David divides his army, appointing different officers and commanders. He splits the army into thirds, appointing Joab, Abishai, and Ittai the Gittite over each part.
David says that he'll go out and fight, too, but the people object to this, saying that he's too important (sort of like the king in chess).
So David stays behind, but he tells his commanders not to kill Absalom, and to deal gently with him if they find him.
The battle happens in the forest of Ephraim. David's troops slaughter Absalom's, with casualties running up to twenty thousand men. The narrator claims that the forest itself ended up killing more people than the sword (presumably, with riders tripping over roots and stuff like that).
Bad Hair Day
In the midst of the fighting, Absalom runs into some of David's soldiers, while riding on his mule. His long hair gets caught in a tree branch, and he is lifted off the mule, stuck in mid-air.
But, mindful of what David said, the soldiers don't want to kill him. Joab comes along and asks them what they're waiting for. One of the soldiers says he wouldn't even kill the king's son for money.
Joab says that that's ridiculous, grabs three spears, and sticks them all at once into Absalom's heart, killing him.
His ten armor-bearers also help strike and kill Absalom.
Joab recalls the troops, and the battle ends. They bury Absalom in a pit in the woods, covering it in stones.
A monument Absalom built still remains standing in the King's Valley, says the narrator.
Ahimaaz offers to go tell David what's happened, but Joab sends a Cus***e instead, saying it wouldn't be appropriate to send Ahimaaz, since the king's son died (for some reason). But Ahimaaz protests, so Joab lets him run, too.
David sees two runners coming to bring him news. Ahimaaz outruns the Cus***e and tells David that they've won the battle. But he says he doesn't know what happened to Absalom, though he saw some sort of great tumult (which is a lie).
When the Cus***e appears, he gives David the real scoop, telling him Absalom is dead.