Conflict Escalation – David (BIBLICAL CASE STUDY)

Read the story of David’s war with his son Absalom in 2 Samuel and try to determine the events that relate to the Five Stages of Escalating Conflict.  When you think you have them all identified (hint: some occur multiple times), draw a graph on a flip chart, and label it with these events to show the 5 Stages.

The Scriptures you will want to focus on are: 2 Samuel 13:1-39; 14:21-33; 15:1-17; 18:1-17


  • Conditions for conflict exist, but neither party has acted on them.
  • One side may even be unaware of the potential conflict even though the other side is resentful.


  • A triggering event (or events) leads to escalation of the conflict by adding fuel to the fire.


  • Intensified behaviors include demands, threats, ultimatums and open expressions of hostility.
  • Polarization occurs as people pick sides.
  • Opponents are dehumanized to make it easier to see them as the enemy, and selective perception filters out evidence that might justify opponents’ behaviors.
  • Fighting generates new grievances, sometimes becoming new triggering events.
  • Goals often change as initial solutions no longer satisfy.
  • Unresolved old issues are revived.


  • Sides “dig in” for prolonged conflict.
  • Compromise seen as a sign of weakness.

End Point

  • Stalemate occurs as sides run out of resources, support or energy to continue.
  • Realization occurs that cost of conflict outweighs benefits of winning.
  • One side achieves a lasting victory.

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Filed under Biblical Case Study, conflict management, Conflict Resolution, David, Devotion, Relationships

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