His sister Tamar had been raped by David's eldest son, Amnon, who was in love with her. Absalom, after waiting two years, revenged by sending his servants to murder Amnon at a feast to which he had invited all the king's sons (see 2 Samuel 13:23-33)
After this deed he fled to Talmai, "king" of Geshur (see Joshua 12:5 or 13:2), his maternal grandfather, and it was not until three years later that he was fully reinstated in his father's favour.
Four years after this he raised a revolt at Hebron, the former capital. Absalom was now the eldest surviving son of David, and the present position of the narratives (15-20)--after the birth of Solomon and before the struggle between Solomon and Adonijah---may represent the view that the suspicion that he was not the destined heir of his father's throne excited the impulsive youth to rebellion.
All Israel and Judah flocked to his side, and David, attended only by the Cherethites and Pelethites and some recent recruits from Gath, found it expedient to flee. The priest remained behind in Jerusalem, and their sons Jonathan and Ahimaaz served as his spies. Absalom reached the capital and took counsel with the renowned Ahitophel. The pursuit was continued and David took refuge beyond the Jordan River.