In Psalm 5, David reveals his attitude toward Absalom and makes it clear that he did not want Absalom’s life spared, but believed that it was God’s responsibility and not his own to punish Absalom for his wicked deeds. In reference to Absalom’s deceitful tactics, David said, “Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing: The LORD will abhor the bloody and deceitful man” (Psalm 5:6).
David was able to differentiate between the feelings he had for his son and the contempt he felt for the man that stole the hearts of David’s followers. Although David loved his son Absalom, he did not want God to go easy on him. David prayed, “Destroy thou them, O God: Let them fall by their own counsel; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions; for they have rebelled against thee” (Psalm 5:10).
I believe the reason David commanded that Absalom’s life be spared (2 Samuel 18:5) was so that he would have the opportunity to confront Absalom as Nathan the prophet had confronted him(2 Samuel 12:7). It is possible that Absalom would have repented and restored his relationship with his father. The conflict between the two men was never resolved and as a result of Joab killing Absalom, David didn’t get the chance to tell his son how he felt about him (2 Samuel 18:33).
Family conflicts are complicated because of the feelings that are involved in intimate relationships. Although David probably didn’t fully understand why Absalom rebelled, he knew that the young man was angry about how his sister’s rape was handled. Absalom loved his sister Tamar and had tried to honor her by killing the man that had raped her. Unfortunately, David’s leniency toward Absalom’s act of revenge opened the door for him to gain an advantage and attempt to dethrone the king.