The Absalom Spirit:Unmasking the Malignant Imposter
Pastor Dave Williams, D.Min, D.D.

Dr. Dave Williams, D. Min. is pastor of Mount Hope Church and International Outreach Ministries in Lansing, Michigan. Under his leadership, the church has grown from 225 to over 4000 members today. Pastor Dave strives to have the best-fed, best-cared for flock in the world, to provide a warm and welcoming place to worship, to take the message of the Gospel to the lost—no matter where in the world they are—and to build believers so they are prepared to share Jesus with everyone they meet.

He has a heart for missions and a strong commitment to evangelize the lost. His God-given vision has led Mount Hope Church to sponsor over 43 daughter and neighborhood churches in Michigan, the Philippines, and in several African nations. Over 12,000 people now call a Mount Hope Church their home church.

He has authored over 63 books including the best seller, The New Life…The Start of Something Wonderful, with over 2 million copies sold in eight languages, and The Miracle Results of Fasting, (Harrison House Publishers) was an five-star top seller for two years in a row. Dave has produced over 90 audio and video programs including the nationally acclaimed School of Pacesetting Leadership and Church Planter’s School.

The story of Absalom is not a pretty one.

At our Bible Training Institute, annually we have over 200 graduates in ministry and leadership. Hundreds of pastors from various denominations have attended our ministry school in Lansing, Michigan or our church planter’s school in St. Pete Beach, Florida. We currently enjoy 216 credentialed ministers in our Mount Hope Church network. I have met with Methodist, Baptist, Church of God, Assemblies of God, Word of Faith, Independent, Nazarene, Presbyterian, and Lutheran ministers in their times of crisis, and by far, the greatest confusion, chaos, and ministry pain comes when these sincere pastors are facing an Absalom spirit.

I’ve ministered to countless pastors and businesspeople alike that have struggled to understand, “What’s going on here?” when they are facing an Absalom-like personality.

The Absalom spirit has brought more hell to earth than anyone can imagine. This spirit is charming, deceptive, cunning, subtle, and treacherous. This spirit brings chaos and confusion to a church or business, all under the pretense of really caring.

How many decent and loving people have been destroyed by the proposal of Absalom’s “care” and “concern” for the church, the district, or the business?  Hitler’s rise to fame and his taking control of Germany was on the intention of doing good.

The spirit of Absalom is a personification of a malignant usurper.

Absalom ended up bringing shame to his father, his family, and his kingdom.

In this booklet, we’ll look at the biblical Absalom, whom I’ll typically refer to as “Absalom” or “the original Absalom.” In referring to a modern day Absalom, I’ll call it “The Absalom personality,” or “The Absalom spirit.”

The Original Absalom

Let’s take a look at the sad story of the original Absalom, and see what we can learn about how this spirit operates today. The name “Absalom” always echoes disobedience, pride, hypocrisy, self-promotion, and rebellion.

Absalom, the third son of King David, had a lot going for him. He was strikingly handsome from head to toe—physically flawless. He could have been a super model. His physical appearance was stunning.

II Samuel 14:25
“Now in all Israel there was no one to be praised so much for his beauty as Absalom; from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him.

But Absalom was frustrated and angry.

Frustrated with Life

This is typical of modern day “Absaloms.” They seem to burn with an inner anger. They are often frustrated with their lives, their ministries, or their perceived level in life. They frequently imagine they deserve more recognition than what their achievements merit. In fact, the original Absalom built himself a monument, the same as many evils dictators in the past have done.

2 Samuel 18:18 (AMP)
Now Absalom in his lifetime had reared up for himself a pillar which is in the King’s Valley … He called the pillar after his own name, and to this day it is called Absalom’s Monument.

Absalom had big dreams for his life. But his ambitions were being frustrated. Absalom was guilty of plotting the murder of his own brother years ago, believing he was doing a noble service to his family. There he sat, under “house arrest” by order of his father, King David. Absalom is unrepentant, and feeling ignored.

False Criteria

Absalom had a way of judging everything by his own criteria. His brother, Amnon, sinned and Absalom determined that he deserved to die, so he arranged the execution of his own brother. Instead of seeing himself as a murderer, he saw himself as a hero, worthy of a Medal of Honor or some other kind of special recognition for his noble achievement. He was twisted in his thinking.

In the same manner, a modern Absalom gets offended at leadership, then, secretly arranges the subtle “execution” of the leader’s reputation, achievements, or integrity.

An Absalom spirit typically harbors camouflaged bitterness, unresolved offenses, disappointments, and anger, as we see in his treatment of his brother’s offense. His father, King David would never have approved the murder of Absalom’s brother, so he plotted it all on his own.

When a modern day Absalom’s ideas are not accepted or promoted by the leadership, as he believes they should be, he becomes offended. Once a person takes on an offense, and does not resolve it, he becomes offended at everything, no matter how minor. He will carry that unresolved offense in his heart often searching for others to agree with him in the offense (2 Samuel 13:20-29).

Hidden Agenda

An Absalom spirit thrives on hidden agendas, hidden strategies and hidden alliances.

Absalom Believes:

• The authority is not to be trusted.

• The authority is incompetent.

• “I know the right way to handle this.”

A modern day Absalom harbors hidden contempt, hidden hatred and hidden revenge of authority and those who are submitted to that authority. The Absalom personality will take his offenses to many individuals and spread his discontent through a variety of means (2 Samuel 13:22).

Hidden Rebellion

An Absalom spirit is rebellious and that rebellion will increasingly grow like a cancer, and at some point, become unquenchable if not dealt with firmly (2 Samuel 14:27-30).

1 Samuel 15:23

For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.

When an Absalom spirit is at work in a church or business, you will notice turmoil, confusion, and will probably experience a twisted stomach and a bombarded thought life. The reason for this is because the sin of rebellion seems to release spirits of witchcraft. I’m not talking about the kind of witchcraft that is a work of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21) but the kind where demons are loosed on an entire group or family because of rebellion.

St. Paul spoke of this rebellious spirit becoming more dominant as we approach the Lord’s coming.

2 Thessalonians 2:7 AMP
For the mystery of lawlessness (that hidden principle of rebellion against constituted authority) is already at work in the world …

Jesus himself spoke of the escalating conditions as we approach the Day of the Lord.

Matthew 10:21 NLT
A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed.

Repeating Lucifer’s Sin

An Absalom personality subtly works to marginalize the sincere leader. In time, he maneuvers to demonize the leader, betraying him by killing his influence among as many followers as possible. It sounds eerily similar to Lucifer’s betrayal of God, and his capturing the hearts of one third of the angelic forces.

The end result of participating in rebellion and betrayal is always the same. Whether the name is Korah, Dathan, Abiram, Haman, Jezebel, Ahithophel, or Judas, the story always turns out the same. It’s never a happy ending for any of them.

Desire to be in Command

The Absalom personality views himself as being in competition with the leadership and regularly distorts and misrepresents the decisions or directives the leader is giving.

The Absalom spirit possesses a desire to be in authority, but not with any kind of purity of heart.

Let’s get to the heart of the Absalom personality (or spirit.) You can study the history of this entire matter in 2 Samuel chapters 13-18. The purpose of this book is not to delve deeply into the matters of the historic Absalom, but to highlight his tactics to help you identify the contemporary Absalom spirit and deal with it successfully.

Absalom’s Tactics

Let’s see what we can learn from the tactics of the original Absalom. Here’s an overview of 2 Samuel 15:1-12:

An Absalom spirit works at impressing and stealing the hearts of the people who are under authority. His goal is to eventually “dethrone” and replace the one in authority.

“Pious persons are glad to see others appear religious, and this gives occasion for deceptions. The policy of wicked men, and the subtlety of Satan, are exerted to draw good persons to countenance base designs.” [i]

2 Samuel 15 NLT
After this, Absalom bought a chariot and horses, and he hired fifty bodyguards to run ahead of him.

Absalom is a self-promoter who maneuvers for the praise of men. (I Samuel 15:1)

Absalom maintains a carefully constructed and meticulously projected image designed to impress. As people recognize and praise the deceived individual, he begins to believe that he is more spiritual or wiser than the true leader.

2 Samuel 15 NLT
He got up early every morning and went out to the gate of the city. When people brought a case to the king for judgment, Absalom would ask where in Israel they were from, and they would tell him their tribe. Then Absalom would say, “You’ve really got a strong case here! It’s too bad the king doesn’t have anyone to hear it. I wish I were the judge. Then everyone could bring their cases to me for judgment, and I would give them justice!” When people tried to bow before him, Absalom wouldn’t let them. Instead, he took them by the hand and kissed them. Absalom did this with everyone who came to the king for judgment, and so he stole the hearts of all the people of Israel.

Master Manipulator

Absalom is a master in manipulation. He assures people, “You are special to me.” “You are my friend.” “I love you more than the pastor loves you. I will spend the quality time with you he doesn’t.”

An Absalom spirit is displayed in selfish ambition—disguised to appear as service to others, to the church, district or business. (2 Samuel 15:2)

Absalom seeks opportunities for self-advancement at the expense of others. Almost all the decisions of the leaders are questioned and undermined to the people.

Sadly, with this critical spirit, the Absalom personality can no longer receive any spiritual food or direction from the leadership. Nothing the pastor/leader does is good enough for Absalom. Even if Absalom’s ideas are implemented it’s never  good enough. This personality always finds some fault. (2 Samuel 15:2)

An Absalom spirit is revealed in divisiveness, antagonism, and negative criticism of authorities in order to promote self. He will actively seek out authority-type individuals that will seemingly approve of his actions. (2 Samuel 5:3)

Absalom feeds his followers with his faultfinding and critical spirit. Minor things, usually not related to God’s spiritual qualifications, will be made major issues, such as what kind of car the pastor drives, his salary, his style of leadership, or his approach to challenges. (2 Samuel 15:4)

An Absalom spirit exhibits false humility (2 Samuel 15:5).

The Politician

The original Absalom was a master politician, backslapping, hand kissing, and complimenting. His victims did not discern his real motivation and the trap he was planning to spring on them.

Matthew 23:15 NLT
Hypocrites! For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell you yourselves are!

You know how the scenario goes. You’ve probably experienced it yourself. Someone calls to arrange a lunch appointment with you. He tries to convince you that it’s rather urgent that he meets with you. He may be a person you respected in the past. He may be a pastor, leading what appears to be a good church, or he may be a businessman. He may even be some kind of elected official in your denomination. You have no reason to doubt his sincerity or integrity, so you schedule the meeting and sit down for lunch.

You pray over your food and chat. He does most of the talking. He tells you how he’s being honored, where he’s preaching, and how he has obtained favor with some well-known people. Names are dropped—names he believes you respect. He then showers you with an array of compliments for your service in the Kingdom of God and tells you what a great asset you are to the church, or district, or business. You feel warm and appreciate his kind words of adulation and commendation. Who wouldn’t love to hear those kinds of things?

After a while, the tone of the lunch meeting gradually changes. “Trial balloons” start going up to see where you stand on certain matters and issues. While you are still feeling good about all the flattering comments, he begins pointing out problems, criticizing leadership, and making subtle, degrading remarks about someone in authority. His subtle slander is carefully crafted designed to come across in a “holy way.” He’s only telling you this because he trusts you and because he’s “deeply concerned” about the leadership or direction of the church (ministry, denomination, district, business … you name it).

If you are discerning, you begin to get the distinct impression that this is more than a friendly lunch appointment. He never says it, but you get the feeling that he is campaigning for a change in leadership … and offering himself as the candidate.

If you’re like me, you begin to berate yourself for thinking such a negative thing about this fine Christian man. But you can’t seem to shake some of the thoughts he planted.

You pray for God’s inner peace, but it’s difficult to dismiss some of the issues he presented to you. These seeds keep swirling around in your mind, trying to take root.

Could it be that he traveled to you (“crossing land and sea”) to make you his convert?  Could it be that, like Absalom, he’s trying to turn you into twice the child of hell that he is?  Oh, he doesn’t see himself as a child of hell. He sees himself as a hero, a leader, a prima donna, and a force for change.

Observe him in the months that follow. Here’s what you’ll typically find: He will subtly and stealthily continue to point out flaws in the leadership of the church, business, or denomination. He will work to create distractions for the true leader to prevent more achievement that may be credited to the leader. Gradually there will be more and more openness about his discontent, all under the guise of his “concern.”

Start observing the people with whom he surrounds himself. You’ll discover, as I have, that his closest associates all seem to be walking in some kind of offense themselves. They have little respect for authority. You’ll notice they see themselves as important leaders, all the while continuing their faultfinding, criticism, complaining, and obstructing progress for the God-appointed leader. And each of them will be acting as mini-campaign managers for the Absalom personality.

I pray the proverbial light will come on for you before you are infected with the Absalom virus. This man is trying to steal hearts so he can get into a position that belongs to another man.

To offer an Absalom spirit any support at all is to debase your own soul, bringing it eventually to the point of sheer decay.

The Absalom spirit is to the soul what AIDS is to the body.

This scenario has played over and over again in churches, districts, and businesses. Different names, difference locations, and different twists, but the same spirit—Absalom!

An Absalom spirit is a thief, stealing the hearts and loyalty of the people away from their true authority. The Absalom personality feels that many are following him so he boldly brings his disloyalty out into the open. Now the people are forced to make a choice between the genuine leader and the Absalom who has deceived them. (2 Samuel 15:6)

2 Samuel 15 NLT
After four years, Absalom said to the king, “Let me go to Hebron to offer a sacrifice to the Lord and fulfill a vow I made to him. For while your servant was at Geshur in Aram, I promised to sacrifice to the Lord in Hebron if he would bring me back to Jerusalem.” “All right,” the king told him. “Go and fulfill your vow.” So Absalom went to Hebron. But while he was there, he sent secret messengers to all the tribes of Israel to stir up a rebellion against the king. “As soon as you hear the ram’s horn,” his message read, “you are to say, ‘Absalom has been crowned king in Hebron.’”

Making His Move

After four years of criticizing and secretly undermining the king, and building himself up in the eyes of the people, Absalom was ready to make his move. His plan was to make his debut as king where David did, and where he was born, Hebron.

Now the awful truth emerges into the open. People must make a choice between their current leader and the Absalom who has deceived them all by his duplicity. Usually, the Absalom spirit does not ultimately deceive the majority, but has caused enough division to foster doubt in the remainder of the followers.

Absalom’s Conspiracy

Absalom is dangerous. The Absalom spirit justifies his conspiracy to everyone by focusing attention on all the minor issues he has found fault with in the leadership. Usually, the Absalom personality does not have legitimate accusations such as the preaching of false doctrines or blatant sin on the part of the leader. (2 Samuel 15:7-10)

An Absalom spirit employs subtle seduction. Absalom doesn’t necessarily need a large group to implement his move; even a small band of followers, three or four in key positions will be sufficient. He knows he has stolen their hearts. (2 Samuel 15:11)

The Great Pretender

A sense of uneasiness now descends over the people.

“The story tells very vividly how he adopted the familiar tactics of pretenders.”[ii]

2 Samuel 15 NLT
He took 200 men from Jerusalem with him as guests, but they knew nothing of his intentions. While Absalom was offering the sacrifices, he sent for Ahithophel, one of David’s counselors who lived in Giloh. Soon many others also joined Absalom, and the conspiracy gained momentum.

An Absalom personality is not only a liar, but a religious hypocrite too. (2 Samuel 15:12)  Note: “While Absalom was offering the sacrifices …”

Jesus constantly confronted the religious hypocrites. These pretenders didn’t fool him, and they shouldn’t fool any born-again, Spirit-filled person who is walking in the Spirit and staying true to God’s Word.

Matthew 22:18
But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? It’s enlightening to see that Jesus equated hypocrisy with wickedness. The religious pretense of the Absalom personality often deceives undiscerning Christians.

2 Corinthians 11:12-13 MSG
They’re a sorry bunch—pseudo-apostles, lying preachers, crooked workers—posing as Christ’s agents but sham to the core. And no wonder! Satan does it all the time, dressing up as a beautiful angel of light. So it shouldn’t surprise us when his servants masquerade as servants of God. But they’re not getting by with anything. They’ll pay for it in the end.

The Judgment That Surely Follows

There is a Biblical principle that states: If the root is evil then the fruit shall also be evil. This simply means that a group birthed from the workings of an Absalom will suffer the same fate in due time.

Romans 11:16
For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.

Ezekiel 18:20
The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.

“The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Absalom must have known this truth, but ignored it.

There is always a payday.

Ezekiel 14:8 NLT
I will turn against such people and make a terrible example of them, eliminating them from among my people. Then you will know that I am the Lord.

Absalom died in a most revealing way. His head got caught in a tree and he was left dangling until he was executed. Caught by his head!  In Biblical typology the head stands for authority and leadership.

Absalom set himself up as head and by his head, he was judged!

2 Samuel 18: 9-18 MSG
Absalom ran into David’s men, but was out in front of them riding his mule, when the mule ran under the branches of a huge oak tree. Absalom’s head was caught in the oak and he was left dangling between heaven and earth, the mule running right out from under him. A solitary soldier saw him and reported it to Joab, “I just saw Absalom hanging from an oak tree!” Joab … grabbed three knives and stabbed Absalom in the heart while he was still alive in the tree; by then Absalom was surrounded by ten of Joab’s armor bearers; they hacked away at him and killed him.

They “hacked away at him.” What an awful way to die!  He had hacked away at the authority of Israel’s anointed leader, and now his own life is “hacked away.”

Absalom’s downfall

Absalom’s rebellion ended like that of Jezebel, Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and Judas. They fell through pride and their lives ended prematurely and tragically.

It is dangerous ground to sow strife and cause division in the body of Christ. The Lord hates the sowing of discord among brethren.

Proverbs 6:16-19
These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

Romans 13:2
He who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

What Caused Absalom’s Treacherous Sin?

Unresolved offenses, selfish ambition, and hatred lead to Absalom’s unforgiveness, and bitterness. His motivation was never pure. His aim was for revenge, discredit and ruin.

Matthew 24:3,10 
What will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age? … “And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.”

Unresolved offenses always lead to hatred and betrayal.

Why is this Spirit so Difficult to Deal With?

This spirit is difficult to deal with because people are emotionally attached to Absalom personalities through relationships. Absalom personalities are nice, usually friendly, lovable and popular. Everyone loved Absalom (even David).

To deal with them appears as being “unloving” or “judgmental.”

Prepare for a Personal Attack!

When you try to help a person infected by the Absalom spirit, prepare to be attacked. Or when you show support for the true leader, prepare to be attacked by the Absalom personality.

Being a religious hypocrite, like the Pharisees who arranged the execution of Jesus, the Absalom personality will work hard to discredit you. Unfortunately, the only way to deal with him is to cut him off.

Had David not allowed Absalom back into the kingdom, he would not have experienced the betrayal and temporary loss of the kingdom.

Many times those who operate in an Absalom spirit will leave a church out of rebellion, but want to stay in fellowship a bit. “We are still a part of the kingdom of God even if we are not in the same fellowship” is their reasoning. The logic sounds good, but both history and the fact that they are causing division are the indicators that their true motives are not for fellowship.

One thing the Absalom spirit cannot fail to do is to speak against what he’s left behind.[iii]

Absalom Characteristics in a Nutshell

  • They seek an audience.
  • Kindness and favor are their tools. Sometimes they give special gifts and pour out exaggerated “sweetness.”
  • Absalom caused division by sweetness, “stealing the hearts of David’s followers.”
  • Tells people, “You are special to me.” A pernicious characteristic of deception is this: You don’t know you are being deceived and set up. This is why discernment is critically important.
  • Special treatment: fellowship, trips, gifts, or favors. Everyone likes to be treated special. Everyone wants to feel special. But when it’s an Absalom personality making the offer, you must see it as bait, and run the other way.
  • Nothing the pastor/leadership does is good enough for Absalom.
  • Behind the scenes they covertly plant doubt concerning leadership. They look for faults in pastors and leaders.
  • They have a hidden agenda. Absalom’s motives were not known until they manifested and it was too late. You know where you stand with a Jezebel spirit or Korah personality, but Absalom is sneaky, and does things behind your back.
  • Absalom tells you things you want to hear. A true pastor’s job is to speak the truth in love. Sometimes that truth hurts and requires change, but it is always for our good.
  • An Absalom spirit eventually comes forward with open disloyalty and division.
  • Absalom’s goal is to use his power and position to advance his own agenda, not to help you reach your goals and dreams.
  • Absalom appears to be affectionate—all out of selfish motivation for personal gain. You will never be led into a closer relationship with Jesus by associating with an Absalom spirit.
  • Absalom is self-seeking and egotistical and loves to listen to complaints that under-mine authority.
  • Absalom’s sole purpose is to manipulate so he can have something that God hasn’t given him!

Psalm 12:2
They speak vanity everyone with his neighbor; with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak.”

  • Absalom enlists others to his cause, following the pattern of Lucifer.
  • He seeks out the advice of Ahithophel (the grandfather of Bathsheba). The Absalom spirit will look to someone of a fatherly nature to support him; someone he feels others actually respect. He may mention the names of those he wants you to believe support him.
  • The Absalom spirit isn’t ashamed at dropping names freely of people he knows and deems to be prominent or powerful, and convince others that these people agree with him.
  • Discontented people will enlist others in Absalom’s cause, rallying their own troops for rebellion.
  • Absalom personalities will create division to benefit their own vengeance or cause.
  • Absalom spirits will do their best to sow seeds of discontent with the purpose of undermining the authority God has placed in their lives.

 How to Deal with This Spirit:

  • Leaders must exercise the gift of discerning of spirits (I Corinthians 12:10).

Proverbs 21:12 MSG
A God-loyal person will see right through the wicked and undo the evil they’ve planned.

  • Proper role modeling. If the rest of the sheep see you hobnobbing with Absalom, then they will think it is okay.
  • You must be a protector. Protect the sheep from being kissed by Absalom. Wolves don’t come dressed as wolves, but sheep. Doing nothing will guarantee that Absalom will worm his way into the seat of authority.

Matthew 7:15
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

Acts 20:28-31  MSG
Now it’s up to you. Be on your toes—both for yourselves and your congregation of sheep. The Holy Spirit has put you in charge of these people—God’s people they are—to guard and protect them. God himself thought they were worth dying for. I know that as soon as I’m gone, vicious wolves are going to show up and rip into this flock, men from your very own ranks twisting words so as to seduce disciples into following them instead of Jesus. So stay awake and keep up your guard. Remember those three years I kept at it with you, never letting up, pouring my heart out with you, one after another.

Proverbs 20:26 MSG
After careful scrutiny, a wise leader makes a clean sweep of rebels and dolts.

  • Stop tolerating their antics. Put an end to the Absalom spirit. Remember, this is a demonic spirit you are dealing with. Their involvement is coming against God’s established authority and seeking to divide His kingdom. Nehemiah, for example, refused to give in to the antics of the Absalom personalities trying to distract him.

Nehemiah 6:1-9 MSG
When Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall and that there were no more breaks in it—even though I hadn’t yet installed the gates— Sanballat and Geshem sent this message: Come and meet with us at Kephirim in the valley of Ono. I knew they were scheming to hurt me so I sent messengers back with this: “I’m doing a great work; I can’t come down. Why should the work come to a standstill just so I can come down to see you?” Four times they sent this message and four times I gave them my answer. The fifth time—same messenger, same message—Sanballat sent an unsealed letter with this message: The word is out among the nations—and Geshem says it’s true—that you and the Jews are planning to rebel. That’s why you are rebuilding the wall. The word is that you want to be king and that you have appointed prophets to announce in Jerusalem, ‘There’s a king in Judah!’ The king is going to be told all this—don’t you think we should sit down and have a talk? I sent him back this: “There’s nothing to what you’re saying. You’ve made it all up.” They were trying to intimidate us into quitting. They thought, “They’ll give up; they’ll never finish it.” I prayed, “Give me strength.”

The Absalom spirit seems to be strengthened if it appears as though the pastor or leader is paranoid or weak.

  •  Don’t give them a place in the life of your ministry or business. The only fruitful way to deal with an Absalom is to cut him off.

Ephesians 5:11
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.

James 4:7 NLT
So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

  • Avoid promoting people until their true character is proven, and never put someone with Absalom characteristics in any place of leadership or authority.

Psalm 36:1-4 NLT
Sin whispers to the wicked, deep within their hearts.
They have no fear of God at all. In their blind conceit,
they cannot see how wicked they really are. Everything they say is crooked and deceitful.
They refuse to act wisely or do good. They lie awake at night, hatching sinful plots.
Their actions are never good. They make no attempt to turn from evil.

  • Be on guard and mark those who cause division and avoid them.

Romans 16:17-18 AMPL
I appeal to you, brethren, to be on your guard concerning those who create dissensions and difficulties and cause divisions, in opposition to the doctrine (the teaching) which you have been taught. [I warn you to turn aside from them, to] avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ but their own appetites and base desires, and by ingratiating and flattering speech, they beguile the hearts of the unsuspecting and simpleminded [people].

  • Pray for them. Set up intercessors you trust to hold special times of prayer. I believe, through our prayers, many will be delivered from these spirits and be fruitful once again in the kingdom of God.

Luke 6:26-28
Woe to you when all men speak well of you, For so did their fathers to the false prophets. “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, “bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.

  • Know this: their own pride will bring them down

2 Samuel 18:9, 14
His head got caught in the Terebinth tree; so he was left hanging … Joab … took three spears in his hand and thrust them through Absalom’s heart.

Proverbs 16:18
Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

Personal Cautions:

  • If ever I am more concerned about my recognition than the mission, malevolent, degenerative forces are at work!
  • If ever I seek to manipulate someone for personal gain, I have sided with Satan and lost the anointing of God!
  • If ever I dig a pit for another, I am sure to be buried in that very grave!
  • If ever I believe that I need what someone else has to be happy, whether it’s possessions or positions, I have lost sight of God, lost my security in Him, and have taken a step closer to the Absalom spirit.
  • If ever I am not content with what I have, I can be sure I won’t be content with what I want.
  • If ever I sow seeds of dissention and division (and diminish spiritual authority), I can be sure that I am operating in the spirit of Lucifer and not the Christ of Calvary! [iv]
  • If ever I think, “If I were in charge,” it’s a sure sign I do not have what it takes to be in charge.
  • If ever I believe myself to be more in touch than the leadership, I need to be humbled.
  • If ever I verbalize any agreement with disgruntled members, I’m unworthy to be a leader.
  • If ever I find myself manipulating rather than motivating, I’ll know I’m moving toward an Absalom spirit and must repent quickly.
  • If ever I surround myself with people who have unresolved offenses, I’ll know I’m on the road to shame.
  • If ever I find myself looking for ways to prove how much more I know or how much more gifted I am than the pastor or leader, I’ll know Satan has stolen a piece of my soul.
  • If ever I find myself subtly criticizing my pastor or my leader, and I haven’t sincerely invested time in praying for them , I can be sure that I am out of spiritual alignment and must either repent or prepare to sabotage my own future.

Warning: Absalom is not your friend

When an Absalom spirit is active, Jesus no longer has preeminence. That’s why there is confusion, chaos, and bedlam. The Absalom spirit, though praying hypocritically for show, does not want Jesus Christ to really enjoy preeminence. That’s why this personality will call for committee meetings rather than genuine prayer meetings.

Colossians 1:18
And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

St. John faced an Absalom personality in his day, and was not afraid to expose him and warn others of his treachery.

3 John 1:9-10
I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.

Those who have the trust of leadership are targets for an Absalom spirit. Stay loyal to the leader who is putting his trust in you even though he is not perfect. Either be loyal or get out.

Confront any Absalom personality who tries to manipulate you and use you. Then go straight to your leader and tell them about “Absalom” before it is too late.

Always seek first God’s Kingdom and His way of doing things. (Matthew 6:33)  He will bring you deliverance and increase.

Remember the words of King David, Absalom’s father:

Psalm 101:4-8
I will reject perverse ideas and stay away from every evil. I will not tolerate people who slander their neighbors. I will not endure conceit and pride. I will search for faithful people to be my companions. Only those who are above reproach will be allowed to serve me. I will not allow deceivers to serve in my house, and liars will not stay in my presence. My daily task will be to ferret out the wicked and free the city of the Lord from their grip.

Colossians 1:18
… That in all things he [Jesus Christ] might have the preeminence.

Selected Bibliography

Phillipps, Mike and Marilyn, Absalom: A Caution To Us All []

Kirk, Bill, The Absalom Spirit – The Causes and Cure of Satan’s Deceitful Scheme

McArthur, Peter, The Issachar Ministry

Tetsola, Dr. John Tetsola, Danger in the Local Church []

McCullough, Jackie, Satisfaction of the Soul, 2007, ISBN 0768424127, 9780768424126

Cox, Paul, The Absalom Spirit, []

The Absalom Spirit, Posted 9/14/2007, []

Blank, Wayne, Absalom, Daily Study Bible

Ma’aseh de-Rabbi Joshua ben Levi, in Jellinek’s Bet ha-Midrash, ii. 50, 51.K. Jewish Encyclopedia Copyright 2002

Britza, Ian M., The Absalom Spirit: Revealing Disloyalty’s Plan to Destroy You and Those You Trust, Harrison House 2004) ISBN-13: 978-1577944607

Victory Life Church, Discerning the Spirit of Absalom in the Church, P.O. Box 1834, Folsom, CA 95763

Anderson, A.A., Word Biblical Commentary Vol. 11, 2 Samuel, Thomas Nelson, 1989  ISBN-13: 978-0849902109

Wesley, John, John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes, 2 Samuel 15-18 (

Ackroyd, Peter R. The Second Book of Samuel. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977.

Hertzberg, Hans W. 1 & II Samuel: A Commentary. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1964.

Smith, H. P. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Books of Samuel. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1904.

[i]  Kirk, Bill The Absalom Spirit – The Causes and Cure of Satan’s Deceitful Scheme

[ii] McArthur, Peter The Issachar Ministry

[iii] McClaren, Alexander, Pardoned Sin Punished, Sermons on 2 Samuel

[iv]  Henry, Matthew, Concise Commentary on the Bible, Volume II, 2 Samuel