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Absalom dies on a tree (2 Samuel 18). He's rebelled against his father, David, and taken the throne. He'd rallied all Israel to his side. David has fled, but he's sent in his army and they've totally crushed Absalom. Absalom is fleeing into the forest when he gets caught, hangs on the tree, and eventually gets speared to death by Joab (the leader of David's army). Reminds me of Jesus's death on a cross.

After hearing of Absalom's death, David is sad. really sad. So sad he can't even rejoice that he's gotten his kingdom back.

Is there any Christological significance to this scenario? What about David? Does he play a metaphorical role?

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IMHO, Christians find way too many "types of Christ" in the Old Testament.

Sure, there are some similarities between the death of Absalom and the death of Christ. But they're pretty strained.

Yes, both of their deaths involved a tree and a spear. Both were called "son of David".

But there are huge differences. Like: Absalom was guilty; Jesus was innocent. Absalom ran from death; Jesus faced death voluntarily. Absalom worked against his father; Jesus was working with his father. Etc etc.

I'm sure you could find parallels to Jesus death comparable to those you list in the deaths of lots of people throughout history. I'm sure I could find a criminal who was executed by hanging, who was a carpenter, and whose father was named "David". Would that make him a type of Christ?

Even in those cases where the parallels are really relevant, I'm not sure what the point is. So there are some analogies between the death of X and the death of Jesus. Interesting, perhaps, but so what? What does this prove?

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I actually think the number of differences you list is what makes comparison between the two men interesting. As Thomas points out in his self-answer, it is intriguing because they have many similarities and also have many differences which are almost directly opposite. There is, of course, the question of whether these interesting comparisons are significant theologically, and my gut feeling is that they aren't, but it's still engaging on a literary level. –  asfallows Apr 5 '12 at 12:58
    
@asfallows the literary level is precisely what I was implying in my answer. There is some theological significance, though, when you realize that David and Absalom were God's people! Their job was to be like Christ to the people of Israel, but they failed (~that's new~). All throughout the OT people keep failing. It emphasizes over and over the need for Christ. –  Thomas Shields Apr 5 '12 at 15:28
    
My point is: Sure, you can find some similarities, especially if you're willing to stretch things, like the bit about the tree. But do these have any significance, or are they just coincidences? i.e. Did God deliberately arrange these similarities to make some point? I suppose you could debate this endlessly, but I see no evidence of any similarities being accorded any significance in the Bible, nor do I see any real logical or theological significance. –  Jay Apr 6 '12 at 6:05
    
I disagree with this answer, but it's a good one, and there's nothing better so i'm marking as answer :) –  Thomas Shields Apr 8 '12 at 4:00
    
Hey, a good argument is always fun, too. –  Jay Apr 11 '12 at 5:04

Looking at this in broader context, the Christological implications are fascinating.

Absalom was David's son. Guess who else was the "Son of David?" Christ. After Absalom's death, Israel was restored to order. His death brought about peace for Israel, just like Christ's death brings peace (in heaven) to God's people.

Absalom died on a tree. So did Christ. Absalom was finished off by a spear. So was Christ.

I think this is a sort of reverse metaphor, though. (I'm sure there's better terminology for that.) Unlike Christ, Absalom was a prideful, arrogant, sinful, rebellious jerk. Christ was a humble servant. Absalom undermined his father, Christ went along with his Father's plan despite the pain he knew he'd have to endure. Absalom was fleeing the battle, Jesus humbly and willingly approached his death.

As to David's role, the opening verses of 2 Samuel 9 are quite interesting. Joab rebukes David in verse 6, saying

for today I know that if Absalom were alive and all of us were dead today, then you would be pleased.

David wished he could sacrifice his innocent people for his sinful son. Remind you of anything? God sacrificed his innocent Son for his sinful people!

We say the Old Testament points to Christ alot, and I think it does. However, often it's by reverse metaphor. David portrayed God the Father here, but he did a pretty crappy job. Absalom portrayed Christ, but he screwed up too.

Thankfully, God's plans are a lot better and the reality is greater than the promise.

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An important thing to consider is the distinction between foreshadowing and simpler similarity. In this case, the question is "Does the story of Absalom foreshadow Christ, or do the stories simply have a lot of parallels?" Of course, it's rare that parallels this strong in the Bible are coincidences, but I'm curious whether you could find something more explicitly drawing a connection anywhere in Scripture. –  asfallows Apr 4 '12 at 17:23
    
@asfallows that's a good point, but being the original asker myself, I can say I wasn't really sure of that distinction when I posted. I'll leave it as "foreshadowing" though and hopefully accept a better answer than my own :) –  Thomas Shields Apr 4 '12 at 17:26
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Be careful of looking so hard for parallels that you see similarities where none exist. Jesus was dead a good while before the soldier stuck a spear into his side, for example. –  Mason Wheeler Apr 4 '12 at 17:47
    
@MasonWheeler good point. I wasn't so much saying that the spear incident clinched the parallel, more that it was an interesting similarity. My real point was just that a guilty man died on a tree for innocent people whereas an innocent Christ died on a tree for sinful people. –  Thomas Shields Apr 4 '12 at 17:49

Absolom is not so much a type of Christ as he is a type of sin in that he represents the sin that Christ became for us while His Father turned His back on Him as He hung on the cross. Sin entered the world through subtlety, overthrew Gods rule and enslaved His people. In order to defeat this enemy God came up with a plan to destroy sin and it's literally infinite consequences by attributing sin to His equally infinite son who is also God, Jesus. The point where Jesus was lifted up on the cross and God the Father turned His back on His son was what Absolom was a type of. The sin that Christ became in order to free Gods people and restore His throne. The heart of David shows the heart of God the Father wishing He could take the place of His own son Jesus as He turns His back on the sin He is attributing to Him on the cross. Hope that makes sense.

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