Absalom's name signifies "the peace of his father," yet he proves his
greatest trouble; so often are we disappointed in our expectations from
the creature. The sword entailed upon David's house had hitherto been
among his children, but now it begins to be drawn against himself, with
this aggravation, that he may thank himself for it, for, had he done
justice upon the murderer, he would have prevented the traitor. The
story of Absalom's rebellion begins with this chapter, but we must go
over three or four more before we see the end of it. In this chapter we
I. The arts Absalom used to insinuate himself into the people's
2 Samuel 15:1-6.
II. His open avowal of his pretensions to the crown at Hebron, whither
he went under colour of a vow, and the strong party that appeared for
2 Samuel 15:7-12.
III. The notice brought of this to David, and his flight from Jerusalem
2 Samuel 15:13-18.
In his flight we are told,
1. What passed between him and Ittai,
2 Samuel 15:19-22.
2. The concern of the country for him,
2 Samuel 15:23.
3. His conference with Zadok,
2 Samuel 15:24-29.
4. His tears and prayers upon this occasion,
2 Samuel 15:30-31.
5. Matters concerted by him with Hushai,
2 Samuel 15:32-37.
Now the word of God was fulfilled, that he would "raise up evil against
him out of his own house,"
2 Samuel 12:11.
B. C. 1027.
1 And it came to pass after this, that Absalom prepared him
chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him.
2 And Absalom rose up early, and stood beside the way of the
gate: and it was so, that when any man that had a controversy
came to the king for judgment, then Absalom called unto him, and
said, Of what city art thou? And he said, Thy servant is of
one of the tribes of Israel.
3 And Absalom said unto him, See, thy matters are good and
right; but there is no man deputed of the king to hear thee.
4 Absalom said moreover, Oh that I were made judge in the land,
that every man which hath any suit or cause might come unto me,
and I would do him justice!
5 And it was so, that when any man came nigh to him to do
him obeisance, he put forth his hand, and took him, and kissed
6 And on this manner did Absalom to all Israel that came to the
king for judgment: so Absalom stole the hearts of the men of
Absalom is no sooner restored to his place at court than he aims to be
in the throne. He that was unhumbled under his troubles became
insufferably proud when they were over; and he cannot be content with
the honour of being the king's son, and the prospect of being his
successor, but he must be king now. His mother was a king's daughter;
on that perhaps he valued himself, and despised his father, who was but
the son of Jesse. She was the daughter of a heathen king, which made
him the less concerned for the peace of Israel. David, in this unhappy
issue of that marriage, smarted for his being unequally yoked with an
unbeliever. When Absalom was restored to the king's favour, if he had
had any sense of gratitude, he would have studied how to oblige his
father, and make him easy; but, on the contrary, he meditates how to
undermine him, by stealing the hearts of the people from him. Two
things recommend a man to popular esteem--greatness and goodness.
I. Absalom looks great,
2 Samuel 15:1.
He had learned of the king of Geshur (what was not allowed to the kings
of Israel) to multiply horses, which made him look desirable, while his
father, on his mule, looked despicable. The people desired a king like
the nations; and such a one Absalom will be, appearing in pomp and
magnificence, above what had been seen in Jerusalem. Samuel had
foretold that this would be the manner of the king: He shall
have chariots and horsemen, and some shall run before his
(1 Samuel 8:11);
and this is Absalom's manner. Fifty footmen (in rich liveries we may
suppose) running before him, to give notice of his approach, would
highly gratify his pride and the people's foolish fancy. David thinks
that this parade is designed only to grace his court, and connives at
it. Those parents know not what they do who indulge a proud humour in
their children; for I have seen more young people ruined by pride than
by any one lust whatsoever.
II. Absalom will seem very good too, but with a very bad design. Had he
proved himself a good son and a good subject, and set himself to serve
his father's interest, he would have done his present duty, and shown
himself worthy of future honours, after his father's death. Those that
know how to obey well know how to rule. But to show how good a judge
and how good a king he will be is but to deceive himself and others.
Those are good indeed that are good in their own place, not that
pretend how good they would be in other people's places. But this is
all the goodness we find in Absalom.
1. He wishes that he were a judge in Israel,
2 Samuel 15:4.
He had all the pomp and all the pleasure he could wish, lived as great
and in as much ease as any man could; yet this will not content him,
unless he have power too: O that I were a judge in Israel! He
that should himself have been judged to death for murder has the
impudence to aim at being a judge of others. We read not of Absalom's
wisdom, virtue, or learning in the laws, nor had he given any proofs of
his love to justice, but the contrary; yet he wishes he were judge.
Note, Those are commonly most ambitious of preferment that are least
fit for it; the best qualified are the most modest and self-diffident,
while it is no better than the spirit of an Absalom that says, O
that I were a judge in Israel!
2. He takes a very bad course for the accomplishing of his wish. Had he
humbly petitioned his father to employ him in the administration of
justice, and studied to qualify himself for it (according to the rule,
no doubt he would have been sure of the next judge's place that fell;
but this is too mean a post for his proud spirit. It is below him to be
subordinate, though to the king his father; he must be supreme or
nothing. He wants to be such a judge that every man who has any cause
shall come to him: in all causes, and over all persons, he must
preside, little thinking what a fatigue this would be to have every man
come to him. Moses himself could not bear it. Those know not what power
is that grasp at so much, so very much. To gain the power he aims at,
he endeavours to instil into the people's minds,
(1.) A bad opinion of the present administration, as if the affairs of
the kingdom were altogether neglected, and no care taken about them. He
got round him all he could that had business at the council-board,
enquired what their business was; and,
[1.] Upon a slight and general enquiry into their cause, he pronounced
it good: Thy matters are right. A fit man indeed to be a judge,
who would give judgment upon hearing one side only! For he has a bad
cause indeed that cannot put a good colour upon it, when he himself has
the telling of the story. But,
[2.] He told them that it was to no purpose to appeal to the throne:
"There is no man deputed of the king to hear thee. The king is
himself old, and past business, or so taken up with his devotions that
he never minds business; his sons are so addicted to their pleasures
that, though they have the name of chief rulers, they take no care of
the affairs committed to them." He further seems to insinuate what a
great want there was of him while he was banished and confined, and how
much the public suffered by his exile; what his father said truly in
he says falsely: The land and all the inhabitants of it are
dissolved, all will go to wreck and ruin, unless I bear up the
pillars of it. Every appellant shall be made to believe that he
will never have justice done him, unless Absalom be viceroy or
lord-justice. It is the way of turbulent, factious, aspiring men, to
reproach the government they are under. Presumptuous are they,
self-willed, and not afraid to speak evil of dignities,
2 Peter 2:10.
Even David himself, the best of kings, and his administration, could
not escape the worst of censures. Those that aim to usurp cry out of
grievances, and pretend to design nothing but the redress of them: as
(2.) A good opinion of his own fitness to rule. That the people might
say, "O that Absalom were a judge!" (and they are apt enough to desire
changes), he recommends himself to them,
[1.] As very diligent. He rose up early, and appeared in public before
the rest of the king's sons were stirring, and he stood beside the way
of the gate, where the courts of judgment sat, as one mightily
concerned to see justice done and public business despatched.
[2.] As very inquisitive and prying, and desirous to be acquainted with
every one's case. He would know of what city every one was that came
for judgment, that he might inform himself concerning every part of the
kingdom and the state of it,
2 Samuel 15:2.
[3.] As very familiar and humble. If any Israelite offered to do
obeisance to him he took him and embraced him as a friend. No man's
conduct could be more condescending, while his heart was as proud as
Lucifer's. Ambitious projects are often carried on by a show of
He knew what a grace it puts upon greatness to be affable and
courteous, and how much it wins upon common people: had he been sincere
in it, it would have been his praise; but to fawn upon the people that
he might betray them was abominable hypocrisy. He croucheth, and
humbleth himself, to draw them into his net,
B. C. 1023.
7 And it came to pass after forty years, that Absalom said unto
the king, I pray thee, let me go and pay my vow, which I have
vowed unto the LORD, in Hebron.
8 For thy servant vowed a vow while I abode at Geshur in Syria,
saying, If the LORD shall bring me again indeed to Jerusalem,
then I will serve the LORD.
9 And the king said unto him, Go in peace. So he arose, and
went to Hebron.
10 But Absalom sent spies throughout all the tribes of Israel,
saying, As soon as ye hear the sound of the trumpet, then ye
shall say, Absalom reigneth in Hebron.
11 And with Absalom went two hundred men out of Jerusalem,
that were called; and they went in their simplicity, and they
knew not any thing.
12 And Absalom sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David's
counsellor, from his city, even from Giloh, while he offered
sacrifices. And the conspiracy was strong; for the people
increased continually with Absalom.
We have here the breaking out of Absalom's rebellion, which he had long
been contriving. It is said to be after forty years,
2 Samuel 15:7.
But whence it is to be dated we are not told; not from David's
beginning his reign, for then it would fall in the last year of his
life, which is not probable; but either from his first anointing by
Samuel seven years before, or rather (I think) from the people's
desiring a king, and the first change of the government into a
monarchy, which might be about ten years before David began to reign;
it is fitly dated thence, to show that the same restless spirit was
still working, and still they were given to change: as fond now of a
new man as then of a new model. So it fell about the thirtieth year of
David's reign. Absalom's plot being now ripe for execution,
I. The place he chose for the rendezvous of his party was Hebron, the
place where he was born and where his father began his reign and
continued it several years, which would give some advantage to his
pretensions. Every one knew Hebron to be a royal city; and it lay in
the heart of Judah's lot, in which tribe, probably, he thought his
II. The pretence he had both to go thither and to invite his friends to
him there was to offer a sacrifice to God, in performance of a vow he
had made during his banishment,
2 Samuel 15:7,8.
We have cause enough to suspect that he had not made any such vow; it
does not appear that he was so religiously inclined. But he that stuck
not at murder and treason would not make conscience of a lie to serve
his purpose. If he said he had made such a vow, nobody could disprove
him. Under this pretence,
1. He got leave of his father to go to Hebron. David would be well
pleased to hear that his son, in his exile, was so desirous to return
to Jerusalem, not only his father's city, but the city of the living
God,--that he looked up to God, to bring him back,--that he had vowed,
if he were brought back, to serve the Lord, whose service he had
hitherto neglected,--and that now, being brought back, he remembered
his vow, and resolved to perform it. If he think fit to do it in
Hebron, rather than in Sion or Gibeon, the good king is so well pleased
with the thing itself that he will not object against his choice of the
place. See how willing tender parents are to believe the best
concerning their children, and, upon the least indication of good, to
hope, even concerning those that have been untoward, that they will
repent and reform. But how easy is it for children to take advantage of
their good parents' credulity, and to impose upon them with the show of
religion, while still they are what they were! David was overjoyed to
hear that Absalom inclined to serve the Lord, and therefore
readily gave him leave to go to Hebron, and to go thither with
2. He got a good number of sober substantial citizens to go along with
2 Samuel 15:11.
There went 200 men, probably of the principal men of Jerusalem, whom he
invited to join with him in his feast upon his sacrifice; and they went
in their simplicity, not in the least suspecting that Absalom had any
bad design in this journey. He knew that it was to no purpose to tempt
them in to his plot: they were inviolably firm to David. But he drew
them in to accompany him, that the common people might think that they
were in his interest, and that David was deserted by some of his best
friends. Note, It is no new thing for very good men, and very good
things, to be made use of by designing men to put a colour upon bad
practices. When religion is made a stalking-horse, and sacrifice a
shoeing-horn, to sedition and usurpation it is not to be wondered at if
some that were well affected to religion, as these followers of Absalom
here, are imposed upon by the fallacy, and drawn in to give countenance
to that, with their names, which in their heart they abhor, not having
known the depths of Satan.
III. The project he laid was to get himself proclaimed king throughout
all the tribes of Israel upon a signal given,
2 Samuel 15:10.
Spies were sent abroad, to be ready in every country to receive the
notice with satisfaction and acclamations of joy, and to make the
people believe that the news was both very true and very good, and that
they were all concerned to take up arms for their new king. Upon the
sudden spreading of this proclamation, "Absalom reigns in
Hebron," some would conclude that David was dead, others that he
had resigned: and thus those that were in the secret would draw in many
to appear for Absalom, and to come into his assistance, who, if they
had rightly understood the matter, would have abhorred the thought of
it, but, being drawn in, would adhere to him. See what artifices
ambitious men use for the compassing of their ends; and in matters of
state, as well as in matters of religion, let us not be forward to
believe every spirit, but try the spirits.
IV. The person he especially courted and relied upon in this affair was
Ahithophel, a politic thinking man, and one that had a clear head and a
great compass of thought, that had been David's counsellor, his guide
and his acquaintance
his familiar friend, in whom he trusted, who did eat of his
But, upon some disgust of David's against him, or his against David, he
was banished, or retired from public business, and lived privately in
the country. How should a man of such good principles as David, and a
man of such corrupt principles as Ahithophel, long agree? A fitter tool
Absalom could not find in all the kingdom than one that was so great a
statesman, and yet was disaffected to the present ministry. While
Absalom was offering his sacrifices, in performance of his pretended
vow, he sent for this man. So much was his heart on the projects of his
ambition that he could not stay to make an end of his devotion, which
showed what his eye was upon in all, and that it was but for a pretence
that he made long offerings.
V. The party that joined with him proved at last very considerable. The
people increased continually with Absalom, which made the conspiracy
strong and formidable. Every one whom he had complimented and caressed
(pronouncing his matters right and good, especially if afterwards the
cause went against him) not only came himself, but made all the
interest he could for him, so that he wanted not for numbers. The
majority is no certain rule to judge of equity by. All the world
wondered after the beast. Whether Absalom formed this design merely
in the height of his ambition and fondness to rule, or whether there
was not in it also malice against his father and revenge for his
banishment and confinement, though this punishment was so much less
than he deserved, does not appear. But, generally, that which aims at
the crown aims at the head that wears it.
B. C. 1023.
13 And there came a messenger to David, saying, The hearts of
the men of Israel are after Absalom.
14 And David said unto all his servants that were with him at
Jerusalem, Arise, and let us flee; for we shall not else escape
from Absalom: make speed to depart, lest he overtake us suddenly,
and bring evil upon us, and smite the city with the edge of the
15 And the king's servants said unto the king, Behold, thy
servants are ready to do whatsoever my lord the king shall
16 And the king went forth, and all his household after him.
And the king left ten women, which were concubines, to keep the
17 And the king went forth, and all the people after him, and
tarried in a place that was far off.
18 And all his servants passed on beside him; and all the
Cherethites, and all the Pelethites, and all the Gittites, six
hundred men which came after him from Gath, passed on before the
19 Then said the king to Ittai the Gittite, Wherefore goest
thou also with us? return to thy place, and abide with the king:
for thou art a stranger, and also an exile.
20 Whereas thou camest but yesterday, should I this day make
thee go up and down with us? seeing I go whither I may, return
thou, and take back thy brethren: mercy and truth be with thee.
21 And Ittai answered the king, and said, As the LORD liveth,
and as my lord the king liveth, surely in what place my lord
the king shall be, whether in death or life, even there also will
thy servant be.
22 And David said to Ittai, Go and pass over. And Ittai the
Gittite passed over, and all his men, and all the little ones
that were with him.
23 And all the country wept with a loud voice, and all the
people passed over: the king also himself passed over the brook
Kidron, and all the people passed over, toward the way of the
I. The notice brought to David of Absalom's rebellion,
2 Samuel 15:13.
The matter was bad enough, and yet it seems to have been made worse to
him (as such things commonly are) than really it was; for he was told
that the hearts of the men of Israel (that is, the generality of
them, at least the leading men) were after Absalom. But David
was the more apt to believe it because now he could call to mind the
arts that Absalom had used to inveigle them, and perhaps reflected upon
it with regret that he had not done more to counterwork him, and secure
his own interest, which he had been too confident of. Note, It is the
wisdom of princes to make sure of their subjects; for, if they have
them, they have their purses, and arms, and all, at their service.
II. The alarm this gave to David, and the resolutions he came to
thereupon. We may well imagine him in a manner thunderstruck, when he
heard that the son he loved so dearly, and had been so indulgent to,
was so unnaturally and ungratefully in arms against him. Well might he
say with Caesar, Kai su teknon--What, thou my son?
Let not parents raise their hopes too high from their children, lest
they be disappointed. David did not call a council, but, consulting
only with God and his own heart, determined immediately to quit
2 Samuel 15:14.
He took up this strange resolve, so disagreeable to his character as a
man of courage, either,
1. As a penitent, submitting to the rod, and lying down under God's
correcting hand. Conscience now reminded him of his sin in the matter
of Uriah, and the sentence he was under for it, which was that evil
should arise against him out of his own house. "Now," thinks he,
"the word of God begins to be fulfilled, and it is not for me to
contend with it or fight against it; God is righteous and I submit."
Before unrighteous Absalom he could justify himself and stand it out;
but before the righteous God he must condemn himself and yield to his
judgments. Thus he accepts the punishment of his iniquity. Or,
2. As a politician. Jerusalem was a great city, but not tenable; it
should seem, by David's prayer
that the walls of it were not built up, much less was it regularly
fortified. It was too large to be garrisoned by so small a force as
David had now with him, He had reason to fear that the generality of
the inhabitants were too well affected to Absalom to be true to him.
Should he fortify himself here, he might lose the country, in which,
especially among those that lay furthest from Absalom's tampering, he
hoped to have the most friends. And he had such a kindness for
Jerusalem that he was loth to make it the seat of war, and expose it to
the calamities of a siege; he will rather quit it tamely to the rebels.
Note, Good men, when they suffer themselves, care not how few are
involved with them in suffering.
III. His hasty flight from Jerusalem. His servants agreed to the
measures he took, faithfully adhered to him
(2 Samuel 15:15),
and assured him of their inviolable allegiance, whereupon,
1. He went out of Jerusalem himself on foot, while his son Absalom had
chariots and horses. It is not always the best man, nor the best cause,
that makes the best figure. See here, not only the servant, but the
traitor, on horseback, while the prince, the rightful prince, walks
as a servant upon the earth,
Thus he chose to do, to abase himself so much the more under God's
hand, and in condescension to his friends and followers, with whom he
would walk, in token that he would live and die with them.
2. He took his household with him, his wives and children, that he
might protect them in this day of danger, and that they might be a
comfort to him in this day of grief. Masters of families, in their
greatest frights, must not neglect their households. Ten women,
that were concubines, he left behind, to keep the
house, thinking that the weakness of their sex would secure them
from murder, and their age and relation to him would secure them from
rape; but God overruled this for the fulfilling of his word.
3. He took his life-guard with him, or band of pensioners, the
Cherethites and Pelethites, who were under the command of Benaiah, and
the Gittites, who were under the command of Ittai,
2 Samuel 15:18.
These Gittites seem to have been, by birth, Philistines of Gath, who
came, a regiment of them, 600 in all, to enter themselves in David's
service, having known him at Gath, and being greatly in love with him
for his virtue and piety, and having embraced the Jews' religion. David
made them of his garde du corps--his body-guard, and they
adhered to him in his distress. The Son of David found not such
great faith in Israel as in a Roman centurion and a woman of
4. As many as would, of the people of Jerusalem, he took with him, and
made a halt at some distance from the city, to draw them up,
2 Samuel 15:17.
He compelled none. Those whose hearts were with Absalom, to Absalom let
them go, and so shall their doom be: they will soon have enough of him.
Christ enlists none but volunteers.
IV. His discourse with Ittai the Gittite, who commanded the
1. David dissuaded him from going along with him,
2 Samuel 15:19,20.
Though he and his men might be greatly serviceable to him yet,
(1.) He would try whether he was hearty for him, and not inclined to
Absalom. He therefore bids him return to his post in Jerusalem, and
serve the new king. If he was no more than a soldier of fortune (as we
say), he would be for that side which would pay and prefer him best;
and to that side let him go.
(2.) If he was faithful to David, yet David would not have him exposed
to the fatigues and perils he now counted upon. David's tender spirit
cannot bear to think that a stranger and an exile, a proselyte and a
new convert, who ought, by all means possible, to be encouraged and
made easy, should, at his first coming, meet with such hard usage:
"Should I make thee go up and down with us? No, return with thy
brethren." Generous souls are more concerned at the share others have
in their troubles than at their own. Ittai shall therefore be dismissed
with a blessing: Mercy and truth be with thee, that is, God's
mercy and truth, mercy according to promise, the promise made to those
who renounce other gods and put themselves under the wings off the
divine Majesty. This is a very proper pious farewell, when we part with
a friend, "Mercy and truth be with thee, and then thou art safe,
and mayest be easy, wherever thou art." David's dependence was upon the
mercy and truth of God for comfort and happiness, both for himself and
his friends; see
2. Ittai bravely resolved not to leave him,
2 Samuel 15:21.
Where David is, whether in life or death, safe or in peril,
there will this faithful friend of his be; and he confirms this
resolution with an oath, that he might not be tempted to break it.
Such a value has he for David, not for the sake of his wealth and
greatness (for then he would have deserted him now that he saw him thus
reduced), but for the sake of his wisdom and goodness, which were still
the same, that, whatever comes of it, he will never leave him. Note,
That is a friend indeed who loves at all times, and will adhere to us
in adversity. Thus should we cleave to the Son of David with full
purpose of heart that neither life nor death shall separate us from
V. The common people's sympathy with David in his affliction. When he
and his attendants passed over the brook Kidron (the very same
brook that Christ passed over when he entered upon his sufferings,
towards the way of the wilderness, which lay between Jerusalem
and Jericho, all the country wept with a loud voice,
2 Samuel 15:23.
Cause enough there was for weeping,
1. To see a prince thus reduced, one that had lived so great forced
from his palace and in fear of his life, with a small retinue seeking
shelter in a desert, to see the city of David, which he himself won,
built, and fortified, made an unsafe abode for David himself. It would
move the compassion even of strangers to see a man fallen thus low from
such a height, and this by the wickedness of his own son; a piteous
case it was. Parents that are abused and ruined by their own children
merit the tender sympathy of their friends as much as any of the sons
or daughters of affliction. Especially,
2. To see their own prince thus wronged, who had been so great a
blessing to their land, and had not done any thing to forfeit the
affections of his people; to see him in this distress, and themselves
unable to help him, might well draw floods of tears from their
24 And lo Zadok also, and all the Levites were with him,
bearing the ark of the covenant of God: and they set down the ark
of God; and Abiathar went up, until all the people had done
passing out of the city.
25 And the king said unto Zadok, Carry back the ark of God into
the city: if I shall find favour in the eyes of the LORD, he will
bring me again, and shew me both it, and his habitation:
26 But if he thus say, I have no delight in thee; behold, here
am I, let him do to me as seemeth good unto him.
27 The king said also unto Zadok the priest, Art not thou a
seer? return into the city in peace, and your two sons with you,
Ahimaaz thy son, and Jonathan the son of Abiathar.
28 See, I will tarry in the plain of the wilderness, until
there come word from you to certify me.
29 Zadok therefore and Abiathar carried the ark of God again to
Jerusalem: and they tarried there.
30 And David went up by the ascent of mount Olivet, and wept
as he went up, and had his head covered, and he went barefoot:
and all the people that was with him covered every man his
head, and they went up, weeping as they went up.
Here we have,
I. The fidelity of the priests and Levites and their firm adherence to
David and his interest. They knew David's great affection to them and
their office, notwithstanding his failings. The method Absalom took to
gain people's affections made no impression upon them; he had little
religion in him, and therefore they steadily adhered to David. Zadok
and Abiathar, and all the Levites, if he go, will accompany him, and
take the ark with them, that, by it, they may ask counsel of God for
2 Samuel 15:24.
Note, Those that are friends to the ark in their prosperity will find
it a friend to them in their adversity. Formerly David would not rest
till he had found a resting-place for the ark; and now, if the priests
may have their mind, the ark shall not rest till David return to his
II. David's dismission of them back into the city,
2 Samuel 15:25,26.
Abiathar was high priest
(1 Kings 2:35),
but Zadok was his assistant, and attended the ark most closely, while
Abiathar was active in public business,
2 Samuel 15:24.
Therefore David directs his speech to Zadok, and an excellent speech it
is, and shows him to be in a very good frame under his affliction, and
that still he holds fast his integrity.
1. He is very solicitous for the safety of the ark: "By all means
carry the ark back into the city, let not that be unsettled and
exposed with me, lodge that again in the tent pitched for it; surely
Absalom, bad as he is, will do that no harm." David's heart, like Eli's
trembles for the ark of God. Note, It argues a good principle to be
more concerned for the church's prosperity than for our own, to
prefer Jerusalem before our chief joy
the success of the gospel, and the flourishing of the church, above our
own wealth, credit, ease, and safety, even when they are most in
2. He is very desirous to return to the enjoyment of the privileges of
God's house. He will reckon it the greatest instance of God's favour to
him if he may but once more be brought back to see it and his
habitation. This will be more his joy than to be brought back to his
own palace and throne again. Note, Gracious souls measure their
comforts and conveniences in this world by the opportunity they give
them of communion with God. Hezekiah wished for the recovery of his
health for this reason, that he might go up to the house of the
3. He is very submissive to the holy will of God concerning the issue
of this dark dispensation. He hopes the best
(2 Samuel 15:25),
and hopes for it from the favour of God, which he looks upon to be the
fountain of all good: "If God favour me so far, I shall be settled
again as formerly." But he provides for the worst: "If he deny me this
favour--if he thus say, I have no delight in thee--I know I
deserve the continuance of his displeasure; his holy will be done." See
him here patiently awaiting the event: "Behold, here am I, as a
servant expecting orders;" and see him willing to commit himself to God
concerning it: "Let him do to me as seemeth good to him. I have
nothing to object. All is well that God does." Observe with what
satisfaction and holy complacency he speaks of the divine disposal: not
only, "He can do what he will," subscribing to his power
or, "He has a right to do what he will," subscribing to his sovereignty
or, "He will do what he will," subscribing to his unchangeableness
but, "Let him to what he will," subscribing to his wisdom and
goodness. Note, It is our interest, as well as duty, cheerfully to
acquiesce in the will of God, whatever befals us. That we may not
complain of what is, let us see God's hand in all events; and, that we
may not be afraid of what shall be, let us see all events in God's
III. The confidence David put in the priests that they would serve his
interest to the utmost of their power in his absence. He calls Zadok a
(2 Samuel 15:27),
that is, a wise man, a man that can see into business and discern time
and judgment: "Thou hast thy eyes in thy head
and therefore art capable of doing me service, especially by sending me
intelligence of the enemy's motions and resolutions." One friend that
is a seer, in such an exigency as this, was worth twenty that were not
so quick-sighted. For the settling of a private correspondence with the
priests in his absence, he appoints,
1. Whom they should send to him--their two sons, Ahimaaz and Jonathan,
whose coat, it might be hoped, would be their protection, and of whose
prudence and faithfulness he had probably had experience.
2. Whither they should send. He would encamp in the plain of the
wilderness till he heard from them
(2 Samuel 15:28),
and then would move according to the information and advice they should
send him. Hereupon they returned to the city, to await the event. It
was a pity that any disturbance should be given to a state so happy as
this was, when the prince and the priests had such an entire affection
for the confidence in each other.
IV. The melancholy posture that David and his men put themselves into,
when, at the beginning of their march, they went up the mount of
2 Samuel 15:30.
1. David himself, as a deep mourner, covered his head and face for
shame and blushing, went bare-foot, as a prisoner or a slave, for
mortification, and went weeping. Did it become a man of his reputation
for courage and greatness of spirit thus to cry like a child, only for
fear of an enemy at a distance, against whom he might easily have made
head, and perhaps with one bold stroke have routed him? Yes, it did not
ill become him, considering how much there was in this trouble,
(1.) Of the unkindness of his son. He could not but weep to think that
one who came out of his bowels, and had so often lain in his arms,
should thus lift up the heel against him. God himself is said to be
grieved with the rebellions of his own children
and even broken with their whorish heart,
(2.) There was much of the displeasure of his God in it. This infused
the wormwood and gall into the affliction and misery,
His sin was ever before him
but never so plain nor ever appearing so black as now. He never wept
thus when Saul hunted him: but a wounded conscience makes troubles lie
2. When David wept all his company wept likewise, being much affected
with his grief and willing to share in it. It is our duty to weep
with those that weep, especially our superiors, and those that are
better than we; for, if this be done in the green tree, what will be
done in the dry? We must weep with those that weep for sin. When
Hezekiah humbled himself for his sin all Jerusalem joined with him,
2 Chronicles 32:26.
To prevent suffering with sinners, let us sorrow with them.
David's Request to Hushai.
B. C. 1023.
31 And one told David, saying, Ahithophel is among the
conspirators with Absalom. And David said, O LORD, I pray thee,
turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.
32 And it came to pass, that when David was come to the top
of the mount, where he worshipped God, behold, Hushai the
Archite came to meet him with his coat rent, and earth upon his
33 Unto whom David said, If thou passest on with me, then thou
shalt be a burden unto me:
34 But if thou return to the city, and say unto Absalom, I will
be thy servant, O king; as I have been thy father's servant
hitherto, so will I now also be thy servant: then mayest thou
for me defeat the counsel of Ahithophel.
35 And hast thou not there with thee Zadok and Abiathar the
priests? therefore it shall be, that what thing soever thou
shalt hear out of the king's house, thou shalt tell it to Zadok
and Abiathar the priests.
36 Behold, they have there with them their two sons, Ahimaaz
Zadok's son, and Jonathan Abiathar's son; and by them ye
shall send unto me every thing that ye can hear.
37 So Hushai David's friend came into the city, and Absalom
came into Jerusalem.
Nothing, it seems, appeared to David more threatening in Absalom's plot
than that Ahithophel was in it; for one good head, in such a design, is
worth a thousand good hands. Absalom was himself no politician, but he
had got one entirely in his interest that was, and would be the more
dangerous because he had been all along acquainted with David's
counsels and affairs; if therefore he can be baffled, Absalom is as
good as routed and the head of the conspiracy cut off. This David
endeavours to do.
I. By prayer. When he heard that Ahithophel was in the plot he lifted
up his heart to God in this short prayer: Lord, turn the counsel of
Ahithophel into foolishness,
2 Samuel 15:31.
He had not opportunity for a long prayer, but he was not one of those
that thought he should be heard for his much speaking. It was a fervent
prayer: "Lord, I pray thee, do this." God is well pleased with
the importunity of those that come to him with their petitions. David
is particular in this prayer; he names the person whose counsels he
prays against. God gives us leave, in prayer, to be humbly and
reverently free with him, and to mention the particular care, and fear,
and grief, that lies heavily upon us. David prayed not against
Ahithophel's person, but against his counsel, that God would turn it
into foolishness, that, though he was a wise man, he might at this
time give foolish counsel, or, if he gave wise counsel, that it might
be rejected as foolish, or, if it were followed, that by some
providence or other it might be defeated, and not attain the end. David
prayed this in a firm belief that God has all hearts in his hand, and
tongues too, that, when he pleases, he can take away the
understanding of the aged and make the judges fools,
and in hope that God would own and plead his just and injured cause.
Note, We may pray in faith, and should pray with fervency, that God
will turn that counsel into foolishness which is taken against his
II. By policy. We must second our prayer with our endeavours, else we
tempt God. It is good service to countermine the policy of the church's
enemies. When David came to the top of the mount, he worshipped
2 Samuel 15:32.
Note, Weeping must not hinder worshipping, but quicken it rather. Now
he penned the
as appears by the title; and some think that his singing this was the
worship he now paid to God. Just now Providence brought Hushai to him.
While he was yet speaking, God heard, and sent him the person that
should be instrumental to befool Ahithophel. He came to condole with
David on his present trouble, with his coat rent and earth upon his
head; but David, having a great deal of confidence in his conduct and
faithfulness, resolved to employ him as a spy upon Absalom. He would
not take him with him
(2 Samuel 15:33),
for he had now more need of soldiers than counsellors, but sent him
back to Jerusalem, to wait for Absalom's arrival, as a deserter from
David, and to offer him his service,
2 Samuel 15:34.
Thus he might insinuate himself into his counsels, and defeat
Ahithophel, either by dissuading Absalom from following his advice or
by discovering it to David, that he might know where to stand upon his
guard. How this gross dissimulation, which David put Hushai upon, can
be justified, as a stratagem in war, I do not see. The best that can be
made of it is that Absalom, if he rebel against his father, must stand
upon his guard against all mankind, and, if he will be deceived, let
him be deceived. David recommended Hushai to Zadok and Abiathar, as
persons proper to be consulted with
(2 Samuel 15:35),
and to their two sons, as trusty men to be sent on errands to David,
2 Samuel 15:36.
Hushai, thus instructed, came to Jerusalem
(2 Samuel 15:37),
whither also Absalom soon after came with his forces. How soon do royal
palaces and royal cities change their masters! But we look for a
kingdom which cannot be thus shaken and in the possession of which we
cannot be disturbed.
Matthew Henry "Verse by Verse Commentary for '2 Samuel' Matthew Henry Bible Commentary".