WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS
© by Ross Cochrane
Managing to take hold of his dagger, Absalom wildly jabbed its point towards Joab, but Joab deftly took hold of his hand and thrust it back mercilessly into Absalom’s heart. He followed this by plunging his spear into Absalom’s twitching frame. Then a second and third.
Joab’s armour bearers joined in, striking Absalom’s body until it fell. As his body lay on the ground, it was unrecognisable except for his hair, much of which still remained entangled in the tree.
Those who had gathered around now stood in horror. Joab ordered the signaler to blow the trumpet to regather his soldiers from their pursuit of the remnants of Absalom’s shattered and spend forces. The battle was won.
Roughly dragging Absalom’s limp frame by the hair, as if it was a bag of refuse, Joab cast it into a deep pit in the forest. His deep, course, rasping voice broke the silence, “This young man may have been the kings son but he was a murderer and rebellious criminal. He deserved to die. If he had won this battle none of you would have been spared. He would have murdered his own father like he did his brother. The law of God demands that the grave of a rebellious son be heaped with stones. If what I am saying is wrong then kill me also. But if I am right, then show no mercy!” Joab threw the first stone and each man followed until a wild frenzy of stones were heaped upon Absalom’s bloody and broken body.
It seemed like an eternity that David had been sitting between the outer and inner gates of the city. When the watchman notified him that he could see only a single runner, he presumed the news was good. It was customary to send two unknown runners if the news was bad and someone well known if the news was good.
Before the runner arrived, the watchman informed the king of another runner. Since they were not together David still hoped for the best. He was even more encouraged to see that the first runner was Ahimaaz.
Ahimaaz, the son of Zadok the priest, had been overjoyed when he arrived back to Joab and had asked special permission to take the news of victory to the king.
Joab had said, “Why do you want to go, my son? I assure you there is no reward for giving the king news about Absalom.” Ahimaaz was insistent. “Alright go, but when you arrive, tell him only of victory. Nothing about Absalom, understand! I will send one of the Cushite runners to tell him of Absalom.”
Taking a shorter path, Ahimaaz arrived before the Cushite. When he ran through the gate he was breathless but managed to say to the king, “All is well.” He prostrated himself before king David.
“Blessed is the Lord your God, for He has delivered you from your enemies.”
“Is it also well with my son Absalom?” said David.
“I can only report to you of victory, my lord. The Cushite runner will tell you more.”
When the Cushite arrived, he also gave the news of victory.
David interrupted him, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?”
The Cushite reached into the folds of his coat for a lock of hair. He handed it to king David. Then he voiced what David had been afraid to hear, “Let all the enemies who do evil against my lord the king, be as that young man!”
David was so deeply affected that he left the room immediately, unable to speak for some time. Up in the chamber over the gate, grief overwhelmed him and he paced the floor trying to escape the hollow, searing pain in his heart from which hope had been seized. He wept bitterly. In deep anguish, he repeated over and over, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! I would have preferred to die instead of you. O Absalom, my son, my son!”