As the battle raged on in the wood of Ephraim, David remained in the location where he had last seen his troops in the morning. Throughout the day, he anxiously awaited news. Seated in vigil, he momentarily set aside thoughts of his throne, his people, and even his own life, focusing entirely on his desperate concern for Absalom. With each arriving messenger, he posed the same question, "Is the young man safe?" When the sorrowful truth finally came to light, he cast aside thoughts of his own salvation, disregarded gratitude, submission, and faith, and retreated to his chamber, unleashing a profound and exceedingly bitter cry, "O my son Absalom! my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!"
The central figure in the illustration, with clasped hands and an averted face, effectively conveys the depths of the father's anguish, while attendants gaze upon him in consternation. David's outpouring of passionate grief was undeniably justified. When Bathsheba's child passed away, he could confidently say, "I shall go to him," but no such assurance existed here. Absalom's sun had set in the darkest of shadows. For his father, only bitter memories remained—an enduring, lifelong sorrow. How many fathers since, through either excessive indulgence or unreasonable severity toward their children, have unwittingly sown the seeds of a similar, irremediable anguish?