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“Evil people are eager for rebellion, but they will be severely punished.” Proverbs‬ ‭17:11‬ ‭NLT‬‬

The classic Biblical example of the unruly man is Absalom (2 Samuel 13–18). Although David tried to whitewash Absalom, Absalom was an evil man. Although David made excuses for Absalom and bitterly blamed himself for Absalom’s behavior, Absalom was evil. Only an evil man could have done what Absalom did.

No doubt Absalom vocally justified the murder of his half brother Amnon. Amnon had violated Absalom’s sister Tamar in a particularly sordid and inexcusable way. David refused to punish Amnon, so Absalom simply took the law into his own hands. After all, the law required the death penalty for such a crime.
No doubt Absalom also justified himself for setting fire to Joab’s fields. How else could Absalom get the ear of the second most powerful man in the kingdom? With Joab blocking all the doors to David, how else could Absalom get through to David with a plea for pardon and an end to his exile?

No doubt Absalom justified his rebellion against David. After all, Absalom had been only half forgiven. He felt that he had lost his influence with his father. How else could he ever hope to be king?

No doubt Absalom justified the horrendous public crime he committed against David’s secondary wives. Absalom assigned the blame to Ahithophel.

In spite of all his excuses and rationalizations, Absalom was evil and sought rebellion. Indeed Solomon might have had the Absalom rebellion in mind when he added Proverbs 17:11 to his collection.

David sent “a cruel messenger,” but not until after he made a last-ditch attempt to get through to his son. David sent his dear friend Hushai to try to put some sense into the young rebel’s head, but at no point in the subsequent discussions did Absalom show any sign of remorse, repentance, or willingness to lay down the arms of rebellion.

In the end David had no recourse but to send Joab against Absalom. Although David strictly warned his army that Absalom was to be handled with compassion, the king must have known in his heart of hearts that Absalom’s death warrant had been signed the moment the desperate cause was entrusted to Joab, for Joab was “a cruel messenger.” And sure enough, when Absalom became entangled in a tree and some of David’s men, mindful of the king’s command, spared him, Joab came along, coldbloodedly murdered Absalom, and thought the deed well done.

— John Philips

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