“It was told Joab. ‘The king is weeping and mourning for Absalom.’ So the victory that day was turned into mourning for all the troops. The people heard that day. ‘The king is grieving for his son.’ The troops stole into the city that day as soldiers steal in who are ashamed when they flee in battle. The king covered his face. The king cried with a loud voice. ‘O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!’”
Joab was upset that his victory had turned into a funeral for Absalom. The troops were discouraged. They thought that they had won a great battle, but the king wanted to mourn his son. Here then is the problem of war. They went out to battle and defeat the rebels. Now that the chief rebel was dead, all of a sudden he is a hero and troops are like nothing.
“Then Joab came into the house to the king, and said. ‘Today you have covered with shame the faces of all your officers who have saved your life this day. Today you have covered with shame the lives of your sons and your daughters, and the lives of your wives and your concubines, because you love those who hate you and hate those who love you. You have made it clear today that commanders and officers are nothing to you. I perceive that if Absalom were alive and all of us were dead today, then you would be pleased. So go out at once and speak kindly to your servants. I swear by Yahweh, if you do not go, not a man will stay with you this night. This will be worse for you than any disaster that has come upon you from your youth until now.’ Then the king got up and took his seat in the gate. The troops were all told. ‘See, the king is sitting in the gate.’ All the troops came before the king.”
Joab went to King David. He told David that he had shamed all the troops and his own family. David was making it clear that he did not care about the troops who fought for him. They had saved his life, but now he was mourning the person they killed. Joab told David that he would have been happier if they had lost and Absalom had won. David seemed to hate those who loved him and loved those who hated him. Joab warned that David had to speak kindly to the Israelite warriors. If not, things could get worse than anything he has ever seen. Finally, David got up and went to the gate where the troops could come before him. This is the problem that if you are too kind to your enemies, your friends will feel like they are being neglected. It is often the problem of the conquering heroes who are often neglected when they return home.