 13:22; Hebrews 11:4); for such a wish alone is of any moral worth.

2. The desire of it often leads to mistaken and unworthy endeavours in order to its attainment. Absalom "had taken and reared up for himself the pillar," etc. Imbued with selfish and vainglorious ambition, he imagined that the sight of it would call forth the admiration of posterity. In the same spirit he subsequently made his attempt upon the throne. So others have reared imposing monuments, built huge pyramids and palaces, fought great battles, and rushed into daring enterprises, heedless of the rectitude of their conduct or the welfare of mankind (Genesis 11:4; Ezekiel 29:3; Daniel 4:30). "Their inward thought is," etc. (Psalm 49:11-13). The character of their aim determines the nature of their efforts; and only those efforts which proceed from a right spirit ensure an enduring and honourable "name."

3. The result of such endeavours is shame and everlasting contempt, instead of immortal honour and glory. "Absalom's hand," which was intended to indicate to future generations his magnificence, indicated only his ignominy. Even that at length perished (Psalm 9:6; Proverbs 10:7). And his memory remains as a solemn warning against transgression. "In what different lights, in what different aspects of character, the human beings of past time are presented to our thoughts! How many of them are there that an odious and horrid character rests upon! They seem to bear eternal curses on their heads. A vindictive ray of Heaven's lightning seems continually darting down upon them. They appear as the special points of communication and attraction between a wicked world and the Divine vengeance" (J. Foster). But "the righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance" (Psalm 112:6; Matthew 26:13; Acts 10:4; 2 Peter 1:15). - D.

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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.

WEB: Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and reared up for himself the pillar, which is in the king's dale; for he said, "I have no son to keep my name in memory." He called the pillar after his own name; and it is called Absalom's monument, to this day.

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