And the king said, "Let him dwell apart in his own house; he is not to come into my presence." So Absalom lived apart in his own house and did not come into the king's presence.
2 Samuel 14:24
David was willing to appear to forgive, but only on his terms and only to a certain point. We can't even know for sure from the context whether or not reconciliation with Absalom without sentencing him for murder was the right thing for David to do. The circumstances that led to this uneasy stance are suspicious. Joab is behind them. He was notorious for circumventing the rules, putting his agenda above anybody else's concerns.
Joab's involvement as a "peacemaker" is highly suspect. Remember, when he had the cance to bend the rules to seek personal vengeance against Abner, he did so and took the life of the general that had killed Joab's brother in battle. He did this explicitly against the king's wishes (see 2 Samuel 3:26-39). He can hardly speak as an expert in forgiveness and reconciliation!
For this and other personal reasons David arrives again at a very indecisive compromise on the subject of his relationship with his oldest son. He is still paralyzed by this whole mess. This is not the way that David needed to be with the son who would be his heir apparent. This coolness toward Absalom, as well as the physical distance would only breed further problems. The wound festers for two more years. Altogether it has been seven years since the rape of Tamar, the murder of Amnon, and Absalom's fugitive flight. David has done nothing except tacitly letting Absalom return to Jerusalem with his diplomatic consent.
There is a principle I use in counseling that comes into play as I look at this situation: EVENTS + TIME = DISTORTION. The longer David puts this off, the more twisted, complicated, and distorted it all becomes. If he takes action on it, much of the outcome will be delayed to deal with the seven years of festering feelings, pain, and inaction. This deflects from the heart of the issue.
Really, there is no real peacemaking being done by David. He is accomodating. He may be dabbing ointment on a troubled conscience. But he is only aggravating the issue by this half-hearted "peace-faking" response. It will not lead anywhere good for David, for Absalom, or for the kingdom.
- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13