After the episode of Amnon and Tamar, we saw David’s reaction, which was: nothing. Now we see Avshalom’s reaction, which was also: nothing:
But it wasn’t a good nothing. Not fighting could be sign that everything is fine, but it could be a sign that the other party has simply given up. Avshalom told Tamar (שמואל ב יג:כ): וְעַתָּה אֲחוֹתִי הַחֲרִישִׁי אָחִיךְ הוּא אַל תָּשִׁיתִי אֶת לִבֵּךְ לַדָּבָר הַזֶּה.
The contrast is with Yosef’s brothers (which also did not work out well, but at least they were open about it):
חז״ל have an interesting view of these two years:
The impression I get is of Amnon “discovering religion”; he’s laying low by staying in the בית המדרש to stay away from his brother. He’s acting like Yaakov (היה יעקב בבית עבר מוטמן ארבע עשרה שנה, מגילה יז,א) but he’s really Esav:
Now I want to go back to look at David. What is he doing during these two years? We have a series of four תהילים, 38-41, about David’s “illness”. We’ve talked about that being a metaphor for his isolation after the sin of Bat Sheva. תהילים מ specifically is about his recovery from that illness:
When did he feel that he recovered? It might be after he regains his kingdom after the rebellion of Avshalom, but this perek ends on an uncertain note. I would apply it to our time period, after the birth of Shlomo, ידידיה, and after the episode of Tamar, when things are “quiet”. David has been punished for his sin, his children have suffered. Natan had told him (שמואל ב יב:י): לא תסור חרב מביתך עד עולם but maybe ה׳ had forgiven him.
ה׳ has rescued David from a quagmire, a situation with no possible way out. David’s response it to write תהילים:
David is saying that the proof that I am saved is the fact that I can create psalms, and the way I was saved was by having faith in ה׳ alone. I was right in תהילים מא (which we would have to read as reflecting David’s mindset when he was ill):
And then he continues to explain what it is that הקב״ה wants from us:
That was his response was he first acknowledged his sin with Bat Sheva:
We ahve a series of תהילים that I think reflect a sense that it’s not all about building the בית המקדש. It’s about our relationship with ה׳. When the things are more important than the רוח נשברה, then everything falls apart.
What does it mean, במגלת ספר כתוב עלי? The midrash says it refers to the ספר החיים: David is alive, and is part of the chain of human history:
David says, I have a role in history. My legacy will endure: ספר תהילים, not the בית המקדש, is my legacy: חסדך ואמתך לקהל רב.
And then we have the volta: life isn’t perfect; I still have trouble facing me:
עצמו משערות ראשי is ambiguous: is it referring to the רעות that have befallen me, or my own עונתי? The answer, of course, is “yes”. Either way, I need to be saved.
Here David sums up his response to his misfortune: ה׳ should pay back his enemies. They crushed him with their עקב:
So he asks that they taste the עקב בשתם. But the Alshich points out that he is not asking for revenge; he’s asking for redemption, for himself and his enemies:
And it is this ability to pray for the redemption of his enemies that will allow him to come through the disasters that will follow in the next פרקים of שמואל ב.